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The 5 Rules Of Brand Extension For Firearm Companies

By Firearms Marketing

There will eventually come a time in your firearm or hunting company’s history that you’ll discover opportunities to branch out into new product/service segments or into new categories all together.  

Brands take years and thousands of dollars to develop. The most effective and safest way for established brands to introduce new products and services without damaging their brand is by utilizing a practice called brand extension.

Brand extension leverages the equity and power of your current brand to penetrate new segments and categories faster and for less cost.

However, utilizing brand extension does come with some inherent risks. If the product doesn’t align or make sense with its parent brand, you may risk diluting your brand altogether. You also may end up alienating your current customers—leaving them wondering what it is you stand for. 

The golden rule in brand development is to be known for your one thing. You can read more about identifying your brand’s one thing here. But for this article’s purpose, your one thing must align with the new product or service you are introducing.

Below are a few simple rules with examples to consider when using brand extension to penetrate new customer segments or if you’re evaluating bringing a new product/service to an entirely new product category.

 

Ruger Pepper Spray

Ruger Pepper Spray

Rule #1. Do not dilute your current brand.

Brands that can successfully extend into a different product category have already established brand equity. If your company has yet to build brand equity, you will find leveraging an unknown brand is like starting from scratch. It is better to carefully extend by appealing to a segment of your current base while trying to reach new customers.

Industry example:
Ruger is using its name to sell a line of pepper spray products. Although this tactic seems somewhat strange from the manufacturer, I can see where this makes sense. Ruger has built its brand on reliability, you may recall their tagline “Another reliable firearm from Ruger.”  Their pepper spray may be reliable, but does it fall out of alignment with what the Ruger brand is known for: firearms? I would have suggested starting a new brand from scratch and subtly mentioning that it was manufactured by Ruger. This I feel would leave Ruger’s brand essence in tact while introducing a high-quality pepper spray while not confusing customers. 

Compare this to a brand like TASER, who is known for non-lethal self-defense products.  

 

sig-suppressor-ad

Sig Sauer Silencers

Rule #2. Identify your brand’s core attributes.

You must know your buyer persona and brand’s core attributes (also known as brand values) in order to understand if your brand can successfully carry a new product into a new category. For example, if your attributes are classified as rugged and tactical, and you want to extend a new product to be smart and sleek, your new brand extension is going to be out of alignment with what the parent brand is known for.  

Try to tie the new product to the parent brand’s core attributes as much as possible. Utilize the dominant elements of your logo, imagery and color palette. The goal is to keep the branding recognizable while offering up a slight variation to signify the difference.

Industry example:
Sig Sauer introduced their line of suppressors back in 2013. This is an example of a firearms brand entering an entire new category (suppressors). Except this time it works pretty well. The ad and their website stays close and aligns with the main Sig brand making this extension work seamlessly. 

 

Rule #3. Make sense out of your reasoning.

There have been some grand out-of-industry brand extension failures over the years. If you’re unsure about extending your brand with a new product, go with your gut, if it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Here are a few that failed to hit the mark:

brand extension

Would you fly on Hooters air? Wings yes, flying… no. 

 

Rule #4. Decide if you are a House of Brands, Branded House or a Hybrid.

Are you a House of Brands or a Branded House? What’s the difference? Brand Architecture is an important consideration when introducing new products. A House of Brands relies on multiple brands while the parent brand sits in the background and mostly goes unnoticed. A Branded House is a corporation who runs multiple brands under the same name. A Hybrid is a combination of both. 

An example of a House of Brands is the Freedom Group. Freedom Group owns Remington, DPMS, Bushmaster, Barnes Bullets, Mountain Khakis, Tapco and others. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be Proctor and Gamble (Tide, Vicks, Downey, Crest, etc.).

browning-brand-extension

Browning Clothing Brands

An example of a Branded House would be Springfield Armory, Glock, and most other manufacturers. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be FedEx (FedEx Express, FedEx Ground, FedEx Freight and FedEx Services). 

An example of a Hybrid is Browning. Browning manufactures knives, guns, safes, clothing, ammunition, flashlights and more. They even license their brand out. Each category has their own individual brand with Browning’s brand intrinsically intertwined. For comparison, an out-of-industry example would be Coca-Cola.

Rule #5. Test it out with your customers before going all in.

Not sure if your brand extension will work? If you have a loyal customer base, a little transparency and getting your customers input on your plans can go a long way. Utilize a small test group or conduct a survey to test the new product and record the feedback for validation of your offering. Testing is always the smart thing to do first before going all in. 

