Skip to main content
Tag

featured

featured blog post

firearms-industry-disruption

Is the Firearms Industry Ripe for Disruption?

By Firearms and Hunting

 

The mention of disruption these days in any industry is enough to send shivers down the spine of any executive in the C-suite. Industries who have typically rested on their laurels are always ripe for disruption sending established brands packing.

We see how digital film brought down Kodak. Netflix replaced Blockbuster. Or how Uber turned the taxicab industry upside down.

And with the emergence of a new technology called the Internet of Things or IoT, we’re seeing how Google’s NEST is turning the home into a “smart” home, where it can sense what your ideal temperature is and can alert you through your iPhone to any intrusion by communicating with your security system.

From compact discs changing to Mp3s, the iPhone, Pandora, and others—disruption is happening at a furious pace, which begs the question, is the firearms industry vulnerable to disruption?

We see attempts from companies like Tracking Point and SilencerCo’s new Weapons Research spin-off making strides to integrate and make available once out-of-reach technology to the civilian customer.

Perhaps the biggest and most recent disruptions are taking place in 3-D printing, advanced robotic manufacturing, caseless ammo, and the push for smart guns. Other areas include how firearms are being sold online or in the retail environment or how firearms can interact within their environments. In addition, the NRA’s recent ad campaign seeks to awaken people to the fact that they are losing their rights, which is galvanizing gun owners and strengthening the conservative political movement.

As new out-of-industry technologies develop, politics change and people’s perceptions and attitudes towards technology and firearms shift, companies who are thinking forward will be poised to weather coming changes.

In this article, I took a look at four areas of potential disruption from a marketing standpoint and share some ideas to spur thought and perhaps push you out of your comfort zone in terms of how to avoid or prepare for potential disruption in the firearms industry.

Manufacturing

Manufacturing is entering a dynamic new phase. By 2025, a new global consuming class will have emerged, and the majority of consumption will take place in developing economies. This will create rich new market opportunities. Meanwhile, in established markets, demand is fragmenting as customers ask for greater variation and more types of after-sales service. A rich pipeline of innovations in materials and processes—from nanomaterials to 3-D printing to advanced robotics—also promises to create fresh demand and drive further productivity gains across manufacturing industries and geographies. (Source: McKinsey)

Gun manufacturing and gunsmithing has historically been a difficult endeavor, requiring metal and woodworking skills to make a sturdy, dependable weapon. According to Adam Clark Estes from Gizmodo, 3-D printing has passed the point of rinky-dink plastic parts and is now capable of printing with bronze, limestone, and iron.

3-D printing remains a controversial subject—and yet to be proven in firearm application at scale, but it should not be discounted.

One company, Solid Concepts, using a 3D printer that can print metals, reproduced a clone of a military 1911 .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol, which successfully fired 50 rounds. Defense Distributed, a non-profit digital publisher and 3D R&D firm, developed an all-plastic handgun based on a WWII design called the Liberator.

If companies like Solid Concepts and Defense Distributed figures out how to make firearms just as durable as the they are now; undercut prices and make them more personalized and do it at scale—this could be a disruption of dynamic proportions. The entire process could be turned upside down: from employment, training, inventory, design, prototyping, labor unions and the list goes on and on.

Skip ahead to the year 2030. What if all I had to do to buy a gun was to apply for a license online, purchase and download a plan that I could then take to my local 3-D manufacturing station. Which happens to be the same place I went to last week to purchase and print a broomstick and some forks. Seem far fetched, maybe not?

The changing retail experience

In a recent trip down to the local gun shop, I couldn’t help but notice how different the experience was from being in an Apple store I was in the day before. From the stuffy atmosphere, the grumpy guy working behind the counter and the disorganized mess of firearms mounted on peg board—the typical gun shop buying experience has been about the same for about every store I’ve been in to since I was 8 years old.

The reason I bring up the Apple store—is because the Apple retail experience has caused major disruption in the consumer electronics space (Source: HBR) and has crossed over into other industries that has the potential to influence the expectations of buyers, including those buying a firearm.

According to the latest NSSF data, new buyers (mostly handguns) in the firearms industry are younger, include more females and are urban. (Source: NSSF) These buyers have been influenced by out-of-industry retail experiences like Apple or REI and will come to expect the same experiences from outdoor retailers—it’s a natural progression. Bass Pro, Cabela’s and other larger retailers aside, small mom and pop shops could face problems in the years to come by overlooking their retail experience.

Berretta GalleryFor example, Beretta opened its seventh Beretta Gallery in Memphis earlier this year. With locations in Milan, Paris, London and Buenos Aires, New York, and Dallas, Beretta once again is disrupting how hunting, outdoor and firearm marketing and sales is being delivered. 

Berretta’s vision has always led the industry, and this may be the reason this company has been around since 1526.

The same can be said for the online buying experience. I recently looked at the hunting and firearms industry’s best websites. What I discovered was a lot of the larger brands that didn’t make the list—were not mobile based, offered little to no information to their users and had yet to implement a digital marketing strategy that is expected from today’s younger, urban consumer.

With over 50% of ecommerce website traffic now coming from mobile (Source: Shopify), and 1.8 hours per day consuming media via mobile, it makes sense for brands to make digital marketing a priority in 2016.

James McQuivey of Forrester Research says, “In the digital environment, customers have the ability to switch back and forth between competitive providers more quickly and at lower cost than ever before. They can research competitive prices, they can look for promotions, they can even place an order for a competitor’s product all while standing in your store or looking at your product on the shelf. That’s why the only way to win that customer is to serve that customer, to make his or her needs the most important thing your business is focused on.”

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is an environment in which objects, animals or people are provided with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction.

A few examples of IoT are doors that lock themselves, cameras that monitor your home for intruders or thermostats that program themselves. It’s about using technology to make technology smarter.

Daniel Burris, from Burris Research, quotes in an article from Wired. “The Internet of Things really comes together with the connection of sensors and machines. That is to say, the real value that the Internet of Things creates is at the intersection of gathering data and leveraging it. All the information gathered by all the sensors in the world isn’t worth very much if there isn’t an infrastructure in place to analyze it in real time.”

Of all the technology trends that are taking place right now, perhaps the biggest one is the Internet of Things; it’s the one that’s going to give us the most disruption as well as the most opportunity over the next five years.

Tracking Point came out with its Shotview at CES earlier this year that allows a user to link to a HUD on your rifle for greater shooting accuracy and that can record your hunt through a Google Glass app.

Another company focusing on IoT is Yardarm Technologies in law enforcement. Its smart gun concept is equipped with an accelerometer, gyroscope, wireless GSM, and Bluetooth low energy to monitor and record data every time it is discharged.

The sensor gathers data about how, when and where officers use their guns, and transmits that data in real time to commanding officers and departments.

Everything from the time the gun is unholstered, to the number and location of shots fired—even the direction the gun is pointed in—can be measured and visualized with Yardarm’s technology, the company says. (Source: PC World)

Could IoT cause disruption in the firearms industry? It surely is one of the most exciting and promising areas of innovation. Segments who have the highest risk I believe are products that require several consecutive steps of use, bulky functionality and after market add-ons like optics and lasers that could be substituted by technologies like Google Glass.

Why put an optic on your rifle when you can wear it on your head? And by combining this with advancements in 3-D printing, this could be an area of interest as well.

Shifting political views and opinions

NRA’s latest ad campaign “Freedom’s Safest Place” communicates the views the majority of us share. “This campaign is a gathering of shared values that gives a sense of right and wrong,” says NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre. In light of the recent IRS scandals, terrorism and tragedies the “good guys” are being called to stand up.

With the recent Planned Parenthood videos being released that show the gruesome and evil acts of its employees to support for tell-it-like-it-is Donald Trump—the people who adhere and align with America’s core principles of freedom and the constitution are finally taking a stand against left-wing groups, Bloomberg and the media with a renewed sense of purpose.

People who own firearms see the dangers of this world and want to protect themselves, their family and even arm themselves against their own government who continues to impede, trample and intrude on citizen’s rights—are changing the minds and attitudes and causing disruption of what once was the status quo.

How firearm manufacturers participate in this remains to be seen. However if the NRA is successful in swaying public opinion and rallies its 5 Million members along with other conservative groups that contributes to the election of a pro-gun Republican President in 2016, the gun industry could be on its way back to what sales were like during the Bush ’43 presidency.

Gun-Sales

It’s been said, Obama has been the industry’s best sales man. Looking back at industry background check figures give a good indication of what sales where like 8 years ago under the Bush administration.

NOTE: Not all background checks are followed by a sale, and an unknown number of private sales take place without any requirement for a background check. (Source: Fact Check)

The upcoming presidential election has the potential to be the biggest disruption of them all whether a republican or a democrat gets elected. 

Firearm manufacturers next generation of marketers, workers, engineers and designers will intrinsically possess the influences, skills and ideas to push brands into new areas. It’s up to the innovators and thought leaders of the industry to prepare for the coming changes. Whether change comes from the manufacturers themselves or a new startup—disruption, my friends is inevitable.

