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marketing Archives | Garrison Everest

Outdoor Hunting Lifestyle Marketing

How Outdoor Lifestyle Marketing Can Bolster Your Content Strategy

By | Outdoor Marketing

If you’ve been doing content marketing for a while, you may have noticed that the traction you once had is beginning to wane.

You’ve been able to build a sizeable email marketing list, your social media following has grown exponentially and you’ve been able to boost online sales through organic website traffic.

However, with the explosion of content in our industry, especially in the hunting, camping, and CCW segments—how can you continue to breath new life into your brand and content marketing to keep growing?

In this post, we look at lifestyle marketing—and how by integrating your customer’s narrative into your brand’s story—you can put your product into a context that goes beyond its features and benefits.

What is lifestyle marketing?

When thinking about a lifestyle, first think about what a lifestyle is. A lifestyle is a set of habits, attitudes, beliefs, interests, opinions, ideas and thoughts based on an individual’s unique God-given personality.

For example, you may define the outdoor lifestyle as:

  • Adventure
  • Free
  • Family
  • Discovery
  • Conservation
  • Escape

Or you may define the 3 million CCW holders lifestyle (Source: Denver Post) as:

  • Freedom-loving
  • Defensive
  • Aware
  • Protective
  • Heroic
  • Concerned

“Lifestyle brands define who people are and who they want or hope to be.”


Many industry brands solely focus on their product’s features, and minimize their customer’s lifestyle or don’t incorporate them at all into their marketing strategies. When attention to lifestyle is left out—brands miss out on a pathway to connect deeper with their customers. Lifestyle brands give your buyers a goal and vision to become something better. This aspirational aspect is what makes lifestyle marketing so effective. (Source: Pixelee)

Exercise: How would you describe your lifestyle? What products represent how you live?

How do you build a lifestyle brand?

Turning a brand into a lifestyle brand takes some time. Consistent, intentional effort that is driven by your company’s leadership is key to permeating your company’s culture to drive authentic experiences. Below are six tactics to help you get started:

Know your Tribe
Tribe,” coined by Seth Godin, states: “Tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have joined tribes, be they religious, ethnic, political, or even musical. It’s our nature. Now the Internet has eliminated the barriers of geography, cost, and time.” You must get to know your tribe as thoughtfully as possible to harness their pain points, interests and motivations—then you must lead them in the lifestyle your brand represents. 

Create awesome branding 
Brands that invoke the best visuals and messaging are more likely to garner emotional attachment. Almost all lifestyle brands have an active design component. A visually appealing logo/symbol of your brand that your tribe adopts will make them want to stick it on the back of their truck, or perhaps get a tattoo (just Google “Glock tattoo“).  

Invest in your culture
As your brand becomes more trusted, it’s important to show your people. Most companies in the hunting, shooting, and outdoor industry don’t show the people behind the scenes. The best cultures become the best lifestyle brands. Make sure they are living the lifestyle your brand embodies.

Leverage influencers
The lifestyle affinity is a natural fit for influencer marketing because your influencers are already living the lifestyle you want to integrate into your messaging. Your influencers can boost your content and storyline to their audiences through social media, garnering trust and expanding reach.

Create content
Content will continue to be an essential part of any digital or influencer marketing strategy for the foreseeable future, because of its effectiveness and long-term benefits. When creating content, don’t blow smoke about how great, amazing, game-changing, evolved, re-imagined, etc. your product is. Show how it improves your tribe’s lives without pushing your product.

Be present
Like any relationship, sometimes all it takes is showing up. Brand awareness is a key part of building a lifestyle brand, and this is where gorgeous cinematic hunting, camping or hiking video/photography and other tactics help you stay top of mind and part of people’s lives.

(Source: The A Group)

 

Four examples of lifestyle brands

Beretta

beretta-upland-lifestyle

Photo Credit: Beretta

Beretta’s lifestyle marketing consists of aligning their brand with an upper-class type of shooter and their experiences. The brand’s creative platform contains fonts that are clean and a color palette that suggests luxury. Their photography represents the customers they wish to align with that could be described as sophisticated, traditional and affluent—most likely influenced by the brand’s European origin. Part of what makes Beretta a lifestyle brand is its clothing line. Not only can you own and shoot the Berretta brand—but you can also wear it.

Beretta also integrates a robust content marketing program that adds value to its customers by helping them get better at their shooting and outdoor pursuits.

Sitka

Outdoor Marketing Llifestyle

Photo Credit: Sitka

Sitka Gear based in Bozeman, Montana is also a prime example of what it means to live the outdoor lifestyle. Sitka’s helpful articles, short films, and transparency in their design and manufacturing processes make it an excellent lifestyle brand. Much more than a camo company—their focus on their “Tribe” is based on their mission statement to “inspire, delight and enlighten hunters.” Their mission towards conservationism also gives the brand a much higher purpose, which makes it more attractive, exciting and admirable.

Yeti

outdoor-lifestyle-marketing

Photo Source: Yeti


No other company in the outdoor world does a better job than Yeti in integrating their products into the outdoor lifestyle. Yeti seeks to touch every aspect of someone participating in the outdoor world through story-based content. From Spearfishers to Big Horn Sheep Hunters—Yeti is a brand built for the wild as stated in their tagline. I found it especially interesting that they also have a Spotify list with songs from a broad genre that puts music to the Yeti Lifestyle. This is just another way lifestyle brands are looking outside the traditional channels to build their names into their customer’s lives.

