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The-Future-of-Firearms-Advertising

What is the Future of Firearms Advertising?

By Firearms Marketing

The onslaught against the firearms industry has never in history been more fervent. Lawsuits are emerging at a disconcerting rate across the U.S., and as a marketer in the firearms industry tasked with advising clients on marketing advice I had to ask the question: 

What is the future of advertising in the firearms industry? 

In this article, I want to share five thoughts that will help you—the firearm marketer or business owner—think through your future advertising efforts to help you navigate and defend against the onslaught of our adversaries’ misunderstanding and the litigious efforts to destroy our industry and the good people in it.


1. What makes advertising effective?

Any piece of advertising (print, tv, radio, digital or otherwise) attempts to let others know about how a product or service can help them survive or thrive. If you are advertising a shoe’s new cushioning system that softens your foot strike or a pillow that enables you to sleep better, copywriters will typically use the following framework:

  1. Identify the customers’ problem 
  2. Offer your product as the solution 
  3. Show how your product solves the problem
  4. Show empathy and authority (why they should listen to you)
  5. Explain the consequences and successes of using your product
  6. Call them to action: Buy Now, Subscribe or Sign up

The above framework can be identified in almost every effective advertisement in the world. And yes, it does work when done correctly. Next time the MyPillow commercial on T.V. interrupts you, see if you can follow the above narrative. 

Advertising a firearm is no different than advertising a Toyota, Dr. Pepper, iPhone, or a pair of Nikes. Advertising seeks to inform potential buyers of a product’s functions and features that moves a buyer towards purchasing your product. By aligning your product’s brand attributes with that buyer’s worldview, you increase the odds of the purchase. We call this the customer transformation. Include an eye-catching image, a call to action along with a sizable media buy, and you’ve got the makings of an effective campaign.


2. But now we’re at risk.

If you’re a firearm brand that places an ad and your product is used in a shooting—even though the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act protects you—you could become the target of a potential lawsuit.  

gun ad

Photo credit: Remington

The Bushmaster ad being used against Remington Outdoor Co. in the Newtown shootings is now waiting to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs and allows the case to proceed, the case would go back to the Connecticut State Supreme Court to determine the merits. That could give the plaintiffs access to Remington’s internal marketing documents during the discovery process. (Source: WSJ)

UPDATE: November 15, 2019
U.S. Supreme Court denied Remington’s petition for review of the state supreme court decision. This means the plaintiffs may be able to gain access to Remington’s marketing materials through the Connecticut court. 

According to Joshua Koskoff, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, “the families lawsuit is intended to shed light on Remington’s calculated and profit-driven strategy to expand the AR-15 market and court high-risk users, all at the expense American’s safety.”

A ruling in favor of the plaintiffs will adversely affect the firearms industry and potentially set a precedence and open up every other industry to litigation. For example, if your tire falls off while you’re speeding and kills five people, those families could sue the tire company because the tire company’s ad told you that you were the kind of driver who likes to drive fast. 

Photo credit: Bridgestone



That’s why you need to understand how to protect your company’s brand from these frivolous lawsuits.

Take action

ATTEND THIS WEBINAR: Marketing Practices Liability in the Firearms Industry
Orchid Advisors and Williams Mullen are sponsoring a Free Webinar Tuesday, November 12, 2019 at 2:00 EST 

Register by filling out the form on Orchid’s contact page and select “Webinar” under “I’d like to learn more about.”

Topics will include

    • A review of the PLCAA, the Connecticut case, and the theory of potential liability.
    • The severity of risk should an industry member get sued for criminal misuse of products.
    • Best practices for monitoring and policing marketing strategies.
    • Additional steps industry members should take to reduce risk.

  firearm advertising webinar
3. Virtue signaling

More and more companies whose CEOs worldview align with anti-gun sentiment and those who disagree with certain products and political positions are steering their ships in the direction of what is called “virtue signaling.” 

Virtue signaling looks like this: 

  • I don’t like your product 
  • Not liking your product can help strengthen my brand 
  • We should come out publicly against your product
  • Taking a position against your product will ‘hopefully’ breath new life into my diminishing brand 

We’ve seen this with Dick’s Sporting Goods and WalMart. You also might recall the Nike ad that featured Colin Kapernick as a way to strengthen Nike’s brand with its’ urban audience.

