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How To Get More Out Of Your SHOT Show Registration

How To Get More Out Of Your SHOT Show Registration

By Firearms and Hunting

Thousands of hunting, outdoor and firearms companies register for SHOT Show each year to showcase new products, evaluate the competition, network and attract dealers/distributors.

From booth design and construction, marketing collateral, travel, accommodations, sponsorships, and the hassle of transporting your products to and from SHOT Show, costs can begin to pile up.

As a business owner, sale professional or marketer, you want to make the most out of your SHOT Show investment because so much goes into making it a success. For some companies, it’s the one and only chance they’ll have all year to make their sales quotas, determine if their new products have merit and to foster new business relationships.

For others, it’s just another marketing program to check off the list. In this post, I’ve outlined six consecutive ways to optimize your SHOT Show registration and ROI and get more out of next year’s SHOT Show (or any other hunting, outdoor and firearms industry trade show).

1. Calculate your ROI

With so much time, money and effort invested in SHOT Show—one might ask: Am I getting the most out of it? What am I missing? In order for the next 5 points to make sense, you need to start by understanding how to calculate your ROI so you have a benchmark on what you need to break even. 

Use this simple equation: (Gross Profit – Marketing Expenses) / Marketing Expenses

Example SHOT Show costs (Team of 8):

  • 10×20 booth, design, production, registration and space: $40,000
  • Party for team and A-list customers: $16,000
  • Flights and travel: $7,000 
  • Accommodations: $12,000 ($299/night at the Palazzo)
  • SWAG: $5,000
  • Food/other: $20,000

Total Costs: $100,000
Gross Profits = $______

ROI = (Gross Profit – $100,000) / $100,000

*The above does not take into account the annualized return of a customer over time or (LTV).

Use this calculation to establish your benchmarks and sales goals. This can also help you decide whether or not SHOT Show is worth attending next year.

 

2. Establish your buyer persona


Do you really know who your customers are? The answer is probably “yes,” but you need to take it a step further. Have you taken the time to understand what their pain points and biggest challenges are? Where do they go for information? What do they expect from a product or service like yours? By conducting research on your *ideal* customer, you’ll be able to have a more useful conversation with prospective distributors and dealers when it comes time to make the introduction. 

Whether you manufacture hunting knives, optics, rifles, tree stands or hunting apparel—knowing your buyer persona is the first step in getting a higher trade show ROI. 

3. Create a downloadable offer

Last year’s SHOT Show may have been a success, but did you connect with those prospects you didn’t have time to talk to? In the melee of the “gotta-meet-this guy,”  handshakes and small talk, you may have missed that one prospect that was ready to place a substantial purchase order. This is where creating a content offer comes into play. By creating an ebook, media kit, whitepaper or video that answers your prospects’ questions, you will be able to re-engage, hold their interest and attention through your website and track their responses by gathering their contact information in return for a free downloadable offer. This is a great way to maximize your lead generation efforts because it builds your brand and thought leadership—regardless of whether or not you scanned their badge.

4. Add CTAs to your SHOT Show Advertising

Now that you have a content offer, place a call to action (or CTA) on all of your SHOT Show materials and advertisements, including your business cards, pop-up banners, demo screens, catalog, brochure or dealer receipts. Add a call to action that tells your prospect what to do next by visiting your website to download your free offer. When you get them to your landing page, ask the right questions to understand who they are, what company they are with and what they are most interested in. This information will give you a good understanding of how to best approach them. Use other suggested offers to further their engagement.

5. Follow-up and utilize a CRM

After the show, be sure to follow-up promptly. Data has shown the faster you follow-up, the higher the likelihood you will convert your prospect to a customer. Utilize your CRM to close the loop on your prospects and to stay organized. This will also help you calculate ROI and LTV.

  • 50% of sales go to the first salesperson to contact the prospect. (Source: Inside Sales)
  • If you follow up with a web lead within 5 minutes, you’re nine times more likely to convert them. (Source: Inside Sales)

Don’t overlook social media—especially Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. SHOT Show is a great way to build your network for future social selling and content marketing initiatives. You should be tweeting and posting your day’s activities to create some buzz. Just make sure you’re only taking pictures of your booth.

6. Nurture leads with email marketing

Sometimes your prospect may need a little nurturing to get them across the finish line, especially if you’re a new brand. This is where you can use their contact data to send emails for additional content offers in order to move them down your sales funnel. Create content based on the three buyer stages: Awareness –> Consideration –> Decision. 