 

Magpul

Magpul Outdoor Lifestyle

Photo Credit: Magpul


There was some confusion a few years ago when Magpul decided to evolve their firearm accessories brand into a lifestyle brand with the addition of apparel like gloves, shirts, and pants. Magpul has now become more than just a company known for its magazines, stocks, and handguards.

 

Make the connection

When thinking through on how to align your brand with your customer’s lifestyle—you must begin with their characteristics, problems, challenges, hopes, fears, and dreams; and start to build your marketing strategy around them, not your product.

Seek to dramatize your material around their outdoor, hunting or shooting activities—but also look for other aspects that define them. For example, your imagery can speak to the pride they have as a first responder, their desires to spend more time with friends and family, a lost loved one (see Beyond the Roar by Leupold below), ambitions of climbing Mount Everest, adventure (see Weatherby Timeless Video) or hunting with their Son or Daughter. Anything your brand can do to take them out or into a place they want to be is a critical component of lifestyle marketing. Your brand must become a storyteller that allows your customer to see themselves as their best self. 

The below video by Leupold is a great example of engaging lifestyle storytelling.

 

“Lifestyle marketing must be somewhat mythical and paint a visual that seems almost dream-like while remaining brutally authentic.” 

Today’s digitally empowered consumers are very astute. When you can get your target audience to build your product into their lives, making it a part of their narrative, you don’t have to solicit action. They feel like they found you, just the right fit for how they view themselves in the world. (Source: Marketing 360)

If your content strategy needs a boost, perhaps lifestyle marketing is the tactic you need for continued success.

Article image source: Fluid Peak Productions a lifestyle marketing company.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Outdoor Website Design

8 Things We Learned Over The Years About Outdoor Website Design

By | Outdoor Marketing

Over the years, Garrison Everest has identified several factors that every outdoor website needs to be successful online. We’ve found (after completing over a hundred websites), brands who are meeting or exceeding their goals have these eight foundational website traits in common. By adhering to these basic premises, you will have a solid foundation to conduct digital marketing and grow your business more efficiently. 

outdoor-website-marketing-data1. Goals, KPIs, and Analytics

You can’t track what you don’t measure. Every website project should start with clear goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) on what you want to achieve. These goals need to be regularly tracked and reported on monthly. Having a good understanding of what metrics are important to you (visits, bounce rate, sales, shares, likes, clicks, subscriptions, conversations, etc.) will ultimately make your contact and sales generation more successful.

2. Credible Design, Photography and Copy

outdoor website lifestyle marketing

Engaging design, photography, and copy is a must in today’s digital environment. Canned stock photos will hinder the sales process and fail to build the necessary trust with your prospects. Short and concise copy—based on your buyer persona—is needed to grab and hold your visitor’s attention. Copy and imagery work together to tell your brand, product or services’ story—that ultimately spurs the sales process. Copy should be based on your prospect’s lifestyle and how you solve their problems.

3. WordPress Content Management System

WordPress is an online, open source website creation tool written in PHP. But in non-geek speak, it’s probably the most straightforward and most powerful blogging and website content management system (or CMS) in existence today. WordPress powers over 27 % of all websites on the web (Source: Tech Republic). It is easy to manage and scale as your business grows.

4. WooCommerce

For E-commerce installations, Garrison Everest strictly uses WooCommerce. WooCommerce powers over 28% of all online stores (Source: Pixelo). Plugin subscriptions are updated annually that add extra functionality to your website for a fraction of the cost. Plugins include shipment tracking, payment processing, deposits, email subscriptions, automation and more.

Automation and Abandoned Cart Email

For every 100 potential customers, 67 of them will leave without purchasing. How much would your revenues increase if you were capturing those sales instead of losing them? (Source: Shopify) An automation and abandoned cart email program can make your e-commerce store more profitable. And don’t forget to add an email subscription form for prospects to sign up for your blog and newsletter.

 

Outdoor Website

 

5. Fast and Secure Hosting

Garrison Everest partners with WP-Engine to power our client’s website. WP-Engine hosting comes with an SSL (Secure Socket Layer) that shows your visitors you are a credible and trustworthy business giving you a rankings boost on Google. Our hosting also employs a Content Delivery Network (CDN) that makes your site faster and more secure—making it less likely to be brought down by hackers.

6. SEO and Content

Depending on your segment in the outdoor industry, updating your website’s blog regularly (at least twice a month) will be necessary for you to build organic rankings, links and value on search engines.

Companies that blog have better marketing results. Specifically, the average company that blogs has:

  • 55% more visitors
  • 97% more  inbound links
  • 434% more  indexed pages

Websites that provide helpful and relevant content will rank higher. Value-added content will also help grow your social media networks. (Source: HubSpot)

heatmaps7. Ongoing testing

Most companies will invest a significant amount of capital in a website, launch it, and then do nothing with it for three years. To get the most out of your website, ongoing audits, user interaction testing, heat mapping, copy, SEO and design experiments should be conducted to optimize your brand’s most important sales channel.

8. Instant Messaging

Gone are the days of forms for potential prospects to contact you. Since we’ve added Drift, the world’s first and only conversational marketing and sales platform to our website and other client websites—we’ve seen an almost 80% increase of leads. When prospects hit your website, they are searching for a solution to a problem they’re having. At this moment in their buyer’s journey, they are in the exploratory phase and are looking for answers to your questions. Instant message meets them at the right place and the right time.  

