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Build Your Hunting Brand

8 Ways to Build Your Hunting Brand

By Hunting and Outdoor

A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that eighty percent of consumers look at online reviews before making major purchases, and a host of other studies have recorded the strong influence those reviews have on the decisions people make.

Social media has accelerated the trend to an astonishing degree: a dud product can become a laughingstock in a matter of hours. In the old days, you might buy a Remington hunting rifle or Bear Bow because that’s what your dad hunted with. Today, such considerations to brand loyalty matter much less due to the availability of customer reviews. Now, each product has to prove itself on its own.

A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. – Office of Consumer Affairs

If you have a great hunting, outdoor or firearm product and are looking for ways to maximize your branding to increase sales and build your reputation in the industry—here are 8 sure-fire ideas to help turn your customers into raving fans that will increase your bottom line and build your hunting brand.  

1. Be somebody
The old saying goes, “you can’t be everything to everyone.” Companies must find a way to stand out among the marketplace clutter and find the “whitespace” to stand for something. Don’t just tell your customer your products are quality, superior or dominating—demonstrate it. Prove to them you are worth their time by demonstrating your brand values, mission and how it will benefit them.

 

2. Make them feel something
The best way to connect in today’s digital world is through storytelling and contextual marketing. Our ancestors sat around a fire telling stories since the dawn of time, and this still continues today—except now we get it from the TV, the internet or social media. There is something intrinsically valuable to storytelling. When you connect with people at the heart level and make them feel something—your message will go a long way. Today’s marketing isn’t about highlighting features and benefits, it’s about “celebrating the benefit in the way it impacts other people’s lives,” says Simon Mainwaring, author of “We First.”  Put your product in context of real everyday stories for greater impact.

“People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

3. Be authentic
The best way to be authentic is to just to be yourself. Too many hunting and firearm brands try to be something they’re not. Weave your personality into your content, messaging and imagery. Through authentic and good-willed communication, customers will innately share your message and bring it to life.

4. Delight them after the sale
Do not have a “one and done” mentality. At the end of the sales process and after the product has been delivered, add value to your customers through events, continued education or through helpful content that continues to solve their problems. This will increase their loyalty to your brand. Show them you care after the sale. It costs 5 times more to acquire new customers than it does to keep current ones. (Source: Forbes

5. Make it all about them
Every product or service should be centered around what is called a buyer persona. If you don’t know who your customer is, you leave a lot of opportunity on the table.  Make your customer the superstar of your business.

Here are a few examples:

  • I’m in the market to buy a new MSR and I can’t figure out which brand I like better. Daniels Defense, DPMS or Stag Arms. I may find an ebook on Daniel’s website “How to choose the right AR.” In an easy to understand format, it provides me options, use, price and other customer reviews to help me make a better decision. I’ll most likely choose a DD. 
  • I’m a gun store owner looking for information on how to best track my inventory. A manufacturer may send me a case study on how other gun store owners are using their product to help them to keep track of their firearms and remain compliant. The manufacturer then follows up with a series of emails that builds trust.
  • I’m a hunter who is not sure what kind of bow I will need for an upcoming elk hunt. A manufacturer might send me their top 3 bow recommendations based on my stated preferences.

6. Talk their language
Don’t use fancy terms and ‘gobblygook’. Talk their language. Using the examples above, meet them on the range, in their facility or on the mountain. Talk to them like an old friend. You have to earn your customer’s money more than ever.

7. Give them what they want
Do your absolute best to make a great product and don’t cut corners. If enough customers ask for something—give it to them. Give them a way to sound off on what is needed to make your products better. You can create a customer support portal with an area titled “Submit product ideas” to encourage participation in your product development. Don’t let Facebook be the platform they choose to voice their disapproval if something with your product goes wrong. 

8. Fanatical customer support
Last, but not least, customer service—has become the new marketing. When you provide great customer support, you are much more likely to have that experience passed on via word-of-mouth.

A survey by Harvard Business Review concludes that customers want knowledgeable front line customer service reps and that the problem be resolved on the first call. On average, 40% of customers who suffer through bad experiences stop doing business with the offending company. This points to the importance of companies hiring people who align and know their brand(s) products best. Hire your customers.

Are you in a boring industry segment? Then the focus should be shifted to recruitment and employer branding. There are 1.6 million people who work in the hunting industry (Source: Congressional Sportsman Foundation). Are the best people working for you?

A great non-industry example is Zappos, the shoe company. Who gets excited about selling shoes? At Zappos, the culture is the product and shoes are what they do on the side. Create a great culture to work at and the boring product stuff becomes fun. 

“So many people when they go to the office, they leave a little bit of themselves at home, or a lot of themselves at home. And they have to put on this different persona in the office, especially in corporate environments. And our whole…there’s a lot of talk about work life separation or balance and so on, whereas our whole thing is about work life integration. It’s just life.”— Tony Hsieh, CEO

In conclusion, it all starts with a great product that solves a problem on a massive scale. To connect that great product with your customer—you must be somebody, you must be authentic, play the guide, not the hero in their story, make your brand all about them, talk their language, give them what they want and provide outstanding customer service above all else so that good customer reviews come natural. 

Outdoor Hunting Shooting Sports Buyer Persona

 

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5 Firearm Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By Firearms and Hunting

It’s harder than ever to get your message out to attract the influx of some 8 million+ new gun owners who’ve flooded the market (Source: FOXNEWS). For brands that have invested time in building their brand and digital marketing programs over the years are reaping the awards of their efforts as guns, ammo, optics, and accessory sales set new records.

If you’ve been on the fence about marketing and are now ready to capture this moment, in this article you will learn about:  

  • Podcasts – The old is new and the new is old.
  • Inbound Marketing – Create a strong digital footprint for years to come by creating blogs, lead-generators, email marketing and SEO to generate traffic, leads and customers.
  • Native Advertising – Publish branded content on major publisher sites and add your advertising within the content for context and greater ad results.
  • Focus on women and minorities – Women and minorities are a burgeoning segment—are you focused on them?
  • Influencers – Reach your audience through trusted firearm social media content creators.
  • Storytelling – Leverage the power of the story to clarify your brand message so customers will listen.

If you’re not a big well-known brand like Ruger or Smith & Wesson, marketing your firearms brand and line of products for recreational shooting and hunting can leave you scratching your head wondering what to do.

Facebook, Google and YouTube which was once a bastion for firearm, ammunition, and hunting knife companies to advertise, now bans all paid advertising related to direct weapon sales. And Instagram announced in 2020 that they will begin cracking down on influencers who work in the firearms segment. 

Fox, the NFL and other major media outlets that used to be friendly to firearm manufacturers have shut the door as well. You may remember when Daniel Defense tried to run an ad in 2003 on the Super Bowl. 

Below I’ve identified five firearm marketing alternatives that you haven’t thought of yet that will help you get your message out, build your brand and attract new defensive and recreational minded customers. 


firearms marketing podcast1. Podcasts

The old is new and the new is old. In the last two years we’ve seen a resurgence in podcasts. Podcasts like Dan Bongino, GunTalk, The Dana Show, Restless Native and Bear Arms podcast offer a way for your brand to reach a broader audience and leverage the trust of the host. According to Influencer Marketing Hub

  • There are over 2 million podcasts.
  • 78% of Americans Are Aware of Podcasting.
  • 91% of Australians Are Aware of Podcasting.
  • Almost 60% of US Consumers Listen to Podcasts.
  • 160+ Million Americans Have Listened to a Podcast.
  • 65% Listen to the Whole Episode.

2. Inbound Marketing

I make it no secret that the inbound marketing methodology is a perfect fit for firearm manufacturers with a lengthy purchase process. Brands like Mossberg, Springfield Armory, Havlon, Stag Arms and Beretta have been using inbound since 2018. These brands have built digital fortresses of content that will continue to grow contacts and sales well into the future. Inbound marketing uses search engine optimized content, downloadable offers, landing pages, forms, social media and email marketing to attract, engage and provide real value to their customers. Inbound provides substantial cost savings to manufacturers, and the best part is, it’s all completely trackable. It removes the black box of advertising and provides real ROI and understanding of your brand and marketing efforts. Inbound is an important digital marketing element to influencer marketing. If your customers have questions about your product, you should be writing content. 