  • Email marketing has a 2x higher ROI than cold calling, networking or trade shows. (Source: Marketing Sherpa)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: The Annuitas Group)

7. Is SHOT Show worth it?

For smaller, less-known brands, exhibiting at SHOT show is an immense expense that may bring little in return. Your marketing dollars could be better spent elsewhere over the year to build your brand’s awareness. When small brands and clients ask me about SHOT, my response is: “if you’re not there, you’re not there.”  It’s great to be with other people in the industry, see the latest products, catch up with friends, and meet new prospects and clients. However, if you walk away with no purchase orders, media coverage, a valuable contact, or feeling like it wasn’t worth it—you may want to use your marketing budget to invest in improving your product or building your brand. Try attending again in a year or two so you’ll have a good group of dealers who are interested in seeing and buying your product to make your SHOT show worth it. 

If you have attended SHOT Show (or are considering registering), you know the chaos, cost and exhaustion it takes to attend, exhibit and finish successfully. You can maximize your lead generation efforts by calculating your ROI, establishing your buyer persona, creating a downloadable offer on your website, adding CTAs to your trade show collateral, following up promptly, utilizing your CRM and nurturing leads through email marketing. These tactics will give you a better ROI at your next big industry trade show.

 

inbound-marketing-hunting-outdoor-firearms-trade-show

Free Ebook: The Inbound Marketing Trade Show Planning Guide

In this planning guide, you will learn how to use inbound marketing to make your trade show more successful and profitable.

  • Picking the right tools
  • Defining clear, measurable goals
  • Tracking and measurement
  • What to do before, during and after the show
  • Tips and tricks to drive booth traffic
Download Now

 

 


Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President of Garrison Everest, is passionate about helping business and marketing leaders in the outdoor, hunting, adventure and shooting sports industries create clear messaging and digital marketing programs that grow business.

Shot Show Trade Show Marketing

Steal My SHOT Show Strategy

By Firearms and Hunting

 

SHOT Show 2019 is right around the corner. If you’ve done an adequate job of promoting your SHOT Show presence and built a booth that rivals the Taj Mahal (or not)—the next and sometimes most difficult step is how to organize all those booth visitors you are going to attract into qualified leads. After all, that’s why you’re at SHOT right?

Before you hand over that koozie, T-shirt or iPad—have you determined the right questions to ask that qualifies your booths’ visitors—with the goal of turning them into promoters, leads or customers?

Trade shows, for the most part, are huge lead generators. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), exhibitors identify lead generation at 80-85% as the reason that companies exhibit at trade shows. This is closely followed by branding and customer engagement.

If you’re a wholesaler, distributor or manufacturer in the hunting, outdoor or firearms industry, here are 6 points from my B2B strategy for SHOT Show that you can steal to make the most of your leads and build better relationships with buyers and dealers. 

 

1. Set Goals

It’s crazy how many companies go to SHOT without some sense of what they hope to accomplish. If it’s a certain number of handshakes, booth visits, clicks, leads, sales, contacts, P.O.s—whatever, set a goal and make a plan to achieve it. It will give you some sense of measurement of how successful your show was. 

Steal my strategy: Take your overall  SMART goals for the year and decide what a good show ROI looks like. Begin setting up meetings two-three weeks out via email and personal messaging via LinkedIn and then broadcast your attendance on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Make sure to use the shows hashtags: #shotshow or #shotshow2019 so your posts show up in the SHOT Show App.  Track engagement through a good analytics tool. 

 

2. Identify the difference between a prospect and a lead

With over 65,000 attendees and 1,600 exhibitors do you know what your ideal customer/buyer looks like? It’s amazing how many marketers and salespeople don’t understand what the difference is between a prospect and a lead—let alone how to qualify them. A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their sales funnel. (Source: MarketingSherpa)  When someone strolls up to your booth without an appointment, they most likely are in the awareness/information gathering stage. They found you online, heard about your product/service or saw what you offer as they were walking by. 

Make sure that you have a list of questions to initiate a conversation that helps you identify where they are in the buying process and how you can best help them. I want to emphasize the word HELP. How can you help their business? 70% of people make purchasing decisions to solve problems. 30% make decisions to gain something. (Source: Impact Communications) Focus on that aspect and not pitching your product/services first. In the back of your mind, you need to be always thinking about uncovering what their problem is and how your product or service helps. 

