A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty percent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of other studies have recorded the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make.
The rise of social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might buy a Remington hunting rifle or Bear Bow because that’s what your Dad hunted with. Today, such considerations to brand loyalty matter much less due to the availability of customer reviews. Now, each product has to prove itself on its own.
A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. – Office of Consumer Affairs
If you have a great hunting, outdoor or firearm product and are looking for ways to maximize your branding to increase sales and build your reputation in the industry—here are 8 sure-fire ideas to help turn your customers into raving fans that will increase your bottom line and build your hunting brand.
1. Be somebody
The old saying goes, “you can’t be everything to everyone.” Companies must find a way to stand out among the marketplace clutter and find the “whitespace” to stand for something. Don’t just tell your customer your products are quality, superior or dominating—demonstrate it. Prove to them you are worth their time by demonstrating your brand values, mission and how it will benefit them.
2. Make them feel something
The best way to connect in today’s digital world is through storytelling and contextual marketing. Our ancestors sat around a fire telling stories since the dawn of time, and this still continues today—except now we get it from the TV, the internet or social media. There is something intrinsically valuable to storytelling. When you connect with people at the heart level and make them feel something—your message will go a long way. Today’s marketing isn’t about highlighting features and benefits, it’s about “celebrating the benefit in the way it impacts other people’s lives,” says Simon Mainwaring, author of “We First.” Put your product in context of real everyday stories for greater impact.
“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”
3. Be authentic
The best way to be authentic is to just to be yourself. Too many hunting and firearm brands try to be something they’re not. Weave your personality into your content, messaging and imagery. Through authentic and good-willed communication, customers will innately share your message and bring it to life.
4. Delight them after the sale
Do not have a “one and done” mentality. At the end of the sales process and after the product has been delivered, add value to your customers through events, continued education or through helpful content that continues to solve their problems. This will increase their loyalty to your brand. Show them you care after the sale. It costs 5 times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones. (Source: Forbes)
5. Make it all about them
Every product or service should be centered around what is called a buyer persona. If you don’t know who your customer is, you leave a lot of opportunity on the table. Make your customer the superstar of your business.
Here are a few examples:
- I’m in the market to buy a new MSR and I can’t figure out which brand I like better. Daniels Defense, DPMS or Stag Arms. I may find an ebook on Daniel’s website “How to choose the right AR.” In an easy to understand format, it provides me options, use, price and other customer reviews to help me make a better decision. I’ll most likely choose a Daniels.
- I’m a gun store owner looking for information on how to best track my inventory. A manufacturer may send me a case study on how other gun store owners are using their product to help them to keep track of their firearms and remain compliant. The manufacturer then follows up with a series of emails that builds trust.
- I’m a hunter who is not sure what kind of bow I will need for an upcoming elk hunt. A manufacturer might send me their top 3 bow recommendations based on my stated preferences.
6. Talk their language
Don’t use fancy terms and ‘gobblygook’. Talk their language. Using the examples above, meet them on the range, in their facility or on the mountain. Talk to them like an old friend. You have to earn your customer’s money more than ever.
7. Give them what they want
Do your absolute best to make a great product and don’t cut corners. If your customers ask for something—give it to them. Give them a way to sound off on what is needed to make your products better. You can create a customer support portal with an area titled “Submit product ideas” to encourage participation in your product development. Don’t let Facebook be the platform they choose to voice their disproval if something with your product goes wrong.
8. Fanatical customer support
Last, but not least, customer service—has become the new marketing. When you provide great customer support, you are much more likely to have that experience passed on via word-of-mouth.
A survey by Harvard Business Review concludes that customers want knowledgeable front line customer service reps and that the problem be resolved on the first call. On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company. This points to the importance of companies hiring people who align and know their brand(s) products best. Hire your customers.
One of the best examples in the outdoor industry specifically is REI. Go into any REI, and you’ll find people as passionate about conservation, good equipment and being outdoors as you are. You can’t train passion.
Are you in a boring industry segment? Then the focus should be shifted to recruitment and employer branding. There are 1.6 million people who work in the hunting industry (Source: Congressional Sportsman Foundation). Are the best people working for you?
A great non-industry example is Zappos, the shoe company. Who gets excited about selling shoes? At Zappos, the culture is the product and shoes are what they do on the side. Create a great culture to work at and the boring product stuff becomes fun.
“So many people when they go to the office, they leave a little bit of themselves at home, or a lot of themselves at home. And they have to put on this different persona in the office, especially in corporate environments. And our whole…there’s a lot of talk about work life separation or balance and so on, whereas our whole thing is about work life integration. It’s just life.”— Tony Hsieh, CEO
In conclusion, it all starts with a great product. To connect that great product with your customer—you must be somebody, you must be authentic, social, make your brand all about them, talk their language, give them what they want and provide outstanding customer service above all else so that good customer reviews come natural.
FREE DOWNLOAD: A Hunting, Outdoor & Firearms Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona
The key to maximizing your marketing efforts
In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer is. This will enable you to set SMART goals that focus your marketing and branding efforts.
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.