The outdoor enthusiast isn’t just a consumer. Usually he or she is a very specialized consumer, and he or she wants to talk directly to an expert who shares his enthusiasm. For instance, I am not just the press, the outdoor press or a hunting-and-fishing writer, and I have specific interests in several-different outdoor activities. Outdoor consumers feel the same way. As a manufacturer, you have to provide information not only to the consumer daily but also to your dealers, distributors, manufacturers’ reps, and other people tied to your company.
“At Realtree, we realize that we not only have to support the consumer with information, entertainment and a product message, but we also have to support our manufacturers who purchase licenses to use the Realtree name,” Dodd Clifton, Public Relations Director for Realtree Camouflage, says. “More than 1,500 companies use our camouflage patterns to make products for whitetail, waterfowl, turkey, predator and big-game hunters and a wide array for other interest areas that all fall under the umbrella of the outdoors. For this reason, we provide interest areas and content for a wide variety of outdoor enthusiasts on Realtree’s webpage.
“Realtree can provide the entertainment and the information people want that’s very specific to their interests, while at the same time sending a message to these consumers about the Realtree array of products. We feel that by showing our products in pictures and mentioning our products in the articles that appear on our webpage, we are building our Realtree brand and also helping all of our licensees. We provide the consumer with the information they want to know, such as how to find and take game, how to find more and bigger animals, and what to do with the game they take once they arrive home. Our founder, Bill Jordan, decided many years ago that he wanted to serve the consumer first.” Realtree is accomplishing that goal with their branded online content.
Like Clifton, Blake Shelby, the Marketing Director for Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE), wants to stay on the cutting edge of providing information to the consumer. However, the different Internet platforms, where consumers are going to get outdoor information, seem to be continually changing.
“One of the ways I can keep up with the best way to speak to the outdoor consumer is to ask my children how they are communicating with their friends,” Shelby reports. “The way young people communicate with each other directly relates to how the world will be communicating within the next 5 to 10 years. For instance, Instagram is a new form of communication growing in popularity. Within a year or two, we’ll see more people using this new platform to communicate with each other. Who would have believed a decade ago that there would be daily Internet newspapers, specifically for the outdoors, like Outdoor Hub, available and bringing new information to a large group of outdoor consumers every day?”
PSE is always conscious of looking for the best new form of communication that the company can use to reach the outdoor market. PSE has learned that the Internet is the least-expensive way to get PSE’s message to the outdoor public in the shortest time.
“Until these new Internet vehicles became available, PSE as a company was never able to communicate directly to the consumers who bought our products. But now, we have direct access to the outdoor community through all the vehicles the Internet provides,” according to Shelby.
Not only does the Internet provide the vehicle to talk to your consumers, you also can see the effect of your Internet marketing program, and trust the results you get back.
“There are a couple of ways you can track your online content,” Lisa Wells, a social media consultant for the healthcare industry, who spent six years in outdoor marketing, says. “First, make sure you have analytics, which are statistics on the sites that you use to post information. For instance, WordPress has analytics built into its program, as does Blogger, and Google has Google Analytics.” A multitude of blog analytics are available, and most can give you statistics to tell you the exact number of people reading your information each day and to identify the type of information in which each group of consumers is most interested. These statistics will tell you what type of content you want to put online, and what kind of content you want to avoid. Wells emphasizes that, “Google Analytics is my preferred solution to use on my main webpage, because it’s free and you can install the analytics tracking code fairly easily.”
In researching the effectiveness of analytics, I’ve learned that Outdoor Hub can tell me exactly how many of you read this article. Outdoor Hub uses Google Analytics, a third-party source, to give accurate statistics. To show you just how specific this New Age marketing can be, Outdoor Hub had a request from a nationwide auto parts supplier to do a very specific marketing campaign for them.
“We were asked to send out a press release to the email addresses in specific zip code areas within a 50-mile radius of each one of these auto parts stores,” Colin Anthony, Director of Content at Outdoor Hub, explains. “The company wanted these press releases sent out the day of or after that area had a major rain storm, since the press release was about the newest and best windshield wipers this franchise auto store had available at all its dealers. We successfully carried out that campaign.”
We’re just beginning to learn new and better methods of advertising and promoting outdoor gear. The next world of marketing may be to let that consumer know what new kinds of fishing, hunting, backpacking, camping, or other outdoor products are available at the very time they need them. You may think that idea’s science fiction. But when I was a child, rocket ships going to the moon was science fiction. Then later many of us watched an American walk on the moon. Providing outdoor information, education, and entertainment to the consumer is changing rapidly, and there is much outdoor companies can achieve with today’s technology.