Here’re a few examples:

  1. What brings you to SHOT Show? (identifies their intent)
  2. How did you hear about us? (identifies understanding)
  3. What kind of business are you in? (identifies who the prospect is)
  4. What are you looking for in this type of_____?
    (identifies if they are serious or are just browsing)
  5. What are your goals/challenges for the show/or 2017?
  6. What are some things you’ve been working on lately?

For more questions, see this post: 16 Sales Qualification Questions to Identify Prospects Worth Pursuing

By taking the time to focus and talk about their business—not yours—you are saying “you are important to me” which builds trust with the prospect. This brings down the hard-sell barrier and allows for a more engaging conversation.

Steal my strategy: If you’ve been executing an inbound marketing strategy throughout the past year, meetings at SHOT Show may be just a formality at this point. The sales cycle is 95% complete, and a face-to-face meeting is just icing on the cake on what will be a long and successful business relationship. The meetings I have at SHOT, are with qualified leads I’ve nurtured over the past 5-6 months. 

 

trade-show-booth-strategy3. Take advantage of the “Lookie Lous”

While no definite industry statistics are available on this, likely only 10-20% of booth visitors are potentially qualified leads, if that many. So the question becomes how to sort out the best potential leads from the rest before initiating an expensive and time-consuming lead qualification process? (Source: Biznology)

If you’ve come to the realization that the person you’re talking to is not a qualified lead or what I like to call a “lookie lou,” (someone who is strictly there out of curiosity and who may just want to grab some schwag)—what can you do to make the most out of this touch point while not wasting valuable time? For example, you may pass him/her off to your booths’ official “lookie lou” ambassador. Someone who is solely responsible for handling unqualified leads that free up your front-line sales person. That person might ask them to tweet about your brand with your company’s #hashtag in exchange for a booth chachkie. Most people will be willing to do this in exchange for some schwag.

The more activity you can create over social media the better. You may want to add a label or sticker to your giveaways instructing them what to post. When you see the person’s post, thank them and follow them back to close the loop.

Steal my strategy: Don’t let any touch point go to waste. You never know who the person you are talking to may be; they may be an influencer with thousands of followers on Twitter, LinkedIn, Gun District or Instagram. Make sure to gather their info and connect on social media and remain in contact with them to build your network.  

 

4. Enter leads into your CRM and follow-up fast!

Whether you’re scanning badges or entering leads into a CRM—send them a follow-up email within 24 hours or less. Thank them for stopping by and mention what you talked about to jog their memory. Depending on your conversation, make sure you find them and connect with them via LinkedIn if possible. Most prospects will be impressed on how fast you followed up. If you’re getting hundreds of leads per day—it will become difficult to follow up the night after the show because you’ll be exhausted. This is were using a CRM can come in handy.

Steal my strategy: Create your follow up email in advance with MailChimp, Constant Contact or your marketing automation tool and then import their names and email addresses, a note on the nature of the conversation and next steps. Send and track for engagement within 24 hours. Make sure to let them know that you will follow up by phone next week to discuss your sales conversation further or appointment details.

 

5. Qualify prospects through an automated workflow

Depending on how many contacts you gather over the week of SHOT Show, you may not have had time to qualify every single person you talked to. Or you may have experienced some push-back. Using your contact list, begin to nurture your leads through a series of emails based around a workflow that addresses the specific problems that your product or service solves. Link to your company’s blog and downloadable offers to educate your leads. Get your emails sent within 5 days. 

Steal my strategy: Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (The Annuitas Group) By educating your leads through automation, you speed up the sales process, save time, build trust, brand awareness and rapport. 

 

6. Standout through social media

Do you have a social media strategy? How are you going to use social media to draw and attract leads to your SHOT Show booth? A simple strategy starts first with automation. Using HubSpot’s social inbox, Hootsuite or Buffer, you can schedule all your promotional tweets and posts (Facebook and Instagram) in advance. Start with a schedule then create eye-catching graphics based on your promotions, product releases or giveaways. Make sure to include the hashtag #shotshow2107 and #shotshow along with your own specialty hashtag.  Then create a mobile-friendly designated landing page that specifically showcases your promotions and a meeting signup form. Make sure to use your hashtag in your printed materials like an ad or sponsorship. 

Steal my strategy: During SHOT Show 2016, I was amazed on how few brands utilized social media. This gives savvy companies an opportunity to stand out and attract leads. Schedule anywhere from 6-10 tweets, 3-5 Facebook and Instagram posts per day and perhaps one a day on LinkedIn (Personal and Company Page). 