How Inbound Marketing Increases Your Dealers & Distributors Firearm Sales

By Firearms and Hunting

I am often asked by frustrated manufacturers in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry about how inbound marketing can specifically help their business increase sales over their entire chain of distribution.

They are frustrated because many have bought email lists thinking they could send their offers to interested distributors or customers, redesigned their website that cost thousands of dollars only to get zero increase in traffic, hired an SEO firm to boost traffic or even spent money on a trade show sponsorship that brought little to no results. And cold calling doesn’t seem to work as well as it used to. 

Some have been left feeling burnt with little or nowhere else to turn except to some other web or PR firm making big promises.

In this post, I want to look at three components of the distribution chain: the distributor, the dealer and direct-to-consumer and give you three bottom line takeaways on how inbound marketing is different from traditional methods you might have used in the past and how specifically inbound marketing can help your business’ bottom line.

So let’s go…

First, let’s start with the distributor
Distributors are always on the look out for the next hot product. They want to know if your brand’s product can get a good margin, sell quickly and most importantly, know if their investment in your product will pay off. (Source: Entrepreneur

To attract more distributors, you can utilize the inbound marketing methodology to create content to establish your brand which in turn, creates “thought leadership.” Nobody knows more about how your product helps customers than you. By publishing your content on B2B networks like LinkedIn, where distributors are looking for new products and ideas—you can really stand out among your competitors.

hunting-firearms-linked-groups

Top hunting, outdoor and firearms LinkedIn groups

There are several active groups on LinkedIn you should join.

By creating and sharing helpful information and answering questions about your product, you begin to build brand awareness and trust within your network. Trust is a large consideration when creating a partnership with a distributor. Buyers go through about 57% of the purchasing process before ever talking to sales. (Source: CEB) This means that helpful content has the potential to create trust with your potential distributor before you even talk. This makes the selling process much easier and more likely to end in a purchase order.

Example Questions Your Inbound Marketing Should Address

  • How much profit can we make when selling your products? (Address this on both a per-unit level and an expected total sales level.)

  • How does your product compare financially to other similar products? What are the profit levels you can bring compared to someone else’s product?

  • Does your company provide additional marketing funds to help sell these products? What exactly do you do to help them sell?

  • Is there a demand for your product? What need does it serve, and which retail market is most likely to be effective when selling it?

  • Do you produce a variety of different products that can also easily be distributed?
    (Source: Iqnection)

hunting-firearm-distribution-inbound-marketing

Inbound marketing tracking sources report

 

Since inbound marketing is internet-based, it’s also trackable. Imagine knowing exactly how your marketing has affected your bottom line and being able to show a prospective distributor real results. This can be very powerful especially for startups or mid-sized companies looking to create a strong sales case study.

Bottom line: Inbound marketing increases sales by building thought leadership, trust, speeds up the sales cycle and is trackable.

The Dealer
Dealers and distributors interests are sometimes the same in how they can sell more to the end consumer. Unlike the distributor who is more interested in a quality product and good margins, the dealer—who is also interested in those things—wants products that have a large customer base and can profit quickly.

Did you know that 81% of products are researched online before purchase? (Source: Adweek). Inbound marketing creates greater opportunities for your products to be found online. By creating content that helps your customers become better shooters, better hunters or provides insight and tips pertaining to whatever product or service you sell—you build your brand and cultivate a deep interest for your brand’s products that are based on trust—not persuasive ad messaging.

And with 54% of shoppers wanting to actually see the product before they purchase it, inbound can potentially drive customers to your local dealers with a sense of trust already established in your brand which increases the likelihood of purchase which benefits your dealers. (Source: Social Times)

Bottom line: Inbound marketing increases sales by creating greater awareness of your brand online where customers start their searches for your products.

Direct-to-Consumer
As an end-user, your customer also goes through a lengthy buyer process before deciding to purchase your product. One of the key differentiators of inbound marketing (assuming that you built a good product) is that it delights your customers and turns them into promoters of your brand’s products after purchase.

Social media is like digital word of mouth. Word of mouth and referrals—as we all know—is the best kind of marketing there is. Inbound uses social media to encourage sharing over social media networks that spreads your content and messaging to a larger audience.

80% of all new product searches begin online, so if your product is not taking advantage of the benefits of the hundreds to thousands of online searches within your product category every month, you’re missing out on a viable revenue stream. (Source: Adweek)

Bottom line: Inbound marketing increases sales by turning your customers into promoters of your brand.

These are just three ways on how inbound marketing can help increase sales for your hunting, outdoor or firearms manufacturing company throughout the distribution chain. Inbound marketing builds trust, establishes thought leadership, speeds the sales cycle, increases traffic to your website and turns customers into promoters of your brand.

Larger brands like Beretta, Stag Arms and Mossberg have already adopted inbound marketing programs. In a case study by HubSpot, Beretta reported a 76% increase in organic leads to customers last year with inbound marketing. And with more than 80% of CMO’s increasing their content budget, (Source: Ad Age) the question becomes, who’s going to break out in your product category first?

[columns]
hunting-outdoor-firearm-inbound-marketing

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

[easyembed field=”CTA”]
[/columns]

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.

6 Secrets on How To Increase Online Firearm Sales

6 Secrets on How To Increase Online Firearm Sales

By Firearms and Hunting

The typical firearms buying process can take up to 3 months. (Source: NSSF) From online research, background checks, buying a safe, FFL transfer, learning how to shoot, cleaning accessories, holsters and figuring out what gun to buy can take a long time for someone who’s new to the idea of owning a gun or someone who is considering an MSR.

81% of all purchases begin with a web search (Source: Retailing Today). And even more astonishing is that 57% of the sales cycle is over before your customers even contact you (Source: CEB). These two statistics are the main drivers why you need to maintain and optimize your website—which is crucial to increasing online firearm sales. 

In a recent survey, 29% report to having already purchased a firearm online and 58% are willing to consider purchasing one online. This data is most likely higher today. (Source: NSSF 2011)

And unfortunately with more gun regulations on the way, rising crime and unrest, customers will continue to seek ways on how to protect themselves, home, family, and property.

Firearms sales are booming. (Source: CNN)

Right now, there are hundreds of thousands of customers searching the web on how to buy, shoot and own a gun. Here are the top searched keywords per month according to MOZ:

  • ar15: 110,000
  • ammunition: 90,500
  • gun: 90,500
  • shotgun: 40,500
  • hunting rifle: 5400
  • rifle scope: 3600
  • firearm: 2900
  • ar15 accessories: 2400

So how do you get a piece of this lucrative online traffic? Below are six secrets to increase your online firearm sales.

1. Understand the buyers journey

Does your website adequately address and incorporate the buyers journey? Is it answering your prospects questions? Does your website simplify how they can buy a gun from you? Are you building trust with your prospect?

To understand how to maximize your online sales, you must first understand the buyer journey. See example below:

firearms-buyer-process

You may be missing out on ways to grow your business or build a more predictable sale forecast by not understanding your buyers journey.

2. Know who your customers are

Each brand in the industry is typically a product of its company culture or its owner. How does your style match your prospective customer? To maximize your online sales, you must define the buyer persona. Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns. Create content based on your ideal customer or buyer persona. (See ebook below)

3. Create valuable content

Blogs are great ways to attract more customers. Firearm manufacturer websites (49%), magazine articles (40%), and online forums/blogs (38%) are the most referenced information sources when considering the purchase of a handgun.(Source: NSSF 2011)

Eighty-two percent of manufacturers are incorporating content into their marketing strategy, according to the 2015 B2B Manufacturing Content Marketing Trends report, recently published by the Content Marketing Institute.

If you’re not blogging on a consistent basis, you are losing out on a viable and predictable way to sell and market more firearms.

Three big names in the industry have already adopted content and are moving into the digital era. Beretta, Mossberg, and Stag Arms have already integrated inbound marketing into their marketing programs and are having massive success. See Beretta case study. 

Why leave content to industry magazines (that you have to pay for) when you can create content for your own company that attracts prospects, builds your brand and retains your current customers? After all, you are the expert. You work in the industry, and build guns every day. By sharing your knowledge with your prospects or customers, you become the known expert, which in the end equals profits.

Here are some stats on why blogging works:

  • Blogs convert readers into buyers. 42% of consumers look to blogs for information about potential purchases; 52% say blogs have impacted their purchase decisions; and 57% of marketers have acquired new customers with their blogs. (leaderswest Digital Marketing Journal)
  • B2C companies that blog generate 88% more leads per month than those that do not (Source: Rick’s Tips)
  • 79% of online shoppers spend 50% of their shopping time researching products online (Source: HubSpot)
  • Blogs attract repeat visitors who continue to come back to their website for fresh content.

4. Create downloadable offers to generate leads

When blogging consistently on topics that answer your customers most burning questions—you attract them to your website where you are then able to keep them their longer and keep them coming back. When creating a downloadable offer in the form of: How-to guides, pricing info, catalogs, etc. and then trade this information for their email address—you earn their permission to send them more offers.

This allows you build a qualified email marketing database that moves your customers from strangers to loyal customers and enables you to close more sales.

5. Nurture customers through email marketing

In 2014, email marketing was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States. (Source: eMarketer).

Email marketing allows you to educate your prospects and customers on your products, cross-sell or upsell, generate new sales down the road and establish your expertise.

