Most marketers looking to start a digital marketing program for their company in the outdoor, hunting, shooting sports industries are usually met with some resistance from the higher ups.
After all, PR, print, and tradeshow have always been the industry norm. But COVID has changed everything. The need for a robust digital marketing program that focuses on D2C sales is essential in 2022 and beyond.
If you’re still on the fence about pulling the trigger on the benefits of a cost-effective digital and inbound marketing program and are serious about getting on track to building your digital footprint for the future, now’s a good time to reconsider.
In this post, I share three case studies that we’ve worked hard on over the past 2 years that received some outstanding results.
12-Month E-commerce Case Study
Garrison Everest was approached by a 2-year old consumer products company who had big growth goals that were having trouble getting traction in the marketplace. Due to the cost of entry to place print advertising—they were looking for other means to make their brand known.
A rebrand was conducted that included new packaging, logo, and e-commerce website to make their products more appealing and more attractive to prospective buyers. Next, we built out three digital marketing programs that included SEO, email, and industry partnerships. To build brand awareness, the SEO program utilized content and industry writers to build backlinks on popular publisher sites. On-page and off-page optimization was also included. Lastly, we began engaging on social media daily, which added a human component versus a faceless brand image with their followers who in the end, shared the client’s brand goodness with their followers.
400% Increase in traffic from the previous year
40% in social media followers across Facebook and Instagram
112% increase in email subscribers
The amount invested provided the client with a 624% return on investment. The program paid for itself six times over.
“That’s like putting a dollar into the stock market and getting six dollars back.”
12-Month Influencer Case Study
A mid-growth company was having problems getting its product to penetrate a competitive accessory segment. Print and banner advertising provided diminishing returns, which set them looking for other ways to get more bang for their marketing dollar. Garrison Everest provided an influencer marketing strategy that worked with prominent industry celebrities and social media influencers to raise awareness of their product.
9.1 M Impressions
7.2 M Estimated Reach
What made this influencer marketing program remarkable was the low CPM. Compare a $6.5 CPM to the cost of placing a banner ad on leading sites where CPM costs can be as high as $25. Influencer marketing provided great value to this company.
24-Month Inbound Marketing Case Study
Faced with growing competition and a changing landscape, a B2B company contacted Garrison Everest to help them differentiate in the marketplace and generate leads and customers online.
They were already placing large print buys but were not getting good returns, nor were they able to track their results which made them feel like they were throwing their money out the window.
We started with a comprehensive brand development assignment that led to a website redesign and a 12-month inbound marketing campaign. Over the course of the next 12 months, traffic increased, leads multiplied, and through automation, we were able to nurture those leads into customers.
The first campaign was so successful that they renewed for an additional 12 months.
233% increase in traffic
383 new customers
664 additional blog subscribers
225% in social media followers
So does digital marketing work in the outdoor, shooting sports and defense industry?
Yes, it does— unfortunately banging on this drum is difficult because for most marketers putting all their money towards print, PR and tradeshow is more comfortable. However, with the customer base skewing younger, I would argue traditional is becoming a risky bet.
Digital marketing is all about daily repeatable tasks. Identify a clear message, the right channels, launch, track, optimize, tweak, rinse, and repeat.
As you consider this year’s marketing budget, think about what a reliable digital marketing program can do for your company’s growth and the added benefits of a profitable revenue channel that works for you 24/7/365.
5 KEYS ON HOW TO STAND OUT IN A COMPETITIVE MARKETPLACE
Is your brand getting noticed?
In this ebook, we’ll give you 5 keys for 2021 that will help you differentiate and grow your business. We’ll share why it’s important to have a clear brand message, how to build a website that works, a simple marketing plan, how to gather testimonials the right way and a few marketing tactics that offer the biggest bang for your buck.
Influencer marketing in the shooting sports industry has changed a lot since 2016. Back then, brands didn’t understand how to collaborate with influencers, and influencers weren’t sure what to charge. Most influencers were happy to receive a free product—but all that has changed.
Marketing budgets continue to expand for influencer marketing as more money pours into influencer pockets. Brands are going to spend up to 15B on IM by 2022 (Source: Business Insider). And for a good reason—the effectiveness of an influencer strategy continues to yield unprecedented results— 5x, 10x, and even 2000x return for just one video posted on YouTube.