So to sum up, identify the difference of what a prospect and lead look like, make the most of every touch point, follow up within 24 hours, utilize automated workflows to nurture leads along your sales funnel and get busy on social media. 

Have a great show! 

 

[columns]
inbound-marketing-hunting-outdoor-firearms-trade-show

Free Ebook: The Inbound Marketing Trade Show Planning Guide

In this planning guide, you will learn how to use inbound marketing to make your trade show more successful and profitable.

  • Picking the right tools
  • Defining clear, measurable goals
  • Tracking and measurement
  • What to do before, during and after the show
  • Tips and tricks to drive booth traffic
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.

shot-show-2016-marketing

5 Key Marketing Takeaways From SHOT Show 2016

By Firearms and Hunting

By now your feet have hopefully gone back to their original shape, and your head has cleared from the craziness of what ended up being an epic SHOT Show 2016.

I logged over 20,000 steps and 11 miles on my Garmin between Thursday and Friday and thought I was able to get into every major exhibit on the main floor. I kept my schedule open on Thursday to catch up with friends, track down Willie, Jase, Goodwin and Martin for an autograph, take in Dana Loesch’s live radio broadcast and as luck would have it, run into Kyle Lamb and Jim Shockey.

Now that the show is over, and you begin to re-group and think about next year’s show (yes, it’s time to start getting ready). I wanted to share a few of my thoughts from a marketing perspective on the event and give you a few takeaways on how you can make next year’s SHOT Show even better.

1. Creative marketing concepts in exhibits
The exhibits I felt that had the most energy and excitement were the booths that incorporated an original concept that brought their brand story to life. They somehow tapped into my craw to create an extremely memorable experience. Not only did these concept exhibits pick up media attention—but they also seemed to be having the most fun. The three most interesting exhibits I experienced were: CAA/Kalashnikov USA, Battle Arms Development, and SilencerCo.

CAA/Kalashnikov’s exhibit was like stepping into an underground Slavic dance club. Hard white floors, high ceilings, AKs on the walls and the contrasting American/Russian imagery and other European-type aesthetics added to the experience. For a brief moment, I felt like I was somewhere else other than Las Vegas.

Battle Arms Development’s mad scientist theme featured employees wearing white lab coats under blue lighting which created a similar vibe to CAA—but more science-fiction-like. The added Star Wars and super-hero themed rifles made the exhibit absorbing and engaging.

SilencerCo’s booth had a covered walk-in that integrated seamlessly with their ‘Fight the Noise’ campaign along with their catalog, booth staff, past year’s advertising campaign and website. With a gray spray-painted outdoor scene and impressive imagery, the booth was also very experiential that brought the brand to life. Darren Jones, Media Relations and Sales with SilencerCo, said, “This show has been completely overwhelming—in a good way. We’ve had tremendous response to our newly launched products, and it will probably be one of our best years ever. We fully expect the ball to keep rolling.” (Source: NSSF)

silencerco booth

Photo credit: SilencerCo.

Takeaway: The highly saturated MSR segment and burgeoning suppressor segment will become increasingly harder for brands to stand out. Consider integrating a theme into next year’s booth that incorporates and aligns with your brand’s story to make it more attractive. Introduce your theme in your advertising and digital marketing over the next 11 months. Take your booth visitors out of SHOT Show and into your brand’s world. This would play exceptionally well down on the first level where the exhibits aren’t as exciting.

 

2. Sig Sauer goes big

shot-show-sig-sauer

Photo Credit: Fox News

This second point also ties into #1. The exhibit that stood out head and shoulders above all others on the main floor was Sig Sauer. If you saw it, you know what I’m talking about. It was unbelievable. Sig looks to be doubling down on their repositioning effort as a “total system provider.”

“Obviously, SHOT Show is important to us,” said Tom Taylor, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Sig Sauer. “We made a huge investment in the booth because we want our customers to know that we are a total system provider. And it was evident from the crowd in the booth that the effort wasn’t lost on anyone.” (Source: NSSF)

Takeaway: To make a lasting statement—go big! (if you got an extra few million dollars in your budget).

 

3. Busyness hindered social media
I frequently posted on Twitter and couldn’t help but notice that a lot of brands were not engaging with the network as much as I expected. There were two hashtags being used: #shotshow (23,699 tweets) and #shotshow2016 (14,345 tweets)—which fragmented the feed and caused some confusion on which one to follow. Some brands I noticed didn’t use the show’s hashtag at all. Instagram got 55,555 posts.—and noticed that #shotshow wasn’t even trending on Facebook. In comparison, events become trending topics on Twitter when they have over 50K followers. So the question I ask is ‘why wasn’t there more tweets/posts!?’

