Stone Road Media prides itself in being “The Outdoor Digital Marketing Agency” for hunting marketing, fishing marketing, shooting marketing, travel marketing, media marketing, and outdoor lifestyle marketing. Our team of marketers, programmers, project managers, and graphic artists live the outdoors, and know your target customers because we are your target customers!

Facebook, Now YouTube…How Should Your Business Adjust to Firearm Censorship?

YouTube’s Firearm Policy Restrictions | Marketing Solutions for Firearm Businesses and Brands

By: Weston Schrank, SRM Content Manager

It wasn’t until quite recently that the outdoor industry discovered YouTube’s restrictions on firearms related content. It has reached the industry’s consumers, brands, and businesses, infuriating many but alarming everyone. These restrictions have come to light not long after another disturbing update, Facebook’s recent algorithm changes. When both are considered, the compounding effect could, tear a firearm or outdoor industry business limb from limb. For those brands and businesses, this threat signals that it’s the time to adapt to a more stable and worthwhile investment for digital marketing.

YouTube’s Firearm Policy Restrictions

The Google-owned video platform YouTube is now tightening its noose on firearm-related content. YouTube’s Firearms Policy changes indicate restrictions on certain kinds of content featuring firearms. The specifics are below:

See Youtube’s Policies Here

Essentially the policy works to block content that deals with specific firearm accessories and the instruction of manufacturing these specific accessories including ammunition. YouTube is now clearly censoring firearm-related content, which can be viewed by many as an infringement on constitutional rights.

Is This as Bad as it Sounds?

To the untrained eye, this current policy change might be a digital Armageddon for firearm-related brands. However, to most marketers and brands that utilize their social and YouTube channels correctly, this is only a small blip on the analytics as it relates to traffic acquisition. While certain videos that directly relate to the policy may be taken down or limited, most firearm and hunting related content is perfectly fine. In addition, those brands and marketers that use the channels correctly, as just one form of traffic acquisition, have barely paid attention to this policy update. They do not solely rely on generated traffic from these sources, trusting instead more stable digital marketing tactics and generating traffic directly to their website.

When this is considered, the only thing this YouTube firearm policy change reveals is those who are and aren’t using the channel correctly. This policy change may actually prove to be useful for firearm and hunting related brands and businesses. It might be the alarm they needed to finally look into digital marketing tactics and strategies that are safe from politically driven censorship of firearm and hunting related content.

So what do these tactics and strategies look like? Many brands and businesses may jump straight to employing paid advertisement, but as the next section is about to reveal…that may prove tough.

You Can Still “Pay to Play” Right?

In recent years, the entire outdoor industry has seen its fair share of politically driven limitations on hunting and weapon-related content. However, these recent updates could not arise at a worse time for those brands and businesses that struggle to use YouTube, and other social channels correctly. The outdoor industry, compared to other mainstream niche industries, has just recently begun forming a strong foothold in digital marketing. With businesses and brands now relying on traffic and online sales from both YouTube and Facebook, the recent policy change and algorithm change respectively could spell disaster for some. At this time many of these businesses would consider pushing marketing dollars towards paid advertisements to make up for the lost traffic. However, paid advertisements have, for a long time, been subject to even tighter restrictions, including profiling and restrictions on content.

Stone Road Media’s own Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder, Jeremy Flinn, summed this up in a recent podcast.

After Facebook’s algorithm change, marketers and brands have to “pay to play”. This means that in order to reach an audience, you have to create a social advertisement or put money (boost) behind a post. Even with an extremely good following and a great engaging piece of content, I estimate that you might only reach 10-15% of your audience organically. From there the numbers plummet to 5% for content that does not spark immediate engagement. Unfortunately, even once you agree to “pay to play” with social media advertising you’re now entering policies that are…you guessed it, restricted! Guns, knives, bows, arrows, and basically anything weapon oriented means that Facebook has a right to deny the advertisement of that content.” – Jeremy Flinn, Bent and Ballistic Outdoor Podcast

Facebook has profiled, restricted, and shut down pages relating to this genre of content, with other social platforms sure to follow. With Facebook and YouTube restricting not only organic content posting and engagement but advertising as well, it’s not hard to realize that the outdoor industry’s businesses need to start paying attention to using the channels and other forms of traffic acquisitions in their marketing mix.

Investing in More Stable Solutions

Unfortunately, digital marketing will not get any easier for outdoor industry and firearms-related businesses, especially when they rely on these channels for most if not all of their traffic to drive profitable consumer action. The only solution lies with where a brand and business lives– the website. If Facebook, YouTube, and soon to be other social media platforms are no longer viable sources of traffic, businesses must invest in other sources.

Fortunately, this policy change brings to light one valuable takeaway– If these policies are hurting outdoor and firearms-related businesses, they’re also hurting the same genre of consumers!

As hunters and shooting enthusiasts are limited to what they see on Facebook and YouTube, they will and already have started seeking the content directly. This means searching for it online!

Outdoor Industry Search Marketing

Catching this rapidly growing number of queries made each day on Google will not be easy. In fact, this form of traffic acquisition is by far one of the most complicated for businesses to harness. It requires smart and strategic use of content, content containers, SEO, and overall website optimization.

Most businesses and brands in the outdoor industry have become experts at short-term traffic acquisition. This traffic is easily achieved through paid advertisements and social media campaigns. In comparison, long-term acquisition through search marketing requires a more strategic approach. Once achieved, this transition away from short-term acquisition will lend brands and businesses more dedicated followers and audiences that create digital value…a value which cannot be censored or restricted.