In this article, I look at a few shifts brands and influencers should be aware of in the outdoor, hunting and shooting sports industry as we move into 2021.
Photo Credit: Alex Zedra
1. Increasing Prices, More Significant Returns
Influencer costs continue to rise. On average, it costs 500% more to collaborate with prominent influencers today than it was just three years ago. As you might guess, this is due to increasing network sizes and content that is Hollywood-grade. For example, I’ve worked with a prominent influencer for the past three years. He used to charge $1,000 for a YouTube review—today he charges $6,000. This cost may seem steep, but his content (over time) has generated massive returns for our client(s). As influencers increase their followings and their brand grows, their economic value and ROI increases as well.
Authenticity and engagement remains the secret sauce that makes influencer marketing so powerful.Alex Zedra, a popular influencer in the firearms industry—who has over 2 million followers—works with several top brands and runs her own AZ branded fan store says,
“Companies are starting to recognize the creativity and the impact creators have on a brand. Influencers know what content/ads work best for their following. It comes off organic and genuine—better than a corny television or magazine ad.”
2. Here Come the Talent Agencies!
Over the past five years, the talent agency business model has rapidly adapted to influencer marketing. Talent agencies believe that an influencer can be treated the same as a famous actor, model, or athlete.
In the entertainment industry, talent agencies begin by finding talented actors to represent their agency. They attract and contract actors that they believe will book jobs for them i.e. commercials, radio spots or movies. (Source: Top Hollywood Coach) These agencies then add a percentage to the total bill — usually 10-30%.
However, some have figured out that the talent agency model can be adapted to influencer marketing, which may seem the same on the surface—but are quite different and pose challenges to both the influencer and the brand manager.
According to Danielle Wiley of The Sway Group, a leading influencer marketing agency with first-hand experience, says, “The talent agency model simply isn’t ideal for full-scale production of highly successful influencer marketing campaigns.” Furthermore, “Today’s influencer marketing industry has evolved beyond simply securing paying gigs for creators: the most successful campaigns are the result of expert creative guidance and in-depth program management from start to finish.”
In other words, to make influencer marketing work, you shouldn’t just approach it as “hiring an influencer.” The strategy involves collaboration, management, ongoing communication and support to make it useful—for both the brand and influencer.
The good and the bad of talent agencies
If you’re a professional influencer who is too busy to market yourself, then signing up for representation may be a good idea. Still, you should be aware of the upside and downside of working with talent agencies.
Talent agencies can help you market your influence.
Signing exclusive contracts may guarantee you more jobs.
Joining a group of other managed influencers makes you feel supported.
Talent agencies are tempted to favor higher-priced influencers than lower-cost influencers.
Talent agencies can throttle or block influencers’ earning potential by increasing costs.
Influencers are locked into exclusionary contracts that prohibit them from working with brands they want to work with.
You may be forced to give up your current relationships to the talent agency that may harm your existing agreements.
Talent agencies may require you to do more work than you typically agree to.
So depending on your needs, hiring a talent agency comes with the good and the bad. If you’re an influencer, I recommend not signing exclusive agreements so that you can maximize your opportunities.
3. Saturation and Competition is Increasing, But So Are The Number of Influencers
As a person who conducts marketing in the industry, I commend the folks at Black Rifle Coffee. They were wise (before influencer marketing was a thing) to sign up every famous gun influencer (mostly women) on social media. It seems like you can’t go anywhere without seeing one of the industry’s top female gun/fitness/politico influencers wearing something with the BRCC logo on it. Other brands have also done a great job as well: Vortex, Yeti and Liberty Safes to name a few.
We work in a highly competitive industry where most brands are blocked from advertising on Facebook and Google. More and more brands are making the move to influencer marketing, which is causing saturation and are finding that the influencers they want to work with are already representing their competitors.
But don’t fret—there are also thousands of new gun-related content creators popping up every day. And with 7 million + new gun owners this year, you can expect even more. As of this writing, according to our search tool, there are 48K influencers with a global reach of 8.1B—with the majority going to female accounts.
NOTE: 8.1B does not represent people; it means total social media accounts.
