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Firearms Marketing

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INFOGRAPHIC – A Simple Firearms Marketing Strategy That Works

By | Firearms Marketing

If you had $10-$15,000 dollars to spend on marketing, where would you spend it?

Would you buy some banner ads? Redo your branding? Run an SEO campaign? Do a press release? Put it all on a print ad in Guns and Ammo and let it ride? This is a tough question I get all the time. Most business owners in the firearms, shooting, tech and defense industries struggle with making a determination on what to do when they want to market that they usually just throw up their hands and land on attending a trade show—which doesn’t get them the reach and awareness they are really looking for (at scale) to grow their business.

The below infographic gives you a simple firearms, tech and defense marketing strategy that has been implemented over a thousand times by some of the world’s top brands—and in most cases has quadrupled revenue and has provided a 5x to 8x return on investment. By implementing this simple plan correctly, investing in the long term and committing to improvement, you’ll have a solid marketing program you can build off of for years to come.

 

 

StoryBrand Links:

By taking the time to clarify your message and figure out these aspects of your brand’s story, you will be able to transform your marketing, attract new customers and stand out in the crowded marketplace.

 

 

5-Keys-To-Stand-Out-and-Attract-New-Customers

5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2019 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.

DOWNLOAD EBOOK

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 

 

Sources:

  1. Harvard Business Review: The Curse of Knowledge
  2. Time: You Now Have A Shorter Lifespan than a Goldfish
  3. Campaign Monitor: The New Rules of Email Marketing
  4. INC: 84 Percent of People Trust Online Reviews As Much As Friends
  5. StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message

 

How Firearms Companies Can Outthink Their Competition With Inbound Marketing

By | Firearms Marketing, Inbound Marketing

For most emerging firearms and outdoor sports companies growing market share comes down to a matter of numbers.

You know your product is good because you’ve gone to great lengths to make it durable, reliable and functional (which is an absolute must in this industry).  You’ve received positive feedback from your customers, signed some solid purchase orders, your website, packaging and brand look great—but you just can’t seem to grow in the way or as fast as you’d like.

Smaller firearms, and outdoor sports manufacturers struggle to take their businesses to the next level because of the expensive barrier of entry to print advertising, T.V and trade shows.

Market industry leaders—or the goliaths—enjoy market dominance and the bulk of the market because of years of brand building. Their massive marketing budgets are hard to beat, making it seemingly impossible for the David’s or the emerging companies to compete against.

However, as some us well know—to bag the beast—you must outthink the beast.

If you haven’t noticed lately, magazine subscriptions are in decline (Source: Folio) and everything seems to be migrating online. Your customers are going to the internet first to research products. Look at some of these revealing statistics:

  • 61% of global Internet users research products online. (Source: Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance)
  • 93% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine. (Source: Hubspot)
  • 90% of the purchase lifecycle is over before a customer decides to buy (Source: iMedia)
  • 65% of U.S. shoppers research products and services on a computer and make a purchase in-store (Source: Cisco)

… and these numbers are on the rise.

In this article, I give you 6 points about how you can “outthink” your competition in the firearms, shooting or outdoor sports business by looking at an online strategy first—versus investing more in trade show, TV or print.

1. What is inbound marketing?

Since 2006, inbound marketing has been an effective marketing method for doing business online. Sometimes called “digital” or “content marketing,” “inbound” is the opposite of “outbound marketing.” Where outbound is buying print ads, placing a TV spot and praying for customers; inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests and by solving their problems and answering their most burning questions about: “What AR-15 should I buy? What do I need in an optic? Or what kind of recoil pad is the best? — you naturally attract website visitors—or inbound traffic—that you can convert to customers and turn them into promoters of your brand. (Source: Hubspot)

An inbound approach also lends credibility and trust to your dealers by enabling them to reference great information off your website when their customers are asking for recommendations on what to buy or how your product works.

2. Why inbound marketing now?

Consumer behavior has shifted over the years. The days of “push” advertising and “salesy” tactics have lost their effectiveness. If you think about it, you yourself skip television commercials when watching your favorite show on the Sportsman Channel, ignore flashing online ads when surfing GunsandAmmo.com, hang up on cold callers, tune out radio ads that you have no interest in and throw the direct mail in the trash. Years of being bombarded with this “intrusive” form of advertising has changed the way consumers prefer to get information about the products they want to buy. Inbound turns outbound on its head. Instead of constantly pushing your message on your customers, you attract them to your website through your content.

Inbound marketing has been proven to generate 54% more leads than traditional paid marketing and saves you $20K on average a year over outbound marketing.

 

3. Content is the secret sauce

Content can be a blog, video, checklist, ebook, whitepaper or a download that attempts to solve your customer’s problems in a relevant way. Blogging is the best way to get started. Did you know that if you’re not creating content on a regular basis, Google will drop your search engine rankings?

For a good example of a blog, take a look at Beretta’s blog.

4. What am I going to write about?

Everyone is an expert in something. If writing isn’t your forte, you can always hire someone to help you out. There are hundreds of industry writers looking for work. Start by forming a list of questions that you hear most from your customers or dealers. Take that list and form it into a series of blog posts. In time, you’ll have more than enough to write about.

Most companies in this industry who blog—are blogging mostly for self-promotional purposes. Shooters, firearms, and outdoor enthusiasts don’t want to hear how great you are—they want to hear how you can help them. In the process, you’ll earn their respect, trust and ultimately their wallet.

5. Online marketing is not about Facebook and Instagram likes

There are plenty of manufacturers who have thousands of followers and likes on their Facebook/Instagram page. However, those likes don’t necessarily translate into website traffic and sales—especially now that less than 1% of your posts are ever seen by your followers. It is important to show “social proof” but Facebook likes alone does not mean you have an online marketing strategy. And with more and more anti-gun sentiment on social media, investing in Facebook is getting risky.

6. Get there first

Today, there are only a few companies in the hunting, firearm and outdoor sports industry doing inbound marketing. From working in multiple industries and in the firearms/outdoor industry with a very well known brand—that the world, in general, is moving more and more online. The companies who start now will have a huge advantage down the road. By owning the online space in your category—be it knives, firearms, tactical rifles, safes, optics, suppressors, EDC etc.—you will gain significant advantage over your competitors.

 

FREE EBOOK: THE ESSENTIAL STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO INBOUND MARKETING FOR THE FIREARMS INDUSTRY

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now

Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 

firearm-website-wireframe-design

These 5 Website Elements Will Make Your Firearm Business More Money

By | Firearms Marketing, StoryBrand

Websites have changed a lot over the years. Websites were once solely used to give information about your company. But now websites are ground zero for every outdoor, firearm, defense or tech business trying to grow their brand, generate revenue, attract employees, host content and much more.

However, too many businesses get their website wrong because they hire designers or agencies who aren’t very clear on how to communicate their brand’s message and who can’t optimize their site for maximum efficiency—especially in markets that are ultra-competitive and difficult to stand out in—like the outdoor, firearms and defense marketplace.

clear-header-firearms-website-exampleIf you’re struggling to understand how to make your website more effective and need some help, you might want to pass this article on to your designer, agency or web manager to get things back on track.

1. Clear header

The very first thing your website should do when a visitor lands on your homepage or landing page—within 5 seconds—is tell your visitor what you offer in clear words.

We StoryBrand Guides call this the “grunt test.” A caveman should be able to look at your header and grunt what it is you offer. If your website’s header doesn’t’ pass the grunt test – better go back to the drawing board.

Do it right:
In simple words, say what it is you do in 7 words or less. Add a small description underneath if you need to clarify further.