First, brands must button up their website to be optimized for both content consumption and profitable consumer action. That means making sure the website is mobile friendly and ensuring that content, product, and service offerings fit mobile audiences. Second, with YouTube now restricting content, any video content can be placed on a video platform that can easily integrate into the website. YouTube will still be a source for traffic generation, especially when it brings great SEO value, but it can be costly sinking all video content into one channel for traffic. Steering away from YouTube might lose SEO value, so investing in the content container around the video (your website) is a more stable location for firearm and hunting related content. Even when traffic might be limited, the container itself is something a business contains and allows that content to be agile if traffic were to become limited from YouTube. Keep in mind this is not just simple video or playlist embed on a website, this is where the real chance at developing long-term value is created. This video content and any other content must be optimized at every level of creation. A strategy must be put into place before the content is released into short-term traffic campaigns, to maximize every bit for consumption, profitable consumer action, and now, most importantly, long-term traffic generation.

Long-term sustainability online is achieved through search marketing, investing heavily into not only the content but a brand and business’s audience. It is the the one thing the YouTube’s firearm restrictions and other similar restricting policies have revealed. This level of digital marketing can only be achieved by elevating content to its fullest potential through content containers, landing pages, and long-term campaigns while also leveraging any short-term acquisition that might actually get through restrictions.

Every hard-earned Facebook or YouTube post, video, or advertisement that actually gets through restrictions needs to be well worth the fight. Every ounce of traffic from these and many other traffic sources that are/may become restricted must be fully extracted in order to achieve organic traffic to your website. Traffic that can’t be censored or restricted!

A Hard Road Ahead

YouTube’s firearm policy restrictions, Facebook’s algorithm change, and other traffic restricting policies have revealed to the outdoor and firearms industry to finally invest into more strategic and dynamic digital marketing.

The outdoor industry is no stranger to politically driven policies and with the way recent history has panned out, we should and can expect further restriction on not only firearms content but hunting content as well. It’s not a question of if, it’s a question of when! Realize that these policy changes only limit brands and businesses that incorrectly use the channels, relying heavily on that traffic and not generating traffic from their website. Now is the time to make a move to develop your own platform and traffic to achieve freedom from censorship.

This solution will not be an easy road. With the outdoor and firearm industry now moving to more advanced digital marketing strategies like search marketing, the competition will become brutal. There is only so much Search Engine Result Page (SERP) real estate to fight for. Making the right moves now could create a head start on the competition.

Take the first steps with an outdoor digital marketing agency by your side, contact us today!

The Death of an Outdoor Industry Business on Social Media

Outdoor Industry Marketing | Investing in Your Business, Not Social Media

Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Stone Road Media, was a recent guest on the Bent and Ballistic Outdoor Show discussing social media marketing. This spawned from Mike McKnight’s, host of Bent and Ballistic Outdoor Show Podcast, interest in a recent blog Jeremy wrote titled “Why Your Business Will Die on Social Media”. A bold, but true statement from an outdoor industry marketing agency that lives in the realm of digital and social media marketing. The fact that businesses small and large operating with a consumer base primarily on social media channels are standing on an unstable foundation.


“If you haven’t noticed a drop in organic activity on platforms like Facebook, then you likely didn’t have a very active business page to begin with. For those businesses who grew large followings on social media platforms and possibly even their bank accounts via incredible branding and product sales, the “heyday” is long gone. All of those who laughed when Facebook valued itself in the billions of dollars, yet was making no money, now have seen the grand plan unfold with even the smallest businesses “boosting” posts in hopes of reaching more customers. You can shake your head at it, but the over quarter TRILLION dollar valuation of the ZERO profit Amazon that you likely use regularly will likely pull a rabbit out of its hat soon as well in order to justify the number. Regardless, the bottom line is social media marketing is critical to every marketing strategy, but if used incorrectly it can cost businesses in the hunting and fishing sector more than just fans.”Jeremy Flinn, Why Your Business Will Die On Social Media

At the end of the day, a brand cannot control its own Facebook page. That page, who sees it, who engages with the content, or even what content can be posted is all controlled by Facebook. A business model with social media as the foundation of the business whether its Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc., is far from stable.

Pay to Play

One of the main reasons social media is a big concern for the outdoor industry besides the lack of control is that at any time these channels can strip the ability to market your business away from you. In recent years the entire industry has seen this from a politically driven limit on hunting/weapon related content. However, it goes further than this by mandating through algorithms how many of your followers you as a business can organically reach with a post. Even with a great following and consumer base, you have to “pay to play”. This means that in order to reach an audience, you have to create a social advertisement or put money (boost) behind a post. Even with an extremely good following and a great engaging piece of content, Jeremy estimates that you might only reach 10-15% of your audience organically. From there the numbers plummet to 5% for content that does not spark engagement.

Jeremy continues to report that just last month, January 2018, Zuckerberg wrote 3-4 posts that could bring big impacts to businesses and specifically businesses in the outdoor industry. These changes revolve around Facebook’s algorithm. Essentially, if a post does not immediately start drawing organic engagement from a small portion of followers, the algorithm will shut down the post’s visibility to the rest of your followers. Click here to find out more about Facebook’s Recent Algorithm Change.