By adding and conducting these eight components on your outdoor website, you will have a firm digital marketing foundation in which to build your online business. 

Contact Us To Learn More


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Marketing Firearms

Before You Invest In Firearm Marketing, Ask Yourself These 4 Questions

By | Firearms Marketing

Most new business owners in the firearm industry come from an engineering background. When it comes time to discuss marketing, most will avoid the subject—because after all, how many engineers studied marketing in college?

In light of this fact, you may be feeling anxious to do some “sort of marketing,” but you’re not sure what that “sort of marketing” is.

Should you buy a banner ad on Outdoor Wire, develop a full-fledged content department like Sitka, sponsor a woman-focused group like the Well Armed Women, pay $10,000 to go to SHOT show—and what about Facebook and Instagram?

Before you get to the part in your business that requires you to spend some money on marketing—there are four questions you need to ask to ensure that when it does come time to invest in marketing—it will work.

 

1. Solve a problem that has mass appeal.

If you look at the biggest companies and brands in the world, they all have one thing in common—they solve a problem that everyone has: computing (Apple), fast food (McDonald’s), transportation (Ford), fast consumer goods (Amazon). Or they have improved upon an outdated product (coolers) that everyone has to have (Yeti)—or they have brought to market a better product like Magpul’s polymer magazines. 

 

Yeti Coolers

Photo credit: Yeti

Question: What is the #1 problem your product solves? Find that problem or unique difference and solve it.

 

2. Quality is job #1

A quality product that is reliable and durable is only the starting line in this industry. If you can’t do that, you need to go back to the drawing board.

According to a leading manufacturer rep, I had the opportunity to talk to the other day stated, “if word gets out on the street, you have a good product—the product will sell itself, just stay out of your own way.”

Question: Is your product of high quality and has it been thoroughly tested?

But this is still not enough—there are two other factors that form the basis of successful marketing—and that is timing and price. If the time is not right for your product, it can suck the life out of your business.

 

Maxim

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

3. Is the timing right?

A recent example of hitting the market at the right time is the Maxim 50 by SilencerCo. The Maxim 50 solves a huge problem everyone has: hearing loss and hunting in States where only shotguns and muzzleloaders are allowed.

According to Williams Mullen’s firearm industry practice group, “The Maxim 50 and its permanently attached silencer is not considered a firearm or a suppressor under the NFA.  Individuals looking for a hearing safe gun, whether for hunting, collecting, or recreational shooting, can now purchase one without having to go through the ATF’s burdensome registration process, which requires certain law enforcement checks, fingerprints, law enforcement notifications, a multi-month waiting period, and a $200 tax stamp paid directly to Uncle Sam.”

By integrating the silencer into a muzzleloader platform, SilencerCo. was able to solve a major problem in the market at the perfect time, earning massive industry attention. On September 19, 2017 upon the product’s release, SilencerCo’s website crashed due to the massive response.

Question: Is the timing right? What trends will fuel your marketing efforts?

 

4. Is it priced right?
If you can’t achieve good margins on your product, or if you extend yourself by going to market with several products (instead of just one or two), you might be heading down a black hole where there is no return.

According to Entrepreneur, no matter what type of product you sell, the price you charge your customers will have a direct effect on the success of your business. Though pricing strategies can be complex, the basic rules of pricing are straightforward:

  • All prices must cover costs and profits.
  • The most effective way to lower prices is to lower costs.
  • Review prices frequently to assure that they reflect the dynamics of cost, market demand, response to the competition, and profit objectives.
  • Prices must be established to assure sales.

A new resource in the industry you may not have heard about is Gun Broker’s Pricing Report. Gun Broker offers access to National Firearm Pricing and Trends to help you understand how to best price your firearms and accessories. GunBroker.com boasts 6 million unique monthly visitors a month and conducts over $3 Billion in cumulative merchandise sales. 

 

Pricing Report

 

What about sales and distribution?

For most startups and growth-phase manufacturers, distributors typically won’t take you on until you have a sales record. The exception is, of course, you have a breakout product – like the Hudson H9. So start with the above—develop a winning marketing strategy—and in time—and with some sales hustle, you’ll have distributors taking note.

In conclusion, by solving a problem that has wide appeal, building a quality and thoroughly tested product, launching at the right time and pricing your product accordingly will help make your marketing more successful. 

Free Marketing Firearms Ebook


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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

 

Firearms Marketing

5 Firearm Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By | Firearms and Hunting

 

As we move into 2019, it’s harder than ever to get your message out to law-abiding customers.

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

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 this ad from 2013 when Daniel Defense tried to run an ad 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 customers.


1. Full30

If you have not heard of Full30 you should go check it out. It’s YouTube for the firearms community. “The Full30 platform also offers unique video advertising opportunities for the firearms industry, who have been blocked from valuable pre-roll advertising on YouTube, and Facebook. The pre-roll and banner ad server on Full30 now opens the door to firearm brands looking to capitalize on the extraordinarily high click-through rates, and unmatched brand exposure video advertising provides.” (Source: Truth About Guns


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, Stag Arms and Beretta, are already using inbound effectively and getting great results. Inbound marketing uses search engine optimized content, downloadable offers, landing pages, forms, social media and email marketing to attract, engage and delight 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


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. 