2. Don’t hide the cash register

To the ladies reading this post, what if a guy walks up to you at a bar and says, “hey, let’s get started!”

Your first response would be, “get started doing what?” Then you’d probably throw a drink in his face.

But how many times have you seen this call to action on a website? Call to actions must be crystal clear to be understood. Examples of a clear call to action:

  • Buy Now
  • Schedule a Call
  • Book an Appointment
  • Check Out

By not having a clear CTA on your website — you’re hiding the cash register. If people don’t know how to buy from you, how can you expect to make any money?

Do it right: “Don’t make me think” is an old mantra from 2003 on web design that is still applicable today. You must tell your prospects what you want them to do. Your call to action should be an up or down answer—that they either accept or reject.

firearm-website-value-propositions-example3. How will you help your customer be successful?

Value propositions can sometimes be confusing to understand. A value prop can be simply understood by asking yourself this question: What do I offer that will make my customer successful? Or asked another way: What are the 3-4 reasons my customer should do business with me? I get this question all the time because even in marketing—I also have my own set of competitors to deal with. Value propositions should also explain why your product or service works better than your competitors.

Do it right: Failing not to list the added benefits (or value) to your prospects/customers will make your website less effective.

4. What are the stakes?

On your website, tell your prospects what is at stake if they don’t work with you. You have to show them the future if they don’t act now to get their problem resolved. This can be as simple as writing a before or after or a with or without statement.

Do it right: Show your customers what the future will look like if they work with you.

firearm-website-plan-example

5. Give your prospect a plan

This section of your website should outline in 3-4 steps how to buy from you. This may seem counterintuitive but you need to explain it. The plan will help decrease the friction points and help them overcome any hesitancies they may have.

Do it right: Like stepping stones in a river, show your prospect how to get to the other side.

To sum up, make sure your header clearly tells what you do and passes the grunt test, add a clear call to action (no wishy-washy get started stuff) how you will help your customer achieve success, the stakes involved if they don’t work with you and the steps needed to get started. By adding these elements in your business, you will see an uptick in revenue.

 

5-Keys-To-Stand-Out-and-Attract-New-Customers

5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE

Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2019 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.

DOWNLOAD EBOOK

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 

SHOT Show 2019

Five Marketing Takeaways from SHOT Show 2019

By | Firearms Marketing

After a cold and windy Range Day, a ride in Glock’s submarine, Aquila’s mini-shells and a peek at Maxim Defense’ new gun—SHOT Show 2019 has left me wondering what the coming year holds.

Glock SHOT Show 2019After taking some time to think through my experiences and having a few discussions with clients and industry professionals—here are my top takeaways from a marketer’s perspective—on what I thought of this year’s largest shooting, hunting, and outdoor industry trade show and some marketing ideas for your consideration.

1. Increased International interest?

Clients and friends I talked to agree—there seemed to be an increased international interest this year. I saw and spoke to a lot more companies from Turkey, India, Scandinavia, Israel, and others than previous years. I was approached by a couple of European companies about expansion into the U.S. market. There are a few things that could be driving this, and I don’t want to speculate, but with more international brands entering the U.S. market, competition in 2019 and future years may get a bit tighter.

2. Brand communication shifts indicate where the market is moving.

Three exciting brand shifts that caught my attention belonged to Mossberg, Daniel Defense, and Springfield Armory.

Mosssberg SHOT Show 2019Mossberg goes black.
A hunting brand long known for their shotguns looks to have finally completed their evolution into a tactical/self-defense brand with their new MC1sc 9mm Sub Compact pistol along with an entire booth and website redesign that aligns with their “Arm Yourself” campaign theme. They also traded their traditional blue and yellow color palette for black and yellow. This change is a total rebrand of the 100-year-old company.

Daniel Defense SHOT Show 2019

Photo credit: Daniel Defense

 

 

 

Daniel Defense mixes in the country.
On the opposite end—Daniel Defense with the release of their new bolt gun moves to the middle between tactical and outdoor which signals a push to balance the brand between the two markets. A quick look at their website shows the Ambush models front and center. They incorporated a more apparent outdoor theme into this year’s catalog, which also indicates where the manufacturer’s head is on current trends.

Springfield focuses on being more real.
Springfield Armory’s catalog pictured models on location in Wyoming (my home State – Go Pokes!) riding four wheelers, camping, fishing, fending off bears and hunting. These look like regular folks which to me was a breath of fresh air in contrast to the often overused black tactical imagery. This kind of imagery also started popping up in some of Glock’s materials.

Springfield Armory SHOT 2019

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

So what do these shifts in brand communication mean?

  • Top brands are aware of the trends that point to a more humanistic approach
  • Hunting is still essential, but self-defense is where the money is at
  • Brands still struggle to walk the line between being a tactical and hunting company (or both)
  • Younger marketing professionals are taking the reigns reflected in this year’s marketing materials
  • Is “Tacticool” finally over?  🙂

4. “An Unprecedented Effort”

NSSF’s outgoing president Steve Santenni stated that “NSSF is embarking on an unprecedented effort to get out the positive messages about our industry across the country. Using all the tools available to us, we will fight the shaming and name calling being thrown against us, with the truth that we are a critical part of the solution.”

I applaud the NSSF for taking this on. But in order for this to work, NSSF must have a clear message, rally the involvement of manufacturers, dealers, and distributors, media, create a coalition of out-of-industry ‘gun friendly’ groups and then track and optimize this effort over time to ensure success.

Our industry is full of good, honest, hard-working regular people who follow the laws, pay their taxes and want to raise their families and live in peace—this must be emphasized. NRA’s “Safest Place” Campaign during the last Presidential election is an example of a step in the right direction. However, to win over the Millennials and grow our numbers (shooting and hunting) a more humanistic, trust-building, fact and value-based approach will be required—not another glossy PR campaign.

Here are a couple of ideas and a framework you can use to contribute to the effort:

  1. Define your audience. What does your customer/audience want?
  2. Who is the villain in your story (or the problem you are trying to solve)?
    Misinformation, government control, political agendas, anti-gun/anti-hunting sentiment, failed mental health programs?
  3. How can you guide your customers/audience to the solution?
    Show the faces of real people in our communities (CCWs, LE, Vets, Pastors, Teachers, Firemen, Doctors, Moms, Dads, etc.) who are contributing to the desired solution. Tell the stories of how a firearm helped a family survive a home invasion. Or how Venison provides fresh organic field-to-plate protein to localvores. Show empathy and authority.
  4. What is the plan to get your audience to the solution?
    What resources, events and actions need to be developed? How much will it cost?
  5. What are the direct (community involvement, donate, sign up, call your senator) or transitional (downloadable educational materials, webinars, attend a speaking event)  calls to action?
  6. Explain what success and failure looks like.
    Paint a person absent of the ability to protect him or herself—show what the difference would be.
  7. Show people how they can transform into something better: safer, more confident, healthier, active etc.

I encourage you (Industry Marketers) to consider incorporating the positive attributes of not only your products but industry contributions into your advertising. We are the messengers that shape opinion, attitudes, and culture. It’s upon us to communicate the positive attributes of our products for conservation, self-defense and the Second Amendment—without compromise—in the best positive light. Don’t just say we support these efforts—show your audience why. Allow those messages to permeate into the mainstream in greater frequency. We are the rescuers, the conservationists, the warriors and the people who want to protect, who fight for the good of others. It’s high time to take back the public square of opinion and confront those who’ve tarnished our good name in a respectful tone with more focus and effort.