In conclusion, extending your brand can be done, but it must be done with careful consideration. Make sure whatever you do doesn’t dilute your current brand that you’ve worked so hard to establish. Know your brand’s core attributes and make sense out of your reasoning. When designing your new branding—stay close to your brands’ look/feel and test it out on a small group of your most loyal customers with surveys. If you’re just starting out and you know that somewhere down the line you’ll be adding more products—take the time now to plan for how those products will be added into your brand architecture to save time and cost.

firearm-inbound-marketing-tips

3 HubSpot Tips for Firearm Industry Marketers

By Firearms Marketing

HubSpot is the leading marketing automation tool for inbound marketing. Heck, they coined the term “inbound marketing.” If you’re using the system or are interested in HubSpot and how it can bring a much-needed understanding to your online marketing efforts, then in this post—I’ll give you 3 tips I’ve learned along the way to keep your HubSpot portal organized and running smoothly as you build traffic, leads, and sales for your outdoor, hunting or shooting sports company. 

1. Keep your CTAs organized
“CTA” stands for Call-to-Action. CTAs are those little (or big) bright buttons (see the bottom of this page) or small ads on your web pages, blog posts and emails. They are like beacons that lead your visitors through the buyers journey and tells them what action you want them to take and where to go on your website.

Here’s why CTAs are important:

  1. More than 90% of visitors who read your headline also read your CTA copy. (Unbounce)
  2. Emails with a single call-to-action increased clicks 371% and sales 1617%. (WordStream)
  3. Adding CTAs to your Facebook page can increase click-through rate by 285%. (AdRoll)

We live in an attention deficit world. CTAs help you focus your website visitors on what to do next. If your goal is to convert your website visitor to a customer, lead or subscriber—CTAs are how you do it.

CTAs however in HubSpot can get quickly out of control. By not organizing your CTAs properly, you’ll start to get lost when it comes time to analyze the data. A simple suggestion is to label your CTAs in this syntax: LOCATION: TITLE OF POST/OFFER. See example below.

HubSpot CTA

By keeping your CTAs organized by where they appear on your site and by title, you can quickly analyze which pieces of content are working and which ones are not. You can also use the various sort functions and charts within HubSpot. 

2. Start your persona and list segmentation early
One of the biggest mistakes I see when companies begin an inbound firearm marketing program is they start with unsegmented lists that they built from their previous email marketing program like MailChimp or Constant Contact.

This is problematic because they failed to capture key prospect information like hunter or shooter type, company name, and essential buyer persona interests. This leaves you with a mixed bag of contacts that doesn’t provide you with the understanding of who makes up your contact list, which is foundational to personalization or “one-to-one marketing.”

Personalization statistics:

  1. When asked to prioritize one capability that will be most critical to marketing in the future, one-third of marketers answered: “personalization.
  2. Marketers see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized web experiences. 
  3. Personalized CTAs resulted in a 42% higher conversion rate than generic CTAs.
  4. 74% of consumers get frustrated when website content appears that has nothing to do with their interests.
  5. 76% of marketers define real-time marketing as personalizing content in response to customer interactions.
  6. 78% of CMOs think custom content is the future of marketing. 

If you’re planning on starting an inbound marketing campaign in the near future, start your segmentation efforts now if you’re still using a standalone email or form marketing application. Define your buyer personas and add in form fields that allow your prospective customers to self-identify when they provide their contact information when exchanging it for one of your downloadable offers.

firearm-inbound-marketing-personas

Buyer Personas

 

3. Build 10-15 landing pages to supercharge your lead generation efforts

Without a focused and persuasive landing page, your lead capture efforts will fall flat. But also just as important is that you have enough.

Landing page facts: 

  • 48% of marketers build a new landing page for each marketing campaign. 
  • 68% of B2B businesses use landing pages to garner a new sales lead for future conversion.
  • 16% of landing pages are free of navigation bars. 
  • A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel.
    (Source: HubSpot)

While most companies don’t see an increase in leads when increasing their total number of landing pages from 1-5 to 6-10, companies do see a 55% increase in leads when increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15.

firearm marketing landing page

And look how that leads index number spikes, even more when a company has 40 or more landing pages on their website. And here’s how it breaks down for B2B and B2C businesses:

firearm marketing index pages

Source: HubSpot

Make sure to clone each form for each landing page so that you can label and test for maximum effectiveness, especially when working with workflows.

By keeping your CTAs organized, segmenting your contact list from the beginning and creating more than 10-15 landing pages—you’ll keep your HubSpot subscription running like a well-oiled M4.

