A recent article in the TC Palm, a member of the USA Network cited that: “The increase in gun manufacturing licenses since 2009 has strained the resources of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.” This means that there are so many new firearm companies popping up, the ATF can’t keep up with all the new license requests.
I would bet (even though I don’t have any data only hear-say from industry sources) the majority of these licenses are going to companies building ARs.
The AR-15 has soared in popularity among gun owners, due to a wide-range of factors. It is customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate that can be used in sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations. Civilians can also modify and personalize their AR-15 from carbine-length, stocks, optics, barrels, etc. The AR-15s ability to be modified to your own personal taste is one of the things that make it so unique. (Source: NRA)
But before you jump into this highly saturated market segment and start an AR business, or make that next big investment—I want to share with you a video by Ryan Deiss’ of Digital Marketer titled: “How You Deal With Competition.” I thought his analogy of water (yes, water) aligned perfectly for those looking to start or build an AR company.
So to start, here are four questions that will help you think through how you’re going to build a successful AR company and brand.
- What is the reason your AR company exists?
- Why are you getting into the AR business?
- Why would your customers want you to exist?
- What do you bring to the AR-15 marketplace that adds value and moves the industry forward?
There are hundreds of other AR companies trying to sell what you’re trying to sell. Using Ryan’s analogy of water he gives us a good framework and a fresh perspective on how to deal with the competition.
Water is the most abundant resource on the planet Earth. We have more water than we know what to do with (kind of like AR companies). Water is sold in many different formats and in various ways, some of it is even free. Heck, we have so much of it, we flush it down the toilet. But yet some people have found a way to package it, sell it and market it and make you pay $2.99 for a bottle of it.
So using water, an abundant commodity—let’s look at how you can take this same line of thinking and apply it to your marketing strategy to create something in the industry that will stand out and give you a reason to belong and to exist.
1. Find your unique AR-15 flavor
Taking our analogy and applying it to the AR market—you have to start by finding your unique flavor. Some water tastes different; it may include minerals or additives that change its taste. Maybe it’s a different manufacturing process that contains a different type of material or machining. Whatever it is, it should be something that provides you with your own little spin. Maybe it’s your gruff “take–no-lip” attitude. Maybe it’s your location or color. Maybe it’s your team who happens to be former Navy SEALs. Whatever it is—find your unique flavor that will appeal to your buyer persona(s).
2. Add a unique AR-15 additive
Another way to give you a reason to exist is to have your own unique additive. What is it that you do that no one else does? Is there a feature that you’ve added that no one else has? A great example is once again POF-USA. They’ve added “God Bless America” on their ejection port covers and a cross on the top of their charging handles. These little embellishments give their guns distinction and their owner’s something to be proud of. What can you add to your platform that makes it different? Maybe it’s a little spike on the trigger guard or a different kind of cerakote coating. Whatever you got in your bag of tricks, make sure it’s something that belongs only to you. Cobalt Kinetics and Battle Arms Development are also good examples of brands that break the mold in the AR category.
3. Add unique AR-15 packaging or delivery
How can you create some kind of distinction on how your customers receive and interact with your product(s). Every gun must be transferred legally through an FFL dealer after a passed background check to your customer. What if your product was only transferred through certified dealers that have agreed to your brand’s standards—that when your customer goes to pick it up, they receive 5–star service? Or perhaps your AR arrives in a handcrafted metal case with an engraved American flag on it? The gun your customer has waited for three weeks should be like Christmas morning. It could also be as easy as including a hat and sticker or a coupon for 10% off to their local gun range to go shoot their new AR. Whatever it is, focus on ways to differentiate your product’s delivery.
By picking one or all three of the ways mentioned above, you’ll have a very compelling reason why your AR company should exist. At the end of the day, you must be able to answer the question: “Am I adding value to the marketplace and my customers?” If you can respond to that question with a “yes,” then you have the beginnings of successful marketing strategy in which to build upon.
Interested in learning more about our services and how we can help your AR company stand out?
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.