If you’ve been doing outdoor industry marketing a while, you may have noticed that the traction you once had is beginning to wane.
You’ve been able to build a sizeable email marketing list, your social media following has grown exponentially and you’ve been able to boost online sales through organic website traffic.
However, with the explosion of content in our industry, especially in the hunting, shooting sports, camping, and CCW segments—how can you continue to breath new life into your brand and content marketing to keep growing?
In this post, we look at lifestyle marketing—and how by integrating your customer’s narrative into your brand’s story—you can put your product into a context that goes beyond its features and benefits.
What is outdoor lifestyle marketing?
When thinking about a lifestyle, first think about what a lifestyle is. A lifestyle is a set of habits, attitudes, beliefs, interests, opinions, ideas and thoughts based on an individual’s unique God-given personality.
For example, you may define the outdoor lifestyle as:
Or you may define the 16 million CCW holders lifestyle (Source: Axios) as:
“Lifestyle brands define who people are and who they want or hope to be.”
Many industry brands solely focus on their product’s features, and minimize their customer’s lifestyle or don’t incorporate them at all into their marketing strategies. When attention to lifestyle is left out—brands miss out on a pathway to connect deeper with their customers. Lifestyle brands give your buyers a goal and vision to become something better. This aspirational aspect is what makes lifestyle marketing so effective.
Exercise: How would you describe your outdoor lifestyle? What products represent how you live?
How do you build a outdoor lifestyle brand?
Turning a brand into a lifestyle brand takes some time. Consistent, intentional effort that is driven by your company’s leadership is key to permeating your company’s culture to drive authentic experiences. Below are six tactics to help you get started:
Know your Tribe
“Tribe,” coined by Seth Godin, states: “Tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have joined tribes, be they religious, ethnic, political, or even musical. It’s our nature. Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time.” You must get to know your tribe as thoughtfully as possible to harness their pain points, interests and motivations—then you must lead them in the lifestyle your brand represents.
Create awesome branding
Brands that invoke the best visuals and messaging are more likely to garner emotional attachment. Almost all lifestyle brands have an active design component. A visually appealing logo/symbol of your brand that your tribe adopts will make them want to stick it on the back of their truck, or perhaps get a tattoo (just Google “Glock tattoo“).
Invest in your culture
As your brand becomes more trusted, it’s important to show your people. Most companies in the hunting, shooting, and outdoor industry don’t show the people behind the scenes. The best cultures become the best lifestyle brands. Make sure they are living the lifestyle your brand embodies.
The lifestyle affinity is a natural fit for influencer marketing because your influencers are already living the lifestyle you want to integrate into your messaging. Your influencers can boost your content and storyline to their audiences through social media, garnering trust and expanding reach.
Content will continue to be an essential part of any digital or influencer marketing strategy for the foreseeable future, because of its effectiveness and long-term benefits. When creating content, don’t blow smoke about how great, amazing, game-changing, evolved, re-imagined, etc. your product is. Show how it improves your tribe’s lives without pushing your product.
Like any relationship, sometimes all it takes is showing up. Brand awareness is a key part of building a lifestyle brand, and this is where gorgeous cinematic hunting, camping or hiking video/photography and other tactics help you stay top of mind and part of people’s lives.
Four examples of outdoor lifestyle marketing brands
Beretta’s lifestyle marketing consists of aligning their brand with an upper-class type of shooter and their experiences. The brand’s creative platform contains fonts that are clean and a color palette that suggests luxury. Their photography represents the customers they wish to align with that could be described as sophisticated, traditional and affluent—most likely influenced by the brand’s European origin. Part of what makes Beretta a lifestyle brand is its clothing line. Not only can you own and shoot the Berretta brand—but you can also wear it.
Beretta also integrates a robust content marketing program that adds value to its customers by helping them get better at their shooting and outdoor pursuits.
Sitka Gear based in Bozeman, Montana is also a prime example of what it means to live the outdoor lifestyle. Sitka’s helpful articles, short films, and transparency in their design and manufacturing processes make it an excellent lifestyle brand. Much more than a camo company—their focus on their “Tribe” is based on their mission statement to “inspire, delight and enlighten hunters.” Their mission towards conservationism also gives the brand a much higher purpose, which makes it more attractive, exciting and admirable.
No other company in the outdoor world does a better job than Yeti in integrating their products into the outdoor lifestyle. Yeti seeks to touch every aspect of someone participating in the outdoor world through story-based content. From Spearfishers to Big Horn Sheep Hunters—Yeti is a brand built for the wild as stated in their tagline. I found it especially interesting that they also have a Spotify list with songs from a broad genre that puts music to the Yeti Lifestyle. This is just another way lifestyle brands are looking outside the traditional channels to build their names into their customer’s lives.
There was some confusion a few years ago when Magpul decided to evolve their firearm accessories brand into a lifestyle brand with the addition of apparel like gloves, shirts, and pants. Magpul has now become more than just a company known for its magazines, stocks, and handguards.
Make the connection
When thinking through on how to align your brand with your customer’s lifestyle—you must begin with their characteristics, problems, challenges, hopes, fears, and dreams; and start to build your marketing strategy around them, not your product.
Seek to dramatize your material around their outdoor, hunting or shooting activities—but also look for other aspects that define them. For example, your imagery can speak to the pride they have as a first responder, their desires to spend more time with friends and family, a lost loved one (see Beyond the Roar by Leupold below), ambitions of climbing Mount Everest, adventure (see Weatherby Timeless Video) or hunting with their Son or Daughter. Anything your brand can do to take them out or into a place they want to be is a critical component of lifestyle marketing. Your brand must become a storyteller that allows your customer to see themselves as their best self.
The below video by Leupold is a great example of engaging lifestyle storytelling.
“Lifestyle marketing must be somewhat mythical and paint a visual that seems almost dream-like while remaining brutally authentic.”
Modern consumers who are empowered by digital technology are highly discerning. When you succeed in integrating your product seamlessly into their lives, becoming a natural part of their personal story, you won’t need to actively ask for their engagement. They’ll perceive your product as if they stumbled upon it, a perfect match for their self-image and place in the world.
If your content strategy needs a boost, perhaps lifestyle marketing is the tactic you need for continued success.
Article image source: Fluid Peak Productions a lifestyle marketing company.