4. What is Your Influencer Marketing Plan B?
As we move into 2021 and the Biden/Harris presidency looming, what can industry marketers expect regarding social media and the use of influencer marketing? Working with influencers is an effective way to build brand awareness, especially for lesser-known brands. But what would happen if all gun-related content were suddenly shut down? Instagram made a move earlier this year with their Collab Tool to require all influencers to start tagging brands they work with and threatened to shut down all gun-related accounts. We have yet to see the massive cancellations they promised. A popular YouTuber’s Facebook page got pulled down this year, only to be re-activated after public outcry—but how much longer will these efforts work before full-out censorship? How would you pivot if your influencers got shut down?
Here are five things I would consider:
Move investment into podcasts and podcast sponsorships
Identify ways to identify and engage forum influencers at scale
This is the year to think seriously about what your Plan B is if influencer marketing plays a big part of your marketing plan.
5. A Few Things We Are Looking Forward to in 2021
Olivier Kennedy of Enigma Swiss says, “We live in a post-truth world, influencer marketing is one of the rare trust enablers that works.” Influencer marketing is not going away anytime soon and is one of the best ways to earn your prospective customer’s trust. And with the “sold-out year” upon us (more to come on that later), remaining relevant will be crucial as manufacturers struggle to fulfill demand. Below are a few things we’re going to do more of this coming year to make influencer marketing more effective:
Turn our client’s customers and counter-level retailers into ambassadors
Recruit more pico influencers (300) to create content for our clients and rely less on larger influencers
Offer more revenue sharing opportunities to our influencers, so it’s a win-win situation for both the brand and influencer
Focus more on niche influencers
Focus less on vanity metrics and more on performance
In conclusion, we’ll see influencer prices continue to increase, more brand saturation and competition, and talent agencies hinder influencers. Think about your Plan B if you rely heavily on influencers and keep an eye on new exciting new trends like social commerce.
What about you? What do you see in regards to influencer marketing in 2021?
As influencer marketing picks up steam (59% of marketers are planning to increase their influencer marketing budgets over the next 12 months, Source: Tomson), new tracking tools like Upfluence, Famebit, Traackr, Mavcrk and others are starting to become more affordable—allowing you as a business owner or marketer in the outdoor industry to track your influencer marketing efforts more efficiently. These programs help you:
Find and choose the right influencers
Identify fake accounts
According to Obviously, it takes 71 hours to work with just 15 influencers. So the need for tools that help you save time can be beneficial.
When starting influencer marketing, you must begin with a SMART goal. Goals should be divided into Reach, Impressions, and Engagement.
Sample influencer marketing goal: (Reach) 2 million prospects to build awareness of my product that drives 1.3 million (impressions) and 500K likes/views (engagement) that increases revenue 20% in 3 months.
Whatever you’re trying to accomplish, make sure to communicate those goals clearly to the influencer. Below is a breakdown of each.
1. Reach determines the potential audience size you can attain. This is easily calculated by adding up all the followers and subscribers of your influencer’s network across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest as well as a monthly blog or website visits. To get a sizeable reach—choose influencers with larger networks where 60%+ of their audience engages with their content regularly.
2. Impressions determine how many of those people reached actually saw the influencer’s post. You can reach a large audience—but if you can’t access them, low impressions may signal fake followers or low engagement.
3. Engagement involves action. Action is a click, share, view or like. This is the metric you’ll want to track closely as this indicates how effective your influencer is in getting their audience to notice your product and take action.
There are other ways to track the ROI of your influencer marketing
Tracking links and coupon codes, like affiliate marketing, can be used to track sales via your online shopping cart. Make sure to use systems that allow transparency so your influencers can log in and see the deals they’ve generated. Modern online shopping carts like Shopify, Volusion, and WordPress have affiliate tracking functionality built-in.
Website Traffic is also a good indication of your influencer marketing efforts. We utilize Databox as a way to combine all our metrics into one dashboard to report on our efforts.
One of the most significant outcomes of influencer marketing is the content that is generated from your campaign. If blogs are created on an authoritative influencer’s website—then those links will boost your SEO efforts if linked accordingly. Photos, videos, and imagery can be negotiated as part of the contract and reused in your brand’s social media feed or in email campaigns to create consistency in your messaging.