5. Looking forward

2019 will be another turbulent year for our industry. More virtue signaling, boycotts, anti-gun/hunting protests, rants, and the upcoming Democratic primaries and Presidential election will keep our industry on the front burner. This turbulence will affect sales, marketing budgets, trade show attendance and our ability to plan for the future.

Use your platform to spread far and wide the positive attributes of our industry and the good-willed people in it.

Those are my thoughts; I’d be curious to know yours? Please comment below…

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principal at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, active, tech and firearms industry who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels. 

firearm hunting customer review marketing

How to Get Online Firearm Customer Reviews That Boost Your Business

By | Firearms Marketing, StoryBrand

 

It’s not hard to figure out that online reviews are essential to building and maintaining a firearm, hunting or outdoor business these days. After all, we all use our phones, search engines, and social media profiles to look up new businesses and products every day.

Customer trust in businesses is fading. HubSpot Research found that customers trust recommendations from friends and family over any type of online marketing and advertising your brand can create. And in the absence of trusted recommendations, according to BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews are much as personal recommendations—the single most trustworthy and credible source of “advertising” out there. (Source: Hubspot)

This fact puts an exclamation point on the notion that you need to establish a robust digital footprint and keep the positive feedback flowing.

What many marketers and business owners want is a way to speed this process up and make it less time-consuming. So today I want to share some quick and easy tips you can use to get the online reviews you need to boost your bottom line in the real world. Here’s how you can get started…

 

Make Your Brand Review-Worthy

Before we get into the online marketing component of things, it’s worth pointing out that the best thing you can do to get more and better online reviews is to build a great product and create a brand that cuts through the clutter. Make sure your team is well-trained, and your products or services represent good value for the money. Do that, and many of your customers will feel compelled to leave positive reviews for you just because they’ve had a good experience.

 

Complete Your Online Profiles

You can’t accumulate dozens or hundreds of positive online reviews if buyers don’t have a place to leave them. In addition to issuing a space for reviews on your website, it’s crucial that you have an existing presence on Yelp (Dealers and Instructors), Facebook, and glowing reviews on YouTube, Full30.com, industry blogs, and publisher sites. Having completed accounts with photos and contact details makes your business easier to find while encouraging customer feedback at the same time.

 

Double Check the Pertinent Details

Although you may be primarily concerned with accumulating reviews online, you should know that all of these profiles serve a secondary purpose, as well. Google will often scan online business listings to verify things like location and contact details. That makes it very important that all of your different profiles be consistent from one entry to the next. In search results, your ratings will also show up in the results that will further build trust with your prospects.

firearm customer review ammo

Get Some Social Buzz Going

The outdoor and firearms community is not shy about sharing and interacting on social media—encourage them to add their comments, reviews, and experiences on your Facebook page or your website directly. Not only will their friends and contacts be able to see their comments, but you may see your reviews multiply—as groups of acquaintances and people in their network get in on the act to share their stories and opinions. Don’t be afraid to engage—and make sure to be available on Messenger, online chat or set up a chatbot.

Automate the Process

Setting up your accounts and getting those first few reviews is the hardest part of the process, but the work isn’t finished once a few buyers say good things about your business. The key is to keep your profiles up to date and encourage even more positive feedback. That gets a lot easier when you have the right tools.

Several services can automate this process. We utilize workflows within Klaviyo to ask for reviews 14 days after our client’s customers purchase from them. Other options include Rivet Works or Podium that gives you the capability to ask for reviews via text over mobile.

You can also set up free Google alerts or purchase social listening software like Mention to help you stay on top of negative reviews and leverage the positive ones to drive engagement and online sales.

In conclusion, if you’ve been missing out on the tremendous upside presented by online reviews and other cost-effective web strategies, now is the perfect time to implement them.

Contact Us Today

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Marketing + Strategy
Josh helps brands in the outdoor, tech, marine and firearm industries who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and grow in the digital era of marketing.

Five Online Firearm Marketing-Mistakes To Stop Repeating Today

Five Online Firearm Marketing Mistakes To Stop Repeating Today

By | Firearms Marketing

Albert Einstein once defined insanity by doing the same thing again and again and expecting different result. While he probably didn’t have online marketing in mind at the time, his quote is as relevant to the business owners we work with as it is to any physics professor in the country.

The point here is that there are thousands, of firearm business owners and executives out there right now who keep repeating the same internet marketing blunders repeatedly and then wonder why they aren’t getting better results. These errors can take a lot of different forms, of course, but there are a few we see every week.

To help you from making or repeating them, let’s look at five online marketing mistakes you should stop repeating today…

1. Ignoring Your Website

You don’t have to do a lot to your website to keep it running, but you can’t completely neglect it, either. Looking after things like updates (to your content management system and plug-ins) and adding new articles or pages can keep your site relevant and secure. Additionally, you should schedule a website audit 2-3x a year so you will be aware of any underlying programming issues that could slow your pages down, cause security concerns, or lead to error screens. Consider taking a growth-driven design approach to your next website design process. 

 

2. Only Posting Promotional Updates or Press Releases

Obviously, you want to use your website to promote products. However, that doesn’t mean your customers want to read nothing but promotional messages. Avoid turning your blog into a PR dumping ground. Knowing that, smart marketers will walk a fine line, giving fans and followers a steady mixture of information, entertainment, reviews, and offers to make a purchase. It doesn’t matter whether it’s your email newsletter, your social feed, or any other online channel: don’t just ask people to buy from you every day—provide value, be helpful, make people stop and think.

 

3. Taking Content From Competitors

We are continually amazed at how many marketers think they can get away with borrowing things like content, images, logos, names, video, and other materials from their competition. Even if the source material is slightly altered, using something that has been copied from another company is bad for your business. It opens the door for other business owners to sue you, customers to ignore you, and Google to blacklist you from the search engine listings. Don’t use content if you don’t own it.

 

4. Dismissing Negative Feedback

You will never be able to please 100% of the buying public all the time. And, those people who are most annoyed with you also happen to be the ones who are going to leave negative reviews, so you shouldn’t take everything to heart. However, if customers are complaining about the same things again and again, don’t dismiss their feedback. Every review is an opportunity to learn. If you don’t take that opportunity, it’s going to hurt your business.

 

5. Paying for Lackluster Results

Some business owners will pay online marketing invoices for months or years, even when they aren’t getting the results they expected, simply because they don’t know what else to do. But, that’s not the way you want to run your company, and it isn’t going to lead to positive growth. If you’re getting lackluster results from your online marketing campaigns, or no results at all, think about switching to a more accountable vendor.

 

Influencer Marketing Metrics Firearms Industry

 

Time to Turn Your Website into a Business Asset?

If you feel like you pour time and money into your website without getting much in return, this is your chance to set your business on a new path and get one step ahead of your competitors. Contact us today so we can set up a free consultation to evaluate your strategy together and find an affordable and effective way to boost your online marketing results.

Contact Us Today

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Influencer & Inbound Marketing + Strategy
Josh helps brands in the outdoor, tech, firearm industries who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and grow in the digital era of marketing.

Firearm Brand Development

Do You Really Need A Firearm Brand Strategy?

By | Firearms Marketing

Maybe you’ve just come out with some disruptive technology, game-changing accessory or new firearm platform.

Or maybe your business has been around for a while and you’ve realized that to compete in today’s environment, you need to focus more on your messaging and how your company and/or products are understood.

But, do you really need a brand strategy?

The truth is… a brand already exists, even if you’ve never taken the time to develop it.

Your customers, dealers, distributors, employees, and partners already have some kind of feeling, thought or understanding of you or your product—negative or positive.