Have a question about HubSpot, schedule a call!

firearm-brand-product-development-strategy

Daniel Defense: The 3-Legged Stool of an Effective Firearm Brand Journey

By Firearms Marketing, Brand Development, Branding

Your firearm brand is built by multiple touch points (advertising, customer service, product experience, etc.) repeated day after day, month after month, year after year to establish a collective understanding of what your brand stands for in the mind of your customers and the broader firearm industry.

According to an NSSF survey: Accuracy, Reliability, and Manufacturer Reputation are the most sought after qualities in a firearm—especially an MSR. How do you build a brand that conjures up these same feelings and opinions?

In this post, I’ll outline the journey your brand must take when looking at building an effective long-term brand strategy by using a three-legged stool analogy and the legendary story of Daniel Defense to help you think clearer about how to move your business forward and how to create a stronger brand reputation that increases your brand’s equity and ultimately your success. 

Where to start?
Brand strategy is the business case for change at a brand level. It envisages the future position of a brand in the marketplace, based on the company’s wider business aspirations and its ability to deliver and market brands that align with that desired position. (Source: BSI)

When asking what your desired position is—where do you see your company in 5, 10 or 15 years? Do you want to be known as the brand with the most aesthetically pleasing platform? Or perhaps to be referred to as the lightest firearm? These aspirations must be guided by a strategy to get you to a place in the market that belongs only to you in the mind of your customers. Getting to your desired perception may involve taking several paths. It may be first to target and invest in the government sector to establish a reputation before entering the ups and downs of the consumer market. It may be to build your reputation as an OEM first before creating your consumer branded line of products. Whatever your goal is—it must be linked directly to the problem you’re out to solve coupled with a scalable business model that gives you sustainable growth.

Stool Leg 1: Solve the problem

big-hole-upper

Photo credit: Daniel Defense

Marty Daniel started in 2001 by creating the Big Hole Upper Receiver—which forever improved the way we mount sighting systems to ARs. This led to several other products like the M4 12.0 hand guard that was a direct replacement for the Army Marksmanship Unit. Marty’s product solved a problem in the industry that gave him the starting point of building the reputable brand Daniel Defense is today. His starting point was recognizing a problem and solving it. (Source: Guns & Ammo)

How to get there.
The purpose of brand strategy, is to identify how far the brand must “travel” perceptually in order to be competitive, the benefits of getting there for the business, the purpose and values that the brand culture will need to adhere to in order to make that journey and the competitive resistance that the brand may encounter getting to that end point. It’s the why and the where. (Source: BSI)

Stool Leg 2: Build respect

What aspects of your story must be created and perfected to get you to your ultimate brand destination? Is it an investment in talent? Is it infrastructure? Is it a reputation among law enforcement or the special operations community? Define how you can link your marketing efforts to strategy, product development, operations, and other areas to create unique value for your customers, so you have a compelling story to tell.

After the success of Marty’s upper, and a follow-up sling mount product—he designed the RIS II Rail System and was awarded a lucrative contract with SOCOM. And then won an additional contract with the UK Ministry of Defense’ which in essence proved his engineering prowess and design capabilities as a serious manufacturer. This created the second leg of his stool: Respect.

How to stay there once you arrive.
Staying on top is sometimes much harder to achieve than getting there. So you must ask: “What’s my next success?” What has your brand planned for next? How will you capitalize on what works? Why will that feel like a natural extension of the relationship that your customers already have with you? Your purpose should provide clear guidelines for future development. (Source: BSI)

Stool Leg 3: Scalability

By thinking of itself as a manufacturer of the world’s finest weapon systems—not just rails or rifles—Daniel Defense has extended its development license considerably. It can literally look for new ways to give people experiences they haven’t had and positions them to be one of the largest manufacturers in the industry. 

three-legged-stool-brandTo scale his business, Marty saw three components to add to the momentum of Daniel Defense: In-house equipment (hammer forge machining) that allowed him to control quality, output, and price. This all lead to increased customer service and his intuition to surround himself with competent staff and employees. Today, Daniel Defense is the epitome of an American success story and one of the most admired brands in the firearm industry.

You can build a brand around the three most coveted value propositions in the firearms industry: accuracy, reliability, and a strong reputation—by thinking critically about the journey it’s going to take to get you to your desired brand position. This path may be somewhat familiar of other firearm brands, but proving your product’s ability to fulfill a niche in the industry, proving that your product is reliable and scalable, you have the three legs to sustain your brand that will stand the test of time and win the hearts and minds of those who depend on what you create.

 

LEARN HOW TO BUILD YOUR BRAND

firearm marketing missing the mark

Is Your Firearm Marketing Missing The Mark?

By Firearms Marketing

Are you banging your head against the wall from wasting thousands of dollars on your latest ad placement, PR push or website design and still have yet to see results? 