Why “pay to play” might be a quick fix for businesses outside of this industry, outdoor related businesses are running into an entirely different problem. Even when you agree to advertise on social media, these channels can still deny you the ability to market your business!

Restricted Content

Restricted content, you likely know or have dealt with this in recent years…so is it getting better or worse? Unfortunately, even once you agree to “pay to play” with social media advertising you are now entering policies that are…you guessed it, restricted! Guns, knives, bows, arrows, and basically anything weapon oriented means that Facebook has a right to deny the advertisement of that content.

The most concerning aspect of restricted content is that an actual human being is denying or approving each advertisement!

This means that the only thing standing between an outdoor industry business’s success or death on social media is an opinion…

Of course, you can challenge the post being restricted, often resulting in a “win” for that post, but restricted content means that you are flagged. A decision to ban your content now means that you have a higher likelihood of posting weapon related content again. This means that Facebook is profiling for weapons-related businesses, which as you know means hunting and outdoor related businesses. This is political influence directly affecting businesses. With organic traffic limited, and even social media advertising limited, where should an outdoor industry business turn?

What is the Solution?

Is this influence and content dampening just on Facebook? Jeremy reports that this impact is not seen on other channels like Twitter and Instagram as much due to the nature of those channels (limited content/characters). However, this could always change. The fact is that what brands and businesses are currently experiencing with Facebook, could happen to any and all social media platforms. It could also happen with platforms like YouTube, staple foundations for many businesses with video content.

Jeremy explains that the only solution to get around this is to invest in yourself, not these channels. Invest in marketing that results in users coming directly to where your business lives, the website. You control your website, so investing in content that lives there is investing in a solid foundation. Social media is and will always be a place the consumer lives, just accept that social media marketing only supports for your business, not a platform your business should be completely dependent on.

Want to learn more about social media marketing, digital marketing, or outdoor industry marketing in general? Read more blogs or contact Jeremy today for help in marketing your outdoor industry business.

2018 ATA Show Forecast | Marketing Mix, Mobile Built For 2018

Mobile Focus and Organic Brands | 2018 ATA Show Forecast

By: Nick Pustay, Marketing Analyst, and Weston Schrank, Content Manager

To start, set aside the innovative technology, state-of-the-art bows, and an overwhelming amount of new products. If you were able to block all of those distractions out and focus on your brand or company during the entire show you probably know this is a changing industry that is evolving to meet the most modern of consumers. A rapidly changing consumer base now sets the tone for how manufacturers, brands, TV shows, and marketers will need to meet the customer at the moment of their need. Last year was essentially the “first stage of digital marketing”, the entire industry was moving in a new direction and setting longer term goals for their yearly marketing mix. This year’s predictions and forecast can appropriately be titled “Marketing Mix for 2018”! This is the year that the Industry will look for solutions to the digital marketing challenges that face a multitude of influential actors on the tradeshow floor.

Before major consumer bases shifted to technology heavy marketing channels, your brand would meet them in their home, in their magazines, on their television, and maybe in a few other nearby advertisements in retail, or through word of mouth. The last decade showed just how important a

comprehensive marketing mix makes or breaks a brand. This year, we are going to see the masthead of successful businesses in this industry flying flags from many, varied touchpoints to target their most loyal customers. The customer will be dictating where to meet them and when. You will need to show up to earn their business and keep their undivided attention.

Digital marketing presents the opportunity to directly engage with your consumer…anytime anywhere, and more trackable than traditional media buys… but that doesn’t mean anything without a brand tailored message…

2018 ATA Show Predictions

Before going through the bulk of this article here is a brief list of predictions for the 2018 ATA show.

  1. Mobile Focus – All the major marketing channels are trying to better tap into mobile engagements. You should be asking about how you can do that for your brand.
  2. Balance in the Marketing Mix – There is no “one size fits all” way to approach marketing. It takes specific, targeted investment in many formats and channels. This will be a key indicator of performance of your ad spend versus revenue. “Where” means more than ever to your customers.
  3. Unique Brand Identities – The content and presentation of your brand means everything to customer perception. How will you set yourself apart from your competitors? This means more to your ad channels than a dollar figure can.

Digital Marketing or Identity? Both.

Major brands stand out, viral videos stand out, and the successful startup stands out. No one will tell you how to do it. It takes many forms. This tradeshow is a decisive opportunity to make a statement on the tone of your brand for the year. This lies in the words you use in meetings, who you meet with, and how it is approached. This is also in your new product roll-outs (looking at you manufacturers) and how your perception will factor into sales taking shape for the lifetime of the product. Brand identities start in the attitude behind the brand.

Consistency is key in creating and maintaining your brand’s identity. It takes a united front and consistent presentation across all the important channels you use to reach the consumer. Brand identity defines your business and sets the tone for customer interaction which can have a direct effect on your bottom line. This ideology crafted into our 2018 ATA show predictions and how the latest marketing trends will effect companies across the industry this year. This will be the uniting factor in our forecasts.

Mobile Focus

This last year has had huge impacts on how to reach the customer on a mobile device. There is a lot of noise about how smart phones are changing the industry and your marketing. How much do you know about it and what are you doing to stay ahead of the curve? In the last year, Stone Road Media has undertaken specific efforts to improve the quality of our online offerings to fit mobile audiences. It has led to recapturing traffic and reducing load time for the ideal mobile experience. This increased organic traffic and enforced e-commerce conversions that were assisted by other channels. Sure sponsoring a top TV Show can bring a new product in to the light, but what about the continued relationship year after year? Focus on reaching the ever expanding market of customers with multiple screens.