A few thoughts:

  1. It was a really busy show. A lot of my friends and client’s booths—where I got a chance to get behind the counter—were jammed packed. Buyers were lining up which barely gave us time to talk. Mike Schwiebert, Vice President of Marketing for Weatherby, put the show in context by saying, “In my 17 years of working SHOT Shows with Weatherby, this is perhaps the busiest show I’ve ever had.”
  2. Perhaps the industry still doesn’t understand the power and opportunity of these networks and how to use them effectively during trade shows—or they just don’t care.
  3. Businesses who cater to the military and law enforcement may be frowned upon. Most manufacturers who work with three letter agencies, choose not to engage with social media—for obvious reasons.
  4. It will be interesting to compare this year with next year’s event.

Takeaway: Using conference hashtags are important because it allows you to reach a larger audience. Even though the show was busy, there exists an opportunity to stand out by posting to social media more regularly throughout the week to drive traffic to your website and booth. Other exhibitors don’t seem to be taking advantage of this opportunity. Maybe you can?

 

4. Trending: lightweight and quiet
I noticed a lot of companies incorporating carbon fiber into their platforms like Christensen Arms’ CA-15 VTAC as well as suppression like the new Maxim 9 by SilcencerCo., and Daniel Defense’ 300 BLK integrally suppressed rifle—the DDM4 ISR300. Patrick Woods from Spring Guns & Ammo said, “One of the biggest innovations he saw was lighter-weight long guns. “There’s a lot of new rails out that are much, much lighter, that still provide the modularity that people are looking for in an AR-15, and are still incredibly durable and rigid.” 

Takeaway: How can you begin to integrate lightweight materials into your product offerings? Knife handles, tactical gear, holsters, cans, hand guards, stocks, barrels, mags, etc.? This may be worth taking a look at.

 

5. The industry is strong and “on alert.”
Paul Pluff, Director, Marketing Communications with Smith & Wesson, said, “This is the premier show for us, and once again this has been a very busy time. The response to our new products has been fantastic, and based on what we’re seeing; we’re very much looking forward to the year ahead.” (Source: NSSF)

With the ever-increasing attacks on our industry from the administration and the anti-gun/hunting groups—the industry remains extremely strong. I was surprised by some who suggested to “hold back” on spending for development and hiring until things pan out in Washington. I can see their point, and most likely many will heed the advice. However, rewards always favor the risk takers. We have to be “on alert” as NSSF President Sanetti suggests, but we must also continue to push and grow our businesses regardless of the political climate. I expect many forward-thinking manufacturers to continue with their plans irrespective of the industry warnings and threats we face this year.

Takeaway: We are always going to have opposition to our industry, lifestyle and heritage. But it shouldn’t stymie innovation and manufacturers’ plans to continue with their development plans. To do so would mean to admit defeat.

To wrap up, exhibits who integrated creative concepts had greater interest, use social media in future shows to help your brand gain greater awareness, lightweight, and quieter products are on the rise, and with a strong industry powered by some of the smartest and bravest people in the world who keep this country safe (collectively and individually) 2016 looks to be a great year.

What were some of your takeaways? Please comment below.

 

[columns]
inbound-marketing-hunting-outdoor-firearms-trade-show

Free Ebook: The Inbound Marketing Trade Show Planning Guide

In this planning guide, you will learn how to use inbound marketing to make your trade show more successful and profitable.

  • Picking the right tools
  • Defining clear, measurable goals
  • Tracking and measurement
  • What to do before, during and after the show
  • Tips and tricks to drive booth traffic
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.

NRA 2015

6 Key Marketing Takeaways From NRA 2015

By Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

1. Brand aesthetics

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

NRA Booth Design

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

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

2. The industry is growing

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

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

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

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

3. Technology & product design is evolving

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

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

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

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

NRA Booth 2015

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

4. Fragmented customer segments

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

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

NRA Booth 2015 Kimber

Kimber – NRA 2015

5. Differentiation and brand experience

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

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

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

mossberg_nra2015

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

nra booth benelli

6. Drive sales through internet/inbound marketing

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

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

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

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

What were your top takeaways? 

[columns]
hunting-outdoor-internet-guide

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

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

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

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.