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7 Need To Know Firearm Inbound Marketing Indicators

By Firearms and Hunting

Inbound marketing in the hunting, firearms, and outdoor industry is starting to grow. More and more brands like Havalon, Beretta, Springfield, Mossberg and others are integrating inbound marketing (sometimes confused with content marketing) into their outbound marketing budgets (print, t.v. and tradeshow). Content marketing is defined as “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and ultimately, to drive profitable customer interaction.” (Source: CMI) Inbound marketing earns the attention of customers, makes the company easy to be found, and draws customers to your website by producing interesting content.

Buying firearms and hunting equipment is a long sales process due to cost, and the hundreds of choices buyers have to choose from. Inbound by nature is a highly effective methodology in educating your customers, dealers, distributors, and wholesalers about your products and brand that can speed up the buying process.

In this post, I share seven indicators I’ve seen that will determine the difference between a stellar inbound marketing program or a mediocre one. 

1. Low Saturation Index
A quick search on Google will reveal the amount of content you must contend with when starting an inbound marketing program of your own. Mark Schaefer calls this “content shock”—which means that there is so much content, that we simply don’t have the capacity to consume it all. When creating content, make sure that your brand has unique topics that you can bring to the table that will attract, convert, close and delight your customers. 

2. Product-Market Fit
Does your product or service provide value to your customer? The quicker your customer can understand the value, the more you know your product has achieved product-market fit. Without an understanding of who your customer is and the problem your product or service solves—it will be very difficult to focus your content that will generate traffic, links, shares and the sales you’re looking for. (Source: Entrepreneur

3. Audience
Great content marketers find their niche, and then write the heck out of the content that fits it. (Source: Outbrain) Does your brand own a niche in the industry that no one else serves? Can your content capitalize on creating a community of customers who are loyal to your brand that you can turn in to evangelists? We are fortunate in this industry to have many social media outlets and networks like AR15.com, Gun District, LinkedIn Groups and others that allow manufacturers to reach a captive audience of gun and hunting enthusiasts. Building a community of customers is also important that many top brands lack.

4. Web Domain
Did you just launch your website? The chances are that Google (the leading search engine with 89% of total web search traffic) may not index your domain for an entire year. I’ve seen first hand that when new websites are launched. Google keeps relevant blog posts and pages off the first page of results; keeping your site from gaining rankings. If this is the case, you may need to supplement your inbound marketing efforts with PPC and other outbound methods until your rankings improve.

5. Poor Competitor Content
Great content marketing starts with great content—and lots of it. (Source: Hubspot) A quick look at your competitors will reveal advantages or disadvantages that you can capitalize on or leverage. For example, if their content is poorly written, inconsistent, boring, self-promotional and doesn’t provide any real value—you have the opportunity to capture search engine rankings—which will benefit your efforts and customer preference when people are online looking for your kind of product.

6. Strong References
Another key component of inbound marketing is having strong references to draw from. Utilize others’ blogs and industry resources to back up your claims to ensure the information you are providing is accurate and relevant. This creates trust and credibility.

7. Price
The price of your products will also influence the success of your inbound marketing efforts. As noted above, inbound will work better when goods and services are above the $250 threshold. Products at this price point force consumers to examine products more carefully—opposite of an impulse buy. If you can’t determine what the buyers journey is from awareness to purchase, chances are you have a product that wouldn’t work well with inbound marketing.

By understanding how much content saturation is in your segment, your product/market fit, audience, web domain age, competitor weaknesses, availability of reliable references and a considered price point will help you create a more effective inbound marketing strategy.

 

shooting-firearms-CTA

Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the 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

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-industry-disruption

Is the Firearms Industry Ripe for Disruption?

By Firearms and Hunting

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Manufacturing

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

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

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

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

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

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

The changing retail experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Internet of Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shifting political views and opinions

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

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

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

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

Gun-Sales

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

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

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

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

How Inbound Marketing Increases Your Dealers & Distributors Firearm Sales

By Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

So let’s go…

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

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

hunting-firearms-linked-groups

Top hunting, outdoor and firearms LinkedIn groups

There are several active groups on LinkedIn you should join.