Photo credit: Nike

 

Shopify removed firearm dealers and manufacturers from using its platform last year. Due to the pressure of financial institutions and gun control groups, we can expect more virtue signaling in the years to come. 

Take action 

Manufacturers and dealers need to create open-source websites and avoid getting caught up in virtue signaling platforms and software companies who are against firearms. i.e. SalesForce. Make sure you know where your intended solution provider stands on the 2nd Amendment.


4. Social media and the ensuing increase in gun ownership

Facebook, Google, YouTube and Instagram make no secret that they are against the firearms industry. The latest bans and advertising restrictions implemented by the largest social media networks make it very difficult for the firearms industry to advertise their products—and from experience seem to be getting worse.

These restrictions are just another way they are shaming the firearms industry out of the public square of debate. However, this isn’t about debate anymore—this is blatant censorship. As customer behavior changes, firearm brands need to look for other strategies to help grow their businesses.

Word-of-mouth (WOM) marketing programs, though once hard to instigate, can now be developed at scale without the use of certain software platforms. Mark Schaefer, a marketing expert and author who spoke at this year’s NSSF CMO summit about the coming “Marketing Rebellion,” talks a lot about people not wanting to be sold—but to be helped because advertising is losing its effectiveness. I tend to agree with him if you’re trying to market toothpaste or car insurance—but not firearms, which is an enthusiast and hobby sport. As a law-abiding gun enthusiast, I enjoy looking at ads in Guns and Ammo and so do other law-abiding gun enthusiasts. 

As violent crime rates increase and would-be presidential contenders like Francis Beto O’Rourke and others tout gun confiscation, people will—by instinct—seek ways to defend themselves. This is one of the reasons the women segment is outpacing any other segment in the industry. They will make their decisions on what their friends and family recommend and only use Facebook and Google to reinforce their intended purchase, which I believe contributes minimally to the buyers’ lifecycle when it comes to purchasing firearms. Last month’s record setting background checks underscores this trend.

Take action

Brands building social media groups and followers on third-party platforms are at risk of losing precious marketing capital. Utilize multiple social media platforms as well as pro-gun and pro-hunting platforms like Powderhook and GoWild. Build great products, utilize your email marketing, SEO/voice and bolster your customer service programs to build word-of-mouth.


5. God, America, Guns, Masculinity, and Trump

Another front on our industry is how advertising restrictions are tied to the #metoo movement, masculinity, and those who support President Trump. Every marketer knows that riding trends can help push a brand message further. Gun industry opponents are utilizing the current culture war to amplify their messages. This is why you see a united attack on Christians, law enforcement, guns, hunters, men, and President Trump. The opposition makes no effort to hide it.  

It will be up to marketing professionals to communicate a message of respect, strength, resolve and defense along with our product’s innovations that stands resolute in the face of these blatant attacks and censorship.

Take action

Review your advertising with firearm legal professionals to mitigate the risks of your advertising. 

 

So, what is the future of firearm advertising?

Regardless of the outcome of the Remington case—firearm advertising, which once required little to no legal involvement will now pressure prudent marketers to add a legal review in their timelines. Some won’t comply, and that is their right. However, with the culture war reaching new heights, fake news, the division in our country getting deeper, and the disregard of the United States Constitution—it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What are your thoughts on the future of firearm advertising? Please comment below. 

 

Outdoor Firearms Hunting Advertising Agency

5 Ways To Make Firearm & Hunting Advertising More Compelling

By Firearms and Hunting

 

In recent years, print advertising across all industries have taken a hit. Advertisers are increasingly allocating more of their budgets to online ads and content at the expense of TV and print media.

While TV and online ads will continue to dominate the global ads market, print ads will be relegated to the last spot and have the smallest share in the advertising industry. (Source: Trefis)

Print is also expensive. The average full-page ad in Deer and Deer Hunting can run you $7,975 and for good reason. The quality of content by these publishers as well as the magazine’s reach can’t be beat and are still proven to be viable channels. But, how many times have you placed an ad with high expectations only to see your efforts vanish into thin air?