Email marketing is the most effective way to personalize messaging and ROI in the firearms industry.

6. Pull, don’t push

Ever wonder why all social media posts look the same? 

Notice how most social media messages are all about “pushing a message.” Instead of pushing your message on your customers, a better way is to “pull” them to your message. By creating valuable and relevant content that solves their problems, answers their questions or helps them become better at something, (i.e. knowing about guns) you will attract them to your message and your brand much more easily. This gives your followers valuable information that they will appreciate and remember when it’s time to buy that second gun.

In conclusion, companies in the firearms industry can increase their online sales by focusing on the buyers journey, creating and identifying their buyer persona, creating content based on solving their customer’s unique problems, creating downloadable content offers, nurturing through email marketing and using social media to pull your customers to your message and content rather than pushing it on them.

 

Hunting-Outdoor-Firearms-Buyer-Persona1

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Hunting, Outdoor & Firearms Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to maximizing your marketing efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer is. This will enable you to set SMART goals to focus your marketing/branding and turn your website into a lead generating machine. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.

 

[easyembed field=”CTA”]

 


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.

NRA 2015

6 Key Marketing Takeaways From NRA 2015

By Firearms and Hunting

[dropcap]I [/dropcap]was fortunate to attend The NRA Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Nashville, Tennessee on Friday. I started in on the exhibits at 10 AM which only gave me 4 hours to hit my goal of hitting all of the 550 exhibits over 9 acres before my first round of meetings starting at 2 PM.

Being at the show was an amazing experience. It was good to be among the thousands of people who share the same values as I do for shooting, patriotism and the 2nd amendment.

If you’re a business owner or are responsible for marketing or sales for a hunting, outdoor or firearms company, here are 6 takeaways from a marketer’s point of view if you weren’t able to attend NRA 2015.  

1. Brand aesthetics

The first thing that struck me once I entered the exhibit hall and started down the 9 acres of trade show booths, stands, signage, pop-up displays, guns and gear, was the amount of time, attention and refinement that had gone into the exhibits. Most of the larger exhibits were mobile storefronts. DPMS pulled in an entire tractor-trailer that served as a basic store on wheels. Trijicon’s booth was at least two stories high. These large-scale booths that can cost upwards to a million dollars, added real value to the show.

NRA Booth Design

Marketing Takeaway: There are over 5,500 trade shows a year in the firearms industry. To compete effectively, an investment in graphic design and environmental experience is a must. From photography to apparel—your ability to capture the imagination of your customers and present a professional image should be a top priority.

There are a few exceptions. If your product is unique but has to work within a lower budget—a simple booth design can work just as good. The important thing is to create a professional, credible brand image and boost the experience of your products unique features.

2. The industry is growing

With 78,000+ attendees, rest assured the industry is strong. According to a recent study by Hoovers, the firearms industry is expected to grow 3% over the next three years due to the following trends:

  • Target Shooting Growing More Popular
  • Participation by Women
  • Investments in Gun Safety
  • 3D Printing

With an increased interest in home defense and personal safety— fueled largely by anti-gun legislation attempts, anti-gun groups, and oversea conflicts—the largest sales are coming from the handgun and concealed carry segments. Younger buyers are attracted to Modern Sporting Rifles, which is also driving new products and new product development.

Marketing Takeaway: Manufacturers and industries associated with the Firearms industry should have a positive outlook and move forward accordingly with plans that involve growth because all trends are pointing up. 

3. Technology & product design is evolving

A large part of the industry seems to be focusing on concealed carry and suppression. It seemed that a lot of the stage talks, break-out sessions and latest gear were directed towards personal defense.

There were also plenty of new sleek and modernized gun designs that appealed to hunters, especially Beretta and Benelli.

The Benelli 8828U and Ethos shotgun looks even better up close. Its sleek design, fluid lines and materials represent the latest in gun design.

Beretta’s shotguns and Black Rain Ordinance’s 300 Blackout also caught my attention.

NRA Booth 2015

Marketing Takeaway: Technology and product design is evolving. As the industry looks to attract younger customer segments, greater attention to modern design, materials, patterns, colors, personalization and technology are being applied.

4. Fragmented customer segments

Once you enter the hall, you are surrounded by thousands of people of all ages. There is an exciting energy and vibe. The people that I had an opportunity to meet and talk with were genuine, helpful and interested in what I had to say. People were extremely polite despite the crowded environment.

Marketing Takeaway: Focus on your customers or what is called your buyer personas. Know exactly who your customers are and why your product will appeal to them. Although the customer base of the Firearms industry share common beliefs and values, it is comprised of many different customer segments. I saw a 40-year old dad looking for a way to protect his home and a retired special ops looking to impress his buddies—both looking at the same gun. Knowing your customer should be at the top of your list at all times, which brings me to my next point.

NRA Booth 2015 Kimber

Kimber – NRA 2015

5. Differentiation and brand experience

Amongst the sea of people, towering booths, music, sights and sounds it can be hard to stand out, especially if you are not a brand like Colt, Sig Saurer, Daniels Defense or Remington. The strongest booths were the ones who utilized a strong branding system were colors, type, imagery and materials worked together to form an experience and impression to make their prospects or customers feel something. For example, when I walked into Kimber’s exhibit, it felt like being in an upscale mountain ski chalet in contrast to Black Rain Ordinance, where it was like being in a special forces planning room.

The most successful booths were those in which you were able to experience what the brand was communicating.

Among other successful booths that weren’t so “experiential” was Mossberg, who had the Duck Dynasty clan, Tactical Tailor, which used custom photography from Straight 8 to capture their brand’s essence.

mossberg_nra2015

Marketing Takeaway: Invest in your brands experience and make sure that it is consistent across your packaging, website, content, ads and trade show booth. If you are unable to do what the larger brands do, use people to classify your target market in a setting in which your customer can envision themselves, e.g. Benelli’s perfect pheasant hunt.

nra booth benelli

6. Drive sales through internet/inbound marketing

It was nearly impossible to connect to the internet while in the exhibit hall. I wanted to follow the show’s hashtag: #NRAAM. What I found was that a large majority of the show’s participants weren’t tweeting and the exhibitors weren’t either. I wish I would have received this one about Marcus Luttrell from Remington: 

I also noticed that many of the brands present did not drive attendees to their websites to track engagement, gain insight and benchmark responses for future shows. Glock was the one exception with their GlockLive streaming program.  

Marketing Takeaway: Firearms companies can take advantage of digital/web marketing i.e. social media, mobile and content to drive traffic, sales and reach the next generation. Firearm and hunting companies who recognize that their customers are changing how they receive content will have an advantage over their competition. There were thousands following the event on social media who weren’t able to attend NRA. Brands who did not utilize their website and their social media channels may have missed out on opportunities to build their brand and generate additional sales.

My day ended with a long drive back home with a good stack of business cards, new friends and the feeling that the NRA knows what it’s doing. As a shooter and hunter, the heritage and freedom I love is in tact.

What were your top takeaways? 

[columns]
hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

[easyembed field=”CTA”]
[/columns]

 


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.

Hunting-Outdoor-Firearm-Distribution

6 Considerations When Choosing Wholesale Firearms Distribution

By Firearms and Hunting

It’s come time to take your hunting, outdoor or firearms company to the next level.

You’ve gone to great lengths to prove your product is a winner and have a validated sales case study. You’ve figured out your inventory and fulfillment dilemmas and have the right people in place to scale your operation.

The next step is to generate more revenue, reach a broader audience and grow your brand.

Choosing a distributor for your custom tactical rifle, tree stand, hunting knife, optic or accessory can be a somewhat complicated process. When looking at expanding your business, you basically have three options in getting your product to your customers: Sell direct, use distribution or a combination of both.

A distributor— the proverbial middleman—maintains an active network of retailers and becomes your outsourced sales department leaving you to focus on your brand, operations and running your business. By utilizing a distributor, you ship your product to them and in most cases, they handle the rest.

In this article, are six considerations for new or emerging hunting, outdoor or firearms/accessories manufacturers considering distribution.

1. Know your customer

Believe it or not, one of your hardest questions to ask as a business owner is: Who—specifically—is our customer? I think most of us will admit we don’t know our customers as well as we should. By neglecting to have an accurate and well-defined customer or—buyer persona—you hinder the potential and effectiveness of your marketing and branding efforts once your product(s) goes mainstream.

Marketing is about knowing your customer better than anyone else. A strong marketing and branding program will entice and attract distributors and wholesalers. Communicate the specifics of your customer to your potential distributors (and/or dealers) for maximum sales and branding effectiveness.

2. Understand your product

A lot of times, you can loose focus on how your product will fit into the marketplace. Make sure to define what it is and how it will be merchandised. Is your product an aftermarket add-on or OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) upgrade or both? Understanding how your product fits into the marketplace is key in negotiating terms and structuring a contract.

3. Define your pricing

Before setting up meetings with distributors, make sure to define your pricing that includes MSRP, MAP, Dealer, Distributor, and OEM—make sure to pad enough in for overhead and profit. This will help you determine who the right distributor is. If you fail to examine all the factors involved in your pricing, it could be detrimental to your business down the road.

