Digital media has been an extremely hot topic lately in the outdoor industry. The writing is on the wall with TV, in just a few years TV has begun to fade in engagement. The fading traditional marketing method has gave way to unbelievable growth in the digital media sector. From original digital content to repurposed TV shows, content on the internet is reaching more people than ever. Why? With the hectic lifestyles of today’s society, having the ability to watch content when you want, where you want is extremely critical. But most companies are not utilizing digital content to its fullest, in fact, many are completely wasting the content.
I’m sure the latter seems quite impossible to you, but if you’re only reaching a few thousand views on YouTube you are definitely wasting the content. Content is king. If you are only utilizing content on one platform, especially if it’s not your website, you are missing the mark. The key to successful digital media is reach. The internet allows a smart digital marketer to syndicate content across many platforms in order to maximize impressions and engagement. No that doesn’t just mean Facebook and Twitter, it means multiple social media platforms, content syndication sites, and in our industry forums. Hunting, fishing, and shooting forums are extremely underutilized as a tool to gain valuable SEO and targeted reach.
One of the most common reasons for not doing digital marketing in the hunting, fishing, shooting or tactical industry is that the primary customer does not exhibit the buying behavior of a typical online shopper. They are simply “old school” and buying behavior is influenced by one of three ways: TV, Print, or just by knowing the brands they always go with. I’m not here to argue the last point much because I know that true for even a millennial buyer like myself. I tend to buy many of the same brands I did growing up because they were reliable. However, what we have to be sure of is that the business is always think a step ahead. Let’s say that 75% of your business comes from this “old school buyer.” In the firearms sector this is often an older demographic, much like the aging hunting community. They are often financially secure, versus a kid coming out of college, but although they may the customer today, what about your business tomorrow.
Unfortunately at some point the customer of today will pass through this world, if you have done nothing with your brand to reach the customer of tomorrow, you’re a sitting duck. SiriusDecisions research group discovered even with today’s buyers, 67% of the buying behavior journey happens online. Simply put there is more to just being available, you must be found, be engaging, and be informative or you will not be in business for much longer.
Whether you run your own small business or are in charge of a small piece of a large business, knowing your customer may be more important than any other thing that you do. No one has ever been successful selling a good or service to a customer they didn’t know. Even the late Steve Jobs knew that normal, everyday people wanted personal home computers, even before those people knew it themselves! Sure, you could make it by throwing generalized ads and marketing to the masses, but at the end of the day no other aspect of your business’s plan will be more critical than the foundation upon which you build…your target customer.
For some small business owners, their entire financial well-being will collapse by misinterpreting who their customer is. But that’s more of a rarity. In fact, most businesses know exactly who their customers are, as they have been the same for many years. But even these businesses can still trip and fall, when it comes to identifying how to market to a customer that you have not adapted too.
Far too often this is what happens in the outdoor industry. An aging demographic has led us to continue to market to the stronghold buyer. “Ol’ Reliable” that you know reads magazines and watches TV. The instant gratification is great, and year after year income remains where we like it to be. But there is a darkness looming. One that most do not want to realize, the fact that this old reliable customer is fading, and soon revenue will slip.
It should be no surprise that digital marketing is a major contributor to your overall marketing impact on potential consumers. If it is a surprise, then you likely are not adapting to the changing consumer behavior, and marketing ineffectively. Consumers are using the internet as a method to “find” what they are looking for more so today than ever before. Because of this, many companies are shifting large portions of their marketing budget to the digital realm. In 2016, worldwide spend on digital marketing is expected to be greater than traditional marketing like TV. By 2019, Forrester Research suggests that number will eclipse $100 Billion on sectors like paid search, social media, email, and display ads. In the hunting, fishing, and shooting industry, marketing is still predominantly traditional. But with tighter margins at retail, and increasing product niche competition, successful companies are embracing digital marketing in the form of search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (like Google AdWords), and social media marketing through Facebook, YouTube, and other platforms. They are also exploring the vast digital ad network in hunting, fishing, and shooting communities. With this “inbound marketing” form so new to our outdoor industry, how can one maximize the internet? With so many companies relying heavily on retail sales, this results between digital marketing efforts and ROI can become even more compounded. But for anyone who dives into the digital marketing world, if done correctly, a vast amount of success lies in front of you, even at the retail sales level.