If you’re struggling or are considering placing an ad to increase sales or build brand awareness, I’d like to share with you five ways to make your firearm or hunting advertising more compelling and how you can tie those efforts in with your inbound marketing efforts to track effectiveness and ROI.

 

firearms advertising1. Use an interesting concept 
As important as photography is, you can make your ad much more efficient by integrating a brand concept into the design to make it more interesting. Take a moment to think about your brand and the value it provides to your customer. Is there a way to incorporate those values or benefits into your spread that not only showcases your product, but that also invokes an emotion to make your advertising more memorable. As the old saying goes, “People may not remember what you said, but they will remember how you made them feel.”

A great example is Crimson Trace. They use a serious face inside a silhouette of a person using a laser in self-defense. They then communicate the mindset of their customer through the copy. 

Use Storytelling To Breakthrough
Story is a sense-making device used since the dawn of time to communicate—our brains are hardwired for it. Used properly, story will give you an edge over your competitors ads—even if their product is better.  The reason why story works so well is that it cuts through the clutter and distraction of today’s cute and clever headlines and clearly communicates the benefits of your product’s benefits without all the fluff. Too many brands play the hero, when they need to be playing the guide. This helps your customer understand your offering faster and helps them become something better e.g., a better marksman, more accurate, more aware, savvier or in some cases more advanced. 

2. Go beyond features and talk more about benefits
If you page through any firearms or hunting magazine almost all of the advertising is based on features. Don’t get me wrong, features are paramount, because they represent the manufacturer’s approach to solving a problem, but the problem is, everyone does this. Everyone says their product is superior, the best, most accurate, most durable or is the next big thing. And while that may be true, your biggest competitor isn’t the other manufacturer; it’s the clutter of “me-to” products in the marketplace.

gun-advertisement-features

Features!

To go beyond the features, you have to determine how your product will benefit the customer, and how this aligns with your brand’s positioning and the intrinsic characteristics of your buyer persona.  How will your knife perform when you’ve downed an Elk back in the dog hair—and it’s getting dark? Does the color of your knife’s handle or the strap on your head-mounted light solve this problem? Does your backpack make it easier to pack out without the hindquarter sliding all over the place?

Communicate the reasons why you built lightweight materials into your stock and hand guards. Tell them why less weight for the operator hiking 20 miles up Korangal valley in Afghanistan help them to go further that contributes to the success of their mission. Show these advantages in your advertising. Seek to connect the features with real-time application.

 

3. Create tension
Today’s consumer has seen it all, and they’re less likely than ever to notice even your masterpiece of art and copy, let alone internalize it. Your job is to craft a piece that rises out of the noise to make an impact. (Source: Luke Sullivan)

In his book, “Hey Whipple, Squeeze This”, Luke Sullivan explains the importance on drawing from highly emotional concepts to help customers remember your brand by creating tension or conflict.

In an ad placed on SilencerCo.’s website—they combine the oppressive event of the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 with their goal of communicating legal ownership of suppressors and that we (the public) are being suppressed (stoking the emotions of us red-blooded patriots) from purchasing silencers and that we should stand up for our rights. Combining this imagery with their branding creates a highly, emotional and thought-provoking ad through the use of tension.

SilencerCo-Fight-the-Noise

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

 

4. Use faces
One of the first things we focus in on when we are born is the faces of our family. This isn’t just because they are always around in those first few weeks. The brain has a specific circuit for recognizing faces called the fusiform gyrus, or the fusiform face area. We are hard-wired to respond to faces. In the ads below, what ad are you most drawn to? (Source: Canva)

firearm-hunting-advertising-marketing

 

5. Track for measurement and ROI
Lastly, if you can’t track it, what’s the point of advertising? The answer is likely because companies are now used to understanding what their dollars are doing. When print, TV and billboards were the primary ad spots, attribution was not an easy task. But today, companies have built a habit of understanding how much revenue is generated by their ad spend dollars thanks to the Internet and Google Analytics. (Source: Small Biz Trends) With thousands of dollars invested, it makes sense to try to track your communication. Here are a few ways to do so:

• Create a vanity URL and place it in your ad and use Google Analytics to measure
• Create a QR code
• Offer a free downloadable offer like an ebook or whitepaper to generate leads
• Offer an incentive like a giveaway to generate leads
• Create a special call in or vanity phone number

By implementing print ad tracking you’re reducing the amount of traffic that is wrongly classified as Direct or Organic search and gaining insight into how your different print efforts are working. With this practice, you will be beyond most companies who do print advertising with little understanding of how their ad performs. (Source: Small Biz Trends)

So to wrap up, use interesting concepts, go beyond just features, create tension, use people’s faces and track your print efforts to understand if your advertising is effective. By taking these extra steps, you can create more compelling advertising and make better marketing decisions. 

guntv-firearms-marketing

Should You Market Your Firearm Brand on GunTV?

By Firearms and Shooting

The new live television shopping network for guns launched last Friday (March 31st, 2016). According to GunTV’s website, the channel will address the need for education, information, and safety regarding firearms commerce in America while responsibly offering access to purchasing firearms and related consumer goods live from 1 AM to 7 AM in the morning (for starters) with the hope of being live 24/7/365. 

I spent a few hours watching the program online this weekend and in this post share my initial thoughts—from a marketing perspective—whether GunTV is a viable option for marketers in the firearm and hunting industry to reach their prospective buyers.

1. What is a home shopping network?

The idea of a home shopping network is a new concept in the firearm and hunting industry. So to gain some understanding of how home shopping networks work, let’s take a look at a few statistics:

  • The largest home shopping network is QVC (the largest of HSN, ShopNBC or Evine) that broadcasts to over 235 million homes in six countries. (Source: Wikipedia)
  • QVC converts 17% of their TV viewers to online buyers. (Source: Internet Retailer
  • Home shopping networks viewership consists mainly of women whose ages range from 25-54, with a household income of $60,000 (Source: Entrepreneur).
  • Women are more likely than men to watch home shopping networks. (Source: Google, Consumer Behavior)
  • Ron Perlstein of Target Marketing says: “Truth be told, it’s the female of our species who has made home shopping the miracle of modern merchandising. So, if your target market is females over the age of 40, get ready to turn home shopping into a home-run derby for every product in your line.”
  • HSN and QVC’s online web sales range from 13-16% (Source 2004: Tripod)
  • The sales pitch is a backyard chat. (Source: Mental Floss)

It’s no secret that the womens segment in the firearm and hunting industry is exploding with an 85% increase in female shooters and hunters from 2001 to 2013 (Source: NSSF). With these points in mind, I see GunTV as an opportunity for manufacturers to reach women and beginner shooters. It will be interesting to see if GunTV can attract a balanced audience of both women and men. GunTV looks to add a strong social media presence that drives traffic to their online shopping cart that may help balance the audience. However, with Facebook’s latest ban on selling firearms, this may be a tricky line to walk.  

2. Safety-oriented

One of GunTV’s major premises is safety. The hosts take a lot of time explaining how a firearm works along with instruction on how to properly handle one. After each segment, there are two to three minutes of public service announcements devoted to safety tips. These sections include information from the NCPC, Remington’s 10 Commandments of Gun Safety (below) and NRA’s Eddie Eagle

 

3. An opportunity for startups

“Home shopping networks have the potential to rapidly get your product or invention out to the masses with the intention of being seen and purchased by millions,” says Kellie Oliver, Home Shopping Network Expert. GunTV may provide a much-needed opportunity for startups to build awareness and boost initial sales. 


4. Will GunTV work?
Below is a video on how GunTV works:

The network’s founders Valarie Castle and Doug Bornstein (The Social Responsibility Network) have been in the multi-media marketing business for over 30 years, and both have worked at home shopping networks. Their past positions and experience include K-Tel Direct, Positive Response TV, Guthy-Renker, Rolling Stone Magazine, National Lampoon and A&M Records. Their client list includes the successes of Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, Tony Robbins and more. (Source: Fundable) The company is based in California, near Palm Springs. 