3. Native Advertising

What is native advertising? Native advertising delivers top-level paid or earned content within the normal reading stream of organic content. These would include recommendation widgets, sponsored content and in-feed social. What binds all of these distribution tactics together is the word “in-feed.” They all deliver top-funnel content within the normal reading stream of organic content. It looks like it’s supposed to be there. (Source: Chad Pollitt)

Similar to the below example by Crimson Trace, native advertising is about creating helpful content and then placing your product within it as a reference or as a sponsor. For example, you may write an article on the “5 Things You Need To Know About Home Defense” and submit it to an online magazine (earned or paid)  then mention your brand as the perfect fit for a first-time buyer. Combine this with an ad, and you’re likely to double your advertising investment. 

Check out how Crimson Trace does it within their First Defender Library.

 

Glock Women Marketing

Photo credit: Glock

4. Women & Minorities

Women and minorities are a burgeoning segment in the industry as you might already know (Source: NSSF). You should consider using content or sponsoring a free shooting class or range day in your local newspaper or county magazine to attract interested customers. Women are helping change some of the negative stereotypes typically associated with the firearm industry. Firearm manufacturers should embrace this trend and do all they can to promote it. Larger brands like Glock have added women in their imagery and creating sections in their publications and websites that speak directly to them.  

 

5. Influencers

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use the influencer to get the word out for you instead. The industry is taking increased notice of influencers like Guns Out TVHickok45, IV8888, and Warrior Poet Society. Influencers who have large networks of trusted followers represent an important component of your marketing mix. By tapping these well-known hunters and shooters, you can gain entrance into larger audiences.

 

Bonus! But wait there’s more…

Another alternative that will transform your marketing, brand awareness, and overall messaging is utilizing a framework based on storytelling. Story is a sense-making device used since the dawn of time to communicate—our brains are hardwired for it. Used properly, story will give you an edge over your competitors—even if their product is better.  The reason why story works so well is that it cuts through the clutter and distraction of today’s ultra-competitive outdoor, shooting and firearms industry that helps your brand stand out among all the other “me-too” claims and clearly communicates the benefits of your product’s benefits without all the fluff. Too many brands play the hero, when they need to be playing the guide. This helps your customer understand your offering faster and helps them become something better e.g., a better marksman, more accurate, more aware, savvier or in some cases more advanced. 

In conclusion, marketing in these changing times may not be as difficult as you think. By utilizing podcasts, content, the women segment, influencers and story—you have the makings of a strong digital marketing strategy that is trackable and more efficient.

 

5-Keys-To-Stand-Out-and-Attract-New-Customers

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The-Future-of-Firearms-Advertising

What is the Future of Firearms Advertising?

By Firearms Marketing

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

What is the future of advertising in the firearms industry? 

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


1. What makes advertising effective?

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

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

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

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


2. But now we’re at risk.

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

gun ad

Photo credit: Remington

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

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

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

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

Photo credit: Bridgestone



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

Take action

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

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

Topics will include

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

  firearm advertising webinar
3. Virtue signaling

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

Virtue signaling looks like this: 

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

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

Photo credit: Nike

 

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

Take action 

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


4. Social media and the ensuing increase in gun ownership

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

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

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

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

Take action

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


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

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

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

Take action

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

 

So, what is the future of firearm advertising?

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

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

 

Outdoor Firearms Hunting Advertising Agency

5 Ways To Make Firearm & Hunting Advertising More Compelling

By Firearms and Hunting

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

gun-advertisement-features

Features!

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

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

 

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

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

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

SilencerCo-Fight-the-Noise

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

 

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

firearm-hunting-advertising-marketing

 

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

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

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

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

Firearm Digital Marketing

What are Successful Firearm Digital Marketers Doing That You Aren’t?

By Firearms and Hunting

 

If you’ve ever launched a new website that didn’t attract visitors or sales, poured time and money into a search engine optimization plan that failed to improve your position in Google, or watched in vain as your social media posts fell flat, then you probably ask yourself a common question: what are my successful competitors doing that I am not?

In my experience, the answers tend to be surprisingly simple. Although a lot of business owners imagine it must come down to differences in budgets, we have learned that most successful firearm digital marketers simply share a few common traits and habits. If you’re seeing another company do better than you are, here are a few of the likely reasons why…

They know who their buyer personas are

While a lot of average marketers take a random approach to their messaging, the best know exactly who they are trying to reach and what kind of message they want to convey. If you aren’t sure what your best prospects look like, and where they hang out on the web, you’re going to have a hard time reaching them in a cost-effective way.

They have a distinct brand message

With so many me-too products, taglines, slogans and imagery in the firearm industry—successful digital marketers also have a firm understanding of what their brand purpose, positioning and value proposition is in their respective segments. They then beat key messaging into every piece of communication through text, imagery, tone, and style.

They invest in growth-driven web design

Unsuccessful business owners tend to see web design and digital marketing as a one-time cost. The best, on the other hand, devote a monthly or quarterly budget with the goal of improving and optimizing website performance over time. That’s important because consumer behavior, technology, and competitor tactics change roughly every six months. Conversely, it’s hard to do well when you take a “one-and-done” approach and try to accomplish everything at once.

They keep adding new blog posts and social content

Experienced marketers know that customer interest, search engine traffic, and a strong social following are all the byproduct of regular content updates and engagement. So, they work hard to release new content on a regular schedule. If you simply let your website and social profiles set without any new updates or additions, customers and search engines alike are going to perceive your business as having gone stale.

They check their web analytics regularly

The longer you spend in digital marketing, the more you learn that the devil – along with the opportunities – is always in the details. By paying attention to web analytics, you can see trends developing in real-time and remove bottlenecks from your website or sales funnel. But, if you aren’t keeping a close eye on the numbers—or you don’t even know what your numbers are—it’s difficult to make sense of the seemingly random results you get from your website from one week to the next.

They are getting experienced creative help

Web design and digital marketing are highly complex topics. Even if most business owners and executives could manage to stay on top of all that’s going on in our industry, they wouldn’t have time to execute most of their best plans and ideas. That’s why they turn to experienced creative teams that have a proven track record of success. Without a bit of outside help, they just wouldn’t have the time and focus needed to get everything done.

Digital marketing can be incredibly complicated, but it’s based on simple principles. If you aren’t getting the help you need, or the right kinds of results, now is the perfect time to call us and see how we can help in 2017!

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

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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.

Digital Firearm Marketing

3 Digital Firearm Marketing Trends Poised To Continue In 2017

By Firearms and Hunting

 

It’s not always easy to tell the future in the world of Internet marketing. New ideas, apps, and challenges can seem to spring up from nowhere in a heartbeat. However, there are some trends and ideas that are so clear and profound that you can’t help but notice them on the horizon. The rise of search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising (firearms excluded), and social media (as examples) were all fairly easy to see coming for those of us working in the firearms and hunting industry.

And so, as we gear up for the end of an eventful year and head into SHOT Show, it’s worth taking a moment to look ahead and see which new ideas are likely to pick up steam in the coming year as you evaluate your marketing plan. If you want to get a jump on your competitors, and make your business as profitable as possible, here are three firearm digital marketing trends you should prepare for in 2017…

1. Mobile-First Web Design

In a relatively short amount of time, responsive web design became the accepted way to create new websites because it allowed companies to maintain one presence that would work for desktop, tablet, and mobile visitors all at the same time. Now, many businesses are thinking primarily of mobile web visits, since they make up a growing majority of all web traffic.

Responsive design still makes the most sense for the average firearm or hunting business. The big change, though, is the knowledge that mobile visitors are likely to make up the bulk of your visits within the next year or two. And now with Google adding a mobile-only index to mobile users, if you’re not responsive, then you’re basically non-existent. 