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

 

weatherby by women

Photo by Weatherby

4. Women

Women 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. Weatherby just launched their Women of Weatherby website devoted and targeted towards women. Springfield Armory’s Night of Saint also seeks to capitalize on women as well. These two brands have recognized the immense opportunity this demographic holds and are seizing the opportunity by getting out in front. Look for more large manufacturers to follow in the months to come.

 

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 Military Arms ChannelHickok45, IV8888 and Jon Patton of the Gun Collective. 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.

 

In conclusion, marketing in these changing times may not be as difficult as you think. Through utilizing content and tapping into new firearm specific channels, the women segment and influencers, you have the makings of a marketing strategy that is trackable, and that bucks the trend of declining traditional marketing methods.

 

shooting-firearms-CTA
Free Updated Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Shooting and Firearms Industry Vol.2

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

Brand Development Inbound Marketing ConsultantBy Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Marketing + 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.

AR-15 Firearm Marketing

How to Stand Out In The Competitive AR-15 Marketplace

By | Firearms and Hunting

 

A recent article in the TC Palm, a member of the USA Network cited that: “The increase in gun manufacturing licenses since 2009 has strained the resources of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.” This means that there are so many new firearm companies popping up, the ATF can’t keep up with all the new license requests.

I would bet (even though I don’t have any data only hear-say from industry sources) the majority of these licenses are going to companies building ARs.

The AR-15 has soared in popularity among gun owners, due to a wide-range of factors. It is customizable, adaptable, reliable and accurate that can be used in sport shooting, hunting and self-defense situations. Civilians can also modify and personalize their AR-15 from carbine-length, stocks, optics, barrels, etc. The AR-15s ability to be modified to your own personal taste is one of the things that make it so unique. (Source: NRA

But before you jump into this highly saturated market segment and start an AR business, or make that next big investment—I want to share with you a video by Ryan Deiss’ of Digital Marketer titled: “How You Deal With Competition.” I thought his analogy of water (yes, water) aligned perfectly for those looking to start or build an AR company.

So to start, here are four questions that will help you think through how you’re going to build a successful AR company and brand. 

  1. What is the reason your AR company exists?
  2. Why are you getting into the AR business?
  3. Why would your customers want you to exist?
  4. What do you bring to the AR-15 marketplace that adds value and moves the industry forward?

There are hundreds of other AR companies trying to sell what you’re trying to sell. Using Ryan’s analogy of water he gives us a good framework and a fresh perspective on how to deal with the competition. 

Water is the most abundant resource on the planet Earth. We have more water than we know what to do with (kind of like AR companies). Water is sold in many different formats and in various ways, some of it is even free. Heck, we have so much of it, we flush it down the toilet. But yet some people have found a way to package it, sell it and market it and make you pay $2.99 for a bottle of it.

So using water, an abundant commodity—let’s look at how you can take this same line of thinking and apply it to your marketing strategy to create something in the industry that will stand out and give you a reason to belong and to exist.

 

custom-ar15

Photo credit: Sharp Bros.

1. Find your unique AR-15 flavor

Taking our analogy and applying it to the AR market—you have to start by finding your unique flavor. Some water tastes different; it may include minerals or additives that change its taste. Maybe it’s a different manufacturing process that contains a different type of material or machining. Whatever it is, it should be something that provides you with your own little spin. Maybe it’s your gruff “take–no-lip” attitude. Maybe it’s your location or color. Maybe it’s your team who happens to be former Navy SEALs. Whatever it is—find your unique flavor that will appeal to your buyer persona(s).

 

2. Add a unique AR-15 additive

POFUSA-charging handleAnother way to give you a reason to exist is to have your own unique additive. What is it that you do that no one else does? Is there a feature that you’ve added that no one else has? A great example is once again POF-USA. They’ve added “God Bless America” on their ejection port covers and a cross on the top of their charging handles. These little embellishments give their guns distinction and their owner’s something to be proud of. What can you add to your platform that makes it different? Maybe it’s a little spike on the trigger guard or a different kind of cerakote coating. Whatever you got in your bag of tricks, make sure it’s something that belongs only to you. Cobalt Kinetics and Battle Arms Development are also good examples of brands that break the mold in the AR category.

 

3. Add unique AR-15 packaging or delivery

custom-gun-case

Photo credit: Custom Made

How can you create some kind of distinction on how your customers receive and interact with your product(s). Every gun must be transferred legally through an FFL dealer after a passed background check to your customer. What if your product was only transferred through certified dealers that have agreed to your brand’s standards—that when your customer goes to pick it up, they receive 5–star service? Or perhaps your AR arrives in a handcrafted metal case with an engraved American flag on it? The gun your customer has waited for three weeks should be like Christmas morning. It could also be as easy as including a hat and sticker or a coupon for 10% off to their local gun range to go shoot their new AR. Whatever it is, focus on ways to differentiate your product’s delivery.

By picking one or all three of the ways mentioned above, you’ll have a very compelling reason why your AR company should exist. At the end of the day, you must be able to answer the question: “Am I adding value to the marketplace and my customers?” If you can respond to that question with a “yes,” then you have the beginnings of successful marketing strategy in which to build upon.

Interested in learning more about our services and how we can help your AR company stand out?