Good design and a quality product isn’t enough anymore to cut through the clutter, skepticism nor the noise in the firearms industry. 

Companies who want to maximize their firearms marketing efforts must go deeper into understanding how their brand can be leveraged and how content (inbound) can be amplified through placed or earned media (magazine advertising, television, sponsorships, product reviews or trade show) to get the biggest bang for their buck—while building their brand.

Your marketing must be on target to make it effective. Below are 5 points that will help you focus your marketing like a laser. 

1. Brand purpose

Can you define your company’s purpose? Your purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning. Purpose goes beyond just making money. Brands with a strong sense of purpose are more admired, more profitable and attract more customers. 

Every brand makes a promise. But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose. (Source: Forbes)

marketing pyramidMission and vision support your purpose—this provides the direction of your company. Mission and vision are then supported by your goals. Every brand is built on goals. Without goals—your brand falls flat that can affect your company’s sales performance, employee productivity and engagement—which will ultimately result in lost revenue and customers. (See right: Strategic Pyramid by Marty Neumeier)

The most successful firearm campaigns today are purpose driven, here are a few good ones:

  • Sig Sauer – Complete systems provider.
  • SOG – Gear made especially for adventurous people who like to “live on the edge.”
  • Beretta – Quality Without Compromise.
  • Mauser – A symbol for the real, successful hunting experience.

When investigating any one of these brands, you’ll most likely begin to admire them—place them on a higher shelf in your mind or choose them over their competitors. 

2. Customer focused

If you’re hoping to launch a marketing campaign without the understanding of who your customers are or what your brand means to them—you might as well throw half your marketing budget out the window. All great marketing campaigns begin with knowing who your buyer persona is. You create buyer persona’s by identifying specifically who you’re talking to by interviewing them to learn more about their pain points, background, demographics, wants, needs and what channels are best to reach them. If you haven’t talked to your customers in a while—it may be a good time to check in with them.

3. Be S.M.A.R.T.

What is it that you hope to accomplish with your marketing? Is it brand awareness, more customers, increase signups to your loyalty program, drive traffic? Is it attainable? Each campaign you initiate should result in some kind of action that can be measured (see next). Define what it is you hope to accomplish with every campaign. See “How To Set SMART Goals”.

turkey-hunting-tips4. Measurable

Can your marketing be measured? If you place a printed advertisement, give a presentation, attend a tradeshow or send out a direct mail piece—how can you measure the effectiveness of your investment? A good marketing campaign can be tracked and measured and should be able to provide the data you need to make a more informed decision next time around. An effective way to do this is to create a content offer that you can track back to your website. By offering a free whitepaper or ebook, that gives your customers’ in-depth information on how to solve a problem—you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of your campaign through traffic generation and lead conversions. See Havalon’s ebook example.

5. Nurture and deliver qualified leads/sales

The number one responsibility of marketers is to deliver qualified leads to your dealers, distributors or sales team. Does your campaign have a way to efficiently qualify leads? By placing your website at the center of your marketing activities, you can effectively track visitors driven by outbound methods to your website.

In conclusion, marketing that hits the mark starts with a well-defined brand that is customer focused, specific, measurable and that delivers qualified leads to your dealers, distributors or sales team. If you’re just placing ads and creating alot of activity in the marketplace and hoping for some kind of response, you may be wasting precious time and money on your marketing.

 

8-Remarkable-Firearm-Industry-Brands-Emerging-From-The-Pandemic

8 Remarkable Firearm Industry Brands Emerging From The Pandemic

By Firearms Marketing

COVID-19 continues to upend entire industries like travel, hospitality, entertainment, events, restaurants, and education, to name a few (Source: McKinsey)—while the outdoor, hunting, firearms, and shooting sports industry has—and continues—to set new sales records. Multiplied by social unrest, riots, lawlessness in our cities and the upcoming election, we have yet to see the end of how high sales will go (that’s if the supply chain can keep up). 

It’s been an interesting experience because while the economy around us has spiraled out of control, our industry has not only survived the past 6 months—but has thrived. The only way I can describe it is like being in economic vertigo. Big pieces of the global economy are going one way, but our industry is going another (up). 

In this article, I wanted to point out a few brands that I’ve found worth mentioning (that you might not know about) in the times we find ourselves in. If you’re a business leader, director, or marketing/sales professional—the below examples will help you think through your offerings, marketing programs, and perhaps spot future trends.  