2. Local And Niche Search Marketing for Firearm Dealers

Not so long ago, engaging in search engine optimization or pay-per-click marketing meant competing against other businesses in your market or industry from around the world. But, customers have gotten savvier – looking for both local businesses and those that can meet very niche demands especially when looking for the best deals.

The net result is that marketers have to be much more focused about the kind of visits they attract online. Targeting large groups of buyers might sound appealing, but it’s no longer efficient.

3. Conversion Optimization

Because the effort and expense associated with attracting visits to the website has gone up, the pressure on marketers to convert visitors into buyers has become greater, too. And so, companies aren’t just worrying about their search engine positioning, but also the rate at which potential customers are completing purchases and requesting information.

If your website isn’t efficient, then you’re leaving money on the table. Or, you might not even be making money at all. For those reasons, conversion rate optimization (which is the art and science of turning web visitors into buyers) is going to keep getting a lot of attention.

There’s no guarantee these will be the only three trends you have to worry about next year, but you can bet being ready for them will put you in a much better position than most of the other companies in your segment. Isn’t that worth aiming for?

 

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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.

Influencer Marketing Firearms Hunting Industry

What I Discovered About Influencer Marketing in the Firearms & Hunting Industry

By Firearms and Hunting, Influencer Marketing

 

Buffalo Bill Influencer Marketing

Buffalo Bill for Savage Arms

Influencer marketing in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry has been a tried and true method of connecting with hard to reach demographics since the days of Buffalo Bill.

Often referred to as Pro Staff or Ambassadors—top hunters like Jim Shockey, Brian “Pig Man” Quaca, or shooting professionals like Colion Noir and Julie Golob and hundreds of others—have been commissioned by the industry’s top brands to exert their influence over their vast number of social media followers.

Consumers trust recommendations from a third party more often than a brand itself. And it makes sense if you think about it in a more personal context. You don’t usually trust a person at a party who comes up to you and brags about him/herself and spouts fun facts about his/her personality to convince you to be a friend. But you often believe your mutual friend who vouches for that person. An influencer is a mutual friend connecting your brand with your target consumers. (Source: Kissmetrics)

In this post, I answer five questions about influencer marketing that will help you understand how to integrate this powerful tactic into your marketing strategy.

1. What is influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that uses category leaders or celebrities to communicate your brand’s message and content to their vast number of followers. Instead of buying print ads or filming commercials, you use the influencer to get the word out for you instead.

Influencer marketing typically involves content marketing and social media as the mechanisms to propel those messages. Whether they are producing the content themselves like Mia Anstine for Beretta or you are writing it for them and putting their name on it—influencer marketing almost always involves the tactics of content marketing with social media as its primary distribution channel. (Source: TapInfluence)

2. How do you find the right influencer?

Did you know that just 3% of people generate 90% of the impact online? Considering this alarming statistic, it should come as no surprise that leveraging the power of this select group of influencers serves as a highly valuable strategy for businesses looking to expand their reach. (Source: HubSpot)

In the hunting, outdoor and firearms world, the industry is full of shooting, firearm hunting experts, and proponents that blog and create videos. A few are popular celebrities like Luke Bryan or nationally syndicated radio host Dana Loesch. Below, I used Followerwonk and Buzzsumo to identify top Instagram accounts of industry advocates that have large audiences to get an idea of the numbers we’re talking about.

  1. Dana Loesch / 444K
  2. Ted Nugent / 374K
  3. Matt Staser / 132K
  4. Michael Waddel / 141K
  5. Eva Shockey / 76.2K
  6. Colion Noir / 229K
  7. Fred Mastison / 51.5K 
  8. Jim Shockey / 63K
  9. Greg Kinman / 53.5K 
  10. Mark Kenyon / 44K 
  11. Steven Renella / 32.7K 

But how do you go about finding and choosing the right influencer? Do you go for a big name like Matt Staser in the hunting category who has over 147K followers on Twitter—or someone less known but who has a very niche group of fans—otherwise known as “power-middle” influencers? Both have pros and cons and will ultimately depend on your product’s contextual fit and marketing budget. There is growing evidence that “power-middle” influencers (2.5K – 25K followers) are shown to have a 16x higher engagement.

To find your perfect influencer, you can start with good ole’ fashion research. Or you can pay for the latest and greatest influencer marketing software to help you find that perfect influencer as well as track ROI. Here are a few to check out:

You can also use sites like AlltopBuzzsumoFollowerwonk or Kred to start your search. While someone with hundreds of thousands of social media followers certainly could expose your brand to their followers, if they are not a snug contextual fit, their post or tweet would be moot as far as driving leads and customers. (Source: Kissmetrics)

true-influence-drive-action3. How to start with influencer marketing?

Influencer marketing starts with your ideal influencer image—and if your product fits within the context of what your influencer typically talks about and how they align with your buyer persona(s). You wouldn’t hire Justin Beiber who has over 88M followers to tweet out a picture of your Deer Scent Product next to a fallen Buck (although that may be kinda funny).

Create your ideal influencer based on age, gender, location, vertical, personality and average audience size. Next figure out, where can your brand’s content can be amplified. Do you need the visual component of Instagram or Pinterest or something more substantive and instant like Facebook or Twitter? Are you looking for social media followers, website traffic or both? Define your goals and begin your search.

According to Social Chorus, the best way to reach out to influencers is to start by getting their attention on social media through likes, retweets, mentions and shares. Then you’ll want to reach out via email. Keep your email simple, introduce your brand, why you’re interested and describe what you both can expect to gain through the relationship. You can negotiate your engagement by direct sponsorship, sponsoring their giveaways, content collaboration, shout outs or commission.

 

4. How to measure influencer marketing?
Below are three ways influencer marketing can be tracked during a campaign.

  1. Trackable links: Most software programs have their own conversion tracking technology that enables you to track how many online sales each influencer drove for you. However, trackable links can only be posted on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. 
  2. Promo codes: Not only do promo codes help you track the impact of your campaign, but they also build urgency and an extra incentive for viewers to buy your product.
  3. Correlation: This entails correlating the time of posting with increases in sales or installs.
    (Source: Ready Pulse )

 

5. Brands doing it right.

As I looked across the industry, here are some examples of brands that base a large majority of their strategy on influencer marketing:

Hunting Outdoor Influencer Marketing

Photo by Yeti

 

Yeti
Yeti’s influencer marketing program is known as probably the best in the outdoor industry. “We do a lot of endorsements, from celebrity hunters to fishermen, and always try to engage them as ambassadors of the brand and then tell their stories in as many places as we can.”
—Corey Maynard VP of Marketing (Source: Adweek)  

Cabela’s
Cabela’s has about 20 “authenticity experts” who are asked to chime in on their areas of expertise (hunting, fishing, camping, etc.) to make sure their messaging truly matches the outdoor and hunting space. These are people who volunteer to participate because they are passionate about their own experiences, social media, and Cabela’s brand. (Source: Convince and Convert)

 

Mountain Ops
Mountain Ops uses several hunters/huntresses or “wilderness athletes” to inspire and help you get in “outdoor shape.” 

Hunting Influencer Marketing

Photo by Mountain Ops via Instagram

 

Glock
Glock may be the first in the industry to start using Facebook Live. This is a great example of mixing influencer marketing, content and live video.

 

Consumers have always valued opinions expressed directly to them. Marketers may spend millions of dollars on elaborately conceived advertising campaigns, yet often what makes up a consumer’s mind is not only simple but also free: a word-of-mouth recommendation from a trusted source. (Source: McKinsey)

So, is influencer marketing a right strategy for your brand? Here are a few statistics:

  • 78 percent of brands increased their content output in the last two years, but average content engagement decreased by 60 percent. Content marketing needs influencer marketing to succeed.
  • 92 percent of people trust recommendations from individuals (even if they don’t know them) over brands.
  • 74 percent of consumers use social media to make purchase decisions.
  • 81 percent of marketers who have used influencer marketing judged it to be effective.
  • 59 percent of marketers will increase influencer marketing budgets in 2016. Make sure you pick the right influencers for your brand. They’ll be in bigger demand.

