The two primary forms of marketing in the outdoor industry are the “field-of-dreams” marketing system and the “vacuum cleaner” form of marketing. The field-of-dreams marketing system follows the philosophy of, “build it, and they will come.” In this process, people within the company decide what products or services people in the outdoors need. They build those products, put them in a warehouse and hope they can sell them. The vacuum cleaner system of marketing goes to the marketplace, finds a demand for a product, creates even more of a demand for a product and then produces that product to suck the product through the marketing pipeline. Companies who employ the vacuum cleaner system form of marketing may have to hire three shifts of workers to get the products to the consumers that the outdoorsmen say they want.

A classic example of the vacuum cleaner system of marketing that works every year and produces tremendous sales immediately and may create sales for several years is the lure that wins the Bassmaster Classic each year. Once the champion is crowned, and the primary lure is announced that has caught this award-winning stringer of bass, then consumers want that lure. Fishing tackle companies must be ready to tool-up immediately to build thousands of that lure to meet the instant demand and the demand for that lure for the next 3-5 years. The Internet and social media outlets that many companies are now using employs the vacuum cleaner system of marketing. These companies get information and input from their consumers through the Internet and build the products the consumers want, while continuing a steady stream of conversation with and providing information to their consumer base.

Thomas MacAulay

“We want to provide information that we’ve learned through the Internet that the consumer wants and needs, and we also want to engage those consumers in conversation,” Thomas MacAulay, webmaster and consumer-service representative for BPI Outdoors (Black Powder, Inc.), explains. “Besides informing BPI of the type of information that they want, these consumers also will tell us about information they have and are willing to share with other consumers who are interested in blackpowder hunting and hunting in general. We’re trying to build a community of blackpowder hunters, centerfire rifle hunters and anyone who hunts with sporting arms.”

BPI has hired a professional writer to interview the company’s pro staffers and share their experiences and knowledge with the readers.

“By using the Internet, BPI and CVA can find out the information that consumers want to know and deliver that information right to the consumer’s home,” MacAulay says. “Instead of having one site, we have three blogs, a Facebook page, a Twitter page, a Google+ page and a LinkedIn page. We, also, have a YouTube page that is one of our most-effective tools for disseminating info. We’ve learned that a 60-second video is extremely proficient in communicating our message and providing information to the consumer.”

When you build a community of consumers with like interests, those consumers will begin to tell you about the types of products they need and want. You can also get a consensus of opinion of a product your company can build for them and the price point consumers are willing to pay. Once your company understands what consumers want, you can create a vacuum or a demand for that product prior to building it. Instead of standing in front of hardware stores and teaching people to call turkeys or loading up bass fishing pros on a yellow school bus and carrying them all over the country to do seminars, more companies today are using the Internet to carry their companies’ messages to get one-on-one with the consumer, expand their reaches and deliver more information that the consumer wants to know and products he wants to buy through the Internet, social media, and online daily outdoor newspapers. Serve the consumer first.

Image courtesy Thomas MacAulay

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