4. Define your manufacturing and shipping volumes

Quality is everything in this industry since it is so highly concentrated. Never cut corners or sacrifice craftsmanship. Once word gets out that your product is faulty, it will be difficult to recover. 

In order to maintain quality—define your manufacturing and shipping volumes that you’ll be able to handle while still maintaining quality control.

If you are creating your product by injection molding and/or assembling in-house—what volume can you handle without having to expand? If you receive a large order from an OEM or a P.O. from Cabella’s—can you ramp up? Know what your capacities and contingencies are and prepare for it.

5. Don’t sign exclusive agreements, unless…

When you’re just starting out, it may be tempting to take that first exclusive deal. Only sign the agreement if it makes sense and if payment is made in advance.

6. Research and ask the important questions

When considering distribution, don’t go into it blindly. It can be a very exciting time in your business’ history, so do your due diligence to understand if the buyer is the right partner. Here are a few important questions to ask:

  • How many sales personnel does your company employ?
  • What are your distribution points?
  • What size of dealers do you typically work with?
  • What is your annual sales volume as a whole?
  • Do they market a similar product that has been successful? How much did they grow the product’s sales over the last three years?
  • What is the size of the initial purchase order size and what is your annual commitment to my product?
  • What are your terms? (Remember you are not a bank so be very careful of whom you give terms to. 30-90 days can seem like a lifetime if you have financial obligations like shop and equipment payments.
  • What are your limitations? Can I sell to dealers or consumers directly? If not, negotiate a higher price.

In conclusion, by understanding who your customer is, how your product fits into the market, manufacturing and shipping volumes, contract exclusions and asking the right questions—you’ll be better equipped to negotiate terms and identify the right distribution partner for your firearms, hunting or outdoor product.

Matt Burkett is President and Owner of Predator Tactical, a firearms manufacturer, accessories and training company. 

 

Hunting-Outdoor-Firearms-Buyer-Persona1

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Hunting, Outdoor & Firearms Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to maximizing your marketing efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer is. This will enable you to set SMART goals to focus your marketing/branding and turn your website into a lead generating machine. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.

[easyembed field=”hunting-outdoor-persona-CTA”]

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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.

 

Brand Loyalty Customer Retention

7 Ways To Build Brand Loyalty Through Customer Retention

By Brand Development

Business owners of small-mid sized B2C companies—or entrepreneurs getting their enterprise off the ground—know that there are certain things that must be done in order to guarantee long-term success. The things that have brought success in the past must continue—and improve over time. This typically revolves around acquiring more customers and retaining the ones you currently have.

However, we sometimes—in the hustle and bustle of running our businesses—loose sight and take our eye off the ball of managing our customer retention programs. We tend to rely heavily on our products superiority, thinking that if we deliver a great product, customers will follow. When this type of thinking occurs, it’s easy to get off track. And before you know it—customers begin to bail.

According to Bain and Co., a 5% increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75%. And if those numbers don’t impress you, Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers. 

Still not sold on customer retention?

One final statistic provided by Lee Resource Inc. should give you plenty to think about: Attracting new customers will cost your company 5 times more than keeping an existing customer. (Source: Forbes)

In order to retain your customers and build brand loyalty, here are 7 things to keep in mind.

1. Do not over promise
It’s really easy in your marketing communications to bolster your value propositions that make your audience think that what you’re offering is the next best thing to sliced bread. Take extra care not to over promise your products key differentiators in an attempt to make your packaging and marketing more powerful. Focus on creating a brand image and supplement that with a message that doesn’t over promise to your customers.

If you can’t deliver on it, don’t promise it. And remember the old adage: “Under promise, over deliver.”

customer retention blackberry2. Cutting corners can be disastrous
In 2011, Blackberry’s (RIM) entire network of 70 million customers went down. This happened because Blackberry did not adequately prepare for their customers increased demand for video streaming.

Industry insiders and former RIM staff say the company has been storing up problems for years through its approach to its system – and the outage was only to be expected.” (Source: The Gaurdian)

At some point, someone at RIM decided not to invest in new system upgrades most likely in attempt to save some money.

This cost Blackberry its brand and plenty of marketshare (10% in 2011 now down to only 1% in 2015) (Source: Business Insider)

Blackberry’s demise could have been avoided by not cutting corners and keeping a better eye on what their customers wanted.

3. Keep it simple
We all love Apple because their products are simple. In our fast-paced, I have no-time, gotta-run world—you must simplify your products and services in order for them to be relevant. Anything that requires an extensive learning curve, or a lot of time to figure your product out—will be given up on and lost in the noise. 

Keep your products simple. By removing as many extra steps as possible—you will provide a better product experience to your customer. It will also help you simplify your communications. 

brand loyalty4. Invest in your brand 
I bought a GPS/heart rate monitor a few years ago for $500 plus tax—a big investment for my triathlon training requirements. Through the course of my use, the face got scratched making it unreadable, the watchband broke several times and I had to replace the heart rate monitor strap 4 times. I decided to keep reinvesting in it, because to replace it would have cost me even more money. I logged onto to the products support site and found people having the same problems, but I still hung on to it. 

When I initially purchased the watch—I thought the brand was superior to that of its competitors and that it would give me an edge in my training. I knew I was buying the Mercedes of training watches—but in the end, I was disappointed and worse of all—angry. If the watch came with guaranteed product support and replacement, it may have sat a little better with me, even though I felt cheated, I didn’t desert the brand, and gave it three more chances. 

brand loyaltyThe lesson here is, by investing in brand development that positions your brand as superior—you can potentially retain your customers, even if they become unhappy. If you asked a Mercedes owner why they keep driving a car that needs to go to the shop for repairs every other month, they’d tell you: “because Mercedes is the best.” 

5. Provide over-the-top customer service
If you’ve ever been overcharged for something you know that it needs to be resolved right away. If you have to make your customers search for a customer service number and then give them a foreign speaking service rep who could care less about your problem, this will definitely cause customers to become angry. Over the top customer service must be provided at all times.

A great example of a company that provides over-the-top customer support is an enterprise hosting company called Rackspace. Their tagline: “Fanatical Support” says it all. They give their customers the assurance they need that when something goes wrong—you can get someone on the line right away and get an answer on the spot. Because of companies like Rackspace, the customer service paradigm has shifted. Everyone expects great customer service. 

6. Utilize social media to stay in contact
If your customers subscribe to your Facebook feed, they want to hear from you. By implementing an inbound marketing strategy you’ll have plenty of interesting content to share that keeps your customers engaged, informed and delighted. See the free resource below on more information about attracting customers with Facebook. 

If you’re not utilizing social media to build a following for your products, you’re missing a huge opportunity to drive traffic and increase revenue.

7. Let them know you’re thinking about them
It also doesn’t hurt to budget some perks for your customers from time to time. Not all marketing spend has to be on advertisements, direct mail and tradeshows. A great example happened to me a few months ago. I received a letter from Southwest Airlines for 4 free drinks next time we fly—that don’t expire till the end of this year. Next time I fly—guess who I’m booking with? Southwest.

It’s the little things that can make your customers very happy.

In conclusion, to build brand loyalty and retain your customers, don’t over promise or cut corners. Keep it simple, build a brand that holds on to them, provide over-the-top customer service, utilize social media to stay in contact and let them know you’re thinking about them once in a while.

How to Attract Customers with FacebookFree Download:
How to Attract More Customers with Facebook

Believe it or not, Facebook isn’t just for cat photos, news articles, selfies, and ads. Businesses like yours can actually generate customers from Facebook – as long as you’re using the right approach.

[easyembed field=”facebookCTA”]

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands 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 Inbound Can Grow Your Business

How Inbound Marketing Can Grow Your Business

By Business, Inbound Marketing

Business owners today are faced with many options and challenges on how to market their businesses and make their marketing dollars go farther. From the Yellow Pages (yp.com), Angie’s List, trade show events to glossy print ads—the options are endless. However, I want to introduce you to a relatively new marketing and sales methodology that can help address one of your business’ biggest challenges: growth.

In this article, I explain 5 high-level factors of inbound marketing to help you understand how to attract customers, grow your brand and your bottom line. Inbound marketing harnesses the power of your company’s website to generate traffic and leads, automate marketing, acquire customers and understand your cost per lead more effectively. If you’re new to the concept of inbound marketing, read: What is Inbound Marketing? first.

1. Grow by generating website traffic
The World Wide Web celebrated its 25th birthday this past March. Since its inception, it has revolutionized the way we do business. According to iMedia, 93% of B2B buyers use search to begin the buying process.  93 percent! If you’re serious about generating traffic month after month—it’s absolutely critical that the products and services you provide can be found online by your prospective customers/clients/dealers.

 

inbound marketing traffic

Actual Inbound Marketing Traffic Generation Data: 157% Increase in traffic!

 

So, how do you get more traffic? Well, once again the options are endless. A good place to start is with inbound marketing’s approach to blogging. If you aren’t blogging, you’re missing out on what could be your biggest opportunity to generate traffic.