(Source: Ion)

In the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, I’d say there is overwhelming evidence that influencer marketing is a good way to move the needle. Combined with inbound or content marketing, influencer marketing could be the strategy you’re looking for.

What about you, what are your thoughts on influencer marketing? 

 

firearms digital marketing

7 Firearm & Hunting Digital Marketing Factors You Can’t Ignore

By Firearms and Hunting

 

The term digital marketing gets thrown around quite a bit in the firearms and hunting industry. You know you need to “go” digital, but are still unsure what going *digital* exactly means or how to integrate these tactics with your current pre-paid outbound ad spend.

Digital marketing is an all-encompassing term that uses strategies like inbound marketing and content marketing or tactics like banner advertising, PPC (pay-per-click), SEO (search engine optimization) SEM (search engine marketing), social media and video, specifically on the internet to market products and services. Digital is not print magazine advertising, billboard, radio, tradeshow or T.V. Although digital is used to promote or augment these traditional mass marketing methods towards the desired result e.g. more sales, these methods are often difficult to measure.

Digital marketing budgets continue to increase as a preferred method of marketing and advertising by senior executives because of digitals’ ability to prove ROI. (Source: HubSpot)

According to the latest survey, more than two-thirds of Americans own smartphones. More people are shopping online—up 14% from 298.3 billion in 2015. (Source: Internet Retailer) And now for the first time over 50% of all web traffic is from mobile.

I would also add—just as an observation—more hunters and shooters are taking their smartphones into duck blinds, deer stands, and gun ranges. They’re searching for tips, products, and information while participating in outdoor activities. They are also comparing prices with other retailers online while shopping in-store. 

hunting-firearms-marketing

Photo credit: Bass Pro Shops

Although many customers still prefer to shop in-store—customers are increasingly buying firearms, ammo, hunting supplies and accessories directly online. (Source: NSSF)

With over 70% of the sales process starting online and digital marketing becoming something hunting and firearm brands can no longer ignore—here are seven factors necessary to making the move to “digital.”

 

1. Website: Build a mobile-friendly digital hub

Some of the biggest names in the industry still have yet to move towards a mobile-friendly or otherwise known as a responsive web page format (websites that scale with screen size). Did you know that Google—who controls over 60% (Source: Search Engine Land) of all web search traffic—favors websites that are mobile-friendly? 74 percent of mobile users will leave unresponsive sites. And nearly a fourth of all Internet users access the Internet solely through mobile devices.

If you haven’t made the move to a mobile-friendly website, this should be your number one priority because right now you’re losing out on hundreds to thousands of potential customers, subscribers, and sales. 

A recent Google survey of mobile users found that 72 percent of mobile users say it’s important to them that websites are mobile-friendly, yet 96 percent have visited a site that doesn’t work well on their device. Almost three-quarters of respondents said they are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site. Users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if the site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79 percent saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs.

Almost three-quarters of respondents said they are more likely to revisit a mobile-friendly site. Users are five times more likely to abandon the task they are trying to complete if the site isn’t optimized for mobile use, with 79 percent saying they will go back to search and try to find another site to meet their needs. (Source: Search Engine Watch)

If this is starting to make you feel uncomfortable—there are several ways to get “mobile-friendly” fast. A complete website redesign is usually what’s required, but you can convert your current static website through making a few changes in your CSS (cascading style sheets) which means just changing your site’s code to percentages rather than fixed heights and widths. Talk to your web designer/developer on what it would take to make these changes if a web redesign isn’t possible.

 

2. Content: Build a robust content library

Starting with your positioning and brand strategy, create your content: downloadable offers, photos, and imagery. Start with your FAQs. How many of those questions can be turned into articles, how-to’s and videos?

Invest in professional photography and helpful search engine optimized blog articles and content, to begin building a digital foundation that can be grown and improved over time. The best part about content is that it can be tested, used across multiple formats and eventually retargeted. This can save time and money in the long run. Distribute this content far and wide through blog posts, email, social media, trade shows, dealer training, T.V. commercials and even in your sales process. Just like the print advertising you’re used to—think of content as “small ads” that “pull” your prospects to your brand through entertainment, education, and information—instead of “pushing” a message.  

 

social-media-firearms-digital-marketing

Photo credit: Springfield Armory

3. Social Media: Use a mix of “push” and “pull” 

One way to expand your shares and likes as well as drive traffic to your website is by having a good mix of helpful content in addition to the news, events and giveaways you’re most likely posting now. Brands that have this figured out are not only “pushing” their products but are also “pulling” their customers to them by helping them to become better at their identified interests. See Springfield Armory’s Facebook feed for a good example. 

“If you’re not heading in the direction of digital in the hunting and firearms industry, your brand is being left behind, and thousands if not millions of dollars are not making it into your company’s bank account.”

As mentioned above, you can only grow your audience and brand so far on social media with what you’ve been doing which most likely consists of “pushing” your product(s) with photos, videos, giveaways or questions i.e. “who’s going hunting this weekend?” Sure these posts are fun and sometimes drives engagement, but this doesn’t keep your brand relevant. Seek to add value and information to your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds. Add in a video from Facebook Live to increase engagement. Aim to make your customers better, smarter and more informed. Your brand should be seen as “the expert” in your category. These tactics will pay dividends when your prospects or customers start looking to purchase that new optic, handguard, suppressor, lower, backpack, etc.

 

firearm-email-marketing

Photo credit: Stag Arms

4. Email Marketing: Your most effective channel

Email marketing is more powerful than it’s ever been. The reason is clear–for ten years in a row, email is the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers. For every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. When you want to grow your business, acquire new customers, launch a new product, offer a promotion, you turn to email. Why? Because email delivers better than any other channel. Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. (Source: Campaign Monitor) And as discussed in my last post, 7 Ways to Deepen your Digital Marketing Footprint, email marketing is the main mechanism to build and stay in contact with your audience. 

 

5. Landing Pages: Capture your audience

Landing pages are used to capture user data, such as a name and email address. The sole purpose of the page is to collect information that will allow you to market to and connect with the prospect at a subsequent time. As such, a lead capture page will contain a form along with a description of what you’ll get in return for submitting your personal data. (Source: Unbounce

There are many uses for landing pages:

  • Ebook or whitepaper
  • Giveaways
  • Discount coupon/voucher
  • Contest entry
  • Free trial
  • Notification of a future product launch

While most companies don’t see an increase in leads when increasing their total number of landing pages from 1-5 to 6-10, companies do see a 55% increase in leads when increasing their number of landing pages from 10 to 15. (Source: HubSpot

 

6. SEO: Don’t miss out on organic traffic

SEO is becoming an increasingly overlooked way to drive more traffic and sales to industry websites. Top brands are missing out on traffic that typically total in the tens of thousands because they don’t rank for the terms their prospective customers are searching for. This leaves open opportunities for your competitors to outrank you in the digital space. People are no longer just searching Google, Bing or Yahoo—they’re also searching Facebook, Twitter, Gun District, YouTube, forums and other networks as well. 

Start by conducting what search terms classify your products and what will drive the most traffic with tools like Moz, SEMRush or Wordtracker. Most offer a free 30-day trial.

Here are a few examples of how many leading industry product search words you may be missing out on per month:

  • hunting scope: 4,400
  • ar15: 110,000
  • ak47: 49,500
  • gun safe: 90,500
  • hunting knife: 6,600
  • suppressor: 12,100
  • silencer: 9,900
  • hunting backpack: 1,600

(Source: HubSpot’s keyword tool)

 

7. Analytics: Measure your results 

Do you know what your bounce rate is? Do you also know if your social media likes or shares are translating into sales? Analytics are critical in any digital firearm or hunting marketing strategy because it allows you to track what’s working and what’s not. Analytics allow you to make better decisions like how much ROI your marketing is providing.