Below are 10 surprising facts that you may not have considered in regards to your brand development strategy and why its important to have one—if you intend to leave your mark on the firearms industry.  

1. Make it easier for the customer to buy

Customers make decisions on products they know and trust. If a customer is not familiar with your brand, they are less likely to buy it.


Think of the last time you were in the gun store and you had to pick up some ammo. Hornady—a ammunition category brand leader—was not on the shelf. Do you buy the “I’ve never heard of you” brand of ammo—or forgo the purchase altogether? Most likely, you’ll wait till the next trip or drive across town to another store. Brands help us make buying decisions.

Photo credit: Business Insider

2. Make it easier for the sales team (and dealers) to sell
Having a strong brand reputation in the marketplace will allow your dealers and sales team to close more sales based on brand performance alone. A reputation for service, quality and the ability to solve your customer’s problem will be more likely received and sought after.


3. Brand clarity and delivery spurs employee motivation

Brands give your employees purpose. Having a clear cultural direction, goal and mission based on your brand values will create higher performance and productivity. A strong brand will turn your employees into brand advocates versus people who just show up to collect a paycheck. It will also give you and your stakeholders a clear understanding of your vision, mission and purpose.


4. Increase the value of your company over time
Brands are line items on today’s most valued companies. The Coca-Cola brand alone accounts for 51 percent of the stock market value of the Coca-Cola Company (Source: Brandchannel). The same could be said for Ruger or Smith & Wesson.

By developing a strong firearm brand—especially for companies with/or seeking investors—brand development aids in building a successful exit strategy. 

5. Brand definition brings clarity to your business goals and direction

If you have a good product that everyone is excited about, alot of times you just have to stay out of your own way.

A brand strategy will save you from making costly decisions.

A recent example is Vista Outdoors’ Black Hawk product line of silencers. Black Hawk a gear supplier for military and law enforcement agencies—ventured into the silencer market and after just eighteen months pulled out.

brand strategy extension failures

Photo credit: Recoil

In May of 2016, when the silencers were first announced, many were musing if this was too far a departure from Blackhawk’s bailiwick. When asked why the line was being dropped, a Vista representative put that musing to rest: “After completing a strategic review of our product lines, we determined that suppressors did not align with our core business. In order to streamline our products more efficiently, we felt it was best to eliminate suppressors from our current line-up.” (Source: Recoil)

Millions of dollars would have been saved if brand managers would have practiced “brand discipline.” Read more on The 5 Rules of Brand Extension.

6. The brand development exercise creates innovation

Most of us are so busy we sometimes just go through the motions in our businesses day after day with the mentality of “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it attitude.” By purposefully sitting down and thinking about your brand, product and business you will give yourself and your team time to create new processes, products, components and other ideas that will drive innovation. This is time well spent and the life blood of successful firearm brands.

7. Saves money on future design and advertising costs
Instead of reinventing the wheel every time that new ad needs to be placed, trade show booth or package redesigned—your brand standards will provide a guideline for consistency that creates visual recall and recognition.


8. A strong brand creates preference which, equals profit

By consistently delivering the same value, service and quality—along with the same visual identifiers—you begin to create preference and repeat customers. This is called “branding.” The goal of brand development is to create preference, branding is to create recall.  


Photo credit: Guns.com

9. Attract talented employees
In today’s war for talent—companies are struggling to find talented and skilled workers. Those with strong employer brands coupled with a strong corporate brand will win.

10. Provides the foundation of all your marketing efforts
Without a brand strategy, it will be very difficult to focus your influencer or inbound marketing efforts. The absence of your customer’s buyer personas, key messaging and brand-centric visuals will make any marketing effort less effective. 

So, do you need a brand strategy?

Well, if any of the above points appeal to you—I would say yes—brand development is a business necessity for business owners serious about growth and leaving their mark on the firearm industry. Even if competition is non-existent—you eventually will need to develop your brand to pre empt competition as Magpul has done, who by all measures dominates the magazine market.

firearm-brand-strategy

Photo credit: Magpul

 

We have in any given category 10-20 of everything (ammo, handguards, holsters, ARs, shotguns etc.). By having a well-defined brand, you will be able to compete at a higher level than your competition, stand head and shoulders above the rest and build a valuable asset for the future.  

One last thought to end on: Brand is the last remaining business currency.”

Photo credit: F4 Defense, Jason Swarr, Straight 8

 

 

hunting-outdoor-firearms-brand-interview-guideFree Download:
Brand Development Interview Guide 

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the questions to ask your customers/clients to uncover your brand.

Download eBook

 

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Marketing Firearms

Before You Invest In Firearm Marketing, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

By | Firearms Marketing

Most new business owners in the firearm industry come from an engineering background. When it comes time to discuss marketing, most will avoid the subject—because after all, how many engineers studied marketing in college?

In light of this fact, you may be feeling anxious to do some “sort of marketing,” but you’re not sure what that “sort of marketing” is.

Should you buy a banner ad on Outdoor Wire, develop a full-fledged content department like Sitka, sponsor a woman-focused group like the Well Armed Women, pay $10,000 to go to SHOT show—and what about Facebook and Instagram?

Before you get to the part in your business that requires you to spend some money on marketing—there are four questions you need to ask to ensure that when it does come time to invest in marketing—it will work.

 

1. Solve a problem that has mass appeal.

If you look at the biggest companies and brands in the world, they all have one thing in common—they solve a problem that everyone has: computing (Apple), fast food (McDonald’s), transportation (Ford), fast consumer goods (Amazon). Or they have improved upon an outdated product (coolers) that everyone has to have (Yeti)—or they have brought to market a better product like Magpul’s polymer magazines. 

 

Yeti Coolers

Photo credit: Yeti

Question: What is the #1 problem your product solves? Find that problem or unique difference and solve it.

 

2. Quality is job #1

A quality product that is reliable and durable is only the starting line in this industry. If you can’t do that, you need to go back to the drawing board.

According to a leading manufacturer rep, I had the opportunity to talk to the other day stated, “if word gets out on the street, you have a good product—the product will sell itself, just stay out of your own way.”

Question: Is your product of high quality and has it been thoroughly tested?

But this is still not enough—there are two other factors that form the basis of successful marketing—and that is timing and price. If the time is not right for your product, it can suck the life out of your business.

 

Maxim

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

3. Is the timing right?

A recent example of hitting the market at the right time is the Maxim 50 by SilencerCo. The Maxim 50 solves a huge problem everyone has: hearing loss and hunting in States where only shotguns and muzzleloaders are allowed.

According to Williams Mullen’s firearm industry practice group, “The Maxim 50 and its permanently attached silencer is not considered a firearm or a suppressor under the NFA.  Individuals looking for a hearing safe gun, whether for hunting, collecting, or recreational shooting, can now purchase one without having to go through the ATF’s burdensome registration process, which requires certain law enforcement checks, fingerprints, law enforcement notifications, a multi-month waiting period, and a $200 tax stamp paid directly to Uncle Sam.”

By integrating the silencer into a muzzleloader platform, SilencerCo. was able to solve a major problem in the market at the perfect time, earning massive industry attention. On September 19, 2017 upon the product’s release, SilencerCo’s website crashed due to the massive response.

Question: Is the timing right? What trends will fuel your marketing efforts?

 

4. Is it priced right?
If you can’t achieve good margins on your product, or if you extend yourself by going to market with several products (instead of just one or two), you might be heading down a black hole where there is no return.

