Most business owners, (marketers and executive directors) in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry are tasked with a million things a day. Payroll you’ve got to make, the person you have to fire, the new person you have to hire, the CNC machine replacement, the sales team meeting at 4, the new product design project plan—plus you got to make plans for this weekend’s shoot.
When it comes to your branding, marketing or design—your thoughts immediately go into overdrive when you remember that one of your customers commented that your website did not pull up for them on their iPhone (because your company’s home page is not mobile-friendly). You’ve also seen a steady decline in online sales, most likely due to that old 4-step shopping cart you’re running. Your sales team needs new collateral that showcases the new product line and the packaging needs updating, plus you got to get ready for SHOT Show.
But where to start? The designer you used last time missed the mark. The design firm you called doesn’t work with hunting or firearm companies and there is no way you’re using Bob’s son again for the catalog. Choosing a marketing and branding firm can be a daunting and time-consuming process. You need someone you can trust. Someone who is responsive, trustworthy, reliable and knows what they’re doing. The problem is finding those people—the diamond in the rough—someone who meets your expectations and will get the job done right and prove that your investment was worth it.
If you’re looking for a new firearms or hunting marketing agency—here are 8 things that will help you choose the partner that solves your toughest business challenges.
1. Start by clearly defining the problem
Simple enough… but not so fast. We often times don’t go far enough to define what the problem actually is. A good marketing agency will get to the heart of your challenges and pain points to help you make the right decisions—not through a hard sell like a haggling car salesman—but someone who truly takes an interest in your business and cares about your success.
Do any of these problems sound familiar:
- Our message is confusing
- Our website isn’t generating sales
- Our brand image is out-dated
- We need a marketing plan to grow our business
- We need to reach the right customers
A good hunting and firearms marketing agency with years of experience will be able to get to the heart of the matter.
See this article: Do I Really Need A Brand Strategy?
2. Set goals
Be specific about your goals. Is it a revenue goal? Can you really double sales in one year? The more defined your goals are the better the marketing agency will be to suggest strategies and approaches to achieve your goal. Use the SMART goal method to set specific benchmarks that will move your business forward.
3. Do they have a proven process?
Processes are important because they define a linear way of solving a problem and accomplishing an objective. Most marketing companies will follow some type of process. Make sure it is clearly defined so you know what to expect as you move through the project. The process should be easily found on the agency’s website or be communicated on the initial call.
4. Verify references
In today’s world, everyone is a skeptic. One way to make sure that the firm is ‘solid,’ is to see if they have a good set of testimonials. Look on Facebook, Google and other social networking sites to see if reviews exist. Check their case studies page to see past experiences and how they’ve helped other businesses with similar problems.
5. What do they specialize in?
Today’s best agencies are specialists in 2-4 areas like email, SEO, influencer or PR or an industry. They can offer traditional and digital services to meet your needs and know how outbound and inbound marketing methods fit together to offer you a range of solutions to achieve your goals. They want and desire to earn ‘trusted advisor’ status shedding the horrid ‘vendor’ designation. The most successful agencies desire and thrive on their client’s successes and truly show interest and passion about their service or product. Also be sure to check their certifications. HubSpot, Google, Email etc. certifications mean they’ve put in the time to deliver value.
6. Are they problem solvers?
What is the principal’s experience? Do they have a good track record in the industry and the business acumen required? There are a number of firms out there who lack true experience in solving real-world business problems. Ask for past examples or how they might approach your current marketing challenges.
7. Do they practice what they preach?
Does the marketing agency have a strong and identified brand? Are they themselves implementing the programs they are suggesting to you? It will be important that they understand the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry. This will save you time so you don’t have to teach them about the subtleties of our industry. Other industries are far more advanced in marketing and branding tactics than the hunting and firearms category, so knowing how your customers are reacting to other industry tactics and strategies is just as important because they will expect the same from you. Especially now that the industry has added over 5 million new gun owners.
8. Do you click with them?
80% of the time your intuition is the best way to choose a marketing agency. If you are compatible as people, you most likely will work well together—assuming everything else adds up. I’ve had many opportunities over the years to work with well-known brands but in the end, we just didn’t click. Business and marketing is all about people and relationships. Pick an agency you like and who you can work with.
In conclusion, a good hunting and firearms marketing agency will know how to get to the heart of the problem, help you set achievable goals, have a clearly defined process, good references and testimonials, a specialized service offering, are natural problem solvers, practice what they preach, and are people you like.