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Build Your Hunting Brand

8 Ways to Build Your Hunting Brand

By Hunting and Outdoor

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a few examples:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Hunting Shooting Sports Buyer Persona

 

FREE DOWNLOAD: A 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 focus your messaging and maximize your marketing and sales. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for clarity.

DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE

 

 

firearms-guns-hunting-black-friday-email-marketing

4 Ideas for Your Hunting and Firearms Black Friday Campaign

By Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Source: iMedia)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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, focus your marketing and branding effort and segment your email lists.

Download Template

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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.

 

hunting-logo-design

5 Hunting Logo Design Failures To Avoid At All Costs

By Firearms and Hunting

It is inevitable that at some point in your company’s history you will be faced with a logo redesign or a rebranding of your hunting, outdoor or firearms company.

Remember the good ole’ start-up days? It was a lot easier just to design a few concepts that made sense, approve it and get on with building your business. But now things are a little more complicated: you have thousands of customers, a few sub-brands, hundreds of employees counting on you and a few more competitors. Suddenly, that little insignificant symbol that no one thought twice about is a big deal.

For business owners or marketers, managing a logo redesign is a major change—and change is hard! To help you stay clear of any potential pitfalls, here are five things to keep in mind during the course of your next hunting, outdoor or firearms logo redesign project.

1. Get an outside perspective
When designing a new logo, it’s critical to start with an understanding of what your customers think about your current identity and brand. Their input will form the foundation of your creative brief and give substance to your efforts. Their answers may provide key insights that you otherwise would have missed.

For more information on interviewing your customers please see: 8 Ways to Build Your Hunting Brand

2. Identify your value propositions
If you’re designing a new logo without a solid understanding of what your brand stands for, it’s likely you’ll struggle to define accurately what your key differentiators are and what value you bring to the marketplace, your employees, customers, and channel partners. If you’re struggling to identify what your “why” is, it may indicate a deeper problem, and you may need to take a deeper look at your brand. Below is a TED talk from Simon Sinek that explains how to create a brand that dominates your category—worth the watch. 

Remember, a logo is a representation of what you want to communicate and should be connected to your visual system or “kit of parts” i.e package design, trade show booth design, website design, product catalogs, advertising etc. A logo rarely functions on its own.

3. Write a concise creative brief
If points 1 and 2 (above) are not defined, then your creative brief will be filled with guesses and estimations. It’s possible to still create a logo, but you may be missing out on key insights that would be helpful to your design agency when they begin the project. A good creative brief contains the following points:

  • Project summary
  • Audience profile or buyer persona
  • Perception/tone/guidelines
  • What needs to be communicated
  • Competitors
  • Examples of logos you like/dislike

detailed creative brief saves time, endless revisions and equips your branding agency with the right information to maximize the design process.

4. Don’t design by committee
When you receive your first round of concepts back from your branding agency don’t email it out to everyone in your company for feedback. Chances are you’ll get a hundred different suggestions and “advice” on what needs to be changed. Don’t include those who haven’t been involved in the process from the beginning.

The famous maxim: a camel was a horse designed by committee—is true in this situation. Form a select team of 2-4 people to help you choose the best logo for your company. Make sure all options have been vetted and are properly understood before presenting to your company’s stakeholders—then send out your top 2 choices to the company (if you want their involvement).

And as hard as it may seem, make sure to design your logo based on what your customers want and expect, and not so much on what you like. 

5. Present the logo properly
Another reason not to send your concepts out to the company until you have a strong consensus of what the strongest 2 or 3 final concepts are—is to make sure each concept is explained properly.

Create a video or website (See American Airlines) about what the new logo means and how it will look with the other parts of your visual system.

Redesigning a new logo is a challenging exercise. To get it right, you must take the time to talk to your customers, identify your value propositions, write an accurate and concise creative brief, collaborate internally and present the concepts thoroughly. By doing so, you will avoid these common logo redesign pitfalls.


hunting-outdoor-firearm-logoFree Download: Creative Brief Template

Creative briefs help keep projects running smoothly and prevent misunderstandings and delays by:

  • Connecting objectives with creative strategies
  • Building team consensus
  • Aligning expectations
  • Defining clear, measurable goals

  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.

hunting-firearms-customer-reviews

How to Deal with Negative Customer Comments

By Firearms and Hunting

 

“This product sucks, I bought it and within five days it broke. I called the manufacturer and had to sit on hold for 15 minutes to figure out how to get my money back. And when I finally did get them on the line, I had to go through four different service reps to find out it wasn’t under warranty. I will never buy from this company again, and I’m going tell all my friends to stay away.” – John M. from Facebook

Sound familiar?

At some point if you’re a manufacturer and sell products online in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry, negative feedback is not a matter of if, but when. We work in an industry where reputation is everything. People are highly passionate about the shooting, hunting and the outdoor sports—any negative experience like faulty products, bad customer service or false information will be met with a highly passionate response.