There is a space in this industry that is open for multi-screen interactions. By looking at mobile you can capture the attention of a TV viewer of a sponsored show or enforce brand awareness with messages that unite different moments together. TV and traditional channels are not going anywhere any time soon. This is a way to capture more from a TV endorsement or sponsorship. Look to a mobile-first strategy to gain more from those “micro-moments” of customer attention. Tie the social media posting to a show airing and follow up with a blog post (optimized for mobile) and social post to restate key message points. This is the new continuum of message the customer will come to expect. That is by no means a recipe for success or a tried and true strategy, but rather one possibility of thousands of message options.

An opportunity could present itself to create this type of interaction during your sponsor or other meetings. Look for ways to work between screens and use the mediums to your advantage when creating proposals. It can only benefit both brands.

A mobile interaction and content uniting user experiences will change how your brand is perceived in the next 2 years more than your memes or reposts ever could.

Balance in the Marketing Mix?

The all important consideration is the way your channels and efforts will act together. People can sense reactionary efforts and throwing ads at customers can stink of desperation. The “run and gun” of past marketing moves will be on its way out with thoughtful planning and intentional moves attracting more attention and loyalty. Stone Road Media has seen this marketing mix being more influential with many market changes over the last year. It also signals the importance it will hold for this tradeshow and how businesses will present themselves in the upcoming year.

No two business can be successful with the same model anymore. The custom approach will be influenced by brand identity and customer segmentation. These create a space where you can set yourself apart with messages and offers. We have seen the effectiveness in our own clients and what this means for the year to come. This tradeshow will also show how these brands are leaning. Basically, if your competitor leans to heavy ad spend on traditional channels, it might be best to take another road or maybe hit them head on. The idea of competition is that it occurs in a flat space but, this tradeshow and its impact on future business is too multi-leveled and varied to examine the “flat earth” perspective of how your message will travel. There is a lot of information in each booth about how the competitive nature of the marketing mix is a major force in the next year for each brand and business. The industry wide model of competition is a multi-level playing field made manifest inside the walls of a convention hall. Have a goal for your marketing mix and be agile to an opportunity that matches your specific needs, not the leanings of your competition.

The value of a tradeshow this specific is understated and too few take advantage of the meetings and time it allows. Gather the needed information and look for opportunities that support your business goals.

Unique Brand Identities

Year over year, a single business can change 180 degrees from where it was with lots of work and planning. This tradeshow will give the first glimpse into some strategies for the next year. This is also the time to present your unique identity in a way that drives home what you are hoping to accomplish this year. Yes, that will matter to customer perception. But, this is understated in the way other brands or influencers could view your place in the industry.

If you are a content creator, you need to set yourself apart from the others, looking for sponsorship as much as manufacturers versus competitors. This goal is not a simple one. If it were, top brands/manufacturers and top TV shows/influencers wouldn’t be set apart in the industry. As the leading Outdoor Industry digital marketing experts and agency, we are navigating on both sides of the relationship. Some of our clients are the biggest TV show, personalities, and manufacturers in the Industry. On the other hand, we also work with newer content creators and manufacturers bringing things to the market for the first time and their first trade show. The way the presentation is suited to the uniqueness of the client has shown to be a major factor in a very highly competitive industry event like this. There has been a stagnation of some ideals in many parts of the industry seeming to take on a “just like” or “similar to” role. There are too many similarities where there should be differences to provide unique relationships between brands, manufacturers, influencers, and personalities.

Servicing both manufacturers and TV shows has its advantages and disadvantages, but one thing is for certain…matching unique aspects has created long term success for both… especially against copycat competitors.

Client Case Study: “Outdoor Industry TV Brand A”

“Outdoor Industry TV Brand A” is in the trap most TV shows face…content that is not readily available to social media, website, and online video channels. Most of this valuable content is locked away until the following year by contract. However, with Stone Road Media’s (SRM) help, the show has taken a strong stance to produce content that is strictly for digital and inbound marketing. By doing this, with the addition of content marketing, SEO, social media, and analytical services, the brand has provided analytics proving not only digital influence for manufacturers, but generating actual leads directly to the manufacturer’s eCommerce platform. This is in addition to their TV influence! Combining all the channels in a meaningful manner to the client’s needs and not some “expected” blending.

“Outdoor Industry TV Brand A” has produced numerous pieces of digital content, pictures, videos, and blogs. These blogs with SRM’s help have created a website that is a niche dominating authority. In fact, this year this Outdoor Industry TV brand has increased their organic traffic (search queries landing on popular and informative blogs) by 161% reaching nearly 3 million page views.

The blogs currently snatching up valuable search engine real estate are located strategically in areas for their sponsor relationships. In fact, most of the top performing blogs are in the top 3 search engine results page (SERP) rankings for the #1 keyword for their sponsor. Think about that for a moment… The #1 keyword for a manufacturer…the most valuable real estate to any brand selling specific products in this industry. Usually gaining traffic for these highly competitive keywords means bidding display ads, or an internal digital, content, and SEO driven strategy to get there organically. But instead, a TV show utilizing heightened followings and engagement levels, already ranks top 3 for a manufacture’s top queries…and of course the only product in the blogs, videos, and media from the influencer are the manufacturers…including links directly to the manufacturer’s online store. This makes use of the moments where a customer is searching and looking to make a purchase. All designed to work with mobile-friendly offerings and targeting.

