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5 Firearm Marketing Alternatives You Haven’t Thought Of Yet

By Firearms and Hunting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


firearms marketing podcast1. Podcasts

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

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

2. Inbound Marketing

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


3. Native Advertising

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

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

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

 

Glock Women Marketing

Photo credit: Glock

4. Women & Minorities

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

 

5. Influencers

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

 

Bonus! But wait there’s more…

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

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

 

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Firearm content banned from YouTube

Firearm Content Gone From YouTube? Now What?

By Firearms and Hunting

Last week, YouTube dropped a highly restrictive policy on the firearm industry and gun content creators that—for the most part—prevents the publishing of all firearm-related content.

Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment. (Source: NSSF)

Digital marketers in the firearms industry have been stripped of Facebook Advertising, Google PPC and now YouTube, which will ultimately hinder growth and sales in the digital age for the short term until alternative channels have time to develop.

Over the past week, I’ve watched the industry’s reaction to the situation as well as content creators like TGC News, Military Arms Channel, Tactical Toolbox and others. And like you, I wonder what this means moving forward without the use of YouTube’s free platform to leverage the benefits of influencer marketing, product reviews, training and educational content that is so important to communicating and reaching prospective law-abiding customers and outdoor enthusiasts.

This is a severe blow to the industry and a direct assault on First and Second Amendment rights. And when you calculate the thousands of hours and millions of dollars gun creators and brands have devoted to  YouTube, the investment has been substantial.

In this post, I want to give you a few thoughts from a marketing perspective about what the future holds for firearm marketers, gun content creators and brands with the loss of YouTube.

1. Back to the future

Where were you in 2005 when the YouTube.com domain was registered? I remember SEO was a simple matter of placing keywords on your website to get first page rankings. We enjoyed open email rates of 50% or higher, all the while, Mark Zuckerberg was in his dorm room at Harvard building a website called Facebook. Much of the digital channels we utilize today were unavailable. Magazine ads, catalogs, a visit to the local dealer and gun shows were the only way for people interested in firearms to find out about new products.

In just 13 years, after YouTube’s $1.65 billion acquisition by Google (2006), it has grown to the world’s second largest search engine with over 30 million visits per day and 300 hours of video uploaded every minute.

These are massive numbers, and by all estimations are only getting larger.

6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV and by some predictions, by 2025, 50% of all viewers under the age of 32 years old will not subscribe to a pay-TV service. (Source: Fortune Lords)

The three most important metrics to any digital marketer is reach, engagement, and conversion. Without entrance to the YouTube platform, industry marketers have been cut off from a significant channel of communication to achieve these metrics. 

This leaves us with only a handful of viable digital channels and tactics to consider in our marketing mix:

  • SEO
  • Content Marketing
  • Email Marketing
  • Ecommerce
  • Automation
  • Referral Marketing
  • Lifestyle Marketing
  • Native Advertising
  • Banner Ads
  • PR
  • Sponsorships and paid placement on Publisher sites: RecoilTV, MOTV, SOFREP and others.
  • Influencer marketing via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest
  • Organic Facebook posts – which only get 1% reach

2. Hurry up and wait

With YouTube taken off the table as a choice for free content distribution, what’s the alternative?

There are only a few options when you take into account Vimeo, BitChute, Twitch, LiveStream and a few other obscure channels.

  • Full30 – Free to sign up, but limited due to a small infrastructure and audience. Full30 is opening up soon to all content creators, but it may be a while before they can handle the bandwidth.
  • Patreon – Pay to subscribe for as low as $1 per month

https://garrisoneverest.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/full30-video-content-creation.png

Paid subscription channels like Patreon may be a barrier for some smaller channels.

With a very limited list, we will have to wait until other channels—free of industry influence and publishers—are developed. One company reportedly working on this are the founders of Utah Gun Exchange. 

Some content creators have gone to PornHub. I am absolutely against this and will not advocate or allow any brands that we represent to be promoted on that platform—for obvious reasons.

3. A pause in growth

As a marketer who has relied on social media and YouTube to drive results in the past, I am moving my clients to other strategies and tactics to achieve their goals online. I think we all should expect the possibility that Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google Search may soon censor gun content as well.

4. What’s next?

Like the Facebook algorithm change in January, this will also need time to play out. I’ve always been a proponent of brands and content creators taking a “website first approach” that provides their own private platform to build their audiences rather than relying on third-party channels that are anti-gun. Google doesn’t own the internet. Developing your audience on your own website will always be a good fall back when significant disruption happens. By building your traffic, email subscriber list and then using social media as a distribution channel, you’ll always have plenty of options when disruption comes. 

Regardless, things have inherently changed, and the firearms industry has been pushed out to the fringes of the digital world. I believe YouTube’s decision will only make our industry stronger in the long run.

 

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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.