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Marketing in layman terms is conducting any kind of sales activity in the market place. For example, email marketing, SEO, web design, PR, advertising and brochure design are all forms of marketing.

Boost Your Outdoor Brand's Mid-Year Marketing Strategy with These Tips

Boost Your Outdoor Brand’s Mid-Year Marketing Strategy with These Tips

By Marketing

As we approach the mid-year mark with another SHOT Show and sales season on the horizon, it’s essential for outdoor, hunting, and shooting sports brands to revisit their marketing strategies and make necessary adjustments to stay ahead in the competitive market and finish the year strong.

During this time of year when sales are generally sluggish for most brands, this article presents seven valuable tips or reminders to enhance your marketing efforts. The aim is to optimize your strategies while your customers are enjoying their time on their boats, thereby achieving greater success and better preparedness to tackle the slow months in the future.

From leveraging influencers to embracing AI and refining messaging, these tips will give you some ideas on how to connect with your target audience, create engaging content, and build strong customer relationships.

Micro Influencers1. Target Micro and Macro Influencers Strategically

Influencer marketing continues to be a powerful tool for outdoor, hunting, and shooting sports brands to reach and build awareness of their brand. However, rather than focusing on high follower counts, engaging with micro-influencers with a smaller but highly engaged following is more effective. Aim to collaborate with influencers who genuinely align with your brand values and possess an authentic connection to the outdoor lifestyle. By targeting 25 or fewer influential individuals, you can ensure that your brand’s message and products resonate more strongly with the right audience.

  • Micro-influencers generate up to 60% more engagement than macro influencers.
  • 44% of marketers say that the biggest benefit of working with micro-influencers is that it is less expensive.
  • 56% of marketers who invest in influencer marketing work with micro-influencers.  (Source: HubSpot)

2. Embrace AI and Start Planning Now

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a game-changer in the marketing landscape, and outdoor brands should begin incorporating it into their strategies—like yesterday. Start by building a knowledge base to understand AI’s potential, such as predictive analytics, personalized recommendations, and automated customer interactions. Utilize AI-powered tools to analyze customer data, segment your audience, and enhance the overall customer experience. Use ChatGPT to rewrite some of those badly written product descriptions. By embracing AI early, you can gain a competitive edge and future-proof your marketing efforts. It won’t be long before AI can do all your marketing, and you’ll need a solid knowledge base to work and learn from.

  • According to Salesforce, 23% of customer service companies are currently using AI
  • IBM reports that using chatbots can reduce customer service costs by as much as 30%
  • 68% of users enjoy the speed at which chatbots answer, according to UserLike

Take the AI Poll and we’ll share the results in our next blog.

TAKE AI MARKETING POLL

 

3. CRO (Conversion Rate Optimization)

With the introduction of Google Analytics 4, it has become simpler than ever to comprehend the points where your customers are leaving the sales process. This presents a great opportunity to focus on improving your conversion rates. When considering Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), aim for small incremental improvements. Even a modest increase of 0.75% to 1% can result in substantial gains over the course of a year. Here are ten aspects to increasing CRO:

  1. Messaging
  2. Desktop speed optimization
  3. Mobile speed optimization
  4. Home page bounce rate optimization
  5. Menu A/B testing
  6. Funnel Understanding and Analytics
  7. Optimize Top 10 selling products: Write better descriptions and add better imagery
  8. Cart/Checkout optimization
  9. CTA A/B testing
  10. Upsell/Cross optimization emails

Do 2-3 changes per month, track, rinse and repeat over 3-6 months to improve.

4. Double Down on Email

While social media platforms and emerging technologies may dominate the marketing scene, email marketing STILL remains the top marketing channel in outdoor. Don’t underestimate the power of a well-crafted email campaign to nurture relationships with your existing customer base. Personalize your emails, offer exclusive promotions, and provide valuable content to keep your audience engaged and loyal. Create automation, especially a Welcome Series and Retargeting Emails. Remember to optimize your emails for mobile devices to cater to the growing number of users accessing their emails on smartphones and tablets.

Ticketing and Help Desk software for outdoor, hunting and firearms companies5. Prioritize Customer-Centric Approach with HubSpot CRM

To succeed in today’s competitive market, outdoor brands must prioritize their customers. Top-of-funnel marketing is important, but don’t forget your current and past customers. So many brands overlook that they are sitting on top of interested customers who would still buy from you. Implementing a customer relationship management (CRM) system, such as the HubSpot Service Hub, can help put your customers at the center of your marketing efforts. HubSpot CRM enables you to track customer interactions, manage leads effectively, and deliver personalized experiences. Leverage the power of CRM to understand your customers through surveys better, tailor your messaging, and build long-term relationships based on trust and loyalty.