The ability to track and measure your marketing is perhaps the greatest benefit to going digital. This is especially beneficial for brands that run an online store.

Click here to get Google Analytics installed to begin measuring your website’s efficiency if you haven’t already. Without analytics, you’re flying blind.

Overall, most industry brands have a long way to go. Those who start now will be in a position to add a valuable revenue channel to their company’s bottom line and leave their competition in the dust. By building in the above seven factors, you’ll be well on your way to “going digital.” 

 

 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principle at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, tech, and firearm industries who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels to grow in the digital era of marketing. Contact Josh  for a free consultation. 

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4 Ideas for Your Hunting and Firearms Black Friday Campaign

By Firearms and Hunting

The biggest shopping weekend of the year is coming up and now is the time to begin preparing. 

U.S. Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales last year totaled over $1.7 Billion in 2015. And with background checks setting new records in the firearm industry last year with 185K, you can bet that this year is going to be just as good or better. And a few industry resources of mine mentioned to me, although unverified—

  • “For the first time, more people shopped online than store purchases”
    (Black Friday 2015 –
    Dick’s Sporting Goods)

Assuming you’ve defined an offer on your website, whether it’s free shipping, a sales discount or you’ve arranged some kind of offer with your dealers, there is much you can do to boost this year’s Black Friday sales to get a piece of the action.

Below are four ideas to help you move the needle for your hunting, outdoor or firearms business—based on latest online retail statistics and what other savvy companies are doing to boost Black Friday sales.

1. Segment your email campaign
If you’re planning to send a blanket email to your subscriber list, you may want to take a step back and reevaluate. Sending blanket emails may work if you sell only one multi-use product, but if you have multiple buyer personas, who buy your product—you’ll need to segment those customers and tailor those messages to their preferences to make your email campaign more effective.

According to Mailchimp, segmented emails perform markedly better than non-segmented emails:

  • 14.1% more opens
  • 59.82% more clicks
  • 8.86% lower unsubscribes

“When we first started with digital marketing, we were one of those companies that would send a one-size-fits-all message to everyone,” says Matteo Recanatini, Beretta’s Digital & Ecommerce Manager. “We needed a more effective way to identify the different lifestyles and preferences of our customers and deliver content that actually mattered to them through different channels.” (Source: Hubspot

What if I haven’t been segmenting?
If you haven’t been segmenting your contacts through some kind of marketing automation software, and you have no idea who your subscribers are, then the next best thing is to get busy setting up individual landing pages per persona and offer an incentive or discount code so you can begin gathering this information. Create a form on your landing page that asks what their interests are and how they use your product for better understanding. After the initial blast, be ready to send a personalized email to those segments to increase engagement.  Once they fill out the form, direct them to a thank you page for them to claim their offer, whether it’s an ebook, whitepaper or even a coupon code. Your product may be one-size-fits-all, but your customers may have different interests. Figure out what those differences are and create personalized emails based on solving their problems or providing solutions while attaching a discounted sales price.

Don’t forget an attention-grabbing subject line.
Subject lines are critical—33 percent of subscribers decide whether or not to open your email based on the subject line alone. With email volumes increasing exponentially around the holidays, your subject line needs to work even harder to get potential shoppers to open your email and take action.

  • Stand out: Using emoji gun-emojican boost open rates.
  • Be festive: Beyond emoji, use words like “Holiday Sale” for promotions. Holiday-themed open rates tended to be higher.
  • Ask a question: “Ready to knock out your holiday shopping?” or “What will you do with your 50 percent off holiday coupon?”
  • Make it urgent: Emphasize pending deadlines like “Cyber Monday Sale ends today” or “Holiday door-busters till noon only.”

(Source: iMedia)

2. Send dealer locations
For hunting or firearms manufacturers who choose to downplay their online sales, you may want to help your dealers out by sending their offers to your subscriber list and then segment those dealers by location, so your subscribers know where to go to buy your products. Create some urgency around the sale and send them the address and store hours so they know where to go. This can also help you build stronger relationships with your most important buyers and show you care about them.

3. Put your deals on the home page
Americans plan to do almost half of their holiday shopping online this year, and one in five of those who own smartphones will use them to purchase holiday merchandise, the highest since NRF first asked in 2011. (Source: NRF)

If you have a website that is somewhat extensive, you may want to run your deals directly on your home page with a quick checkout option or link to your dealer locator. Make it simple and quick to take advantage of the shopping frenzy.

4. Get mobile now
For the first time, online traffic from mobile devices outpaced traditional PCs on Thanksgiving Day. As IBM predicted within one percent of accuracy, Thanksgiving Day reached a new mobile tipping point with smartphones and tablets accounting for 52.1 percent of all online traffic. Overall Thanksgiving online sales were up 14.3 percent compared to 2013. (Source: IBM)

If you haven’t gotten your website converted to a responsive platform—meaning that it renders well on tablet and mobile devices—you’ve limited your brand’s ability to take advantage of almost half of all internet traffic and potential online sales. (Source: Search Engine Land) The best hunting and firearm websites in the industry have converted over and so should you as soon as possible if you haven’t already.

Men say they always use mobile devices to check prices while shopping in stores versus just five percent of women. (Source: Kellogg Shopper Index)

Mobile will play a critical shopping role today, Saturday, and Sunday, with an estimated 60 million consumers planning to use their devices to shop, research purchases, or seek retailer information. (Source: InMobi)

If your site isn’t mobile, a quick fix is to redirect all web queries to a mobile-optimized page using the keywords of your deals during Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday and place your offers directly on that page.

Don’t forget to utilize your social media channels to amplify your sales and drive traffic.

So in conclusion, segment your emails to increase engagement, help your dealers out, put your deals on your home page for fast and easy checkout and make sure your site is mobile-ready to capture those in-store searches. 

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


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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.

 

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Native Advertising And What It Means For Firearm Marketing

By Firearms and Hunting

According to the latest data from NSSF and Forbes, the number of gun manufacturers has surged by 25.8% since 2012. Standing out and getting the attention of your prospective customers has steadily gotten more difficult over the past four years, especially for companies just starting out.

As I discussed in my last article, 7 Ways to Deepen Your Firearms Digital Marketing Footprint—more and more content is being created in the hunting and firearms industry, and we are eventually reaching a state called “content shock,” —if we haven’t already. As we get closer to content shock, brands will need to create 10x better content than their competitors or risk losing out on cost-effective content marketing opportunities to build their audiences through SEO and social media channels.

Early adopters of content and inbound marketing have benefitted immensely. Just look at Beretta. Or how Stag Arms used their inbound marketing efforts to rank for the keyword “AR15,” which gets over 110,000 visits per month. Although many segments of the industry still exist to take advantage of content, others will become more saturated and harder to leverage. 

If you’ve found yourself in a highly competitive category (e.g. MSRs, Optics, Self-Defense or Hunting)—I want to discuss a new marketing tactic taking shape called “native advertising” and how this emerging trend can help you build your brand and tap into audiences more efficiently.

gunsandammo1. What is native advertising?

First, let’s unpack the word “native,” so it’s not so confusing. Native means to belong to. It means being a part of something as if it’s supposed to be there. So let’s say a gun company wanted to place a native ad on Guns&Ammo.com (G&A). G&A has over 115K followers on Twitter and 786K on Facebook and gets over 1,129,000 visits per month. (Source: Outdoor Sportsman Group

The gun company would first write in the style that G&A readers are accustomed to. They would make it look the same as well. Think fonts, colors, style, branding etc. So, in the end, you have an entertaining, helpful and relevant piece of content (video, blog or infographic) that looks like it came from G&A but is really from the gun manufacturer.

But wait, isn’t this sponsored content or what is called an advertorial? Not really, here’s why.

Almost half of consumers have no idea what native advertising is and of those consumers who do, 50% are skeptical. (Source: Wordstream) It also allows the gun company to tap into G&A’s audience with the goal of looking like a trusted piece of content from G&A rather than an untrusted advertorial or sponsored piece.