 

Brenton USA

Photo Credit: Brenton USA

1. Brenton USA – Finding the Whitespace

Bartt Brenton, founder of Brenton USA hunts with ARs. After several years of not finding an AR suitable for hunting, he decided to design his own. Bartt, a former engineer at the world’s largest cyclotron at Michigan State University, brings a fresh approach to hunting with his Performance-Grade AR Hunting Rifles. Brenton approaches his rifles from a hunting perspective—rather than a tactical orientation. This approach means hunter specific controls, sizing, calibers (450 BM, 350 Legend, 6.5 Grendel, 6mm ARC etc.), and components designed for the hunter, not the warfighter. The AR provides the hunter with the latest in firearm design and gives hunters who have decades of experience a whole new hunting experience—and for those returning from overseas, a familiar platform to hunt with.  

Why is this remarkable? 

I find Brenton USA an excellent example of finding whitespace and growing in an extremely saturated market. 

 

Easy Export

Photo Credit: EasyExport

2. EasyExport – International Firearm Exports

Up until now, exporting firearms, parts, optics, accessories, and suppressors has been a tedious and risky proposition. EasyExport, founded by compliance and export attorney professional Jeff Grody, makes it easier for firearm manufacturers to tap international markets without the hassle of navigating the complexity of export regulations.

EasyExport enables U.S. sellers and lawful foreign purchasers of firearm products to do business easily and legally online by efficiently solving all the regulatory challenges. EasyExport’s interface allows e-commerce companies to vets and qualify approves oversea purchasers that who then seamlessly connect to sellers’ their websites to shop. After the purchase is complete, EasyExport clears the order for shipment after the purchaser has been approved.

Why is this remarkable? 
EasyExport solves a complex problem that allows firearm companies to tap the expanding and lucrative international market. EasyExport is currently in BETA with four customers: ETS, Volquartson, TANDEMKROSS and LaRue Tactical and is set to launch later this fall.

 

WPSN

Photo Credit: Warrior Poet Society

3. Warrior Poet Society – Building a Community

John Lovell, former 2nd Battalion Army Ranger started like most YouTubers: reviewing products and providing shooting tips— but over time, John’s purpose turned into a movement—just as he intended.  

John’s Warrior Poet code: “Be a protector and lover of people” has attracted over 1 million followers across YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. 

Social media giants and big tech continue to demonetize, throttle back and censor accounts that promote capitalism, the military, 2A values, and faith. Seeing the writing on the wall, John and his team launched the Warrior Poet Society Network (WPSN). The channel features content on firearm and personal defense training, leadership, family, and faith that subscribers can access through the website, app, Roku or Amazon Fire. 

Why is this remarkable? 

Eventually, YouTube, Google, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram will pull the plug on 2A content. They are quickly moving this direction already because it’s not a matter of if, but when. (Source: Bearing Arms). Several off-YouTube channels exist like Full30.com and GunStreamer.com, but none has attempted to create a branded community with such a defined purpose. I find this remarkable and refreshing. 

 

hunting-scope-and-optics

Photo Credit: TRACT Optics

4. TRACT Optics – Trailblazing E-commerce

COVID has changed consumer behavior forever, and according to new data, this means consumers are:

  • Making fewer trips to the store
  • Shopping more online
  • Looking for deals more regularly
  • Aligning with brands that share their values

Source: Valassis

Founded by two former employees of Nikon, TRACT Optics, set out to create high-performance optics without the high-retail markup. TRACT launched its online company back in 2015. TRACT utilizes a direct-to-consumer model that allows them to not only manufacture higher-quality performance-grade optics without high retail markup costs but also to deliver a personalized online brand experience. 

E-commerce sales have jumped over 42% from last year because of COVID and continue to increase. (Source: DigitalCommerce360) What we’re seeing is more brands shifting focus to online sales. To some companies surprise, COVID has changed opinions on e-commerce: “Hey, this e-commerce stuff works.”

For example, Daniel Defense launched a full e-commerce website early this year, where customers can order rifles direct. Glock announced last month that it is selling through Guns.com. When brands like DD and Glock make a move like this, you can be sure others are soon to follow. These types of tectonic shifts have the potential to change the entire dealer/distributor model forever. 

Why is this remarkable? 

There are an estimated 5 million+ new first-time gun owners as of this writing (Source: National Review). And we’re still a few weeks away from the election. 2020 will be the biggest sales year the firearms industry has ever seen. If big brands have forgone e-commerce in the past, you can be sure they’re talking about it now. TRACT was one of the early pioneers to step out of industry norms and trail-blaze what is now quickly becoming the new normal. 