According to a new survey conducted by Dimensional Research, an overwhelming 90 percent of respondents who recalled reading online reviews claimed that positive online reviews influenced buying decisions, while 86 percent said buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. (Source: Marketing Land)

In this post, I’ll give you five ways on how to deal with negative customer comments to help you minimize damage to your brand and neutralize an angry customer.

1. Deal with the problem immediately
When a customer is unhappy, whatever the reason, it’s important to act quickly. A negative review or comment on your website or social media page has the potential to be seen by other potential customers. You don’t want the customer’s anger to fester. By acting quickly it shows you care about the customer and providing good customer service.

2. Be polite, apologetic and public
The old saying, “the customer is always right” is applicable here. You have to swallow your pride, be polite and apologetic. If the customer is unreasonable, others will see this on your feed and know you are doing all you can to remedy the situation. For example, if they sharpened their knife with a grinder and want their money back because it was milled to a toothpick, this obviously is not your fault. Be polite and explain to them that your product isn’t supposed to be sharpened in this manner. This makes you look better in the eyes of the people observing. If it gets too heated, take it offline. It’s not worth it to try and win an argument on social media for everyone to see.

3. Make it right, if possible
In all instances, whatever you can—within reason—try to make it right with the customer. If you have to send them a new product or refund their money—expedite their request. You’ll end up saving your brand’s reputation and cut off any negative reaction the angry customer might engage in. Like writing a blog or producing a video about their negative experience, posting a review on Google or filing with the Better Business Bureau. All of these are almost impossible to overcome and will affect your business’ bottom line.

4. Pick your battles
It seems like there are a lot of people who just like to kick up dust and cause trouble. We’ve all observed unwarranted attacks in forums from people who just want to attract attention or make someone else look stupid. If a person attacks your brand or product for no apparent reason, respond as politely and tactfully as possible. Use facts to back up your reply. Most of the time they are only trying to stir up controversy. Before responding, see how big of following they have on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and if others feel the same as they do. Sometimes, you may just have to ignore or delete their comment. Sometimes they may be right. 

5. Hire the right people
By employing the right people for your organization you can drastically reduce the number of customer complaints from a customer service standpoint. 62% of B2B and 42% of B2C customers purchased more after a good customer service experience. If you get an angry customer who calls in demanding their money back, it’s going to be very important that the person who takes the call incorporates the above points. We’ve all experienced the grumpy customer service person. Make sure your customer service rep is trained correctly and can resolve the situation quickly. In the same survey, 72% blamed their bad customer service interaction on having to explain their problem to multiple people. (Source: Zendesk)

Working in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry is highly rewarding work and sometimes not for the lighthearted. By dealing with negative customer feedback quickly, being polite, doing all you can to make it right, picking your battles and hiring the right people, you’ll be able to save and manage your brand’s reputation more effectively when dealing with negative customer comments and reviews.

 

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.

 

hunting shooting firearms social media company

5 Ways To Understand How Social Media Can Work For Your Hunting Company

By Firearms and Hunting, Inbound Marketing, Social Media


If you’re like most business owners or marketers in the firearms, shooting and hunting industries, social media is still a bit of a mystery. A lot of marketers and business owners think that social media is a waste of time or are vague on how to effectively use it. Like all things we don’t understand, we typically just shrug it off.

We know we have to have a Facebook page—and maybe even a Twitter account, but still we struggle to grasp the importance of social media and its use.

Social media can be explained like this: Social media is digital word-of-mouth. Like traditional word-of-mouth or referrals, you share content, ideas, recommendations, stories or pictures with people who are your neighbors, friends or family. If you stop for a moment and think about it, most of the services and products you have bought in the past—have come from referrals by neighbors, friends or family.

If people find your information (i.e. content) useful or interesting—odds are they will share it, tweet it, like it or buy it.

Social media helps get your information or content out to more people—and given the right circumstances, can grow your website traffic, leads and customers exponentially. By spreading your content far and wide—you cast a bigger net, which means you increase your odds of generating more customers.

Here are 5 ways to finally help you understand how social media works in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry. 

 

1. Social media starts with valuable and relevant content 

If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then social media starts with creating content. You can’t attract new customers without generating content. Content can be created in the form of blogs, videos, whitepapers, ebooks or infographics. Tweet, share and post these pieces of content and distribute them on your social media networks to maximize your content reach. Write your content specifically for your buyer persona.

Should I post the same content on all networks?

To help you better understand the differences of social media, here are few comparisons made by social media guru, Guy Kawasaki (1.7 million followers on Twitter)

  • Facebook = People. It’s mostly for communicating with those with whom you already have some connection.
  • Twitter = Perceptions. It can help you build your reputation and visibility.
  • Google+ = Passions. It’s for sharing your passions with others who have the same passions.
  • Pinterest = Pinning. It’s about beautiful images and finding great stuff.
  • LinkedIn = Pimping. He means this in a good way, Kawasaki said. “LinkedIn can help you position yourself as a serious person and influencer.”

For Facebook, you’ll want to bring your content down to a human level and mix it up with real-life experiences. Try to make your content sound “casual” and make it fun. Posts on Facebook should be about office happenings and culture. Think reality show.