Social listening tools also allow you see what is being said about your product—negative or positive—so you can make any adjustments and nip any terrible customers experiences in the bud before prospective customers see them.
An influencer marketing campaign is one of the best marketing moves your brand can make and can net you over 11 times the ROI of banner ads and PPC when done correctly. However, as with all strategies, you’ll get the best results by tracking progress and adjusting as needed, which means applying the same data-driven mentality as you would to any other strategy (Source: Forbes)
I recently sat down with Brad Luttrell who runs one of the most popular podcasts in the outdoor industry: Restless Native and the wildly popular GoWild App. If you haven’t checked them out, I highly recommend it as a source of not only great content but also as a direct line into what’s happening in all things outdoor.
Restless Native is a podcast about maximizing every moment we have in between birth and death. We chat conservation, cooking, fishing, hunting, entrepreneurship, success and failures.
In this episode, we discuss influencer marketing and the changing factors brands must navigate to maximize their marketing dollars. Below is the excerpt from the episode and link to listen in.
Influencer marketing is relatively new… One of the things I look for first in ever single influencer we work with, is do they have …”
— Josh Claflin, Digital Marketer
Over the last few weeks we’ve unveiled a lot of behind the scenes content from GoWild. Today I have one of the better looks under the hood of outdoors marketing that you’ll hear.
Brand content doesn’t happen like your personal content. It’s not spur of the moment. Brands have content calendars, copywriters, photographers, designers, strategists, account managers and, maybe most importantly, thousands and thousands of dollars at play here.
There is no one philosophy on how to build a brand or spend a budget. Some people live and die by print ads and trade shows. Other brand managers may invest heavily in video content. But lately, there’s been a huge trend to push for influencers.
What is an influencer? A lot of people would generically say it’s someone with a lot of followers. But my guest today is here to tell you having followers doesn’t make you a leader.
Josh Claflin is very knowledgeable. He’s going to unveil some things some outdoor brands might not even want you to know. We’re going to get into how the social media sausage is made. And I will bet that for many of you, he’s going to open your eyes to tell you follower and vanity metrics don’t necessarily make you an influencer. Or even relevant.
In fact, Josh is going to unveil the one thing his company looks for beyond your like counts, follower numbers and impressions. (Source: Ever Restless)
I recently had the privilege to present to the Professional Outdoor Media Association on the topic of “How to Become a Better Influencer in the Outdoor, Hunting and Firearms Industry” in Lincoln, Nebraska, June 14, 2018.
Influencer marketing is changing in the outdoor, hunting and firearms marketplace due to increased interest, fakenews, and social media algorithm changes. If you’re new to influencer marketing, this talk showed you how to leverage this highly effective marketing tactic more efficiently for yourself and the brands you manage. I presented the latest trends, tools and insights, and how to track and charge/price accordingly.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to build a small pocket of influence with hundreds of marketing professionals and executives in the industry. I also work with some of today’s most popular influencers. This has provided me a unique insight into the workings of influencer marketing in the outdoor, hunting and firearms industry.
Below are eight points (and my slides) I gave to an audience that included writers, influencers, marketers, photographers and content creators on how to strengthen, grow and optimize their personal brand’s influence.
What is your area of specialty and interest, what is your focus? What area of the outdoor are you most passionate about?
For example, when I switched my agency focus to firearms, hunting and outdoor—I made our agency stand for something that stood out among other “all purpose” digital agencies. This allowed me to do a few things:
I repelled prospects from other industries I didn’t want to work with, while attracting prospects and qualified leads from the outdoor industry.
Broke through the clutter with a defined message and industry expertise.
If you’re a photographer or writer who covers all things hunting and fishing, I strongly suggest you narrow your focus on what you’re most passionate about. For example, you may only want to focus on Wolves, Big Horn Sheep or Mule Deer Photography.
Let your personality come through, don’t be afraid to be you.
2. Set Goals
I’m big on the SMART Goal method (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). You may want to grow your audience by a million followers in one month—but that may not be realistic. Set your goals and work towards them on a daily basis with consistency. Make sure you have a goal post.
Always remember to write your goals down! If you don’t write them down they don’t exist.