Free AR Company Consultation

 


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-native-advertising-marketing

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.

 

[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

Learn More
[/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.

 

 

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

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Marketing + 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.

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.

 

 

guntv-firearms-marketing

Should You Market Your Firearm Brand on GunTV?

By | Firearms and Shooting

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

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

1. What is a home shopping network?

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

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

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

2. Safety-oriented

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

 

3. An opportunity for startups

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


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

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

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

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

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

What are your thoughts on GunTV?  

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

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.

 

 

firearm-hunting-advertising

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. 

 

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
• 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. 

 

hunting-outdoor-firearm-advertising

Free Download: Creative Brief Template

Creative briefs help define your advertising concepts and keep projects running smoothly. Use this template to:

  • Connect objectives with creative strategies
  • Build team consensus
  • Align expectations
  • Define clear and measurable goals
  • Create more compelling advertising
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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. 

How To Use Positioning To Uncover Your Competitive Advantage

By | Firearms and Hunting

 

Most companies struggle to carve out their own niche in the hunting and firearms industry and maximize their brand’s unique selling proposition (what makes you different from your competition) because they overlook a critical marketing strategy used by today’s top brands.

With over 400* firearms and ammunition manufacturers (Source: First Research), 30+ different optic companies, 20+ suppressor companies and a thousand more who produce products in the $30+ Billion dollar firearms industry today (Source: NSSF), one might ask—if you’re starting a new hunting or firearms company—how is it possible to compete in this highly concentrated, regulated and competitive industry?

In this article, I want to draw your attention to one of marketing’s most valuable methodologies called “positioning”—and how you can use it to help your hunting or firearms brand break away from the pack.

For some context, let’s imagine you are trying to build a new shotgun brand for entry-level pheasant hunters that’s water-resistance, and that costs less than the current leading brands. I will use this example throughout the article, but first, let’s define what positioning is.

What is positioning?
The concept of “positioning” was created by market and branding pioneers Al Trout and Jack Reis back in the late 60’s and explained in their book: Positioning, The Battle for the Mind. If you haven’t read the book, I highly suggest checking it out.

Positioning is a marketing strategy that aims to make a brand occupy a distinct position, relative to competing brands, in the mind of the customer. Companies apply this strategy either by emphasizing the distinguishing features of their brand (what it is, what it does and how, etc.) or they may try to create a suitable image (inexpensive or premium, utilitarian or luxurious, entry-level or high-end, etc.) through outbound (advertising, trade show etc.) or inbound or content marketing. Once a brand is positioned, it is very difficult to reposition it without destroying its credibility. It is also sometimes called product positioning. 

So how do you go about finding your new product’s positioning? There are two initial steps that you need to do first.

 

marketing pyramid1. Define your purpose
What gets you out of bed in the morning besides the motivation to make money? What is the sole purpose of why your company exists? Customers are drawn to companies that stand for something other than just making a profit. (Source: Inc.) Is it to increase a hunter’s safety? Is it to bring a greater level of protection for concealed carry? Or using our shotgun example, is it to provide novice hunters a way to take up pleasant hunting without spending a fortune?

Whatever your purpose is, write it down and put it on your wall. When the mission isn’t going well and the vision seems like a mirage, a strong purpose will keep getting you out of bed and people coming back to work, day after day. (Source: Marty Neumeier)

 

2. Find the whitespace
Now that you know what your purpose is, you can define what your positioning is (positioning is tied very closely to purpose). Look for the “whitespace” in your intended market segment—meaning an open slot that other brands don’t occupy in your target customer’s minds.

As you look at the viability for your shotgun product—you know that there are three other shotgun brands in the market. One is higher priced, and the other two are positioned for more experienced hunters who are willing to pay a higher price leaving open a huge space for another brand to move in and offer an entry level shotgun at a slightly lower price point.

This is called finding the whitespace. A space in the market no other brand occupies.

 

3. Hack your competition’s positioning
A second step in finding and determining where the whitespace is—is to do some reconnaissance on your competition’s website, social media accounts and press releases to determine what piece of the market they seem to be going after.

If your competitors seem scattered and unfocused—meaning they are trying to be someone to everyone—than this can be used against them by focusing your brand messaging specifically at the customers you want to attract—in this case, entry-level pheasant hunters.

The narrower you can focus your brand and its message to a specific segment the more effective your marketing will be. (Source: Adage) You must seek to be known for “one thing,” that your customers will find viable, interesting and worth paying attention to. In today’s overcrowded and noisy marketplace of giveaways and me-too products, where the typical person is exposed to 250-500 advertisements a day—brands must find ways to stand out.

A great example taking place in the industry today is SilencerCo’s #fightthenoise campaign. This campaign’s goal is to pass legislation that lifts the NFA ban on suppressors. Not only is SilencerCo. the hottest brand going, but they are using this inventive marketing strategy to build awareness for a greater cause under the purpose of hearing/noise protection. In the process, this effort is allowing them to build and position their brand and sell silencers at the same time—while benefiting the industry as a whole. Brilliant.

 

silencerco

 

3. Define your positioning statement
A positioning statement is the What, Who, How and Why of your brand. By creating a positioning statement, you further distil your brand’s message that gives you the key differentiators to expand upon in your advertising, content marketing, and elevator pitches. This also helps you and your team to understand what it is that makes your product unique that supports your sales efforts. You can’t sell efficiently without a clear positioning statement.