These are top influencers taking their TV show and applying it digitally. Using their advantage in influence, reach, following, engagement, and authority to promote manufacturer’s products or services where they count…where people buy these products online! This is multi-screen message integration and syndication of brand messaging.

81% of consumers begin the purchase cycle online (Retailing Today, 2014)…isn’t that the best place for a relationship?

This is where the message meets receiver to give that forward movement, a solid strategy combining channels across touchpoints, screens, and experiences but tailored to influence the purchase where it matters to the customer.

Client Case Study: “Outdoor Industry Manufacturer Brand A”

Now having a TV show or personality doing the legwork is one thing, but it’s up to the manufacturer to make valuable use of the one thing they are getting out of the relationship… content!

“Outdoor Industry Manufacturer Brand A” was at first a typical brand you will see at this year’s ATA show. Very little digital marketing efforts, at least beyond the normal e-commerce, social media channels, and website. With SRM’s help, the brand decided to drive efforts towards utilizing every bit of influencer content and directly connect the consumer, the influencer, and the products. New website designs, mobile friendly and quick loading pages, and an easy to navigate shopping experience and ecommerce platform went a long way to start with. Beyond this, SEO and content marketing services fueled optimal use of influencer content. In fact, digital media in the form of podcasts, online TV and video series, and of course picture content from top industry influencers were formed into blogs for and by the manufacturer.

This internal content not only linked the product to influencer content, but generated a 90% increase in organic traffic, and more importantly established previously nonexistent product page rankings on the first search engine results page! With a shift towards content marketing, an established and continual organic traffic stream, and rising rankings for #1 product related keyword queries, it didn’t take long for the brand to see results on the ecommerce. These efforts in addition to search advertising generated a 10% increase in revenue in 4 months. It also generated a lot more views and consumption for the TV show/content producers website and digital channels.

The optimal use of TV show/influencer content was only possible because this content was available online. It was used to advance and achieve some of the most important goals of any digital marketing efforts…increased traffic, ranking, and of course a higher amount of profitable consumer action. This is the coming together of previously stated predictions to show how information will drive ATA 2018.

2018 ATA Show Forecast Conclusion

The 2018 ATA Show might be the year of “Marketing Mix for 2018”. This is the time where so many brands will hint at their abilities to meet major marketing challenges in the upcoming year. It will be a tone-setting moment for the next year as well as the embodiment of those strategies. This is an important time to capture those attentions with unique concepts and futuristic industry perspectives. It is also a time to set yourself apart on a positive note where it could be easier to meet just the status quo.

There is too many who take the specific nature of a show like ATA for granted and do not take the unique opportunities as a strategic push for their business needs. Other shows like SHOT and the Great American Outdoor Show are important in broader terms and lack the concise nature of what a more focused show can offer in opportunities.

As you and your team sit down to look at the budgets for this year’s marketing efforts carefully consider this relationship. What amount of the budget should you allocate for sponsorship this year? How much should you allocate for digital marketing?

If you see some of these predictions coming true this year contact us, or stop by Booth 3519 to sit and discuss your brand’s digital marketing efforts with us. We can help you adjust your marketing mix and help you craft a brand identity.

The Reality of Hunting and Fishing “Pro Staff”

What Does Hunting, Shooting, or Fishing “Pro Staff” Really Mean?

By: Weston Schrank Stone Road Media’s Content Marketing Manager

You either know one, are one, or want to be one. This industry is filled head to toe with hunting, shooting, and fishing pro staff members. To anyone that “wants to get an outdoor industry job” it’s the first place to start. It is a gateway into the industry, but it’s also a tough and confusing and almost always frustrating road if that is your end goal. No, you will not hunt for a living, you will not make money (at first), and you will most likely spend more money. Ask yourself this…

“All of the work, time, and money, for what, A title? Is that worth it? Is it worth it to the company? What really is becoming a “pro staff” about?”

Let me go ahead and clear up any confusion…this will not be your normal blog on “how to become a pro staff of the ____ company”. Sure I will cover that, but in reality, any of the material that is out there associated with a pro staff query comes from the manufacturers/brands themselves on the subject. I’m here to tell you that they are not always right! If at all, the best information (as it often comes down to) is available in a forum, where there is an actual discussion taking place from people with experience. However, as you will discover when reading this blog there is a bigger problem at the heart of this issue that the brands, manufacturers, pro staff managers, and even forums can’t touch. There is a huge rift between the understanding of what a pro staff is, what their duties are, and what the compensation should be for the relationship.

What or Who is Pro Staff?

Hunting and Fishing Pro-staffEvery other piece on this subject leads, is dependent upon, and finishes around the same boring piece of information…the “pro” in pro staff is for promotional not professional. You’re not a pro hunter you are just a promotional staff member. Or the information proceeds into the different levels of “field staff”, “pro staff”, then actual sponsorship…and that’s about all the material you will get. You’ve been there, read that, or wrote that depending on who you are.

Sound familiar?

I’ve heard every side of the spectrum…from “elite pro staff” explaining ”don’t let camo company B throw you around, your more valuable than a simple discount”, to manufacturers coming off as annoyed saying we are camo company B…you give us this, this, and this, for cross promotion and a % discount” and all with little option for a rebuttal. Now before I get slammed from each side for this piece I will say this, this industry isn’t what it actually seems.