3. Know Your Audience
Over time, you’ll get a good feel for your audience. You’ll understand what makes them tick, what problems they have and why they find you interesting.
Take at least 10 – 15 minutes and engage once a day.
Influence is nothing without engagement.
Use Instagram, Twitter and Facebook’s built in analytics to help you understand age, location and interests.
4. Be Helpful—Don’t Sell
In order for influencers to persuade, you must become a solution provider.
When I started doing inbound marketing for my digital agency, I looked to help my prospects first. That in turn earned their trust and allowed me to position myself as a solution provider and a partner in growth. It’s always a service, never a sell.
Furthermore, if you love the brands you represent and believe in them, your audience will naturally love them too because you’re not necessarily selling someone, you’re adding value to their lives.
For more information on how to perfect the art of persuasion, check out Adversaries to Allies, By Bob Burg
5. Be Authentic and Honest At All Costs
Never sacrifice your audience’s trust at the product or brands expense. If the product breaks or is faulty, you may find yourself in a tight spot. So always test the products you’re considering before signing that contract. Posture your clients by being brutally honest if the product doesn’t work and outline what the ramifications are.
6. Build a Website and Blog!
This past week, we saw Brownell’s YouTube channel removed from YouTube—and then, fortunately it was reinstated.
With all the anti-hunting/anti-gun social media channels out there—don’t rely on these third party channels. So many influencers are building their livelihoods on these third-party apps that can shut you down right now and for any reason.
Blog – When considering influencers to work with, I look to see if they have blogs that are updated consistently. Blogs provide content that work for your brands 24/7/365. They also build links and gives your visitors the ability to share information more efficiently.
Affiliate links – Blogs are also great for placing affiliate links that help you generate more revenue.
Contact Information – Make sure you have your contact information available within your Instagram/Facebook/Twitter profiles so brands can contact you. So many influencers out there give no way for people to get in touch with them.
7. Create a Good Mix of Content
Instagram video consumption has increased 40%
Photos generate 36% more likes than videos
We all know content is gold. Your content must add value to your audience. Create a good mix of high-quality video and photos. (Source: SproutSocial)
Make sure to always tag your content with a #sponsored or an #ad tag to remain in compliance with the FCC. Influencer marketing is still like the Wild Wild West, so make sure to stay up to date on any changes.
8. It’s not About You.
At the end of the day, if you’re not adding value to your audience, you’ll start to see your followers level out. When you truly grasp this—your entire mindset will change. (Source: Julie Solomon)
“Influencer marketing is not about you, it’s about them.”
About The Professional Outdoor Media Association (POMA)
Whether you’re a hunting and ﬁshing industry communicator, industry professional or an avid outdoor sports enthusiast, POMA is working hard for you. POMA is dedicated to seeing the traditional outdoor sports story is told honestly and fairly so hunting, ﬁshing, the shooting sports and trapping will endure. Learn more on their website and sign up today!
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 grow in the digital era of marketing.
If you’re an influencer or aspire to be one in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, there are some things you can do to attract more brand partnerships and generate more revenue.
There still seems to be a lot of confusion as to what an influencer and influencer marketing is, what to charge and what brands can expect in return. And with the latest Facebook and YouTube policy changes, everything is in disarray.
In this article, we offer some examples, advice and direction to influencers in the firearms and hunting industry looking to increase their growth and earning potential—and if you’re a marketer, information you can use to conduct and manage your influencer marketing campaigns more effectively.
What does it mean to be an influencer?
Influence means to impact other people. Thus an Influencer is someone who is influential or changes the behavior of others, which implies visibility (i.e., on a platform like social media) of an engaged audience. The keyword here is engaged (Source: Upfluence). There are three basic types of influencer marketing formats, some even say twelve—but for this article we’ll give these three basic examples to start with.
A. Engage by offering commentary and information John Lovell’s video (below) not only helps answer several questions about how to manage recoil but also intertwines helpful advice as well as a certain amount of candor.
B. Engage with style and humor You may also follow someone to be entertained, or for their particular style or because they have the “it” factor. No matter your reason, the influencer gives you something of value and makes you feel better about being associated with them in some way. Alex Rogers (below video) adds her own unique humor and satire to spoof an infomercial-style post on Instagram for ETS’ speed loaders.