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

Example Questions Your Inbound Marketing Should Address

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

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

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

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

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

hunting-firearm-distribution-inbound-marketing

Inbound marketing tracking sources report

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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

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.

hunting business brand marketing

6 Secrets Of The Duck Dynasty Hunting And Outdoor Brand

By Hunting and Outdoor

Sometimes, a brand comes along that is really different—and goes against the grain of everything else you’ve been accustomed to. With over $40 million dollars in revenue in 2012 (Source: Wikipedia), and the number one cable show in history, no one can deny that the Robertson Family/Duck Commander/Duck Dynasty brand has done something right.

If Willie Robertson were to sit down in my office (see end of this post), and I was able to ask him what advice he had for hunting and outdoor business owners and marketers about building their brand, I think this is what he would say…

1. Be authentic
One thing that Willie Robertson would say about your branding efforts is to be authentic. This has been one of the genuine traits of the Duck Commander/Duck Dynasty brand. No fluff, no gloss, no razzle-dazzle. Customers feel a real connection to the Robertson’s and buy their products because they are real.  A lot of companies develop their brands that feel and look manufactured. For decades we’ve been soaked with Madison Avenue style advertising that it’s become something we naturally ignore. Kind of like air. You know it’s there, but you don’t really think about it. By being authentic your chances of cutting through the clutter increase.

2. Keep it real
Willie would say keep it real. Don’t be something you’re not. Your company starts with the personality and character of you—the founder. Don’t loose that one thing that separates you from everyone else—you. Great brands are built on men and women who keep it real. Look at Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Chuck Buck and Howard Shultz.

3. Know your customer
Willie says, know your customer. Duck Commander and Buck Commander as well as the Duck Dynasty and Robertson brand all meticulously built their brands around their customer that truly connects on a personal level. Research and interview your customers—find out who your ideal customer is. Build your brand and your branding efforts around them. Talk like they talk, do what they like to do, hang out where they hang out.  Engage them, solve their problems. This is the most important step in developing a brand.

Duck-Dynasty-brand4. Hire your customers
Willie only hires people who are hunting fanatics and who adhere to their cultural virtues. Hire people who are naturally passionate about what you do. This will pay considerable dividends from a customer service and standpoint and reduce turnover costs. Customers generally turn out to be among the best performers when they become employees. You already know them and they know you. (SOURCE: ERE)

5. Sell the experience
The old saying “your brand is your product” certainly applies here. I would bet that like Harley Davidson, most of Duck Commander’s revenue is made through shirts, hats and other branded apparel—people aren’t necessarily buying just duck calls. People want to be associated with the Duck Commander/Duck Dynasty experience—which is another reason why the brand is so powerful. They want to feel like they are apart of the family or out in the blinds with them. 

Whether you like Duck Dynasty or not, as a hunting and outdoor business owner you have to admit that what makes this brand unique is its authenticity, their approach to keeping it real, their intimate knowledge of their customers, the experience they sell and the people they hire. The brand’s story and ability to connect with millions of people make it a great brand to emulate and apply to your own company’s branding efforts.

hunting-outdoor-internet-guide 
Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting and Outdoor 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

 

 


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.

inbound--marketing-turkey-hunting

Why Inbound Marketing Is Like Turkey Hunting (Infographic)

By Hunting and Outdoor

If you’ve made it to any of the recent trade shows in the hunting, firearms or outdoor industry—you may have heard about something called inbound marketing or sometimes called digital or content marketing. Outdoor companies are looking for ways to bring their brands online and to reach broader audiences that they were once limited to because of expensive media buys or trade show fees. They may also be looking for ways to reduce their marketing spend and get a better return on investment from their hard-earned marketing dollars.

To help you understand—we’ve put together the below infographic to help explain the differences between inbound and outbound marketing; and how it can help your company move its marketing online—versus spending more on trade show, print and T.V.

inbound-marketing-hunting-shooting-outdoor

 

hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

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

 

 


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.