The Real Issue

At the pro staff level, there is a severe tainting of a few valuable members with skills, mixed with a majority of members that grab the title, free gear or discount, and run never to be heard from again. At the manufacturers/brand level, there is often a too good for you mentality that will rub anyone the wrong way. Now before a few pro staff managers comment, do not assume you are always on the right. Improperly managed pro staff has come to form the problem itself…you don’t trust your pro staff to deliver, do you? If you answer yes then you might have the application process and management skills in place, but you still may not get the complete picture.

In reality…most people will arrive at this blog because the term has been thrown around, beaten, chewed up and spit out by just about everyone in this industry. “So what, just another pro staffer”…we here it all too often. So what is the real issue here?

Now before you get too ticked off let me say this, a soon to be or existing pro staff member, as well as the pro staff manager of a brand/manufacturer will, in fact, benefit from this read. No, I’m not a pro staff manager, I’m also not a pro staff member(in title). In this blog let’s just say I’m someone that understands the value of what the relationship is based upon…CONTENT. My hope is to explain this value, the relationship it develops between companies and their pro staff, as well as show you what hunting and fishing content looks like when used to its full potential.

Hunting, Shooting, and Fishing Pro Staff Content

Essentially having a position on a company’s pro staff means that you are promoting the brand. The understanding here is that you receive benefits, and provide the company content that they in turn use to promote their brand. Now, up to this point, a great deal of content had to be wasted. The outdoor industry is just now starting to finally sink teeth into digital marketing, and even now it is still a longshot to the optimal use of content. So it is no wonder the term of pro staff and the relationship is so confusing and skewed.

At the end of the day the relationship is entirely based upon the content’s value. Sure there are several promotional staff members that simply run the gauntlet of trade shows and booth running, however, most of them also provide content on a monthly basis. Now here is where the problem in lies and stems other more noticeable problems. Excuse me if this comes off more like a rant than actual information, but this will open your eyes… As you dive into the world of becoming hunting, shooting, or fishing pro staff you will start to notice companies with completely different understandings of the term “pro staff”. More often than not this stems from the current standing of the company. If the entity is well versed in digital and inbound marketing they will more often than not have a higher $ value on content given. They can do more with it, provide more leads, and use it to its full ability and in turn, reward good content. Subsequently, companies that are still not making full use of their content on their website, social channels, and outlets like YouTube have not bridged the gap of content = leads. This all too often progresses into offering percentage discounts to a very long list of pro staff, that are more customers than actual staff. Of course, what’s worse in either situation is company ego getting in the way. For example, Camo Company B is one of the largest outdoor industry brands, they know how to use content, yet they have so much content from personalities and top authorities that pro staff content is hardly ever used or valued. It’s not that the content given is lacking value, it’s just that they have egos getting in the way of seeing its true worth.

If Camo Company B (hunting or fishing brand) does arrive at this blog feel free to answer this question…can you honestly say that every picture, video, blog, article, or story from a pro staff member is fully used and accurately compensated for? On the other hand, if you are a pro staff member or if you are thinking of becoming one, do you understand what Camo Company B is actually looking for? Are you asking for a free product but know in the back of your mind you will seldom if ever send valuable content in?

Now I know you’re thinking it, and this is my next point…this is why many companies have different levels of pro staff eventually graduating to sponsorship to combat this problem. Management at this level creates a solution to many of the concerns stemmed from the main problem, but not the heart of the issue itself.

The even bigger question going far beyond pro staff management that is daunting the industry currently is what are those full-time sponsorships and authorities really doing for you? You know how much you spend on that TV show and personality but what’s your ROI? If you are the producer/personality endorsed, what are you giving the sponsor to show ROI? It’s always been the same stats, at least until digital came into play. This is obviously the bigger issue that needs to be discussed in the industry. It is already knocking on the doorstep, thus the panic around outdoor TV that is rapidly becoming an un-ignorable buzz. An apparently huge issue not appropriate for this blog, so take a look below.

The Pro Staff Climb

Content coming from Personality A is and will always be more valuable than content coming from a new pro staff member. That statement is not always true. Personality A, sponsored by Camo Company B often does not give the time of day to do a detailed review of the camo against different backgrounds, how well it holds up to brush, what it looks like after 100 washes…you get the idea. It’s the content people want to and need to see, that is often undervalued by the company itself. There is a place for all content!

As I said, becoming a pro staff member is a gateway into the industry. What it comes down to is high-quality, consistent, and professional content. You have to know how to write, take pictures, tell a story, or use a video camera. No, you don’t have to run a 4k setup with so much color correction that it looks like your entire film is enveloped in a foggy white. You have to provide real authentic content and communicate it as such. Think about this…you are a hunter, a shooter, or an angler. What content do you consume, what brought you to that brand’s doorstep in the first place? If you are graduating from consumer to content creator, then produce the content you would want to see, and what brought you to that brand. There is content to be made at every level. Educational, informational, reviews, stories, successes, failures, and/or video and picture content that fit each stage of the process you use every day to buy a product or make an impression on a brand.

Now that last part might have overwhelmed quite a few of you. This is WORK! If you are not serious about it than you might be some of the “pro staff” that is tainting what brands/companies are actually looking for. Your goal here should be to get a foot in the door with a company, work your tail off, develop a trust and relationship and expand in that niche. However, this industry is not what it seems. Don’t think that a company will reward hard work, and high-quality work…that is not always what it is about. Here are some tips when getting started.