Probably one of the most successful (out of industry) influencer marketing videos online is by Producer Casey Neista. His “Make it Count” video for Nike has received over 27M views. As you watch this, how does this filmmaker make you want to buy a Nike band? How can this kind of approach and creativity be used in one of your videos?
The above three examples is influencer marketing done correctly. Each influencer not only has a highly engaged audience but can achieve the advertiser’s goal of reach, awareness, and engagement. True influence drives engagement from an audience that has bought into your mission and purpose.
1. Define your niche
Influencers range the gamut in interests and subject matter. There are gun aficionados, tactical trainers, tactical special ops trainers, CCW instructors, industry newsers, gun rights activists, writers, reviewers, trick shooters, myth busters, gun guys, gun gals, gun bunnies and a list of celebrities and some who are all the above.
According to a recent search in Upfluence, (a influencer marketing search, management and tracking tool), you can see the growing size of social media accounts that mention/include the keywords in orange—and their reach.
39,000 social media profiles with a reach 5.7 Billion #firearms #guns #2A
47,000 social media profiles with a reach of 4.5 Billion #hunting #deerhunting #turkeyhunting
124,000 social media profiles with a reach of 10 Billion #outdoor #hiking #camping
36,000 social media profiles with a reach 3 Billion #fishing #flyfishing
NOTE: Social reach includes multiple profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, YouTube and Blogs
These numbers are substantial.
You must decide what your niche is going to be and then become the best in it. Whether it’s through humor, information, conservation, stunning videography, style or personality, define your niche and own it.
Hickok 45 for example, is just an ordinary guy in Tennessee who’s humor and straight-forward advice on products has garnered the trust of 3M+ followers—all from his backyard.
2. Invest in your own website
YouTube has given many signs over the past two years of its growing hostility towards gun content creators (and some hunters). But when the move finally happened, it seemed to catch a lot of people by surprise. For those who had already been quietly building their website—the change wasn’t much of a shock.
Build a website that will enable you to host your content, generate organic traffic and build an email subscriber list. Invest in professional lifestyle photography and make it engaging that focuses on selling your unique personality, talents, skills, and niche.
It’s a huge bonus and an ever-growing requirement for brands when influencers run a blog that contains exciting and engaging content that is updated regularly. Blogs combined with video offer brands an “evergreen” solution that they can reference, build links and enjoy a continuous flow of referral traffic. Traffic can be a compelling selling point to leverage, which brings me to my next point.
3. Negotiate costs appropriately
If you don’t have an idea on what to charge, you can cause some frustration to the advertiser reaching out to you. Depending on how much you post and what kind of engagement and influence you have—you should know how much you’re worth. Some advertisers will set the going rate based on their budget and invite you to participate.
In the past, manufacturers who wanted to spread the word about a new product would ask reviewers to write an article or post to their social media accounts for free. “We’ll send you a gun, keep it for three months, give us a good review and send it back.” says Jonathan Wright of Tactical Toolbox, “but all this is changing.”
One way to determine costs is to use a tool called Social Blue Book. This tool will help you determine what’s fair and what’s not.
If you’re having trouble and don’t know what to charge, below are some baseline rates to consider if you work in the firearms, hunting and outdoor industry.
Micro – Tier 1 Reach < 250K (40-60/100 Engagement Level) At this level, (also known as the “Power Middle”) you’re still growing your network or just starting out, and your level of engagement is on the rise. $50-$100 per postBlog w/ Video Post $250 (inclusion/mention) $500 (featured)
Macro – Tier 2 Reach 250-500K (60+/100 Engagement Level) At the Macro level, you’ve been working for several years, know what works and what doesn’t, and you have a good understanding of your audience and a good idea on how to keep them engaged.$200-$1000 per postBlog w/ Video Post $500 (inclusion/mention) $1000 (featured)
Mega – Tier 3 Reach 500-1M+ (60+/100 Engagement Level) At the Mega level, you’ve reached somewhat of celebrity status. You know one post can send thousands of sales your client’s way. $1000 – $5000+ per postBlog w/ Video Post $1000 (inclusion/mention) $5000 (featured)
4. Ask for revenue share
If you find yourself in a position where the brand can’t afford your fee, but you want to work with them, then the next best thing is to ask for a link and a percentage of sales you generate. Similar to becoming an affiliate, this will also help you understand your effectiveness and how to improve over time.