 

FalconStrike Recoil Pad

Photo Credit: FalconStrike USA

5. FalconStrike – Innovation

For years, reducing recoil has been left to rubber pads and expensive contraptions built into stocks—until now. Martin Gaudet, founder, and inventor of the patented FalconStrike has come up with a way to reduce recoil through hydraulics in a compact and easy-to-install pad. As Baby Boomers and GenXers get older, FalconStrike helps more aging joints and the less stout deal with the punishing effects of recoil. The pad borrows its design from the aerospace industry where Martin’s systems have been used on aircraft and in the space program. This understanding has led to a drastic reduction in recoil energy, push back, muzzle rise, and felt recoil. All of these combined factors give shooters more accuracy, comfort, and more time shooting. 

Why is this remarkable? 

Recoil is a constant when it comes to shooting. Less of it is always a good thing. A softer, more comfortable shooting experience makes a better time for all when smaller calibers can’t be used.

 

True Velocity Guns and Ammo6. True Velocity – Breaking the Mold

I always thought that if the industry could figure out how to mainstream caseless or rechargeable ammo—that it would set the industry on a course that resembles Star Wars. But for now, we’ll have to settle for True Velocity. True Velocity’s premium composite-cased ammunition made from polymer offers distinct advantages over conventional brass-cased munitions, including drastic weight reduction, heat signature elimination, and significantly improved accuracy. The casings are also 100% recyclable. 

Why is this remarkable? For decades ammunition has relied on brass casings, but now there seems to be an alternative. This kind of thinking will continue to push the ammo segments into new territory and give consumers a second option. The round has been reviewed and reported to be just as accurate if not better than its’ brass counterpart. How will this change the future of ammo? Right now, ammo backorders have been rumored to stretch out (for some brands) 2-3 years. Finding new ways to manufacture ammo is a problem that needs to be solved.

 

Sig Sauer

Photo Credit: Sig Sauer

7. Sig Sauer – Capitalizing on Customer Journey

One-way to quickly become a top 5 gun manufacturer (outside of winning a lucrative military contract) (Source: Shooting Industry) is through understanding how and when to add products to the customer journey. The thinking is if a customer trusts you for one purchase like a pistol, they will trust you for more, like a rifle, optic, and ammunition. And this is what SIG has done. SIGs’ loyal customer base has allowed the company to expand into electro-optics, ammunition, suppressors, and air guns that provide their customers with a “complete system.”

Why is this remarkable? 

Most firearm manufacturers get stuck in creating just one product—however, to expand and grow, it may be necessary to expand your offering into other segments as long as you can maintain your brand focus and profitability. 

 

MantisX

 

8. MantisX – In-Home Shooting Practice

MantisX is a revolutionary shooting system that helps shooters improve their shooting precision. It can be used on pistols, rifles or shotguns (or bow)—dry fire or live fire. While attached to a pistol or rifle, MantisX analyzes your shooting mechanics, diagnoses issues, and coaches you on how to improve. With so many new shooters coming into the industry and the scarcity of ammo and firearm instructors, MantisX is a good way to practice shooting fundamentals and stay sharp until you can get back to the range.

Why is this remarkable? 

MantisX allows me and other experienced shooters the ability to save on ammo while keeping shooting skills sharp until ammo supplies get restocked. New shooters will also benefit. 

In conclusion, as the COVID era runs its course, we’re seeing many brands strengthen their position, launch products in uncertainty and pivot to new online opportunities—domestically and internationally. We have a few more months to go, but I concur… “What a crazy year it’s been!”  

What about you? What brands have stood out to you during this time? 

The-Future-of-Firearms-Advertising

What is the Future of Firearms Advertising?

By Firearms Marketing

The onslaught against the firearms industry has never in history been more fervent. Lawsuits are emerging at a disconcerting rate across the U.S., and as a marketer in the firearms industry tasked with advising clients on marketing advice I had to ask the question: 

What is the future of advertising in the firearms industry? 

In this article, I want to share five thoughts that will help you—the firearm marketer or business owner—think through your future advertising efforts to help you navigate and defend against the onslaught of our adversaries’ misunderstanding and the litigious efforts to destroy our industry and the good people in it.


1. What makes advertising effective?

Any piece of advertising (print, tv, radio, digital or otherwise) attempts to let others know about how a product or service can help them survive or thrive. If you are advertising a shoe’s new cushioning system that softens your foot strike or a pillow that enables you to sleep better, copywriters will typically use the following framework:

  1. Identify the customers’ problem 
  2. Offer your product as the solution 
  3. Show how your product solves the problem
  4. Show empathy and authority (why they should listen to you)
  5. Explain the consequences and successes of using your product
  6. Call them to action: Buy Now, Subscribe or Sign up

The above framework can be identified in almost every effective advertisement in the world. And yes, it does work when done correctly. Next time the MyPillow commercial on T.V. interrupts you, see if you can follow the above narrative. 