Hunting and Fishing Pro-staf

Getting Started

Now, when you are looking to become pro staff think about the job. Basically, it is to promote the products and the brand. In the initial start, there will be some deciding on your end. First, pick a company that you truly believe in. This is pretty common sense stuff. The bigger insight is observing your initial thoughts upon the application process. Do they come off annoyed right off the bat? Are they respectful and inviting? This can initially tell you your own ROI, the predominant investment being your valuable time. You will be working your tail off if you want to get places, and choosing to become pro staff to a company that will simply ignore your efforts is extremely frustrating and at the end of the day pointless.

When going about making the connection treat it as a job right out of college. This almost goes without saying, but you never know…basically just come prepared! When submitting an application keep every level of the application professional, from your resume to your social media accounts.

What You Should Offer

Obviously, this comes with your expertise. If you’re a writer and a storyteller than writing should be your focus. Offer monthly content or a certain number of articles in a year. If you’re comfortable or experienced behind the video camera or DSLR, offer review videos or product use pictures for social media and website content. Some companies might already have in place requirements such as these for the relationship. Naturally, fall into your niche in content creation. You will be good at something in particular that the company needs. Exploit that!

Make sure that you are consistent…I cannot stress that enough. Every single day I look for fresh content for our clients. It is hard to come by…especially consistently. If someone is out there, producing video after video or, picture after picture, of content related to a product to one of our clients, you can bet ill find it and use it. If it’s at a professional level, it’s valuable, and its consistent people will find it, read it, and follow it. Eventually, you will be noticed…being rewarded however is a different story!

What You Should Get

You cannot expect to immediately get free gear unless you are immediately confronted with a more in-depth application process. This might include some type of contract. If not, and just a discount and basic gear are offered, go ahead make an initial investment and prove yourself to advance to the next levels.

This is where a lot of opinions vary again going back to the source of the problem which is basically how to use the content. Any writer knows magazines pay good money to well written and orchestrated content with high-quality photos. It is a completely content-driven business. The same content, optimized for the website and company, should be considered the same right? If you get to the point of consistently writing, videoing, or providing pictures as a pro staff member, compensation should absolutely go beyond a discount or a free piece of gear.

It’s Always Content

If the brand truly knew how to use it, every bit of content provided is valuable.


While I hate having to send you to other blogs for more reading, I want to drive home the point of the full potential of content. In the last blog I wrote for Stone Road, Outdoor Industry Marketing 101 | Capitalizing on Seasonal Content, I walk you through a long process of phases of how just one video, picture, or blog transforms into gathering consumers to the brand. This also gives you a great reference into what valuable content looks like at the professional level, and how a brand/manufacturer should use the content.

Hunting and Fishing Pro-staf

Upon reading that blog, as well as other blogs focused on content marketing and content creation, you have a higher understanding of what content is used and how it is used. You’ve already become a more valuable pro staff member by simply educating and understanding some basic outdoor industry marketing.

Every hunting, shooting, and fishing pro staff manager, brand owner, personality, hunter, shooter, or angler are at the end of the day just a normal guy or girl. Sure egos get in the way, but more often than not the brand you wish to be a pro staff member for is not making full use of the content supplied to them. In turn, they can’t say they accurately know how to manage pro staff, or even compensate them. In the end…the term “pro staff” completely depends on the content, as does most everything in this industry.


Article: Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as a content manager and strategist, benefitting the company’s many outdoor industry partners, and outdoor freelance writers.

Outdoor Industry Marketing 101 | Capitalizing on Seasonal Content

Outdoor Industry Marketing | Making the Most of Seasonal Content

Article By: Weston Schrank -Content Manager

Authors Note: In this blog, Outdoor Industry Marketing 101,  I hope to show content’s true value to not only brands and product-driven companies, but TV shows and personalities as well. This will be the explanation of content beyond simple posting on social, but how content can be used to meet goals of two entirely different clients. This will be eye opening to the industry no doubt, but more likely eye opening to our potential and current clients.

The word “November” brings the terms…big bucks, gun season, the orange army, big deer, cold days, and lasting memories to mind. That’s all fine and dandy and sounds great, but for those of us in the hunting and outdoor industry, it is unfortunately GO TIME! It’s not just November either, it seems the mad rush of the industry hits about 15 days before seasons open up…which is actually just about right when I think about it. Let’s just say our stress levels have been up since September 15th! This season is literally a madhouse as TV shows, web shows, brands, and marketers rush to get content, products, and episodes in front of hunters. If they succeed and capitalize on their tasks big returns are sure to follow. This should have you chomping at the bit since right after hunting seasons close, show season starts! ATA and SHOT plus a host of other slightly smaller shows are timed perfectly to trail the hunting seasons. If you fail, it goes down as another half-***ed year, and you get subsequently swept under the rug. If you succeed in extracting every single drop of life out of your show, brand, or products then you will be noticed and rewarded. This will be another lesson in Outdoor Industry Marketing 101, and today’s topic is none other than “How to Use Seasonal Content to Its Fullest Potential”!

While you may be thinking “yep I am totally capitalizing this November” you may want to reconsider and ponder the question:  what does “totally capitalizing” truly mean? It definitely goes beyond hitting an “acceptable” goal of views or selling out of the particular product over and over again. We here at Stone Road call it the “grind”.