Typical rates range from 2-7% of all sales. There should also be an affiliate log in area on the brand’s website that allows you to log in to view your sales. You can also use software to track your own performance.
5. Be responsive and follow directions
A great way to build trust, accountability and get your contract renewed is to stay in contact with your brand representative or agency and know their product inside and out. Let them know what you’re working on, when to expect your posts and the occasional phone call to bounce some ideas around. Make sure to read the directions of what the advertiser is asking you to do and get a good understanding of what their goals are.
Partnerships that are collaborative will always be the most effective. As a paid or sponsored influencer, you must keep your client’s best interest at the forefront. It’s a delicate balance, because after all, you know your audience better than the brand, but the brand is paying you to access it. Be upfront and candid about what works and what doesn’t. Work together to come up with the perfect solution. Is posting twice a week going to be overkill? Or can one engaging video post once a month have a more significant impact? Go off of what’s worked in the past and how the product aligns with your unique style.
6. Focus on engagement
As an influencer, the main reason brands are interested in you is because of your ability to engage with your followers. Engage means to attract their interest. Whether you are a Power Middle or a Mega Influencer—engagement and your ability to move the needle whether translates into likes, shares or sales—is more important than the number of followers. Posting static pictures or sarcastic comments may not be enough.
7. Track your results
Most influencer marketing is done online, so it’s possible to track every post on social media and record its value. Every campaign should include a #hashtag or designated keyword. There are several software companies marketers use to track earned media value, impressions and reach.
Influencer marketing in the firearm, hunting, and outdoor industry continues to change as the social media landscape shifts. You most likely got into posting reviews and videos for fun, maybe made a little ad revenue on side in the past, but now with stiffer competition and serious money starting to flow into influencer marketing due to recent algorithm changes on Facebook, and reports that influencer marketing can bring a 11x ROI on marketing spend—there’s a lot you can do to start attracting brands and making more money in the process.
Remember to find and own your niche, invest in your website, charge a fair price, be responsive, drive engagement and be aware of how to track your efforts. And most of all have fun!
If you’re an influencer looking for opportunities, Garrison Everest represents several brands looking for the right ambassadors to carry their message. Contact us using the form below!
Influencer marketing in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry has been a tried and true method of connecting with hard to reach demographics since the days of Buffalo Bill.
Often referred to as Pro Staff or Ambassadors—top hunters like Jim Shockey, Brian “Pig Man” Quaca, or shooting professionals like Colion Noir and Julie Golob and hundreds of others—have been commissioned by the industry’s top brands to exert their influence over their vast number of social media followers.
Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than a brand itself. And it makes sense if you think about it in a more personal context. You don’t usually trust a person at a party who comes up to you and brags about him/herself and spouts fun facts about his/her personality to convince you to be a friend. But you often believe your mutual friend who vouches for that person. An influencer is a mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. (Source: Kissmetrics)
In this post, I answer five questions about influencer marketing that will help you understand how to integrate this powerful tactic into your marketing strategy.
1. What is influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use theinfluencer to get the word out for you instead.
Influencer marketing typically involves content marketing and social media as the mechanisms to propel those messages. Whether they are producing the content themselves like Mia Anstine for Beretta or you are writing it for them and putting their name on it—influencer marketing almost always involves the tactics of content marketing with social media as its primary distribution channel. (Source: TapInfluence)
2. How do you find the right influencer?
Did you know that just 3% of people generate 90% of the impact online? Considering this alarming statistic, it should come as no surprise that leveraging the power of this select group of influencers serves as a highly valuable strategy for businesses looking to expand their reach. (Source: HubSpot)
In the hunting, outdoor and firearms world, the industry is full of shooting, firearm hunting experts, and proponents that blog and create videos. A few are popular celebrities like Luke Bryan or nationally syndicated radio host Dana Loesch. Below, I used Followerwonk and Buzzsumo to identify top Instagram accounts of industry advocates that have large audiences to get an idea of the numbers we’re talking about.