According to Entrepreneur, no matter what type of product you sell, the price you charge your customers will have a direct effect on the success of your business. Though pricing strategies can be complex, the basic rules of pricing are straightforward:

  • All prices must cover costs and profits.
  • The most effective way to lower prices is to lower costs.
  • Review prices frequently to assure that they reflect the dynamics of cost, market demand, response to the competition, and profit objectives.
  • Prices must be established to assure sales.

A new resource in the industry you may not have heard about is Gun Broker’s Pricing Report. Gun Broker offers access to National Firearm Pricing and Trends to help you understand how to best price your firearms and accessories. GunBroker.com boasts 6 million unique monthly visitors a month and conducts over $3 Billion in cumulative merchandise sales. 

 

Pricing Report

 

What about sales and distribution?

For most startups and growth-phase manufacturers, distributors typically won’t take you on until you have a sales record. The exception is, of course, you have a breakout product – like the Hudson H9. So start with the above—develop a winning marketing strategy—and in time—and with some sales hustle, you’ll have distributors taking note.

In conclusion, by solving a problem that has wide appeal, building a quality and thoroughly tested product, launching at the right time and pricing your product accordingly will help make your marketing more successful. 

Free Marketing Firearms Ebook


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

firearm marketing seo

3 SEO Reminders for Firearm Website Optimization

By | Firearms Marketing

Search engine optimization is crucial for small-large firearm businesses when it comes to finding customers over the internet. Current estimates suggest that Google is processing roughly 4 ½ billion searches per day. It has largely replaced the Yellow Pages, print advertising, and even word-of-mouth recommendations when it comes to finding products and services.

Given that reality, it’s not surprising that so many small firearm business owners are constantly looking for a way to improve their visibility on Google (64% of market share), Bing (21% of market share) and others. However, experience has taught us that many of them miss the point in important ways. They want to get more search traffic but focus their efforts and attention on the wrong details and techniques.

In this quick post, let’s look at three reminders that firearm businesses need to keep in mind when optimizing their website for search.

1. Don’t Over-Optimize Every Page for Search

On-page search optimization is important and valuable, but it’s easy to overdo it. For one thing, content that is too focused on search visibility can have a dry, robotic feel. And for another, there are declining returns involved. Making a bunch of small changes to one page isn’t nearly as valuable as adding fresh content to your site in the form of a blog

This isn’t to say that you should prioritize quantity over quality, or that activities like keyword research, internal linking, and keyword optimization aren’t important. Instead, it’s a recognition that you need to balance your time and effort between polishing what you have and being a source of fresh content and ideas.

TIP: If you’re using WordPress, use Yoast to help you find the right balance of content and keywords.

 

2. Don’t Ignore Obvious Technical SEO Challenges

No matter how great the content on your website is, or what you’ve done to optimize your pages, Google isn’t going to pay much attention if you have obvious technical errors. Broken links, missing images, and slow page loading times are all signs of a poor user experience that will depress your search position.

Additionally, mobile functionality and SSL connections have become major search signals. If your website is missing these, then adding more content or focusing on different keywords isn’t going to make much of a difference. You simply can’t overlook the technical aspects of SEO and expect to get ahead of your competitors.

TIP: Use this Website Grader to see how your website stacks up.

 

3. SEO is an Ongoing Process

You can put a good search engine optimization plan into place, but unless you execute and refine your approach over time, you’re eventually going to end up being “stuck” in a lower search position. That’s partly because search patterns and best practices change, but also because it takes time and testing to increase conversion rates for incoming visitors.

In other words, search engine optimization isn’t something you’re going to do or invest in once and then cross off your list. If you really want to make it an important part of your inbound marketing plan, you’re going to have to stick with it over time.

When search engine optimization was still a new marketing technique, you could do a little bit of work and see your sales numbers increase dramatically in a very short period of time. Now, the rewards of earning a top position on Google are greater than never, but the competition is more intense. If you want to improve your bottom line through SEO, it’s imperative you keep adding fresh content, don’t overlook the technical aspects of your site, and follow a plan that keeps you moving forward.

TIP: Check out SEMRush’s free tool to get the inside track on SEO and your competitors.

 

Get Free Marketing Assessement!


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Firearm Voice Search Web Marketing

What is the Best Way to Optimize Your Firearms Website for Voice Search?

By | Firearms Marketing

As you’ve probably noticed by now, everyone is using voice search these days. More and more, your customers are bypassing Google’s minimalist homepage and opting to simply ask an app — backed by artificial intelligence—to find what they are looking for. The change isn’t being driven solely by mobile devices, either – digital assistants are making their way into operating systems, bringing voice search capability to traditional Windows (Cortana) and Apple (Siri) laptop and desktop computers.

For the average internet user, this means more convenience than ever. For a marketer, though, the rise of these tools poses a brand-new question: how do you optimize your website for voice search?

In this post, we give you a few things to consider and how to prepare for the future.

 

1. The First Step Towards Optimizing Your Website for Voice Search

40% of adults now use voice search once per day, according to Location World. Some predict, 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. If you want to capture voice search traffic (and you should), then it’s important to realize that these types of queries aren’t structured in terms of traditional keywords. Instead, they are spoken in a natural language question-and-answer format.

Although exact matching has become less important and relevant in recent SEO iterations, it does still hold weight with voice search. So, having text, titles, and headlines like the one we used above – how do you optimize your firearms website for voice search? – can be helpful. The more of this type of content you have on your website, the easier it’s going to be for voice searchers to find you.

 

2. How to Integrate Questions and Answers Into Your Website

For firearm marketers who are used to thinking in terms of market-based keywords, posting content in natural language terms can actually feel a bit awkward. Besides, you don’t want to undo your existing SEO efforts to capture voice search traffic.

Knowing that one great idea is to simply beef up your Frequently Asked Questions page. This is the one place on your website where you can post as many natural language phrases as you want, and they are likely to be structured in a way that Google can easily crawl and understand.

Additionally, you might consider adding separate pages or blog posts for questions that come up often or point specifically to your expertise. Articles like this one can standout in Google’s search listings without making your FAQ pages seem unnecessarily long.

 

3. Finding the Right Questions and Phrases to Target

As with anything else in search engine optimization, finding the right targets is every bit as important as executing your plan. And with nearly 50% of people now using voice search when researching products (Source: Social Media Today), you should do what you can to identify the kinds of questions your best customers are likely to ask when using voice-assisted search apps.

Open Siri and give these a try:

  • What is the best AR15?
  • How much does a gun safe cost?
  • Where is the closest gun range?
  • What is Springfield Armory’s XDE Series warranty?
  • How do I attract Millennial gun buyers?

Naturally, you could begin by evaluating the kinds of things buyers tend to ask you about on phone calls, chats or during face-to-face meetings. You could also look into your web analytics to see what searchers are typing into Google that leads them to arrive at your website. Another good source for material is Google’s own auto-complete function, which could suggest natural language question combinations to you.

Firearm Website Voice Search

Each of these is a good way to brainstorm new ideas, and all of them can help you bring more voice searchers to your site. At the moment, that simply means you have one more edge over your online competitors. As voice search becomes more and more popular, though, it could put you on the cutting-edge of SEO for years to come.

If you could use some internet marketing and search engine optimization advice that’s tailored to your business and challenges, now is the perfect time to schedule a free consultation with our team and see how we can help. The future is coming! 

Get Free Assessement!


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Firearm Lifecycle Marketing

Use Lifecycle Marketing to Boost Your Firearm E-commerce Revenue

By | Firearms Marketing

Growth is hard—and expensive. The companies you see growing quickly, have a lot of money and usually have a really cool product. Does this describe you? 

When you think about ecommerce—the first thing most people think about is generating a sale. It’s all about the money, right? But what if I told you there’s more to it than that, and your thinking is too linear, and you’re leaving a lot of money on the table by not taking the process further.