It’s important to point out that our hypothetical shotgun company “wants families to spend more time together.” This purpose will allow the brand to use imagery that reflects its purpose and have a more unique and memorable brand focus in the segment. 

firearms-marketing-positioning

 

5. Qualitative customer interviews
Next, validate your assumptions by interviewing your intended customers. When it comes to positioning—it’s important to understand how your customers view your brand’s product and how they describe it. The adage, “It’s not what you say about your brand, it’s what they say about your brand” —is what counts. This is a crucial step in defining your positioning as it will further inform all future marketing initiatives and decisions. Interviews also eliminate any assumptions you may have and gives you and your team the understanding and confidence to create effective marketing.

What if I have no customers?
Start with your assumptions of who your product will appeal to. Upon launching your business, analyze and be prepared to pivot quickly if the messaging and target market is not resonating with your messaging. Draw upon quantitative industry data from the NSSF to get a better understanding of your intended customer. Other sources like Hoovers can also provide insight.

 

6. Define your buyer persona
I speak a lot about the importance of defining who your buyer persona in my articles. Once you have collected your interview data, it’s time to focus your efforts specifically on how your particular product solves their problems or how it will appeal to them.

Get as granular as you can to put your customers in the context of using your product and how your positioning will appeal to them.

  • Basic details about persona’s role
    What do they do for a living and how did they get there?
    What is their level of education?
    What are their biggest challenges?
    Where do they get their information?
  • Key information about the persona’s business/company

    List facts like employees, management structure, competitors etc.
    What does their brand stand for? Check their website (if applicable) to learn more.
  • Relevant background info, like education or hobbies

    What do they typically do in their spare time. Are they rushed for time, busy parents? Weekend warriors? Workaholics?

 

7. Implementation
Now that you have defined your positioning and buyer persona, you can begin mapping out how your positioning implements on your website. Your website is the hub of all your marketing efforts. It is your #1 salesman, working for you 24/7/365. The firearms and hunting industry lags behind other industries in their understanding and approach to fully utilizing the web as their main marketing channel. With over 72% of all purchases starting with a web search (Source: Pardot), your T.V. and print marketing should seek to drive your audience to your website through some incentive so your messaging and positioning can be analyzed and evaluated. This will help you determine if your marketing is getting traction.

Utilize your sales funnel to decide how to move your customers to your desired outcome. Begin creating messages for each stage of the sales funnel based on your positioning. Utilize analytics, heat mapping and tracking on your website to test each phase and include A/B testing to optimize the messaging and workflows to optimize your efforts—whether that be increasing blog subscribers, social media followers, social media shares or sales.

In conclusion, to find your positioning, define your brand’s purpose, find the white space, hack your competitors positioning, define your positioning statement, conduct customer interviews (quantitative and qualitative), define your buyers persona and implement your positioning through your sales funnel on your website.

By taking the time to understand your positioning, your brand will be better equipped to stand out in today’s highly competitive hunting and firearms industry.

* Some sources report 5,400 manufacturers. 

 

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Brand Development Interview Guide 

Developing your brand starts with asking the right questions. Use this guide to draft the questions to ask your customers to uncover your brand’s most important messages.

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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.

hunting-firearms-brand-experience

5 Ways To Boost Your Hunting or Firearms Brand’s Experience

By | Firearms and Hunting

With so much economic upheaval and pressure to stand out in today’s hunting, outdoor and firearms marketplace; business owners and marketers have been feeling the pressure to produce greater results.

One overlooked element is how you create better brand experiences for your customers. Brand experience goes beyond the basic function of the product or service and seeks to connect with your customer on an emotional level that makes your brand the preferred choice in your category by adding something extra. 

How do top brands create great brand experiences? I took a closer look at a few brands inside and outside the industry and boiled it down to five things that stood out to me on how to go about building a great brand experience—and how you can begin implementing them into your own branding and marketing efforts. 

1. Find your “one” thing
Most of the world’s best brands are known for “one” thing. It can be tough (Ford); it could be repeating arms (Winchester); it could be rugged (Marlboro) or status (Rolex)—it may even be duck hunting (Duck Commander). Whatever the case, the best brands are known for “one” thing that puts them head and shoulders above others—and in the process define an entire category. The first step in boosting your brand experience is to know and understand what your “one” thing is. Communicate your one thing over and over again in every piece of marketing until your name is associated with that one word that places your brand on the top shelf of your customers and prospects minds. 

2. Rise above function to connect on an emotional level
Once you’ve drilled your prospective buyer with what your one thing is, you then must begin to connect your brand at an emotional level. Zig Zigler said it best; “People don’t buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons.” Your product or service should mean something more than what it appears to be. Can your brand make your customer feel better about themselves? Can it make them feel different when they put it on? Will it win the admiration of their friends? Take a look at some of the top brands for an example of how they connect at the emotional level:

  • Coke is Brown Sugar Water > Happiness in a Bottle.
  • SilencerCo. is a Suppressor > Fight the Noise.
  • Budweiser is Fermented Barley and Hops > King of Beers.
  • Matthews is a Bow Manufacturer > Supremely Accurate.

Great brands rise above the functional attributes of their product to connect to their customers emotionally.