But how do you go about finding and choosing the right influencer? Do you go for a big name like Matt Staser in the hunting category who has over 147K followers on Twitter—or someone less known but who has a very niche group of fans—otherwise known as “power-middle” influencers? Both have pros and cons and will ultimately depend on your product’s contextual fit and marketing budget. There is growing evidence that “power-middle” influencers (2.5K – 25K followers) are shown to have a 16x higher engagement.
To find your perfect influencer, you can start with good ole’ fashion research. Or you can pay for the latest and greatest influencer marketing software to help you find that perfect influencer as well as track ROI. Here are a few to check out:
You can also use sites like Alltop, Buzzsumo, Followerwonk or Kred to start your search. While someone with hundreds of thousands of social media followers certainly could expose your brand to their followers, if they are not a snug contextual fit, their post or tweet would be moot as far as driving leads and customers. (Source: Kissmetrics)
3. How to start with influencer marketing?
Influencer marketing starts with your ideal influencer image—and if your product fits within the context of what your influencer typically talks about and how they align with your buyer persona(s). You wouldn’t hire Justin Beiber who has over 88M followers to tweet out a picture of your Deer Scent Product next to a fallen Buck (although that may be kinda funny).
Create your ideal influencer based on age, gender, location, vertical, personality and average audience size. Next figure out, where can your brand’s content can be amplified. Do you need the visual component of Instagram or Pinterest or something more substantive and instant like Facebook or Twitter? Are you looking for social media followers, website traffic or both? Define your goals and begin your search.
According to Social Chorus, the best way to reach out to influencers is to start by getting their attention on social media through likes, retweets, mentions and shares. Then you’ll want to reach out via email. Keep your email simple, introduce your brand, why you’re interested and describe what you both can expect to gain through the relationship. You can negotiate your engagement by direct sponsorship, sponsoring their giveaways, content collaboration, shout outs or commission.
4. How to measure influencer marketing? Below are three ways influencer marketing can be tracked during a campaign.
Trackable links: Most software programs have their own conversion tracking technology that enables you to track how many online sales each influencer drove for you. However, trackable links can only be posted on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.
Promo codes: Not only do promo codes help you track the impact of your campaign, but they also build urgency and an extra incentive for viewers to buy your product.
Correlation: This entails correlating the time of posting with increases in sales or installs. (Source: Ready Pulse )
5. Brands doing it right.
As I looked across the industry, here are some examples of brands that base a large majority of their strategy on influencer marketing:
Photo by Yeti
Yeti Yeti’s influencer marketing program is known as probably the best in the outdoor industry. “We do a lot of endorsements, from celebrity hunters to fishermen, and always try to engage them as ambassadors of the brand and then tell their stories in as many places as we can.” —Corey Maynard VP of Marketing (Source: Adweek)
Cabela’s Cabela’s has about 20 “authenticity experts” who are asked to chime in on their areas of expertise (hunting, fishing, camping, etc.) to make sure their messaging truly matches the outdoor and hunting space. These are people who volunteer to participate because they are passionate about their own experiences, social media, and Cabela’s brand. (Source: Convince and Convert)
Consumers have always valued opinions expressed directly to them. Marketers may spend millions of dollars on elaborately conceived advertising campaigns, yet often what makes up a consumer’s mind is not only simple but also free: a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source. (Source: McKinsey)
So, is influencer marketing a right strategy for your brand? Here are a few statistics:
78 percent of brands increased their content output in the last two years, but average content engagement decreased by 60 percent. Content marketing needs influencer marketing to succeed.
92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.
74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions.
81 percent of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective.
59 percent of marketers will increase influencer marketing budgets in 2016. Make sure you pick the right influencers for your brand. They’ll be in bigger demand.
In the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, I’d say there is overwhelming evidence that influencer marketing is a good way to move the needle. Combined with inbound or content marketing, influencer marketing could be the strategy you’re looking for.
Garrison Everest, Inc.
99 East Main Street, Suite 200
Franklin, Tennessee 37064
About Outdoor Industry Marketing Agency
Most companies in the outdoor, hunting, shooting sports, and defense industries struggle to clearly communicate their brand and products. At Garrison Everest, an Outdoor Industry Marketing Agency, we create proven messaging and digital marketing programs that grow traffic, leads and customers.