Take a look at these statistics:

  • Blog frequency impacts customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2013)
  • The global population of blog readers keeps growing. (eMarketer, August 2010)
  • 81% of marketers rated their blog as useful or better. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2013)
  • There are 31% more bloggers today than there were three years ago. (eMarketer, August 2010)
  • 46% of people read blogs more than once a day. (HubSpot Science of Blogging 2010)
  • Most people read 5-10 blogs. (HubSpot Science of Blogging, 2010)
  • Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes. (eMarketer, August 2010)

As you can see, one sure fire way to generate traffic to your website is to tap into blogging. Blogging can expand your business’ digital footprint which, creates more opportunities to generate traffic. And with 60% of all organic clicks going to the top three search results; blogging will also contribute to higher rankings. Every blog post you create will continue to drive traffic to your website for the duration of its existence. 

You may be thinking, “we blog, but it doesn’t seem to help.” If your blog isn’t performing the way it should, you may be doing something wrong. Are you seeking to solve your customer’s problems, or do you use it for self-promotion? There is a big difference and each serves two different audiences. To blog effectively, you must seek to provide information that helps the people you are trying to attract. 

[easyembed field=”blogCTA”]

2. Grow by turning visits into leads
Now that you’re blogging correctly, it’s time to turn that traffic into leads. To capture leads, you must offer premium content in the form of webinars, whitepapers, ebooks or videos. By utilizing call-to-actions (CTAs), forms and landing pages, you create a method for gathering your prospect’s contact information so that you can understand their needs and better solve their problems. You also will begin to establish trust, gain credibility and thought leadership which is important to attracting customers/clients/dealers etc.

 

Inbound Marketing Lead Generation

Actual Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Data: 1150% increase!

 

inbound marketing3. Grow by marketing automation
To do inbound marketing effectively you will need marketing automation software. We recommend a tool like HubSpot that ties all your online marketing efforts together into one convenient web-based source. With HubSpot, you can automate a lot of the manual tasks like social media publishing, email and workflows. The Contacts feature in HubSpot allows you to understand the areas of interest on your website that your leads have visited—equipping you to have a more meaningful and impactful conversation with them. HubSpot’s Competitor analysis tool allows you to see what your competitors are up to and how to outrank them on the search engines. With a marketing automation tool like HubSpot, you will save time, energy and get the support you need to conduct a successful inbound marketing campaign.

4. Grow by turning leads into customers
Eventually—if you’ve followed points 1 through 3—your search engine rankings, blogging and social media following will increase over time and you’ll begin to see an increase in traffic and leads. 60% of the sales cycle is already over, once you’ve determined that a lead is ready to talk to you. It now becomes time to reach out personally if you feel they meet your qualifications and convert your lead into a customer.

So for example, you may send them an email asking them if they would like to set up an introductory phone call or you may choose to call them directly. Whatever method you choose, the prospect has already warmed to the idea of working with you and is interested in learning more about your products or services.

5. Grow by being smarter with your marketing dollars
Inbound marketing has shown a 62% reduction in cost per lead. (Source: Mashable) it makes it the perfect solution to save money and achieve your business goals cost effectively over time. Instead of investing heavily in outbound marketing methods like printed advertising, direct mail, billboard, radio, placards at bus stops or television ads, inbound provides the data, wherewithal and insight you need to make your marketing dollars work harder. Utilizing HubSpot’s Marketing Performance Module, you’ll be able to see how your marketing dollars are working and allow you to avoid the black box which is outbound marketing.

inbound marketing performance

Actual Inbound Marketing Performance

 

In conclusion, I’ve given you just a taste of how inbound marketing can grow your business by utilizing your website. Inbound marketing is a great solution for businesses trying to grow, stabilize or become more profitable. Its methodology enables you to generate traffic and leads, acquire new customers and provide ROI analysis to help you grow your business more profitably.

If you’re interested in learning more about inbound marketing please contact our Indianapolis or Denver Branding Agency for a complimentary inbound marketing assessment and begin growing your business today.

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Running a successful marketing campaign for your business is all about having the right tools. This guide will give you what you need to run a successful inbound marketing program.

[easyembed field=”growinboundCTA”]

 

[vc_separator type=”large” dh=”1″ color=”light” icon=”” align=”left” margin-bottom=”40″ margin_top=”40″]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands 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.

 

10 Secrets to better home page design

10 Secrets To Better Home Page Design

By Web Design

With only 3-5 seconds to capture your website visitor’s attention, your company’s home page is one of your most important pieces of brand real estate.

If you’re a business owner (or marketer), knowing the secrets to effective home page design is critical to success in the realm of inbound marketing. In this article, I’ll give you the recipe that will help you design a better home page that will decrease your bounce rates, improve customer conversions and improve your brand’s digital impression. 

To begin, there are 5 overarching secrets to building a better home page.

1. Cognitive fluency
home page web designCognitive fluency is simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard.

Google researchers found that users judge a website as “beautiful” within 1/50th – 1/20th of a second. “Visually complex” websites are consistently rated as “less than beautiful” as their simpler counterparts.

Let me an illustrate an example. Have you ever gone on a blind date?

As soon as you open the door — you’re able to within 1/50th of a second determine if the person standing before you is attractive or not. 

Websites work a lot like a blind date. You punch in a keyword not knowing what to expect until the page loads—and when the page finally loads—you either bounce away in horror or you pleasantly choose to stay—gazing at the beautiful layout in front of you. 

When designing your home page, simple = beautiful. 

2. Simple navigation
Simple navigation keeps the home page clean and gets your visitor to where they want to go quickly. Try to keep your navigation to an absolute minimum. Design your website’s architecture in a way that doesn’t detract from your overall goal. Notice the examples in this article. The examples shown have 3-5 navigation topics max.

Website Homepage Design3. Relevant color scheme
Keep your colors appropriate and in context to your industry. Do you need a dark color palette to convey luxury—or a more lighthearted palette to show approachability? Know what colors are used in your industry for maximum appeal. Find out more about your buyer persona to get an understanding of what will resonate with your target audience.

4. Streamlined next steps
What do you want your customer to do when they are on your website? Download an ebook? Contact you? Map out what you want them to do next. Don’t leave your visitor hanging. Think for them and move them through the buyer awareness stage using strong call to actions (CTA’s).

Now that you know the 5 overarching factors for a successful home page design, now you need to know the 5 elements and how they are implemented.

5. Logo

Your logo design serves as the anchor point for your website and communicates your company’s credibility and trust. Eye patterns start from top left and go down toward the right. An interesting and professional logo makes a great first impression. 

Website-Homepage-Design-Saucony6. Main image = main message

Next is your main image with the main idea that you want to communicate. Your message should be short and succinct. Be clear, not clever. Your imagery should position your brand accordingly and be tied to your main message. The image should be creative and eye catching. This is your chance to “stick” your visitor to your site. If someone hits your site and immediately bounces off, it’s because your message was not clear and they found your site unexciting or irrelevant.

7. Service offerings

Scrolling down—you should now tell your visitors what you offer and how you can help them. Make sure the text is written for them. By accurately defining your buyer persona, you’ll be able to talk their language in a way that grabs their attention and presents the impression that you understand them. This works in your favor to convince them you’re the company for the job.

8. Why work with you?
Next, you want to present the reasons why someone would want to work with you. These should be the top 3-4 things that separate you from your competitors and distinguish your brand. Make the reasons compelling enough and link to the areas of your website for more information and to track engagement.


Website-Homepage-Design-Hubspot9. Social proof
People tend to follow people. By showing social proof that people like you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter can lend real validity to your above claims. If possible, showcase real customer testimonials with faces. This is the icing on the cake for presenting a credible narrative by showing others who you’ve helped.

10. Load time & responsiveness
Users want sites that load fast and that are responsive (iPad, iPhone and Desktop). By keeping your content simple and optimizing your images correctly you can decrease load times. If you’ve hired a web design company to build your site—ask them about load times and if they use content distribution networks (CDN), browser caching and if they will minify javascript and CSS for a faster loading home page. Below are some interesting stats on load times according to MOZ.

  • If your site loads in 5 seconds it is faster than approximately 25% of the web
  • If your site loads in 2.9 seconds it is faster than approximately 50% of the web
  • If your site loads in 1.7 seconds it is faster than approximately 75% of the web
  • If your site loads in 0.8 seconds it is faster than approximately 94% of the web

See how your website stacks up at: Pingdom

In conclusion, knowing the secrets for better home page design will ensure lower bounce rates and attention grabbing messaging you need to move your customer further down your sales funnel for customer conversion. These factors when taken into account will turn your website into a revenue generating machine.

Responsive-Website-Planner
FREE DOWNLOAD: Website Design Planner

A time saving guide on how to plan an effective website that meets your online business and branding goals.
In this planning guide, we help you and your team think through the critical points of the website design process that helps you form a specifications document to obtain accurate pricing

[easyembed field=”10secretsCTA”]

 

 

 

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands 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.

 

Physician Content Marketing Social Media

Should Physicians Utilize Social Media?

By Healthcare

Health professionals, along with lawyers and financiers, are bound by a different set rules when it comes to communicating with the public, both on and offline. This has made publishing content online tricky, since they are faced with different challenges and obstacles.