  • CRM can boost conversion rates by 300%
  • The ROI of a CRM software system, when properly implemented, can exceed 245%. (IBM)
  • 91% of companies with more than 11 employees use a CRM system
  • 22% of sales professionals are still unsure about what CRM is.
  • 74% of companies say CRM technology gives better access to customer data
  • 94% of customers look to make a purchase from the same source they have previously.

Source: Techco

6. Keep Creating Content That Helps Your Customers

Content marketing remains a cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. To achieve organic traffic, you have to keep creating content. To have a strong email marketing program, you have to create helpful content that helps your customers achieve their goals. To have a robust social media campaign, you have to create, yes… content. Whether it’s blog posts, how-to guides, engaging videos or shorts, focus on providing relevant information, inspiring stories, and actionable tips. By positioning your brand as a reliable source of expertise, you can establish credibility, foster engagement, and drive more conversions.

  • According to the Content Marketing Institute, 73% of B2B marketers and 70% of B2C marketers use content marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy.
  • 91% of marketing pros surveyed by Semrush achieved success with their content marketing in 2021.
  • Half of all marketers say they outsource some content marketing.
  • The pandemic increased content usage by 207%.

7. Clarify Your Messaging

Effective communication is crucial for outdoor brands to resonate with their target audience. Take the time to clarify your brand messaging, ensuring that it aligns with the problem you solve and speaks directly to your customer’s aspirations or goals. Craft a compelling brand story that captures the essence of your outdoor brand and conveys the unique benefits you offer. Use consistent language across all your marketing channels to save marketing dollars and create a cohesive brand identity that evokes emotions, trust, and engagement that builds trust among your audience.

As outdoor brands navigate the mid-year point and head into sales season, refining their marketing strategies to maintain a competitive edge is essential. By following these seven tips, outdoor brands can leverage the power of influencers, embrace AI, optimize email marketing, prioritize customers with CRM, create helpful content, and clarify messaging.

shooting-sports-firearms-digital-case-studies

3 “Must Read” Outdoor Industry Digital Marketing Case Studies

By Case Study, Inbound Marketing, Influencer Marketing, Marketing, SEO, StoryBrand

Most marketers looking to start a outdoor industry 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 changed everything. The need for a robust digital marketing program that focuses on D2C sales is essential in the present era. 

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.

 

firearms digital marketing


Results

  • 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.

 

Results

  • 9.1 M Impressions
  • 7.2 M Estimated Reach
  • $6.5 CPM
  • 670K engagements

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.

 


Results

  • 233% increase in traffic
  • 564 leads
  • 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-To-Stand-Out-and-Attract-New-Customers

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SMART GOALS

How To Set SMART Goals For Your Firearms or Hunting Business

By Marketing

Setting goals can sometimes quickly become a cruel lesson in futility. Like New Years’ resolutions—you set goals with great motivation and vigor—only to have your best intentions sidetracked by company requests, family life or other distractions. That is unless you’re a part of the only 8% who keep them.

To stay focused on your initiatives—here are three points to help you organize your thoughts and make a plan to achieving them.

1. Create a Vision

If you were given a 50,000 dollar budget to spend on marketing—what would you do with it? Build a better website? Write more content? Produce more videos? Upgrade your photography? Increase sales by 20% within 9 months? The first step to creating a goal is to figure out what you want. If you don’t know what you want, you don’t know what you need to achieve to get there. What do you really want to create for yourself, your business or your brand? How will this benefit you personally? Don’t be afraid to think big. Take fifteen minutes and document your vision. Take note of the details. Try to incorporate all the different angles into your vision to make it effective. (Source: Forbes)

 

2. Use the SMART method to set your goals

SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely – think of these as the ingredients of success. Here’s what they mean and how to apply them:

Specific: Set real numbers with real deadlines. Don’t say, “I want more website visitors,” or “I want to dominate my category.” Look at your website metrics, sales numbers or anything else you have tracked in the past in the form of visits, leads, sales or customers to establish benchmarks. These metrics work, because they are measurable, and they can be used to understand how they affect your bottom line now and in the future. 

Measurable: Make sure that you can track your goals. Don’t hide behind buzzwords like “brand engagement” or “social influence.” If it’s leads, how many leads do you want? Don’t pick something out of thin air, pick something you can measure correctly and track.