The key difference is that the native ad looks like it came from the publisher, not the advertiser. This breaks through peoples’ B.S. detectors and garners brand trust to a group of prospective customers the gun company otherwise would not have gotten access to.

2. Benefits of native advertising

Today’s businesses are seeing a shift in how consumers prefer to learn about brands. Click-through rates for banner ads were at 9 percent in 2000; today, they’re less than 1 percent. (Source: Forbes) Which is why content has become so effective. As a result, companies have turned to native advertising to promote their brands. So far, it’s proving more successful than traditional online advertising:

  • People view native ads 53 percent more frequently than traditional ads.
  • Native advertising can increase brand lift by as much as 82 percent.
  • Purchase intent is 53 percent higher when consumers click on native ads instead of traditional ads.
  • Native ads containing rich media can boost conversion by as much as 60 percent.
  • The native advertising industry will reach $4.6 billion in revenue by 2017.
  • 57% of publishers have a dedicated editorial team to create content readers will care about, leaving publishers in full control, not brands, which ultimately benefits readers.
  • People view native ads 53% more than banner ads.

3. Best practices for native advertising

According to Gemini, Yahoo’s native advertising platform—there are eight best practices marketers should be aware of when composing native ads. These are imperative, as the FCC is cracking down on native advertising because some can be seen as deceptive.

  1. Use people-based images
  2. Showcase your logo
  3. Add a “Sponsored” label to video ads
  4. Place the “$” symbol and a CTA on native mobile ads
  5. Trim native video ads to 15 seconds
  6. Add a brand mention
  7. Opt for auto-play, making sound an option
  8. Provide an option for “more”

And for an extra boost, try native video.

In a case study by Nielsen and Sharethrough, native video advertising outperformed pre-roll ads for five advertisers, regardless of the campaign’s category or marketing objective. For instance, the findings from the test campaign, whose primary marketing objective was to drive brand favorability, showed that:

  • Native ads generated 82% brand lift among users exposed to the ads.
  • Pre-roll units generated 2.1% brand lift among users exposed to the ads.

According to Chad Pollitt, in his ebook Native Advertising Manifesto, which I highly suggest you check out, says:

Sponsored content and native advertising does for B2B marketers what display advertising can do for B2C brands – drive ROI-producing traffic at scale. Cost per clicks or cost per thousand impressions are generally much less for native advertising.

David Ogilvy, the “father of advertising,” once said, “It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look and read.”

This is precisely what native advertising and sponsored content does for top funnel content marketers. It’s ideal, too, because it’s exactly what these marketers want from their content – to be read.

Tradeshow, email, print, and video/television advertising continue to be the mainstay of how firearm and hunting manufacturers create demand in the marketplace. But with the influx of new companies and increased competition—native advertising will become a valuable option for savvier marketers in the coming years.

firearms-digital-marketing-footprint

7 Ways to Deepen Your Firearm Brand’s Digital Marketing Footprint

By Firearms and Hunting

 

Some of the best forward-thinking companies in the hunting and firearms industry are diligently building their digital footprint online that in the long run, will return immense dividends. 

According to the latest Google algorithm, brands that:

  • Create consistent, helpful content;
  • Generate strong social signals;
  • Have fast loading and mobile-friendly websites;
  • and acquire good inbound links from authoritative websites;

…will outrank, outperform and outsell their competitors in the digital era. 

firearms-digital-footprint

Digital Marketing Footprint

What is a digital footprint?

Specifically listed with the firearms and hunting industry in mind—a digital footprint is the combination of seven digital assets that build website traffic, website authority, and a viable audience that: 

  • Builds your brand
  • Increases revenue
  • Creates an indomitable digital barrier to your competitors

Ever notice how some brands just seem to be everywhere? They’re number one on Google. You see their banner advertisement on Guns & Ammo. You find a link to their product review. You may also see a piece of content in your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feed. And after a while you begin to notice your friends and family are talking about them as well.

If you’re serious about building your brand for the future, you must begin to consider how digital will play a role.

In this post, I’ve identified 7 elements that are widely used from the top firearms and hunting companies in the industry and how you can begin to build each into expanding your brand’s digital footprint.  

1. 10x content

10x content can be a video that demonstrates your product, a blog, infographic or downloadable offer that informs or answers your buyer persona’s (target audience) questions in context with one small catch… It’s got to be ten times better than your competition. It’s not enough to create mediocre content anymore. If you’re looking to get into content marketing by banging out a blog post here and there, it isn’t going to work. A high level of quality must be established based around the buyers journey to cut through the millions (or billions) of other pieces of content to be effective.

According to Moz, the criteria for 10 times better content consists of the following:

  • It has to have great UI and UX on any device.
  • That content is generally a combination of high quality, trustworthy, it’s useful, interesting, and remarkable. It doesn’t have to be all of those but some combination of them.
  • It’s got to be considerably different in scope and in detail from other works that are serving the same visitor or user intent.
  • It’s got to create an emotional response. I want to feel awe. I want to feel surprise. I want to feel joy, anticipation, or admiration for that piece of content in order for it to be considered 10x.
  • It has to solve a problem or answer a question by providing comprehensive, accurate, exceptional information or resources.
  • It’s got to deliver content in a unique, remarkable, typically unexpectedly pleasurable style or medium.

The more your content aligns with the above criteria the more opportunities will be created to rank higher on search engines, garner more inbound links, social media shares, views and customer trust.

2. Display advertising

I’m not a big proponent of display advertising in the form of web banners, but I don’t see them going away anytime soon. The average click-through rate is less than 0.06% (Source: Hubspot). You’re more likely to complete Navy SEAL training than click on a web banner. SHOT Show sponsors this year only received between 0.1% and 0.08% CTR. I only suggest using banner advertising in conjunction with sponsored content, events and middle of funnel offers. With the rise of ad blockers and repeated market research data that shows user’s intolerance to ad banners, banners can be a risky marketing investment as a standalone strategy. The upside to banners is that they are a viable way to keep your brand image top of mind. This however is difficult to track and like its print advertising equivilant—should be directed to landing pages that are designed to convert visitors into customers.

firearm-banner-advertising

3. Social media

Facebook and other social channels continue to give the firearm and hunting industry grief. As long as you’re not blatantly trying to sell firearms directly or posting your latest trophy, you’re supposedly safe—but how long is this going to last? Can you imagine reporting to your CEO that you just lost your Facebook account of sixty thousand followers because of an inadvertent post? Regardless, these roadblocks can be overcome with 10x content that can still produce desirable results when adding in alluring photography. We’ve all figured out that engaging photography with creative lighting and filters of MSRs and 1911s as well as beautiful hunting scenery amass likes and shares. The average Facebook post lasts 3 hours, 7 minutes (Source: Edgerank), while the average half-life of a Twitter post lasts 24 minutes (Source: Edgar). Invest in these aspects of your branding to continue expanding your digital footprint on a consistent basis by posting on Facebook three times a day and to Twitter at least ten times a day.

4. SEO

Search engine optimization ties in directly with point number one. With good SEO ingrained in your 10x content—your efforts will help you obtain top rankings. The hunting category and self-defense segments thus far are the most saturated—so if you’re in this class, you have your work cut out. However, opportunities still abound for brands who do it right among other categories (safes, hunting/tactical knives and ammunition to name a few) where there is still digital gold to be mined. 

firearms-app5. Apps

Google announced that with its latest algorithm release their search engines will now begin indexing app content. That means that the content you create within your app will be indexed in search engines. This also offers expanded opportunities to claim top search engine rankings.

6. Product reviews

Manufacturers have a love/hate relationship with product reviews. Some are good and can help move the sales needle, and others paint the brand and product in a less than ideal light. However, having your product reviewed can create a good amount of web traffic and sales. 61% of customers read online reviews before making a purchase decision, and they are now essential for firearm and hunting e-commerce sites (Source: eConsultantcy). Manufacturers will always be under the eye of vocal hobbyists, so make sure always to enlist the right reviewers and thank them whether they get it right or wrong while directing that traffic to your website. 