For LinkedIn, dress your content up in a suit. Make sure you add your own personal comment as to why you’re posting. Try to think in terms of how to establish yourself as an influencer or perhaps even a thought leader.

For Twitter, you only have 140 characters to get your point across. Your tweets should be short and succinct. Try to invoke curiosity or urgency to drive clicks to your content.

Buffer found that tweets with images receive 18% more clicks. Always add an interesting, eye-catching picture. This also goes for Facebook and LinkedIn.

What the heck is a hashtag?
Hastags (#) are used to identify a subject. So if you were to post something about Elk hunting in the Rockies you may tweet something like: “Elk Hunting is the Best in the Rockies! #hunting #firearms #wyoming” What the hashtag does, is allow other users to search for the same hashtag. This creates a small micro-community that follows an interest, event or subject.

2. Identify which channels work best for your business

Not all social media channels work and operate the same (as noted above). The only way to understand what network works for you is to experiment. We typically have more success on Twitter and LinkedIn than on Facebook. So we concentrate a lot of our efforts on those channels because they are more B2B oriented.

If you’re focused on reaching women (which is currently exploding in the industry) – you may want to try Pinterest as their members are almost 90% female.

Google+ should be used to help with increasing search engine rankings and indexing your pages. Google continues to struggle with creating a viable social network. However, Google+ should not be overlooked. 

 

3. Curate other people’s content and follow back your customers!

In order to start gaining followers, you must tweet, post and share often–especially on Twitter. It’s recommended that to gain followers on Twitter you need to tweet at least 4x a day—for starters. It’s been proven the more you tweet, the more followers you get.

You won’t have enough content in the beginning—so tweet other industry/topic relevant content. Make sure to follow the 80/20 rule: tweet 80% of other people’s content and only 20% of yours. By retweeting, favoriting and sharing other people’s content, you gain followers as people are likely to follow you back.

For LinkedIn and Facebook, I recommend once a day or at least 4 times a week to maintain top-of-mind awareness. Back off if you sense people are getting annoyed or you start losing followers. Always be professional and courteous. Do not use profanity or coarse language.

Most companies in the industry are highly self-promotional. They are always tweeting out their latest products, sales, deals and happenings—push, push, push.  Their social media strategy dictates that:  Follow less people and have more followers than we’ll be considered more important.” Companies in the hunting, firearms and shooting industries should follows their customers back. Social media isn’t about being the most popular kid on the playground—it’s about sharing and  associating with the people you are trying to help, build a relationship with to turn them into life-long customers. 

Here’s how this plays out. I’m considering a new AR-15. So I head to Twitter and follow Stag Arms, Colt and Daniel Defense so I can learn more about their products and get updates on their latest news to help make a decision on what AR-15 to buy. Out of those three companies, Stag Arms ends up following me back! Wow. A big brand like Stag, wants to follow me? Guess who I’m going to buy from. Stag! So go ahead, follow back! You tell your potential customers you’re interested in them and you care about them. This goes along way in establishing your branding and inbound marketing strategy

 

4. Boost your content on Facebook

Facebook has changed its news feed recently and it has become harder to get your content in front of the right audience. Facebook now offers “boosts” to reach your target audience outside of your network for increased exposure. Boosts start at $20 and go up from there. Boosts are a cost effective way to drive traffic and capture likes, leads and shares.

 

5. LinkedIn is about establishing yourself as an influencer and thought leader to establish credibility

Once you commit to creating valuable content, you’ll begin to learn even more about the industry and your buyer personas. An amazing thing happens when you start to research, read, tweet, post, write and curate content. You wake up one day and realize that you’re living on the bleeding edge of the latest trends, industry news and technology. You become a resource that others will find useful. I tell this to my customers who are venturing into inbound marketing. Like training for an Ironman, you start out slow, but gradually over time, you gain momentum and fitness to go the distance—and before you know it, you’re a stud triathlete.

Ok, if you’ve made it this far down on this article, you may be asking, OK great, how does participating in social media really help my business? Here are 5 important reasons:

  1. Builds your brand and reputation
  2. Social proof (i.e. a lot of followers) establishes trust among leery visitors
  3. Attracts customers you otherwise would not have reached
  4. Drives traffic to your content and landing pages to convert visitors to leads
  5. Establishes yourself as resource, influencer and thought leader to a global audience

So there you have it.

If you were confused about how social media works—you should now have a better understanding. Social media starts with valuable content, choosing the right network, curating other peoples content (80/20 rule), following your prospects back, tweeting to drive traffic, boosting on Facebook to gain shares, and using LinkedIn to establish yourself as a credible thought leader. If you still have questions? Contact us or give us a call to see how to make social media work for your business. 

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6 Considerations When Choosing Wholesale Firearms Distribution

By Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Know your customer

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

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

2. Understand your product

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

3. Define your pricing

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

4. Define your manufacturing and shipping volumes

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

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

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

5. Don’t sign exclusive agreements, unless…

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

6. Research and ask the important questions

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

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

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

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

 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

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