In this post, taken from a recent webinar by Austin Brawner, of Brand Growth Experts for Klaviyo—you’ll learn three assertions about how to boost revenue through your e-commerce store via lifecycle marketing.

What is Lifecycle Marketing?

Lifecycle marketing is creating a managed communications or contact strategy to prioritize and integrate the full range of marketing communications channels and experiences to support prospects and customers on their path-to-purchase using techniques such as persuasive personalized messaging and re-marketing. (Source: SmartInsights)

 

Firearm ecommerce Marketing

Source: SmartInsights

What is Klaviyo?
Klaviyo is a marketing automation platform that helps e-commerce marketers get better results from data-driven marketing. In data-driven marketing, the main objective is to use data to get the right message to the right person at the right time. The best way for a firearm, hunting, and outdoor companies to do so (right now) is by email marketing.

 

Klaviyo Firearm Email Marekting

Assertion #1
The fastest way to grow is to outspend and out-convert your competition.

Right now web traffic is a commodity. You can go and cut a check to any industry digital media outlet, Google or Facebook (non-FFL items) to buy traffic. If you can spend $10 where your competitor can only spend $5, you win that customer. And if you can out-convert your competition, this means you are getting more of that traffic and more customers—which means more market share.

Assertion #2
Email marketing (when done correctly) virtually guarantees that you can outspend your competition. To spend more, you need to be able to either convert better or net a greater Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

To explain this, let’s look at the Cost of Acquisition Payback Model.

What is CAC and Why Should You Care?

To put it simply – CAC is the total cost of sales and marketing efforts that are needed to acquire a customer. It is one of the defining factors in whether your company has a viable business model that can yield profits by keeping acquisition costs low as you scale. (Source: ProftWell)

CAC Model Lifecycle Marketing

The Cost of Acquisition Payback Model says that it will cost you money to get a customer (red), but after that customer purchases from you, you begin to break even and start to make that money back—over time. The goal is to move those customers into the (green) through repeat purchases. And the best way to do that is through email. The reason? Email creates more repeat purchases which are more profitable. According to the Direct Marketing Association, it yields an estimated 4,300 percent ROI. Every dollar spent on email marketing offers a return of $44, says ExactTarget.

If you have customers, that are interested in what you’re doing and you’ve won them over with your brand and products, email (right now) is the best way to continue to market to them. In the table below, you can see how one company was able to double purchases—the second order is almost 4x more valuable than the first.

Firearm CAC

Source: Brand Growth Experts

But one of the hardest parts of e-commerce is turning a 1x customer into a repeat buyer. Customer churn is expensive, time-consuming, and taxing. Once you have your customer, you must work hard to keep them engaged.

Repeat business is the key from going to ‘feast or famine’ to stable, predictable revenue—like a SAAS company.

In a second example (below), when compared to Pay Per Click, you can see from this data, the difference between email and paid search, even when the order amounts are the same (250), the profit margin between email and paid is substantial. PPC obviously won’t apply to FFL items—but for scopes, holsters, safes, and other kinds of hunting, outdoor or firearm gear—this can be substantial savings.

 

Firearms PPC vs Email Marketing

Source: Brand Growth Experts

 

Assertion #3
The best way to implement email marketing is via a handful of proven lifecycle marketing campaigns.

Lifecycle Marketing

When a customer comes to your site, the customer is usually fairly excited and may end up purchasing more than one product from you. But over time, they become less engaged and will need more incentives and better offers to entice them to buy. So your goal as a marketer is to decrease friction with better offers. It’s also smart at this point to augment your email marketing efforts with content or inbound marketing to build/sustain your customer base and influence customer loyalty. 

The lifecycle dictates how to market: right offer, right segment, right time.

Conclusion: Master lifecycle marketing, master growth.

Email marketing combined with lifecycle marketing is one of the most powerful tools available to firearm, outdoor and hunting marketers—yet few have implemented it. Investing in a robust email marketing program that is wrapped into lifecycle marketing not only can generate revenue but build your brand and create customers for life.

Interested in seeing how your e-commerce store can be improved?

Contact Us Today!

 

Enhance your Firearm Digital Marketing


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Firearm Marketing in a Slow Economy

4 Questions About Firearm Marketing When Sales Slow Down

By | Firearms Marketing

Whether you’re seeing a “Trump Bump” or a “Trump Slump”—there are plenty of conflicting reports out there that provide insight into the health of our industry. Some true, but most of them false.

However, when sales are in a slump or your segment of the gun industry is stagnant (i.e. suppressors), consistent and creative marketing can be done cost efficiently to give you a little extra boost if you know where to start.

In this post, I answer four questions recently asked of me by a friend in the firearms industry that pertains to marketing when things begin to slow down. I hope these answers will give you some insight on how you can cost effectively boost your online sales if you’re in a slump.

 

Q1. What should a company think about when determining its marketing strategy in a slower economy?

A: It’s generally accepted that it costs three times more to find a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. In a slow economy (or when sales slow), focusing on your current customer base by using cross-sell/upsell tactics and customer-only incentives through email should be part of your plan to boost/sustain sales. Firearm enthusiasts tend to be fiercely loyal to the brands in which they put their trust. If you’re not showing love to your current customers via email marketing and social media—they may go somewhere else. Firearm manufacturers can no longer afford to have a one-way conversation with their customers, especially in a slow economy.

 

Q2. How does the slower economy affect, if at all, the mix of print vs. digital marketing?

A: A majority of firearm companies have not moved with their customers online. We need to remember firearm customers are also buyers of smartphones, music, cars, home repair services, technology etc. Over 60% of people begin research for these products and services on search engines. I believe traditional marketing is still important in the firearms industry because a lot of the opportunities other industries have available have been taken away from firearm brands (Facebook Ads, YouTube, and Google PPC). However, as firearm enthusiasts become younger, more urban and more ethnic, a magazine will not be the first place they go to research guns. Trends show more marketing budgets are being allocated to digital marketing (influencers, email, marketing automation, SEO, e-commerce, and content) because it’s cheaper, trackable and can be done in real-time. 

 

Q3. What are some low-budget but effective marketing tactics firearms and gear companies should consider? 

A: Influencer marketing has always been part of a smart marketing mix in the firearms industry. I believe it’s never been more important given the rise in fake news and manipulative advertising. Influencer marketing can be a low-cost way to reach hunters/shooters who have trusted followers on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The second—and just as important—is combining email marketing with segmentation, abandoned cart, personalization and automated workflows. These programs have shown to have a high-rate of return on investment and are a highly effective way to convert new customers, retarget old customers and keep current ones engaged. 

Check out these email automation software providers:

  1. Klaviyo
  2. Seventh Sense
  3. HubSpot
  4. Mail Chimp / Mandrill

Q4. What marketing strategy or tactic is absolutely crucial these days — and why?

A. Today, companies still need a marketing budget that mixes print, tv and trade show—but when things slow down, digital and e-commerce can deliver more bang for the buck. This is especially important for manufacturers with smaller budgets and a small list of dealers. By focusing on helping your customers become better in whatever their particular interests are (recreational, competition, home defense, tactical etc.) along with an innovative product roadmap, firearm brands will be able to remain fresh and relevant.

Customers want to hear from the brands they trust. When your brand is the most trusted and top of mind—customers are more likely to choose your brand over any alternatives.

What do you think? Comment below or send me an email.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

firearm marketing success failures

5 Successful Firearm Marketing Failures To Learn From

By | Firearms Marketing

Over the past 17+ years as a designer/marketer—I’ve experienced many successes as well as failures. To fail is human, and to fail is to get better—as long as you learn from your mistakes and don’t give up.