In today’s fast-moving digital age, they are now accepting and overcoming these challenges, stepping into the real world of communications, which is now found almost entirely on the internet. The use of social media by medical professionals is on the rise, with 60% of doctors agreeing that social media improves the quality of care for patients. (Source: Journal of Medical Research

  • 24% use social media daily to scan or explore new medical information
  • 14% contribute information to social media daily
  • on a weekly basis, 61% scanned and explored new info and 46% contributed information on social media
  • 58% percent perceive social media to be beneficial and a good way to get current, high-quality information

So now that those in the health sector are on board with social media, how can they master content marketing on social networks? What problems are they facing and strategies are they using for a better presence on these platforms?

The HIPAA Headache
Enacted in 1996, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations mostly encompass a need for patient confidentiality. The solution here is quite simple, don’t share any specific information regarding patients, doctors or medical records.

While doctors will often discuss different patient cases and conditions, they do so either with the patient’s permission or they do not identify that person by name. In other words, a physician might consult another doctor regarding a patient with flu symptoms. Instead of saying, “I saw John Smith this morning who presented with a fever and cough,” they might say, “I had a patient earlier with a cough and high fever.”

Facebook Friendly and Formal
Many doctors are hesitant to use Facebook for both personal and professional purposes. There’s another simple solution to this dilemma, keep the two completely separate and adjust the privacy setting on one’s personal profile to keep patients from intruding on your private life.

Get LinkedIn
The social choice for most professionals is on board LinkedIn and this holds equally true for physicians. Although Facebook is still the online leader, a recent survey of over 1,500 hospitals found that while 84% of them are active on Facebook, 43% are also using on LinkedIn. 

This is an excellent platform to post your content, your professional resume, history and biography, but at the same time, try to keep it approachable and friendly. This is often a spot where potential patients are performing research.

Join a Professional Organization
Let’s face it, doctors and health care professionals are busy, busy, busy, often with a thriving medical practice, patients and many other assorted duties. Another way of networking is by joining a professional medical association, like the AMA (American Medical Association) or the ANA (American Nursing Association). You can connect with other members and stay informed with the latest trends and medical developments. Some associations offer assistance such as career opportunities and medical certifications. The organizations also have Groups on LinkedIn you can join and become a contributor.

One way of finding an association that is a better fit is to Google your particular field, like dermatology followed by “medical associations” and there will be some good examples.

Find your way to better professional connections online and boost your profile online. Introduce yourself to the online medical community and prospective patients, you won’t be sorry.

Learn more: 5 Random Ways To Finally Understand How Social Media Works

 [hr]

Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. He has contributed articles to Visual.ly, Entrepreneur, and TechCrunch. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas, or you can reach him at NickAndrewRojas@gmail.com.

 

How To Win More Business By Helpful Selling

How To Win More Business By Helpful Selling

By Inbound Marketing, Sales

When it comes to winning more business—it can sometimes be difficult not to blow your own horn when communicating with your customers and prospects.

By understanding how to talk to their level and helping them think differently about their business by solving their problems first, you will have greater success in moving them further down your sales funnel and converting them into a customer.

As professionals, we eat, sleep and breathe our vocations. What has become second nature to us—can be jibber-jab to our prospects.  We ultimately believe our products or services are the best and everyone needs them. However, what is apparently obvious to you, may not be to your customer.

If you find yourself losing sale opportunities for no apparent reasons, it may be time to take a look at how you may (or may not) be talking to your customers.

To start, you need to understand how consumer behavior has shifted in the past 2-3 years.  

Research has shown that your customers will go to the internet (search engines, social media, local directories, review sites) to consult on average 10.4 pieces of content—before they even contact you. The internet is the first place where over 90% of all B2C and B2B prospects will go when beginning research for a potential purchase.

To win more business, business owners, marketers and business developers need to know how they can maximize their sales processes within this new paradigm.

Below are 8 points to keep in mind when talking to your customers so you can win more business.

1. Create buyer personas
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

We sometime lose sight and think we know our customers fairly well, but it quickly becomes apparent—once we begin to peel back the layers—how much we think we know is based only on assumptions—not facts.  

In order to talk to your customers level and win more business you must put yourself in their shoes and get to their level of understanding and motivations of what their challenges are and identify the solutions that can best help them. This can only be done by researching and identifying your buyer persona.

2. Research your prospect on social media
If you don’t have a buyer persona strategy in place, the next best thing is LinkedIn. If you have time in between your first contact and sales meeting—it’s good to check who the prospect is on LinkedIn and on other social media networks. Top sellers use LinkedIn 6 hours per week. (SOURCE: Jill Konrath, Author of Snap Selling)

Knowledge and familiarity of your prospect will allow you to break down any mental barriers in your mind before speaking to your prospect, which can build confidence. Knowing something personal about them is good so you can determine if you have something in common (sports, hobbies, contacts, locations etc.). It’s always better to talk about a common interest than the weather to break the ice. People ultimately choose to do business with people they like, and everyone likes someone who appreciates them. (Source: Forbes)

3. Assume nothing
You should always assume your prospect knows nothing about you or what you offer and vice versa for the first call. Assumptions can taint the waters in sales meetings/calls and can make you look uninformed.

4. Help them think differently about their business
In 2011, CEB came out with a new sales model called the Challenger Sale that has been adopted by top companies. This model is based upon sales people helping customers with their problems first—which builds trust, leads to higher customer satisfaction and faster closings.

“The way to effectively sell your product is to make sure your customer believes you are there to help them win in the market.” — Tyrone Edwards, SVP of Sales and Marketing, Merck Pharmaceuticals

This is a radical departure from the past were sales was more about promotion. By helping your customer understand their problem and identifying those drivers, you can help your customer succeed, which is ultimately why they are contacting you.

5. Scrap the jargon
No one cares, especially your prospect that you know your industry’s terminology—better to save it for the trade show. By knowing your buyer persona, you will know their industry lingo. However, it’s still better to speak professionally with articulation and intelligence and keep the jargon to a minimum.

6. Utilize marketing automation to better qualify your prospect
One of the greatest benefits of sales and marketing automation is that you have the ability to potentially warm your prospects up to your products and services prior to having a conversation with them. This allows you to see—through web analytics (email, clicks, downloads, likes, tweets etc.)—if your prospect has interest in your offerings. This allows you to gain insight into how to better help them. Most tools will also allow you to capture information about your prospect so you can know exactly who they are and if they are a viable lead.

7. Create a process
All good sales people have a process to help them win more business. By utilizing a questioning process, you get your prospect talking about their business, problems and challenges and how you can help them—versus rambling on about how great your solutions are. A good process follows Budget, Authority, Need and Timing or BANT and GPC: Goals, Plans and Challenges to effectively qualify your prospect.  Ask questions that cover their company and their organization (internal). For example:

  1. What is your secret sauce?
  2. Who are your competitors?
  3. What is your average sales price?
  4. What are your company’s revenue targets?
  5. How do you fit within your company?
  6. What is the decision making process?
  7. What are your goals?

… are just a few good questions to ask.

8. Help. Don’t sell.
Lastly, ditch the pitch. Assuming your brand and website has done its job—your prospect will already be convinced that you can help them. Be prepared to show a little transparency and authenticity. This will go a long way in earning trust and credibility.  

Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion states: “Consumers of all types expect to find answers on the internet, and companies that can best provide that information garner trust and sales loyalty. Success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote.”

In conclusion, to win more business you must be helpful, you must create and understand your buyer persona, research your prospect on social media, assume nothing about your prospect, help them to think differently about their business, scrap the jargon, take time to better qualify them and above all—help, don’t sell.Website Buyer Persona Template

 

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to maximizing your marketing and sales efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer/client is. This will enable you to set SMART goals to turn your website into a lead generating machine. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.

[easyembed field=”buyerspersonahelpfulsellingCTA”]

 

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands 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.

 

better indianapolis brochure design

5 Steps To Better Brochure & Catalog Design

By Brochure Design, Graphic Design

In the age of digital marketing, it’s easy to forget the importance and value of a quality printed brochure or catalog. A professionally designed brochure is a vital sales tool and serves several purposes when it comes to sales meetings and communicating your services to your target market. A quality printed presentation piece can speak volumes about your company’s credibility, reputation, capabilities, products and brand message.

Just like magazines, brochures have a long “shelf-life” and serve as a persuasive “leave-behind” used to move your prospect further down your sales funnel.

hunting product catalogIf you’re in charge of creating a new brochure or catalog for your company, here are 5 steps to help you align your message, organize your team, stay within budget and create an engaging, brand-focused brochure.

1. What is the goal of the brochure design?
Before jumping in, spend some time thinking about what you want your brochure design to accomplish. For example, what do you want your prospect to take away from the brochure after they first see it? Who is the brochure for? In what setting will it be utilized? In-person meetings? Trade show? Direct mail? All of the above? Understand first how your brochure will function.

You should have a very good idea of who your buyer persona is and how your brochure will communicate/resonate with them. Do you know their basic demographics, likes/dislikes, pain points, their biggest challenges? Is the brochure going to be used as a top-of-funnel or bottom-of-funnel sales piece?  For more information on creating your buyer persona, click here.