7. Audience

The last and final element of your firearms digital marketing footprint is audience. One way to think of audience is by building your own private deer reserve. By creating a flourishing and self-sustaining habitat, you’ll have deer to hunt and eat for a very long time. The same analogy applies here.

Ever had to pay to hunt on private land? Right now, there exists opportunities to build your audience before your competitors do. Access to the audiences you seek will become harder to find, and will become price prohibitive—especially for start-ups. Where I live, access to good hunting grounds are vanishing as more and more hunters are forced to pay to access private land where the opportunities to bag a big one still exist. 

Chad Pollitt says in The Native Advertising Manifesto, “For some, this may sound like doom and gloom for inbound marketers out there. The good news is that many of the innovators and early-adopters that started publishing for the buyer’s journey early in their industry have built a substantive enough audience and acquired considerable domain authority. Marcus Sheridan describes these brands as being part of the “Digital Land Rush.” He calls them “Digital Sooners” and they’re depicted as Innovators and Early Adopters below.

Native-Advertising

Facebook is another way to look at this. Facebook owns your audience. In fact, they charge you now to access it through their ad boosts. The cost that it took you to build that audience most likely reaches into the hundreds of thousands of dollars—yet they hold it captive! Brands that are working now to build their audiences outside of these fickle and increasingly anti-gun and anti-hunting networks will be better off. Those who are classified as the late majority in the above content marketing adoption curve will need to pay much more to access these audiences in the future. I predict large publisher sites like Ammoland, Truth about Guns, Recoil and Guns & Ammo to figure this out with native advertising. 

In my opinion, the firearms and hunting industry lags behind other industries in regards to digital marketing. Many marketers and business owners in the industry are missing out on lucrative digital marketing revenue streams and audience-building opportunities. By building a solid digital marketing footprint now, your business will be ready for what inevitably lies ahead.

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

Learn More
firearms-hunting-content-marketing

Where To Source Content For Your Inbound Marketing Program

By Firearms and Hunting

Because content is the lifeblood of all your content and inbound marketing efforts it will be important to figure out how and where you will source it. 

Studies shows business blogging and content creation leads to 55% more website visitors (Source: Hubspot). This one standalone fact is what makes creating content and writing blog posts so crucial when conducting content or inbound marketing. It’s nearly impossible to generate a steady flow of organic traffic and leads without content. By expanding your digital footprint with keyword rich blog posts, videos and downloadable offers, you create more ways for your prospective customers to find you.

In this post, if you’re a marketer or business owner starting an inbound marketing program in the hunting or firearms industry—I’ll give you five places to find ideas for your content (blogs, videos and offers).

1. FAQs

The first step after you’ve identified your buyer persona(s) is to create a list of all the questions your customers ask about your product. This should give you a good list of about 10-20 topics to start. Answer every question you can think of that’s been asked by your customers—then write those answers into 500-2000 word blog posts on your website.

2. Insource

Your company or network is full of experts who know a thing or two about your products and how it works in context. Interview them on topics your customers are most interested about. For some firearm or hunting companies, your sponsored shooting team or pro staff can provide valuable insight and information on current trends; what’s happening at the range or in the field where hunters and shooters tend to talk about the latest and hottest products.

3. Crowdsource

Crowdsourcing allows you to obtain (information or input into a particular task or project) by enlisting the services of a number of people, either paid or unpaid, typically via your social media channels, forums, or on your website directly. Start by asking your audience questions and allow them to answer it themselves. Then take their input and compose them into posts.

4. Outsource

When all else fails, you can outsource your content creation to an inbound marketing agency or hire writers from websites like Writer’s Access, BlogMutt and Content Writers. All have gun and hunting friendly writers available. Another great industry resource you may not have heard about is the Professional Outdoor Media Association. You can post project needs on their website that will enable you to get in contact with some of the industry’s best writers and photographers. 

 

New Call-to-action

 

5. Repurpose

If you already have content, you can reuse it. Have your outsourced writers transcript your videos into blogs. Create videos from your blog posts. Take a collection of blog posts and create an ebook out of them. Use some of your content as product promotions. The great thing about content creation is you can always recycle it. Don’t let any of your past content go to waste.

firearms-hunting-sales-marketing-funnelBring it all together

Now that you have a good collection of content, begin thinking through how your content will pull your visitor through your sales funnel. The goal in inbound marketing is to provide relevant content that educates your prospect through the buying process and gives them the information they need to make an informed decision. Top of the funnel topics consist of how-to’s, and tips and tricks. Middle of the funnel content consists of in-depth whitepapers and product demos. Bottom of the funnel offers consist of pricing and case studies. Create these offers and send them to your leads via email using a program like MailChimp. 

Schedule your content into monthly chunks and campaigns to stay on track. Post to your social media accounts daily and send to your email subscribers on a consistent basis. Track effectiveness with Google analytics or with your marketing automation tool.

In conclusion, sourcing and writing content doesn’t have to be difficult. Taking the time to plan and schedule can help you create consistent and viable content for your inbound marketing program.

 

[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

Download Now
[/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.

 

 

firearm-hunting-content-marketing

Are You Losing Your Opportunity To Compete Digitally?

By Firearms and Hunting

There are hundreds or maybe even thousands of product review sites and online magazines that create content (video, blogs, articles, etc.) in one form or the other about hunting or firearms. From how-tos to the best tricks and tips—the SHOT industry has no shortage of content. A quick search on Google for any topic about firearms or hunting brings back millions of results.

With all of this content being created—manufacturers and business service providers looking to begin a content or inbound marketing program might be asking: “Why create content when all of these other publishers are creating it for us?” “Besides, how many times can you write about “How to Skin a Deer” or “What Are The Best Guns for Concealed Carry?” It seems like everyone in the industry has written on these topics at one time or another.

In this post, I want to give you three reasons why you should still consider creating your own branded content in a time of content overload.

In his post, The Big Flaw with “Content Shock” and the Way We See Content Marketing, Marcus Sheridan, President of the Sales Lion, a content marketing and sales consultancy says, you can boil content marketing down into 3 simple words:

  • Listening
  • Communicating
  • Teaching

 

1. Listening

Listening will always be critical in business. Content creation allows you to demonstrate that you are actively listening to your customers. The firearms and hunting industry is hyper-competitive and finding ways to stand out are getting slimmer as more and more noise is being created.

Your brand’s ability to demonstrate that you are listening to your customers is a new and evolving competitive factor you will need to incorporate into your marketing strategy. This also needs to be apparent in the content you create.

2. Communicating

Effective communication will always dramatically impact consumers. Branded content from the manufacturer itself—not content created by industry publishers—is a trend that we are starting to see more and more of as mentioned in my last post: 7 Need To Know Firearm Inbound Marketing Indicators.

Mossberg, for example, continues to create their own content at a fierce pace. Mossberg (a $10-50M company) is actively investing in Mossberg-branded content that is communicating value, insight and expertise that is sure to be attracting new customers and retaining old ones. 

mossberg trafic rank

Public information provided by Alexa

According to the public information traffic ranking service provided by Alexa, Mossberg’s traffic and social networks continue to grow at a rate of 37-47% respectfully (Source: Hubspot and Alexa). Mossberg will continue to grow their online footprint that expands their audience, reach and rank. This will leave little room for other shotgun manufacturers to obtain top keywords in the future. Mossberg ranks 5th for the search word “Shotgun” that receives over 49,500 searches per month. Imagine what 49,500 visits to your website a month could do for your business. (Source: Hubspot)

Additional benefits of creating your branded content:

  • Generates rich organic and return traffic to your website
  • Content lasts longer and can be repurposed
  • Builds your audience over time
  • Improves search engine rankings
  • Grows social media channels
  • Produces a qualified and robust email marketing list

Content also benefits your dealers, distributors and wholesalers. The more you can educate your target market on your products the more likely you will be able to increase sales, which leads me to the next point.