Put the right tools in place to measure like Google Analytics or other web tracking software like HotJar, Databox, or HubSpot. You can’t measure what you can’t track. 

firearm-marketing-SMART-goals

 

Attainable: Work toward a goal that is challenging but possible. Don’t try to take over the world in one night. How much time is it going to take? How much budget and resources do you have?

Realistic: Be honest with yourself, because you know what you and your team are capable of. Don’t forget any hurdles you may have to overcome, e.g. competitors, economy, changing regulations, talent, etc. 

Timely: Give yourself a deadline. Don’t keep pushing towards a goal you might hit “some day.” How long is it going to take? 6 months, 1 year? Set a realistic timeframe. Give yourself enough time to reach your goal, but not too much that it drags on.

By utilizing the SMART method—your goals are much more attainable and measurable. (Source: Hubspot

Here’s an example of a SMART goal:
Increase visits by 25% (2,250 per month to 3,000 per month) and make $150K in additional revenue by EOY.

 

goal-setting-planning3. Write it down!

According to a study done by Gail Matthews at Dominican University, those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who did not write down their goals. Who doesn’t want to accomplish significantly more? If you don’t write it down, it doesn’t exist. We all know that having a plan is one thing, but accomplishing that plan is something different. 

Get out a big pad of paper and a sharpie and begin writing down your goals and post them on your wall. That way you can refer to them every day and track progress as you cross them off the list.

As marketers and business owners in the hunting and firearms industry, we are always being pulled in 10 different directions. We’re constantly trying to find ways to keep the train on the track. By establishing the above SMART goals, you can alleviate a lot of stress when you don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing. SMART goals keep you laser-focused and on task. Now that your goals have been set—plan it out and get moving. Don’t forget to celebrate each goal as you achieve it! 

the new responsibility in marketing

The New Responsibility In Marketing

By Marketing

 Marketing is changing for the better. People are fed up with empty promises, bad customer service and products that are unhealthy and hard to buy.

There’s a new responsibility in marketing.  It’s about helping your customers at an individual level, solving their problems for little to no cost; and then serving those customers with polite, happy, helpful people. These new emerging imperatives are fueling some of today’s most successful companies, and setting consumer expectations for decades to come.  

In this article, I discuss 4 major trends influencing today’s consumer behavior and the companies and thought leaders who are out in front of them.

Say buh-bye to old school marketing which suffocates people with the same old promises and mass messaging. Sayonara to the generic term of “consumer” that has given way to the new term “people.” Adios to the days where you could just hire someone on a whim to fill a position—regardless of whether they were the right person or not. Gone are the days when no one understood the word “brand,” let alone the process of “branding.”

We are living in a time of increased deception and broken promises. We feel it and see it in the world around us. Our world is becoming more dangerous and we have no time for false promises and slick advertising. From our leaders and politicians, to the news media and brands we rely on to help us survive—things have definitely changed in the way we perceive our world.

The following statistics show that, for the most part, the days of deceptive, beguiling practices have ended.

  • Only 39% of Americans said the economy is getting better while 56% said it is getting worse (Gallup)
  • Only 27% of likely U.S. voters think the country is heading in the right direction (Rassmusen)
  • Young adults under 35 are saving a whole lot more lately (WSJ
  • 76% of respondents said ads in general were either “very exaggerated” or “somewhat exaggerated” (Forbes)
  • The vast majority think that all cleaning and  weight loss ads are photoshopped (Forbes)
  • Presidential approval rating: 41% (Gallup)
  • Congress approval rating: 15% (Gallup)
  • U.S. Distrust in Media Hits New High (Gallup)
  • Only 2% of cold calls end up in an appointment (Hubspot)
  • 223 Million people subscribing to the FTC “Do Not Call List” (Today)
  • 86% of people skip television commercials (The Guardian)
  • 44% of direct mail is never opened (Mashable)

All people struggle to find truth; and as the above statistics show—we rarely ever get it. But when we see something that appears to be authentic and truthful, it shines like a beacon in the myriad of untruths.

If the promise is broken and we get burned, however, we turn against the offender publicly by letting our 500+ friends on Facebook know how we feel. (Source: Marketing Charts)

Years of broken promises, intrusiveness, bad customer service and outright lies have finally resulted in this shift in consumer behavior.