2. Establish your budget
Can you spend $500 or $20,000? Pricing for design can run the gamut; adding embellishments can add cost. You may want to choose a higher quality paper stock or perhaps a textured stock. You may even want to emboss your logo or add a varnish (shiny ink coating) over your logo. There are several embellishments you can add to increase the value and presentation that should be based on your buyer persona. If you’re marketing to the affluent, high-grade paper stock and quality photography may be necessary to communicate luxury and competence.

brochure design varnish

Example of a print varnish

 

Here’s what a typical scope of work looks like:

  • Research (if needed)
  • Design
  • Copywriting and Editing
  • Infographics
  • Photography
  • Print and project management

Cost = $2500-$5000

3. Look for what you like on Behance
Before writing your outline, you may have difficulty envisioning how you want your brochure to look and feel. I suggest visiting Behance to take a look at what other companies are doing. Get an idea of what you like based on size, format, colors, photography, typography and style.

 

4. Write your content outline
Next is to begin your content outline. This saves time and cost when it comes time to hire a graphic designer or branding agency. By having an approved, text-only version of the brochure, you can save revision costs and time later in the process. Get whatever approvals you need from the higher ups before contacting an agency. You’ll be able to get more accurate pricing and reduce the timeline for production of your brochure whether you’re writing the content in-house or outsourcing it to a branding agency.

5. Identify photography and needed graphics
Do you have high-resolution photography in-house that you can use in your brochure? Photos must be at least 300 dpi to be used in print (versus 72 dpi for web). Was your photography taken from the intern’s iPhone? If so, this isn’t going to fly. Professional photography can influence a buyers purchase decision. Identify what shots you have that you would like to include in the design, determine if they’re big enough and if they communicate the right message. Great brochure design starts with great imagery. You can also do your own search on Getty, Corbis, Veer, Offset or iStock to save cost and time.

brochure design

Infographics also make great additions to your brochure and will communicate your main points quicker. Choose what areas of information you can turn into an infographic. Company and industry stats, processes, national reach, revenue or anything else that can be visually represented make for great “graphical embellishments.”

 

6. Choose the right branding agency
Now that you have set your budget, written your content, gained some ideas from Behance and gathered some photos and ideas for infographics—it’s time to find the best branding agency to do the job. A simple Google or Bing search for “brochure design” should suffice. Look for a branding agency with experience in print and who has an impressive portfolio of past work on their website.

Contact them to understand their process, including how they will work with you and how their approval and revision policies are applied. Most will already have relationships with a number of printers to produce the brochure. Ask to see how their print pricing is set up. Most agencies will add a markup to your printing and some will manage the project for you for a small fee.

In conclusion, creating a great brochure should start by identifying your goals and budget, finding some ideas on Behance, setting a budget based on your buyer persona’s expectations, choosing professional photography and choosing the right branding agency. By following these 5 steps, you’ll have a smoother design process and a better outcome. Professional brochure design can add great value to your brand, impression and sales meetings when properly executed.

If you’re interested in learning more about brochure design, please contact us in Indianapolis or Denver. 

Website Buyer Persona Template

 

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to maximizing your marketing efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer/client is. This will enable you to set SMART goals to help you focus your marketing and brochure design efforts. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.

[easyembed field=”brochureCTA”]


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands 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-Plan-and-Build-an-Automated-Lead-Nurturing-Workflow

How To Plan and Build an Automated Lead Nurturing Workflow

By Inbound Marketing

 

Your campaign doesn’t end when leads convert on your landing page. Understanding your buyer’s journey from Awareness to Consideration to Decision is critically important in setting up lead nurturing workflows.

marketing-lifecycle-buyers-journey

What is a workflow?
Workflows give you the ability to automate your marketing to actual people, not just clicks and opens. A workflow tool is included in most marketing automation platforms like HubSpot.

What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is a workflow of engaging contacts via automated touches (email) to build a relationship; with the end goal of closing a more educated and qualified customer. When engaging in lead nurturing, you need to be aware of three principles that will make them effective.

Each workflow should address the following:

Grow and nurture relationships – Ask yourself, is this adding value to the contact or is it self-serving?

Educational content – Does this content help or educate your contact?

Hyper-personalization – Try to personalize your workflows as much as possible. This is also called segmentation. As an example, don’t send emails meant for C-Suite executives to mid-level managers. Create and tailor content based on your buyer persona.

Lead nurturing is especially effective for businesses that offer complex products and services. Lead nurturing helps educate your prospect by spoon feeding them information in a way that educates them slowly that doesn’t overwhelm them; with the end goal of moving them from awareness to decision.

Here are some facts as to why lead nurturing is important:

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster Research)
  • Research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. (Source: InsideSales.com)
  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: The Annuitas Group)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Today, customers manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human. (Source: Gartner Research)

In this post, I give you 5 best practices for automating your lead nurturing workflows.

1. Identify the goal of the workflow
The most popular goal of any workflow is based around the marketing lifecycle. Your focus will be on moving your contact to the next stage of the lifecycle.

So for example, a workflow goal would look something like this:

  • Goal = Download Whitepaper
  • Goal = Contact attends webinar
  • Goal= Visits x number pages on your website
  • Goal= Contact request demo
  • Goal= Contact signs contract

Workflow Sales FunnelTo the right is a sample workflow that overlays the sales funnel and buyers lifecycle with the inbound marketing methodology. We will discuss the types of email to send once the contact opts in to the sales funnel shortly. The goal of this workflow is to move them through your workflow in an effort to build trust—so that they achieve your end goal. In this example the end-goal is: request a demo.

2. Identify contacts that should be enrolled in your workflow
When designing your workflows, make sure to enroll the correct personas. This can be done through your landing page forms by requiring your visitor to self-identify. See Landing Page Best Practices.

3. Select the appropriate number and type of emails to send
To identify the appropriate number of emails you should send, breakdown the types of email into 4 classes:

1. Email 1: Goal = Build trust/condition
The purpose of this type of email is to build trust and relevancy. Make sure whatever you send, it’s something your contact will find useful. The email should also reference why you’re reaching out to them and provide some useful blog links (this is a great way to drive additional traffic to your website). When executed correctly, you’ll begin to build trust that will help condition them to open future emails. Keep your emails short and simple, make sure the subject line is relevant to the action the contact took, always include a link back to the page they signed up on and personalize it. Delay 4 days from first touch.


2. Email 2: Goal = Additional downloads
Once you’ve establish some level of trust, you want to begin to draw a connection between the topic of your workflow and your solution. This could be in the form of whitepapers, ebooks, webinars or case studies. You allow them to consume your resources to further understand your organizations value. At this stage you are not yet selling them. You are still building trust. Delay 4 days from second touch.


3. Email 3 & 4: Goal = Soft/Hard Goal
By now, your contacts that are engaged will trust you and are beginning to understand the value of your organization and how you will solve their problem. You’ve probably seen them on your website a few more times—these are signals of a qualified lead. Now is the time to position your goal of the workflow (request a demo) as the next logical step for the contact to take. Position this step as part of the discovery process by focusing on delivering more detail on how you can specifically help them. At this point, they should be interested in talking to you and signing up for a demo. Delay 3 days from third touch.

4. Email 5: Goal = Breakup/Goal Action
The break-up email is designed to make it clear that this is the last email they will be receiving in conjunction with the type of emails they’ve been getting. Our goal with this email is to make one last-ditch effort to complete your goal (request a demo). Let them know this is the last email, and ask them to subscribe to your blog. Believe it or not, a P.S. works well here. Delay 3 days from fourth touch.


4. A word on timing
Timing is always important when nurturing your leads. You can easily upset people by emailing them too much or too little. There is a delicate balance when playing with the timing of your emails. Experiment with what times work best. Do not email your contact every day otherwise you’ll get flagged for spam. A safe place to start is one email every week for 4 weeks.

5. Identify contacts to suppress from your workflow
When setting up your lead nurturing workflows make sure to exclude any current customers, opportunities, competitors or contacts were a specific product or service is not relevant.

What if a contact just bypasses the whole workflow and calls me? Sometimes, a contact will just call you after spending some time on your website and bypass the entire workflow. Continue to follow the workflow and be prepared to tweak it slightly. The goal is still to educate them and distinguish your services from potential competitors they may be evaluating.

In conclusion, the lead nurturing process always starts with a desired end goal. Each email should be educational, simple and short, personalized and timed correctly. Each stage of the buyer’s lifecycle should be kept in mind as you move your contact to the next stage. By conducting lead nurturing you can expect to send your sales team more “sales-qualified” leads and close more business. 

30 Ways to Generate Leads inbound marketing
FREE DOWNLOAD:
30 Ways to Generate Leads

In this Ebook, we give you 30 tips, tricks and ideas on how to turn your website into a lead generating machine. 

[easyembed field=”leadnurturingpageCTA”]
Landing Page Best Practice for Lead Generation

Landing Page Design Best Practices

By Inbound Marketing

Did you know that businesses with 31 to 40 landing pages get 7 times more leads than those with only 1 to 5 landing pages? Businesses surveyed saw a 55% increase in leads when they increased the number of landing pages from 10 to 15.

A landing page is a key component to any lead generation effort. 