After some recent time off and reflection on a recent face plant—I asked myself, how can I reduce failure and improve my processes, so I don’t repeat them?

In this “rubber meets the road” post, I want to share five hard-learned “successful failures.” I call them “successful failures” because I have learned from these “biffs” which have made me a better marketing professional and person. I hope you can apply some of these to your own business or marketing career—whether you work for a firearm brand or are going it alone.

 

1. Always identify the problem you’re solving.

I was recently approached by a large brand with the goal of expanding market share. They didn’t know how, why or where to start. This vague and all-encompassing goal had no clear finish line. After much time and thought I realized I had nowhere to start on building a strategy because the goal was too broad. After going back to get the information I needed, I was met with resistance because the VP was not open to new ideas. This left me with a proposal that talked in circles and that was ultimately turned down. 

When goals are not defined, they end up causing a lot of confusion. Pain must be identified to find the problem you’re trying to solve. If the goal isn’t black and white; figuring out which way to proceed can be costly.

Lesson: Define the pain points you’re trying to solve for and use the SMART method to determine your strategy. Get to the heart of the problem and stick to it. When things start to veer off-course—always point back to the goal you and your team agreed on. Do not accept directions or requests that are vague.

 

2. You can’t put lipstick on a pig.

Several years ago, I worked with a start-up who came to me with the goal of quadrupling their online sales in one year. The company was unknown, and the product had several flaws. They had ample budget from the start but soon ran out of money once the program didn’t bring in the expected revenue. This was mostly due to product returns, complaints and the fact this product was more of “nice to have” than a “have to have.” Plus, the product was overpriced and their website was poorly designed and loaded slowly.  

They raised more money, tried a different marketing approach with a different firm which also failed. They eventually went out of business.

I receive calls weekly from start-ups and entrepreneurs who claim their product is a game changer. In my early days, I would take any project that came across my desk. But after several failed projects—like the one listed above, I now know better.

When a new lead comes in, I’ll spend 15 -30 minutes on the phone to talk with that person to understand more about their product and more importantly—try to figure out what kind of person they are. After reviewing and running it through my qualifying filter which looks something like this:

  1. What is the problem this product solves?
  2. Is there a large group of people who have this same problem?
  3. Does this product address the problem in an easy way?
  4. Is this product a “nice to have” or a “have to have?”
  5. Does this product disrupt a category?
  6. Is it the right timing for this product?
  7. What trends can this product ride?
  8. Can I work with this person or company?
  9. What does the competitive landscape look like?
  10. What will it take to achieve this business’s goals?

After the above ten questions are answered—I’ll usually have a good idea on whether or not we can help them and go back to schedule a longer exploratory call. It’s taken a long time to get to this point of understanding and many setbacks.

Lesson: All the marketing in the world won’t make a bad product good.

 

3. Pick the right projects and learn how to “manage your boss” (or client).

I’ve met many hard-charging entrepreneurs, business owners and marketers over the years—and one thing I’ve learned through—trial and error—is how to best manage them. I’ve worked with many individuals who I’ve liked, some who have become good friends and others who I’d rather not ever think about again.

Everyone is different and everyone has different expectations, ways of learning communicating and working. It’s up to you to figure out how to best manage the relationship. 

In his book, Managing Oneself, Peter Drucker explains how to figure out the best way to work with your boss (or clients) through understanding your strengths, weaknesses, how you work, how you learn, your values and how you can best contribute to your organization. 

“Bosses are neither a title on the organization chart nor a “function.” They are individuals and are entitled to do their best work in the way they do it best. It is incumbent on the people who work with them to observe them, to find out how they work, and to adapt themselves to what makes their bosses (or clients) most effective. This, is fact, is the secret of “managing” the boss.

Lesson: Learn who you are, what you’re best at, how you learn and how you best work. Keep to your core set of skills and inform the people that you work with how you work. Then learn how your clients, boss or co-workers work. This will make for better business relationships and ultimately better marketing outcomes.

 

4. Slow down. 

I’m very eager to please my clients—and this has gotten me in a lot of trouble when the production schedule gets off track.  

By saying you’ll have it done on Tuesday and then are not able to deliver it till Friday because a hundred things popped up (hacked website, downed servers, file transfers, email issues or just life in general) will tarnish your reputation and leave people questioning whether they made the right decision to hire you. Or, you rush through the deliverable to find out (from the client) it’s riddled with spelling errors and missed requests. 

Lesson: Don’t be afraid when setting the timeline to add one or two days (or a week) to everything you promise to deliver on. When it comes to contracts or project specs, go over the schedule in detail to make sure everyone is on the same page and expectations are set correctly. If you’re going to be late, tell the recipient well in advance, explain the situation and remedy it as soon as possible. Send your team, clients or stakeholders progress/update at least twice a week. Always remind yourself of the adage “under promise, over deliver.”

 

5. Don’t deviate from your core skill set.

I try to focus on three disciplines: brand development, design and utilize inbound marketing tactics to deliver my client’s brand to their customers. When I find myself talking to clients about things out of my core area of expertise, things start to go sideways and I end up trying to stick a round peg into a square hole.

Lesson: Stick with your core skill set and don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” Find experts in the areas you need help with. You will cause yourself less stress and deliver a better work product.

To sum up, marketing a firearm business can be extremely difficult—filled with failures, restarts, and do-overs. This is a competitive industry. Sometimes you need to figure it out as you go before finding out what works.

It took NASA over twelve attempts to get a rocket off the launch pad (Source: Wikipedia). Imagine if NASA would have given up after the 11th try. There’d be a Russian flag on the Moon rather than the Stars and Stripes. 

Hard-lessons make us better. The world was built on them.

So no matter where you’re at, keep at it. You might be one month away from a breakthrough that will change your life and business forever. Keep trying and don’t give up. Figure out what you’re best at and focus on getting better. Slow down, over communicate, fail often—fail fast and always keep striving to achieve your goals, no matter what they are.

Questions. Comments? Comment below or send me an email.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the tech, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

SEO and Firearm Content Marketing

SEO and Firearm Content Marketing – Why You Can’t Do One Without The Other

By | Firearms Marketing

With the firearms industry coming off of eight record years of growth—traffic on your website may be dropping, sales may be slowing, and panic may be beginning to set in.

You may have clicked on this post because you’re looking to get into digital marketing and you’ve heard SEO may be the place to start.

Whatever best describes you, in this short and abbreviated post, I’ll explain the difference between SEO and firearm content marketing and why you can’t do one without the other.

SEO

SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. (Source: Moz) By gaining visibility on search engines through organic (non-paid) results, your business can generate traffic, which in turn can equal sales. And with over 81% of all product searches beginning on the web, if you’re not showing up in search, your business may as well not exist.

Organic traffic in the firearms industry has a much higher rate of return because people searching are actively buying. This means their wallets are open and they are looking for a solution to their problem.

There are many factors involved in optimizing your website for search engines. Listed below are top ten must-dos to start. 

  1. Your website must be mobile responsive.
  2. Keywords that your prospects are searching for should be placed in the title tags of your website.
  3. Make sure your images are optimized to their lowest file size to decrease page load times and that they are also named using your keywords.
  4. An informative META description on your web page(s) that also include your keywords.
  5. Writing content on every page of your website that contains those same keywords at least five times (or 0.8%) within a 600-word text block.
  6. Having a well-designed page structure and code base where load hogging scripts are compressed and placed beneath the web page’s fold (the visible area of your website when it pulls up).
  7. A fast server and content delivery network.
  8. A good user interface that also contains your keywords in the main headings <h1>, <h2>, <h3> etc.
  9. Keywords in your URLs when possible.
  10. A good sitemap that can be read by Google, Yahoo, Bing, and others.