3. Take your customers somewhere
Does your brand take your customer somewhere? It doesn’t have to be a physical place, it can be a state-of-mind. For example, when you turn on your truck—how does it make you feel? Do you feel like a bad ass or a grocery getter? How about when you put on your favorite football team’s jersey—do you feel like you’re part of the team? When you sip on a Corona, does it take you to the beach? Great brands take their customers somewhere.

4. Build a cult-like following
There is a company out there called Johnny Cupcakes. Ever heard of it? Neither did I till I was at a marketing conference this summer. Johnny Cupcakes founded by Johnny Earle, named America’s #1 Young Entrepreneur creates custom designed t-shirts that are then sold in a store that looks like a bakery—all over the world. At first glance you’re probably like “what?” But what makes the Johnny Cupcakes brand interesting is its cult-like following. So much so, that people tattoo Johnny’s logo on themselves and stand in line for hours to get his latest designs. Think Apple when they release their new iPhone. When his customers order a shirt from Johnny online and receive it in the mail;  it’s better than Christmas. His packaging seeks to create an experience pre-primed by his brand’s irresistible appeal. Not only do they get the t-shirt they ordered, but there’s always something extra. Sometimes they get a sticker, maybe a book, a used candy wrapper or Johnny’s used sock. Sounds silly—but Johnny’s fans love it. What can you add to your customer experience that gives just that little extra touch? Doing so, may help you create a cult-like following that will give back to your business for years to come.

5. Give them a community
Another important aspect of great brand experiences is being a part of what Marketing expert Seth Godin calls a “tribe.” A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader and connected to an idea…. People want connection and growth and something new. I’m a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association. I’m included in a community of other marketing professionals in the industry—giving me a network and a small sense of belonging. Think of the communities you belong to. How do they make you feel? 

It should feel good. Can you do the same for your customers?

All marketing doesn’t have to be tradeshow, print or a TV sponsorship. Marketing can be an app, a community group or some random chachki in your packaging. Look at other ways to stand out from your competitors. 

To sum up, to boost your brand’s customer experience, find your “one” thing that makes you different, be something more than just a function, take your customers somewhere and give them a sense of accomplishment and community.

 

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


The key to maximizing your marketing and branding efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer is. This will enable you to set SMART goals that focus your marketing and create better brand experiences.

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[/columns]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

hunting-firearms-blog

Stop What You’re Doing And Blog Like This…

By | Firearms and Hunting

Blogging for your hunting, outdoor or firearms company can be somewhat challenging. However, for those who take the time and energy to blog—there exists many benefits and clearly defined advantages for your business.

Call it content creation or blogging—blogs have been shown to increase website traffic by 55% (Source: Hubspot). Done consistently, blogging will compound over time into more traffic, more leads and more sales through your website. Blogging is one of the key components in an internet or content marketing strategy. Blogs power your search engine optimization and social media efforts to greater heights.

If you’re the type of person who sees the advantages of blogging and are committed to thought leadership, driving website traffic and to building your brand, this post will help you become a more effective blog writer in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry.

1. Start with your audience
A lot of times, you may be blogging just for the sake of blogging. But this is where a lot of people go wrong. There is a methodology to blogging. For starters, you must understand your audience at the granular level to make your writing efforts pay off. A great way to get inside the heads of your prospects is to interview your current customers. Ask them why they value your brand, what keeps them up at night and what their biggest challenges are. For example:

  • How to call in a hung up turkey.
  • What is the best AR15 for home defense?
  • How to become a better sports clay shooter.
  • How to field dress your game quicker.
  • What are cheaper thermal vision alternatives?
  • Best places in Montana to look for sheds.
  • What level of fitness do I need to hunt Bighorn Sheep?

By asking the right questions, you will be able to write the right blogs that capture your audience’s attention.

2. Teach them something
Just like this blog is attempting to teach you something—your blog should attempt the same. Like the examples shown above, the first and best way to approach a blog is to answer the questions you hear most from your customers. Compose a list, perhaps starting with your FAQS and turn them into 500-800-word blog posts.

TIP: Posts with 1000-2000 words or more are shared almost twice as much.

3. Pick topics based on your keywords
If you’re blogging on topics that don’t include your keywords you’re camouflaging your blogs. Keywords drive traffic to your website and show up in search engines where your prospective customers are. Pick topics that your customers are searching for. To find out what keywords you should be blogging on, you’ll need to take a closer look at your analytics. You may even consider using a paid keyword tool service like Moz, Wordstream or utilize your Google Adwords tool. 

TIP: Write for humans, not search engines. Don’t stuff keywords into your copy.

4. Formatting
Formatting is another factor you must consider. Your readers will typically scan topics and headlines before committing to reading your post. It’s kind of like channel surfing. To make the most of the one shot you have to grab your reader’s attention, your blog posts should take on a format like this to allow for easy scanning:

  1. Ahunting-firearm-blog-post-formatttention-grabbing headline 
  2. Engaging image
  3. Share buttons
  4. Introduction and hook
  5. Introduce the problem you are solving and who the post is for
  6. Tell the reader what to expect
  7. Cite your sources for credibility
  8. Number your sub-heads
  9. End with a recap and conclusion
  10. Use a call to action to generate a lead or sale

By formatting your blog properly, you’ll increase the likelihood of getting it read. 