With 55% of the sales process over before a visitor even contacts you, you want to make sure that when your website has done its job of providing the right information and impression that you have landing pages in place to move that visitor into your sales funnel.

In this article, I’ll give you 6 keys to designing a successful landing page that will have you converting visitors to leads more effectively in no time.

1. What is a landing page?
A landing page is a stand alone web page—that functions to gather visitor information in exchange for a piece of relevant content.  Content can come in the form of a whitepaper, webinar, video or ebook. Visitors and leads are key performance indicators (KPI) that help determine if your inbound marketing offers are effective or not. The goal of any landing page is to convert visitors to leads so that you can identify a potential problem they are trying to solve, while moving them down into your sales funnel where the end-result is a new customer or client.

2. Why landing pages work
Remember the last time you went to a restaurant where the menu was ten pages long—and it took you ten minutes to decide what you wanted to order? I think we can all relate… This is called “analysis paralysis.” Analysis paralysis is where a person has too many choices to make. Landing pages zero in on one or two actions you want your visitor to take. This cuts down on the time and thinking it requires to make a decision. The rule in website design  “don’t make me think” applies here.  The fewer choices a visitor has, the faster you can capitalize on getting their contact information.

Landing Page Best Practices3. Seven elements of an effective landing page
A landing page should consist of only a few elements (see right)

  1. Descriptive headline
  2. Brief paragraph of the offer
  3. Picture of the offer
  4. Bullet points on what they can expect to learn
  5. Urgency statement
  6. A short form-typically only 4-5 fields
  7. Submit button
  8. Social proof (testimonial)

By utilizing the above 7 elements you can more effectively convert your visitor into a lead.

4. Do’s and Don’ts

Don’t add navigation from your homepage 
By adding navigation to your landing page you provide a distraction that could hinder conversation rates. Better to leave it off.  

Don’t have more than 5 form fields
Studies have shown the more fields you have the less likely your visitor is to fill it out. Gather only the information you need for the first touch. There will be more opportunity to gather more information with the next offer. 

Don’t design pages that load slow
Over 40% of visitors will abandon a page if it doesn’t load in 3 seconds or less. Make sure your pages load fast. Use this helpful tool to measure your load times: Web Page Test

Do add meta tags to optimize your pages
You want your landing pages to show up in search engines so it’s important to optimize them correctly. Use an appropriate <title> tag and <description> along with body copy and images.

Do add a thank you page
After your visitor has filled out the form, make sure to redirect them to a thank you page that reiterates the offer and give them back your website’s navigation. Ask them to share or follow.

Do send an email
Once a visitor fills out your form, make sure to send an email with a link to download the offer so you increase your visibility and you have a presence in their inbox to reference.

5. Test your landing pages
Typical industry conversion rates fluctuate somewhere between 1% – 5%. Top performing landing pages come in at 10% or higher. Every landing page should be maximized by A/B testing. To conduct an A/B test, create two versions of your landing page and then change the headline, copy, colors, image placement and form length.  Track to see what page performs best. By tweaking a few elements, you can increase your conversion rate dramatically. You won’t know till you try!

6. Take your lead generation efforts to the next level
To take your lead generation and landing pages to the next level, I recommend marketing automation software to help you systematize, test and create landing pages—making it easier and saving you time. Companies that automate lead generation and management see a 10% or greater increase in revenue in 6-9 months. (Source: Gartner Research)

By not utilizing marketing automation, you will spend a lot of time piecing together the various tools needed like email software, analytics, forms and a content management system to put together one landing page.

We use a tool called HubSpot, which is an all-in-one tool that helps us create, optimize and test landing pages quickly. It saves time, tracks our data and helps us prove ROI to our clients more effectively.

In conclusion, maximizing landing page performance is key to generating leads and filling the sales funnel with viable, qualified leads.

If you’re interested in learning more, download the resource below that discusses landing pages more in-depth and 29 other ways to generate leads online.

 

30 Ways to Generate Leads inbound marketing
FREE DOWNLOAD:
30 Ways to Generate Leads

In this eBook, we give you 30 tips, tricks and ideas on how to turn your website into a lead generating machine.

[easyembed field=”landingpageCTA”]

 

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.

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Get started with Inbound Marketing by learning about the tools needed to grow your business and prove ROI.

[easyembed field=”toolkitCTAmarketingtrends”] [vc_separator type=”large” dh=”1″ color=”light” icon=”” align=”left” margin-bottom=”40″ margin_top=”40″]

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 inbound marketing affluent

How To Use Inbound Marketing To Reach The Affluent

By Inbound Marketing

The hunt for the elusive “affluent” or “highly affluent” consumer is not as difficult as you might think.

Affluent consumers account for 10% of all American households, as well as 50% of retail sales and 70% of retail margins. The affluent market is typically categorized as an individual or family with $250,000+ in liquid assets. (Source: eMarketer)

These consumers are a natural target for marketers because of their buying power and disposable income. Most business owners believe the internet is not an appropriate channel to reach them, but according to the facts turns out to be incorrect. According to several studies, the affluent tend to be online more than the average consumer. They typically are online checking stock prices, managing investments and watching for market news and fluctuations. They are also on social media sites. 



Consider the below statistics:

  • 98% of Affluent Consumers go online. (Source: eMarketer)
  • On average, they spend 26 hours online per week. (Source: eMarketer)
  • Affluent Consumers are the heaviest users of digital media. (Source: IAB)
  • Affluent Consumers are 12% more likely to make an online purchase than the average internet user. (Source: Nielson)
  • There are 19 million affluent men online, nearly half of whom spend more than $4,000 a year shopping online. (Source: iProspect/USA Today)
  • LinkedIn and Twitter attracted affluent internet users at nearly double the rate of the general population. (Source: Affluence Collaborative)

So with the above facts in mind, inbound marketing becomes a viable option for your business to attract, convert, close and delight the affluent. Below are a few tactics to consider.

1. Create a strong product service based on the affluent buyer persona

Any attempt to reach the affluent must begin with a strong brand foundation that underlines a unique product or service offering. Develop your brand offering, messaging and expertise to attract the affluent consumer. Take time to understand your customer by identifying their problems and how to solve them. Understand where they spend their time online and how best to reach them. The affluent are not immune to recent consumer behavior shifts. Typical outbound methods (direct mail, cold calling, print ads etc.) have lost their effectiveness and will leave you with little to no ROI.

2. Make it look like a million bucks

I think this goes without saying, but most affluent buyers will be expecting your branding (website design, logo design, collateral, etc.) to be top notch. This is the standard for most any buyer and the affluent are no different. Take the time to develop an appealing and engaging brand.

3. Create relevant and valuable content
Utilizing blogging, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars and videos, create content that attracts your prospects to your website. By optimizing your content for search engines and distributing it through social media, you expand your digital footprint to attract more potential prospects. Create offers that solve their problems and then convert them to leads through CTAs, landing pages and online forms. By utilizing a tool like HubSpot, you’ll be able to segment your leads to have a more meaningful conversation with your prospect based upon website intelligence.

4. Win over the influencers

Another method is to target your content to the people who have already earned the affluent consumer’s trust and admiration. According to Forbes: “It’s becoming increasingly critical if not absolutely essential to win over the key professionals advising the super-rich.”   This doubles down on the perceived notion that rich people only talk to rich people. Truth is, word of mouth and referrals are still the best way to market—no matter how much money you have. By utilizing inbound marketing to establish thought leadership you can essentially influence the influencer through your content.

5. Delight them after you’ve closed them
If you adhere to the inbound marketing methodology, your marketing doesn’t stop after you’ve closed your customer. You must plan to continue to offer valuable and relevant content that continues to solve their problems after you’ve closed them. Plan social events with other like-minded clients/customers. Identify ongoing services to add value.

6. Test and measure everything
Inbound marketing takes work and time. However, when done correctly, it is one of the most cost effective ways to build your brand and establish expertise to reach the affluent. Here is what inbound marketing can do:

  • Prove ROI

  • Month over month organic traffic increases (net-net gains)

  • A steady flow of leads
  • Qualified affluent customers based on your buyer persona
  • Higher search engine rankings
  • Establish thought leadership—essential to winning over influencers
  • Gain more followers on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn
  • Preempt your competition

In conclusion, the hunt for the elusive affluent customer is not as difficult as you might think. Because the affluent are online more than the average internet user, you have ample opportunity to make inbound marketing work for you. By creating a unique product or service-offering based on the affluent buyer persona, engaging creative, relevant content, targeting the influencers and continuing to delight them after you close to turn them into promoters of your brand—you’ll be able to effectively reach your affluent customer for less and be able to have a more meaningful conversation with them.

Interested in learning more about our Denver Inbound Marketing services? Contact us today or sign up for a free, no hassle, no-haggle inbound marketing assessment to see if your brand and business is ready to attract the lucrative affluent consumer.

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Running a successful marketing campaign for your business is all about having the right tools.
This guide will dive into 
which marketing tools you should keep at the ready.

[easyembed field=”toolkitCTAaffluent”] [vc_separator type=”large” dh=”1″ color=”light” icon=”” align=”left” margin-bottom=”40″ margin_top=”40″]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands 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.