Advertising a firearm is no different than advertising a Toyota, Dr. Pepper, iPhone, or a pair of Nikes. Advertising seeks to inform potential buyers of a product’s functions and features that moves a buyer towards purchasing your product. By aligning your product’s brand attributes with that buyer’s worldview, you increase the odds of the purchase. We call this the customer transformation. Include an eye-catching image, a call to action along with a sizable media buy, and you’ve got the makings of an effective campaign.


2. But now we’re at risk.

If you’re a firearm brand that places an ad and your product is used in a shooting—even though the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects you—you could become the target of a potential lawsuit.  

gun ad

Photo credit: Remington

The Bushmaster ad being used against Remington Outdoor Co. in the Newtown shootings is now waiting to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs and allows the case to proceed, the case would go back to the Connecticut State Supreme Court to determine the merits. That could give the plaintiffs access to Remington’s internal marketing documents during the discovery process. (Source: WSJ)

UPDATE: November 15, 2019
U.S. Supreme Court denied Remington’s petition for review of the state supreme court decision. This means the plaintiffs may be able to gain access to Remington’s marketing materials through the Connecticut court. 

According to Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “the families lawsuit is intended to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense American’s safety.”

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs will adversely affect the firearms industry and potentially set a precedence and open up every other industry to litigation. For example, if your tire falls off while you’re speeding and kills five people, those families could sue the tire company because the tire company’s ad told you that you were the kind of driver who likes to drive fast. 

Photo credit: Bridgestone



That’s why you need to understand how to protect your company’s brand from these frivolous lawsuits.

Take action

ATTEND THIS WEBINAR: Marketing Practices Liability in the Firearms Industry
Orchid Advisors and Williams Mullen are sponsoring a Free Webinar Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 2:00 EST 

Register by filling out the form on Orchid’s contact page and select “Webinar” under “I’d like to learn more about.”

Topics will include

    • A review of the PLCAA, the Connecticut case, and the theory of potential liability.
    • The severity of risk should an industry member get sued for criminal misuse of products.
    • Best practices for monitoring and policing marketing strategies.
    • Additional steps industry members should take to reduce risk.

  firearm advertising webinar
3. Virtue signaling

More and more companies whose CEOs worldview align with anti-gun sentiment and those who disagree with certain products and political positions are steering their ships in the direction of what is called “virtue signaling.” 

Virtue signaling looks like this: 

  • I don’t like your product 
  • Not liking your product can help strengthen my brand 
  • We should come out publicly against your product
  • Taking a position against your product will ‘hopefully’ breath new life into my diminishing brand 

We’ve seen this with Dick’s Sporting Goods and WalMart. You also might recall the Nike ad that featured Colin Kapernick as a way to strengthen Nike’s brand with its’ urban audience.

Photo credit: Nike

 

Shopify removed firearm dealers and manufacturers from using its platform last year. Due to the pressure of financial institutions and gun control groups, we can expect more virtue signaling in the years to come. 

Take action 

Manufacturers and dealers need to create open-source websites and avoid getting caught up in virtue signaling platforms and software companies who are against firearms. i.e. SalesForce. Make sure you know where your intended solution provider stands on the 2nd Amendment.


4. Social media and the ensuing increase in gun ownership

Facebook, Google, YouTube and Instagram make no secret that they are against the firearms industry. The latest bans and advertising restrictions implemented by the largest social media networks make it very difficult for the firearms industry to advertise their products—and from experience seem to be getting worse.

These restrictions are just another way they are shaming the firearms industry out of the public square of debate. However, this isn’t about debate anymore—this is blatant censorship. As customer behavior changes, firearm brands need to look for other strategies to help grow their businesses.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing programs, though once hard to instigate, can now be developed at scale without the use of certain software platforms. Mark Schaefer, a marketing expert and author who spoke at this year’s NSSF CMO summit about the coming “Marketing Rebellion,” talks a lot about people not wanting to be sold—but to be helped because advertising is losing its effectiveness. I tend to agree with him if you’re trying to market toothpaste or car insurance—but not firearms, which is an enthusiast and hobby sport. As a law-abiding gun enthusiast, I enjoy looking at ads in Guns and Ammo and so do other law-abiding gun enthusiasts. 

As violent crime rates increase and would-be presidential contenders like Francis Beto O’Rourke and others tout gun confiscation, people will—by instinct—seek ways to defend themselves. This is one of the reasons the women segment is outpacing any other segment in the industry. They will make their decisions on what their friends and family recommend and only use Facebook and Google to reinforce their intended purchase, which I believe contributes minimally to the buyers’ lifecycle when it comes to purchasing firearms. Last month’s record setting background checks underscores this trend.