As of this post date, only a handful of manufacturers which include manufacturing conglomerate Taurus, based in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Legacy Sports International (Howa Rifles and Citadel), Magnum Research (Kahr Firearms Group) have signed up, along with a few items from Magpul and Beretta. GunTV has partnered with Sports South, a large and long-established gun wholesaler based in Shreveport, Louisiana, which supplies Walmart and gun shops across the country, to be its distributor.

Time will tell if industry marketers accept GunTV. Larger and more established brands will need to commit before GunTV can reach its promise of offering a vast selection of products.

It’s only been a few days, but I find GunTV at this point in its early stages to be a considerable option for marketers wanting to reach women and beginner shooters.

What are your thoughts on GunTV?  

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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.

How To Do Traditional Firearms Marketing the Inbound

How To Do Traditional Firearms Marketing the Inbound Way

By Firearms and Hunting

There are several ways to construct a marketing campaign for your hunting or firearms product. Most of the time, you gather your team in a room, pound out some ideas—based around a new product release—and figure out a way on how to best bring it to the masses. Sometimes this is driven by your ad rep at Guns & Ammo or Field & Stream calling to make you aware that their full-page Spring ad deadline is looming (that costs $5,000 bucks) and that “there’s still space available.”

So you get busy creating the messaging, source the photography and get the designer to pull it all together to submit your files 2 minutes before the 5 PM deadline.

Few weeks go by as you wait in expectation for the ad to drop expecting a sales boost and… nothing. You see a slight bump in website traffic, but little to no sales. Sound familiar?

In this post, I want to give you three quick points on how to combine traditional “outbound” marketing tactics with inbound marketing tactics to help you create more effective traditional marketing campaigns that optimizes your marketing dollars and sales.

1. Create a backbone strategy with inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a long-term strategy that is formed around your ideal customer (or buyer persona) that focuses specifically on how to solve their problems or how to improve their job, hunting or shooting experience. This is a drastic departure from the typical marketing strategies were it’s all about how cool the product is, the latest review or how superior it is to other products. This kind of messaging is getting old and everyone uses it. Inbound is about building trust and being helpful. This allows your marketing and sales to stand out and has been proven to be more effective instead of the say it and spray it” method of most “interruptive” traditional marketing methods.

An inbound marketing strategy then uses six web-based components that consist of: 1. Content (blogs, videos, webinars, ebooks and whitepapers), 2. SEO, 3. Email marketing, 4. Social media, 5. CTAs and 6. Landing pages. These components form the framework when marketing online. Since inbound is entirely web-based, it’s completely measurable. This allows your marketing team to analyze what pieces of content and messages are working and what are not.

Since inbound marketing revolves around goals, ROI and analytics—this gives your marketing team a highly effective strategy that becomes the hub for all your marketing activities, including print, T.V, trade show and radio.

 

firearms-marketing-inbound-outbound

Example of print ad with inbound offer.

2. Create relevant offers and include them in your ads

Buying ads or TV spots can build your brand’s awareness and can bring short-term sales, but often times it’s very hard to measure.

One of the ways you can gauge your ads’ effectiveness is by placing a free downloadable offer on it that drives your audience to your website.

By creating helpful downloadable offers like catalogs, spec guides, hunting tips or in this example: “The Beginner’s Guide to Pheasant Hunting”  your personas will be enticed to exchange their contact information for your offer allowing you to communicate with them further. Use a vanity URL like www.yourfirstshotgun.com/hunt and a specialized call in number to track engagement.

 

3. Track ROI, analyze and adjust

So what did that $5000 full page get you? The chances are that if you properly identified your audience, utilized a targeted publication and included a downloadable offer, you will generate traffic and sales. At the minimum you grew your email marketing list from prospects who downloaded your offer for future lead nurturing. 

If you did not achieve the results you wanted, you might need to go back and rethink your positioning, message and drill more into defining your persona. If it worked, rinse and repeat.

By combining the tactics of traditional “outbound” marketing with inbound marketing, you will find you have more data to rely on to make your advertising campaigns more effective. Use these three points for your radio, trade show and TV campaigns as well.