And that’s just ten. There are almost 200 other ranking factors that go into a well-optimized website.

 

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. (Source: CMI)

SEO and content marketing is like a double-sided coin. Just like weight loss, you can’t just work out and expect to lose weight, you have to make smart eating decisions too— day after day, week after week, month after month to achieve your goals.

SEO and content marketing are somewhat similar.

You can’t gain and sustain ranked keywords without doing both SEO and content marketing—day after day, week after week, month after month to achieve your goals.

Here’s why. Google who controls over 60% of the entire planet’s traffic indicates you must create fresh and relevant content (Source: Google) for your site to attain and sustain keyword rankings.

Once again, ranked keywords = visibility = traffic = $$$.

When you optimize your website or are building a new one from the ground up—SEO is needed to start the fire where content is the fuel that keeps it going. Depending on how competitive the segment you play in (ARs, Outfitting, Concealed Carry, Optics, Safes, Lasers etc.) you may need more or less content to compete. Online dealers get this. Companies like Optics Planet, Brownells, and Lucky Gunner have large digital footprints and have been building content for years and in the process turned themselves into a brand which Google also seems to favor

Content marketing also helps to build backlinks, gives empowering information to social media followers and your email marketing subscribers, and attracts Influencers. Backlinks are important because they tell search engines that your site is more popular than your competitors hence, giving you higher rankings.

SEO and content are a double-sided coin. You can’t be successful with one without doing the other. They go together like gunpowder and brass, bows and arrows, turkey hunting and 12 gauges. If you hope to start building your own digital footprint through SEO and content for the future, the time to start is now.

 

hunting-outdoor-firearm-blog-ebook

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

artificial intelligence firearm marketing

What Does AI mean for Firearm Marketing?

By | AI Firearms Marketing, Firearms Marketing

Imagine knowing what email subject line always gets the highest open rate, what media buy offers the best value, and what combination of graphics, products, text, and CTAs produce the greatest results.

If you’re still skeptical on what you hear about artificial intelligence marketing or AIM for short, consider this post an introduction to help you understand what most are calling the “second industrial revolution.”

As more demands are put on marketers in the ultra-competitive firearms industry—an added advantage can mean the difference between who gets to market first and who doesn’t. We all know a great product goes a long way, but a great product with great marketing dominates.

For most of us, data can be a good thing—but it can also be a digital firearm marketer’s worse nightmare. With more and more data streaming in from social media, search engines, email marketing, automation, trade shows, banner ads, influencer platforms and others—data is or has become something of a curse. The term: “Paralysis by analysis” comes to mind.

That’s the irony with data-driven marketing. We have spreadsheets upon spreadsheets and dashboards upon dashboards—but do we really know what to do with it all? On any given day, you make a lot of small decisions that can have a significant impact on results:

  • What time should I send my email newsletter?
  • What topic should I write my next blog post on?
  • Should it be a blog post, or should it actually be a video?
  • And for that CTA in the conclusion, what color will actually make people click?

Thankfully, very soon, all of these questions will be answered by robots. Well, not robots, exactly … but artificial intelligence. (Source: HubSpot)

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence first and foremost isn’t what you’ve been led to believe in the movies. It doesn’t mean we’ll be under the rule of evil sentient beings i.e. the Terminator—or an army of robots seeking to take over the world. Even the best and brightest say that is an impossibility. (Source: GovTech) What it does mean is that man and machine will work together as a team.

Artificial intelligence is the “science of making machines smart,” says Demis Hassabis founder and CEO of AI company DeepMind (which was acquired by Google). At a basic level, “smart” means achieving a goal by mimicking human cognitive functions. That goal could be winning a board game, correctly identifying a cat in a photo, adeptly using data from sensors to drive a car or anything else a human can do.

There are many forms of AI already in existent. You might recognize a few already:

  • Siri by Apple
  • Watson by IBM
  • Einstein by Salesforce
  • Alexa by Amazon
  • Spotify Music Suggestions
  • Facebook face/tag recognition
  • Growthbot by HubSpot

How AI will help you

How AI correctly can be applied to the firearms industry, for the most part, is still unchartered waters. Companies with large eCommerce stores like GalleryofGuns.com and GunBroker.com may be the ones to benefit most from AI to help them analyze user data and trends—if they’re not already.

Other cutting edge manufacturers like Beretta who was one of the first to adopt marketing automation can adopt AI to analyze trends through their programs to send cross-sell and upsell email offers to their contacts at the right place and at the right time.

Tools like Databox can aggregate data from your entire Martech stack and give you a way to improve KPIs across the board based on accurate and definitive data that can be understood. Perhaps even a print ad in Guns and Ammo may be possible to optimize by design bots in the future.

AI Firearm Marketing Data

Business analytics by Databox combines data from multiple sources.

“AI is about automating known tasks without distraction. As humans, we get easily distracted. AI can operate without distractions and without wasting time, making AI teams more efficient,” says Digital Visionary, Kevin Kelly.

How AI can help you market more effectively

AI MarketingAI marketing assistants
If you’re looking to get started with AI, I recommend checking out Growthbot, a chatbot designed by Dharmesh Shah at HubSpot. Growthbot can help you discover keywords your competitors are using, top blog posts and other information that will inform you about your content marketing efforts. Here are a few sample commands of what Growthbot can do:

  1. What are top articles on recoilweb.com?
  2. What software does gunbroker.com use?
  3. Show me top posts from ammoland.com
  4. Company overview for sigsaurer.com
  5. Grade website walther.com
  6. Show me something funny
  7. Connect my Google analytics account
  8. How was organic traffic last week?

“Your marketing assistant in the future might well be an app that provides advanced analytics information to guide advertising or content-creation efforts to drive traffic to your company’s website,” says Dave Burnett of AOK Marketing.

These apps—most in their beginning stages—will continue to get smarter over time. They will help you save time, make smarter investment/media buying decisions and increase and accelerate revenue.

AI websites
Imagine a website you speak to, rather than typing in a search or clicking on the nav bar. A future prospect may visit Springfield Armory’s website, tell the site what they are looking for and then the site serves them three pistols for self-defense along with some videos and training articles—specifically designed and tailored to that known user’s interests.

This type of work is already taking place with companies like grid.io where all you do is place content and the site designs itself.

Better content through AI
Artificial intelligence platform Acrolinx uses a unique linguistic analytics engine to “read” all your content and provide immediate guidance to improve it. “Our technology is transforming how the world’s biggest brands create high-performing content,” says Dr. Andrew Bredenkamp, founder, and CEO. Other companies you should start becoming familiar with is MotivaAlbert, and BoomTrain.

Will AI take away our jobs?
Some say yes, some say no, regardless, what you should be doing right now is learning all you can about AI. How to use it, how it works and how you as a marketer will fit into the disruptive changes coming soon to our industry and marketing as a whole.

As you start to drink out of the fire hose that is AI, it’s important as firearm marketers to think ahead about how we can continue to push the industry forward in terms of technology, attract younger customers, delight current customers, and how all this wraps into protecting our 2nd amendment rights.

I predict, like others—AI will soon impact us all. Regulated industries seem to run 5-8 years behind when it comes to new technologies. Companies who can get out in front first will have a head start on what is sure to be an very interesting ride.

 

Enhance your Firearm Digital Marketing


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.