Take action

Brands building social media groups and followers on third-party platforms are at risk of losing precious marketing capital. Utilize multiple social media platforms as well as pro-gun and pro-hunting platforms like Powderhook and GoWild. Build great products, utilize your email marketing, SEO/voice and bolster your customer service programs to build word-of-mouth.


5. God, America, Guns, Masculinity, and Trump

Another front on our industry is how advertising restrictions are tied to the #metoo movement, masculinity, and those who support President Trump. Every marketer knows that riding trends can help push a brand message further. Gun industry opponents are utilizing the current culture war to amplify their messages. This is why you see a united attack on Christians, law enforcement, guns, hunters, men, and President Trump. The opposition makes no effort to hide it.  

It will be up to marketing professionals to communicate a message of respect, strength, resolve and defense along with our product’s innovations that stands resolute in the face of these blatant attacks and censorship.

Take action

Review your advertising with firearm legal professionals to mitigate the risks of your advertising. 

 

So, what is the future of firearm advertising?

Regardless of the outcome of the Remington case—firearm advertising, which once required little to no legal involvement will now pressure prudent marketers to add a legal review in their timelines. Some won’t comply, and that is their right. However, with the culture war reaching new heights, fake news, the division in our country getting deeper, and the disregard of the United States Constitution—it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What are your thoughts on the future of firearm advertising? Please comment below. 

 

firearms-defense-marketing-webinar

Outdoor Wire: Garrison Everest now offering certified StoryBrand messaging services

By Outdoor, Firearms Marketing

Nashville, Tennessee — Standing out in the competitive outdoor, shooting sports and defense marketplace can be difficult—if not impossible. Everyone says and does the same things that hinder the best products and services from reaching their potential. And with more distractions from smartphones, emails and advertisements, having a clear and concise message is more important than ever.

Garrison Everest is pleased to announce its StoryBrand certification and that it is now offering this proven framework to the outdoor and firearms industry. The StoryBrand framework is based on New York Times best-selling author Donald Miller’s Building a StoryBrand, Clarify Your Message so Customers will Listen. Its framework is built around the power of storytelling that is applied to marketing to help brands communicate more clearly in the age of distraction. StoryBrand helps outdoor, firearms and defense brands do the following:

  • Answer the seven universal story points all humans respond to
  • Understand the real reason customers make purchases
  • Learn to simplify a brand message so people understand and act on it
  • Learn to create the most effective messaging for websites, advertising, email and social media

Thousands of businesses have trusted StoryBrand to help them clarify their message, revolutionize their marketing, and grow their businesses. It has been used in major motion pictures, award-winning websites and ad campaigns.

“I see many brands not communicating clearly as I look across the industry. Confusing messaging is stymieing their growth and perhaps the growth of our industry. StoryBrand helps you clarify your message so customers will listen,” says Josh Claflin, president of Garrison Everest.

About Garrison Everest

Do you struggle to stand out in the marketplace? Whether you’re just starting out or looking to take your product or service to the next level, get the guidance, expertise and assurance you need to maximize your marketing dollars, rise above the marketplace noise and beat your competition. Garrison Everest offers several marketing solutions to help you stand out, attract new customers and grow your business. Schedule a call at www.garrisoneverest.com

About StoryBrand

StoryBrand helps brands clarify their message so that customers listen. The StoryBrand framework, which is trusted by over 10,000 organizations, will help you confidently create websites and emails that actually work, without spending a fortune on marketing that doesn’t. Learn more at www.storybrand.com

Garrison Everest is offering a Webinar: How to Stand Out In the Marketplace with StoryBrand on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 at 1PM (Central Time Zone). Seats are limited and will fill up fast. Save your seat at: https://www.garrisoneverest.com/storybrand-webinar

 

 

Clear Messaging Tasklist for Outdoor, Hunting and Shooting Sports Business Leaders

CLEAR MESSAGING TASKLIST

How much is unclear messaging costing you? 
The following tasklist will help you (the business leader, director or executive) in the outdoor, hunting, adventure or shooting sports industry determine if your message is clear. It will help you and your team think about how to make your customer “the hero,” and position your brand as the “the guide” that will revolutionize your marketing.

Outcomes: 

  • Introduction to a 7-part framework to clarify your message
  • Know what to say and what order to say it in
  • Give your team a messaging process that can be implemented across all your marketing materials

DOWNLOAD TASK LIST

 

How Firearms Companies Can Outthink Their Competition With Inbound Marketing

By Outdoor, Firearms 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.


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.

 

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

 

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 HubSpot and  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

 

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

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. 

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 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.