Consumer mass marketing is no longer effective. Companies must begin to care about people as individuals.

marketing trendsTrend #1: The Thank You Economy
In his book, The Thank You Economy, Gary Vaynerchuk reveals how companies big and small can scale personal, one-on-one attention to their entire customer base, no matter how large, using the same social media platforms that carry consumer word of mouth. The Thank You Economy offers compelling, data-driven evidence which indicates that we have entered into an entirely new business era.  The companies that see the biggest returns won’t be the ones that can throw the most money at an advertising campaign, but those that can prove they care about their customers more than anyone else. (Source: Amazon)

Trend #2: Make products which are good for people and provide them conveniently
Josh Tetrick, CEO of Hampton Creek, who‘s mission is about bringing healthier and more affordable food to everyone, everywhere states, “It turns out that when you create a path that makes it easy (and even profitable) for good people to do good things — they will do it.  Give people an affordable and convenient path to do the right thing — and they will. Almost every single time. Make the path to do the right thing expensive and inconvenient — and they won’t.” (Huffington Post)

The other day I flew from my home in Indianapolis to my hometown of Denver. Driving up into Boulder you begin to notice a lot more options to eat healthy. I chose to drop in on one of my favorite places—Jamba Juice—for a smoothie. Delicious, convenient, good customer service, healthy and at a great price. Not only did it cure my hunger, but I felt better about myself after I consumed it.  

Contrast this with a town like Indianapolis where there is a Steak n’ Shake or some other fast food joint on every corner.  Convenience can outweigh doing what’s right for our bodies.

When given the opportunity, people are more likely to make good choices. Brands that provide products and services which are good for you, affordable and convenient to get are changing the marketing and business landscape.

Trend #3: The Rise of Inbound Marketing
Inbound marketing is a process which attracts people to your product or service by providing the answers to people’s problems.  By providing a variety of content like video, DIY blogs, ebooks and whitepapers, brands help solve their customers’ problems, which in turn creates trust and a relationship over time. This methodology has been so successful that over 60% of companies have now implemented inbound marketing as part of their overall strategy. (Source: HubSpot).  Inbound marketing holds off on the sales pitch used by traditional methods like cold calling, print, online ads and television commercials. It emphasizes the customer more  and the sale less. This helps companies create trust  and help their customers more effectively. Many companies are moving towards the inbound methodology and as a result (thanks to Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, founders of Hubspot) marketing is changing for the better. Change is good for the customer, and for the marketer that must quantify ROI.

inbound marketing methodology

 

Trend #4: Your People Are Your Brand
With the urgent need to attract and hire the best talent into your organization, brands must  realize that their people impact their brand’s performance as much or more than any other factor.

Zappos is a prime example. Zappos hiring processes and their “we’ll pay you to quit” policy forces Zappos to hire the right people. Their focus on hiring for brand-first is changing the way companies keep their brand promises. (Source: Fast Company)

Russ Minary, Founder of Brand+People™ states, “Your people are the key differentiator in a marketplace full of identical competitors.” There are very few truly unique products or services in the marketplace.  So your people will make all the difference in creating your brand perception.  Companies that have a strong employer and corporate brand will attract top talent, establish a positive reputation, achieve increased profitability, maximize their brand perception, reduce turnover costs and retain more high-performing employees, which results in happier, more loyal customers.

Hiring for Brand

 

Let’s be clear: this is not a message to just make us feel all warm and fuzzy.  Those who watch the budgets are getting very interested, too.  In today’s new responsibility marketplace, the company with the top talent and happiest employees will see the impact on its bottom line.

In her book; Make More Money By Making Your Employees Happy, Dr. Nelson cites a study from the Jackson Organization (a survey research consultancy acquired by Healthstream, Inc.), which shows, “companies that effectively appreciate employee value enjoy a return on equity & assets more than triple that experienced by firms that don’t. When looking at Fortune’s ‘100 Best Companies to Work For’ stock prices rose an average of 14% per year from 1998-2005, compared to 6% for the overall market.” (Source: Forbes)

Some CEO and CMO tenures are increasing because savvier companies are using inbound marketing and the tactics listed above to make marketing better. (Source: WSJ)

Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first. – Simon Sinek

The foundational principles of the new responsibility in marketing are providing personal, one-on-one attention; solving your customer problems; and delivering your brand with good people.  This is the critical combination to marketing success in today’s marketplace.   

Marketers who see these trends and take action will fare well in their efforts to get results. We need better, healthier and more helpful marketing.  With a little patience and thought we can change marketing—and perhaps the world.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on how marketing is changing for the better. Please post your comments below.