5. Ignition
Sharing is considered the “holy grail” in social media. It’s one thing to “like” or “favorite” a post, but a share has the potential to drive traffic and build brand awareness exponentially. When a person shares your content, it says something about them to their friends and followers. According to Mark Schaefer’s new book, the Content Code, people share content on the basis of making themselves look smarter or to communicate something about their interests and personalities. Sharing “ignites” your content that allows your brand to penetrate into new audience groups.

Make sure to add share buttons at the top of your posts and make sure the blog data automatically populates is the first step in getting your post shared.

6. Consistency
If you start a blog, you must commit to blogging on a regular and consistent basis. By starting out strong and then getting sidetracked in 3-4 months, will hinder your efforts and leave your followers hanging. They’ll forget about you and eventually unsubscribe or tune out. If you’re going to commit to blogging, commit to it and stick with it. You can start out by committing to once a month and build up from there. The more you blog—statistics show—the more traffic you get.

hunting-firearms-blog-stats

7. End with a call to action
At the end of every blog post, you should end with a call to action. Whether it’s a downloadable offer, a video or even a call to purchase one of your products—make sure to capitalize on the momentum and interest you just created with your reader once they get to the bottom of your post.

In ending, when writing a blog post, start by knowing your audience, teach them something, write articles based on your keywords, format, make it easy to share, be consistent and end with a call to action.

By including these points in your next hunting, outdoor or firearms blog post, you’ll start seeing lower bounce rates, increased traffic, and more subscribers, shares, likes and favorites. 

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  • Why you should have a blog
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  • How to measure your blog
  • 4 business blogging practices
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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.

 

hunting-firearms-outdoor-marketing

Is Your Firearm Marketing Missing The Mark?

By | Firearms and Hunting

Are you banging your head against the wall from wasting thousands of dollars on your latest ad placement, PR push or website design and still have yet to see results? 

Good design and a quality product isn’t enough anymore to cut through the clutter, skepticism nor the noise in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry. 

Companies who want to maximize their marketing efforts must go deeper into understanding how their brand can be leveraged and how content (inbound) can be amplified through placed or earned media (magazine advertising, television, sponsorships, product reviews or trade show) to get the biggest bang for their buck—while building their brand.

Your marketing must be on target to make it effective. Below are 5 points that will help you focus your marketing like a laser. 

1. Brand purpose 

Can you define your company’s purpose? Your purpose is what gets you out of bed in the morning. Purpose goes beyond just making money. Brands with a strong sense of purpose are more admired, more profitable and attract more customers. 

Every brand makes a promise. But in a marketplace in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another, but having a defining purpose. (Source: Forbes)

marketing pyramidMission and vision support your purpose—this provides the direction of your company. Mission and vision are then supported by your goals. Every brand is built on goals. Without goals—your brand falls flat that can affect your company’s sales performance, employee productivity and engagement—which will ultimately result in lost revenue and customers. (See right: Strategic Pyramid by Marty Neumeier)

The most successful firearm, outdoor and hunting campaigns today are purpose driven, here are a few good ones:

  • Knight & Hale – Obsession for making game calls better.
  • SOG – Gear made especially for adventurous people who like to “live on the edge.”
  • Beretta – Quality Without Compromise.
  • Mauser – A symbol for the real, successful hunting experience.

When investigating any one of these brands, you’ll most likely begin to admire them—place them on a higher shelf in your mind or choose them over their competitors. 

2. Customer focused
If you’re hoping to launch a marketing campaign without the understanding of who your customers are or what your brand means to them—you might as well throw half your marketing budget out the window. All great marketing campaigns begin with knowing who your buyer persona is. You create buyer persona’s by identifying specifically who you’re talking to by interviewing them to learn more about their pain points, background, demographics, wants, needs and what channels are best to reach them. If you haven’t talked to your customers in a while—it may be a good time to check in with them.

3. Be S.M.A.R.T.

What is it that you hope to accomplish with your marketing? Is it brand awareness, more customers, increase signups to your loyalty program, drive traffic? Is it attainable? Each campaign you initiate should result in some kind of action that can be measured (see next). Define what it is you hope to accomplish with every campaign. See “How To Set SMART Goals”.

turkey-hunting-tips4. Measurable

Can your marketing be measured? If you place a printed advertisement, give a presentation, attend a tradeshow or send out a direct mail piece—how can you measure the effectiveness of your investment? A good marketing campaign can be tracked and measured and should be able to provide the data you need to make a more informed decision next time around. An effective way to do this is to create a content offer that you can track back to your website. By offering a free whitepaper or ebook, that gives your customers’ in-depth information on how to solve a problem—you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of your campaign through traffic generation and lead conversions. See Havalon’s ebook example.

5. Nurture and deliver qualified leads/sales

The number one responsibility of marketers is to deliver qualified leads to your dealers, distributors or sales team. Does your campaign have a way to efficiently qualify leads? By placing your website at the center of your marketing activities, you can effectively track visitors driven by outbound methods to your website.

In conclusion, marketing that hits the mark starts with a well-defined brand that is customer focused, specific, measurable and that delivers qualified leads to your dealers, distributors or sales team. If you’re just placing ads and creating alot of activity in the marketplace and hoping for some kind of response, you may be wasting precious time and money on your marketing.

Hunting-Outdoor-Firearms-Buyer-Persona1

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

The key to maximizing your marketing efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer is. This will enable you to set SMART goals that focus your marketing and branding efforts.

Download Now!

 


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.