3. Teaching

Powerful teaching will always be the key to generating consumer trust and action. Even though much has been written on just about every topic in the industry—there is still ample opportunity to rise above the noise to carve out your brand’s voice. By teaching your customers about your manufacturing processes, materials, and extensive product testing, you help your customers understand why your prices may be higher, and that backs up your claims. This also provides some transparency along with relevant and helpful content that solves your customer’s most burning questions. You’ll be able to build deeper relationships and garner more trust, which we all know leads to more sales.

This approach bodes well for manufacturers looking to reach the new generation of hunters and shooters who rely more on their digital devices than the old methods of TV, trade show and print.

firearms-hunting-content-inbound-marketing

Content grows with time

There is a lot of content being written in the industry. But, there still is ample opportunities for brands to get in on the digital gold rush by starting now.

Thanks to Marcus Sheridan for providing a much needed perspective on industries facing content overload.

What do you think about this blog post and the points it raise? Please comment below.   

 

 

[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

Download Now
[/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.

 

 

How To Do Traditional Firearms Marketing the Inbound

How To Do Traditional Firearms Marketing the Inbound Way

By Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

1. Create a backbone strategy with inbound marketing

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

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

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

 

firearms-marketing-inbound-outbound

Example of print ad with inbound offer.

2. Create relevant offers and include them in your ads

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

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

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

 

3. Track ROI, analyze and adjust

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

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

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

 

growth-driven-design-firearms-web-design

How to Use Growth-Driven Web Design To Build Your Firearms Business

By Firearms and Hunting

 

If you’re a firearms manufacturer or work for one, you’re most likely familiar with the term “Agile.” If you’re not, here’s a quick primer: In regards to product development, Agile is a process that says you will make incremental iterations along a timeline based on wish lists or goals for your product (or service) in short development cycles, learning and improving as you go based on customer feedback.

Contrast this with traditional approaches to firearm manufacturing—were it’s an all or nothing approach to product development, which is typically how most manufacturers’ processes go.

With manufacturing going through massive transformation (Source: McKinsey), process and management terms like Agile, Scrum, Six Sigma and Lean—are becoming more commonplace and accepted manufacturing processes due to rapidly changing consumer behaviors of personalization, faster delivery, and customization.

Steve Denning from Forbes writes: “One would think that with the declining returns from traditional business strategy the need to become more agile would be obvious and that firms would be embracing the radical management practices and values of Agile. Yet even today, Agile is largely ignored by senior management and business schools. In some ways, Agile remains the best-kept management secret on the planet.”

But what does “Agile” have to do with your website?

Your website is the hardest working sales person in your company. Here’s why:

  • It doesn’t go home at night
  • It’s working 24/7/365 for your business
  • It is the hub of all your marketing and advertising activities
  • 57% of the sales cycle is over before a dealer or customer contacts/purchases from you because they visited your website first (Source: CEB)
  • 80-90% of your customers research products online before purchasing (Source: Retailing Today)
  • It is the basis of all your social media efforts
  • It can reach more interested dealers, distributors and customers than any trade show, print ad or T.V. show
  • It’s the source of building a viable email marketing list
  • Every customer interaction can be tracked

And the list goes on and on. With more and more of your customers researching and buying firearms and accessories online first (Source: NSSF), your website should—and if not—be your hardest working sales person. 

In this post, I want to introduce you to a different way of thinking about your next firearm website design (that you most likely are dreading) and how you can approach it in an “agile-way” that is more budget-friendly, produces greater results and is based on your customer rather than assumptions.

Traditional Web Design

For a long time, the all-or-nothing approach to web development has been the standard. A typical project starts out with you knowing that your company’s website is outdated and needs to be redesigned.

So you go searching online for a design agency to develop the site. You narrow it down to 3 firms and choose one based on price, capability and delivery.

Typical website design costs range somewhere between $10,000 to $80,000+. This means you have to come up with a large sum of capital up front and then devote 3-4 months of your time to the project. Your site goes live—most likely over budget and out of scope—and then it sits there for 2-3 years until you have to redesign again.

firearms-website-design-risks

 

But there is a bigger problem.

How will you know that the website you just launched is the best possible performing website that achieves your revenue goals and provides you a return on your investment? With a traditional approach, you base your firearm website design on a hypothesis of what will work—not what’s been proven. And this is why the traditional approach to web development is broken.

Growth-Driven Web Design

Now let’s apply an “agile” approach, or what is called by Luke Summerfield, Growth-Driven Design to web design and development.

In a growth driven design model or GDD, you do everything in a traditional web design model, except you adjust and build your website in short intervals over time based on user feedback, not assumptions of what your users want.

 

growth-driven-design-firearms-website
There are three main benefits to Growth-Driven Design:

  1. Minimize risk associated with traditional web design
    You work to avoid the risks of traditional web design by taking a systematic approach to shorten the time to launch, focusing on real impact and continuous learning and improvement.
  2. Continuously learn and improve
    You are constantly researching, testing and learning about your visitors to inform on-going website improvements. Through continuous improvements, you can reach peak performance.
  3. As you learn, inform marketing and sales (and vice versa)
    Growth-Driven Design is tightly integrated with inbound marketing & sales. What we learn about visitors helps inform and improve marketing & sales strategies and tactics (and vice versa).

The GDD process is much more effective, and it turns your website into a sales and marketing machine that is constantly improving over time versus leaving your website to drift over the next 2-3 years like most companies in the industry do. (Source: Luke Summerfield)

The Growth-Driven Design Process

Instead of going through the long traditional web design process of one and done, with GDD—you focus on creating strategy first, getting online quickly with the bare minimum requirements—and then iterate over the course of the next year as you plan, develop, learn and transfer your understanding to marketing and sales as you go, then rinse and repeat. 

growth-driven-firearms-website-design

1. Strategy
In the strategy phase, you do everything in the traditional web design process but, prioritize what you need now, and what you will need later allowing you to get online faster.

  • Goals
  • Personas
  • Website & Analytics Audit
  • User Experience Research
  • Fundamental Assumptions
  • Global & Page Strategy
  • Brainstorm Wishlist

2. Launch Pad Site
In the launch pad phase, you go live with your new website with the bare minimum requirements based on what has worked in the past. This typically involves listing all your best selling products (or services), adding new photography, new design template(s) and some new content or positioning messages.

  • Map out process: Messaging, copy, wireframes, UX, design, develop, Q&A
  • Collaborate with team based on specific customer/client and action items

3. Plan, Develop, Learn and Transfer
After the launch pad site has been launched, using tools like heat mapping, usability testing, analytics and qualitative customer feedback, you build and improve your website. Also worth mentioning is the SEO benefits that keeps your content fresh, which according to MOZ, allows you to rank higher on Google

If you realize the importance of how your website can grow your business, Growth-Driven Design offers a greater opportunity for forward-thinking firearm companies to engage their customers with an increased level of customer satisfaction, communication, product development and brand building that in the end ultimately saves you time, cost and grows your business more effectively. 

So to sum up, Growth-Driven Design:

  1. Gets your new website launched faster
  2. Takes a phased approach that helps your budget
  3. Is based on user feedback, not assumptions
  4. Is constantly being improved over time (content, functions, features, modules, etc.)
  5. Works with single stakeholders within your company one at a time, minimizing internal conflict and achieving each department’s goals more effectively
  6. Less up-front cost and risk

If you’re interested in learning more about GDD and if it might be a good fit for your firearms business, download the eBook below. I’d also be happy to take whatever questions you have to help improve your current website and inbound marketing efforts.

Related Resources:

Summerfield, Luke. Rethinking Web Design Webinar
(Accessed October 30, 2015)  https://www.growthdrivendesign.com

 

firearms-growth-driven-design

Free Download:
Introduction to Growth-Driven Web Design

Is your website performing at its peak, or has it been sitting idle for 2-3 years? Was your last website redesign over-budget, out of scope and delivered late?

In this ebook, Luke Summerfield explains a different approach to website design that will help you save cost, launch faster and create a more effective sales and marketing tool that will grow leads, customers and sales online.

Download EBook!