Each and every November and the months that make up hunting season (the same can be said for the fishing industry in the summer) there is a giant opportunity to be had to grow your company, brand, or show. The reason for this opening (as it always has been) is that it centers on content. Content flows like the Niagara Falls (assuming that’s a lot, truthfully I have never been there) if you know where to look. Making yourself finally recognize the massive scale of this flow is discouraging…yes, that’s right discouraging! Why? Because most often, this flow has gone to waste each and every year to this point…and let me tell you that is painful to watch. Trust me, you won’t ever waste another piece after this read!

Literally, there is always content being produced from anywhere and anytime. It can always and should always be accessed. For example, I am writing this piece as I sit in a ground blind overlooking a stunning clover plot…and just so you know I am not seeing anything yet.

Outdoor Industry Marketing | Making the Most of Seasonal Content The point is that content can and will be produced anywhere at any time. “Making the most of this deer season’s content” is hard to do, but the hard part isn’t the when or the what…it’s the HOW?!

 “Outdoor Industry Marketing 101 – Keeping it Fresh”

The biggest problem that I need to address before going any further is that there is a lack of uniqueness, freshness, and almost always relevancy….not to mention SEO, quality, call to actions, and so much more. Let’s just say there seems to be a lot of individuals in this industry that more or less piggyback the true “uniques”. That’s a story for another day, but I will likely keep circling back to this frustrating thought.

The first step of capitalizing each season is being able to produce, create, bring together, and/or optimize every piece of content that is available. This is no easy task, particularly with TV shows as they have a hard time bringing fresh unique content to the table each season. Its not that they don’t produce the required content, rather they are restricted (or so they think) on the newest content to save for the following year’s season. This year’s 2016 content will not be seen for another year, and what can be shown is giving away the true draw for the consumer to wait to watch. This is a dilemma that many hunting TV shows are starting to realize. This is especially true as the pressure builds to find a digital outlet as TV fades in the industry. Let’s face it, shows have become increasingly pressured as the digital front has slowly taken over the industry…we knew it was coming, and have been saying it all along. The real pressure is not coming from the competition, but rather from sponsors as they begin to see what the content can look like and what the returns can adjust to when investing in the digital front.

However, what the shows currently perceive as a problem is, in fact, a figment of the imagination. Yes, the actual episodes are not going to be released, at most we will see a picture and a teaser, but even that falls flat often. Many so-called “giants” of the industry have up to this point simply transitioned the past seasons and episodes of the TV shows to digital…but that obviously will and has fell flat so far. I also want to point out that I am not talking the same boring old 2-3-year-old blog that is resurfaced and re-posted. Instead, I am suggesting rather fresh, new, optimized and perfected content that consumers eat up every chance they see it. Again so many “self-proclaimed” megas of the industry blindly fail this simple tasks. It’s ok, we can go ahead and call them out. It’s the sites, brands, and content “powerhouses” that simple crank out tons of content that literally might as well set off and overheat the plagiarism checking machine. Not original by any means.

It is as simple as this, consumers want new content, and they want to see relevant content…it’s what keeps them coming back for more, and it is a fundamental concept for growing in this industry. The biggest question is how you bring new and relevant content? The same question can be asked for brands and company’s offering products and services. Whether you are a TV show, or a brand/company…you won’t like the answer.

What Is Useful Content?

What is useful content for your show, company, and brand? A stunning photo, a quality B-roll obsessive clip, and a full top-notch episode OR a pro-staff picture, how-to video, and/or a simple blog or story?

Absolutely all of it. That is all I need to say.

Content Case Studies:

In order to truly show you how we use every single content piece to its fullest for our clients, I wanted to run you through two case studies. The first is Muddy Outdoors. Muddy is a powerhouse for hunting products. The biggest products are of course tree stands, blinds, safety harnesses, and now trail cameras. This example will show you how giant product based brands and companies can make the most out of content during November. If you are more interested in how a TV show or personality can make the most out seasonal content you can skip ahead, but I urge you to go ahead and read on. Learning how a giant brand like Muddy uses content can spark the light bulb on what a giant brand might consider a valuable partnership. Without giving away too much, digital content, content marketing, and inbound marketing is changing the relationships between sponsors and TV shows. Do not get caught in the dark on this!

Let’s begin with Muddy.

Case Study 1:Brand/Company

 Muddy Outdoors

If you are in the hunting industry you have a great understanding of what Muddy is. Again an absolute powerhouse in hunting products. From tricked out box blinds, to the simplest tree stand accessory hook, Muddy supplies a hunter in almost every single need from a standpoint of what they use to reach their game. The full assortment of products is overwhelming for marketers to tackle, to say the least. But it is also entirely enjoyable to have a brand/company that is so relevant to literally EVERY aspect of the hunt.

This is why content is so easy to obtain and create, it is everywhere! From customers trail camera pictures, to a sponsored show’s episodes and review videos. Many brands/companies that are product driven like Muddy fail at this point. They have relevant products, the content, and even the time…but yet they hit a wall! Something beyond us happens from the point the content is received to how it is exposed and published. The result is a very lifeless and dull Facebook post, blog with little optimization and “juice”,  or better yet a YouTube video that is titled “tree stand company x | wall hanger stand” – with 0 (that’s Zero) description! As if this was not enough, the video, picture, or blog is barely visible from a standpoint of viewers reaching it. Again like mentioned above, it’s not so much the time it takes or lack of effort (complete shame if it is) rather a lack of knowledge on how it works.

The Medium: The Content

In this case study, the medium or the substance that is designed to support growth is a form of content such as a video, picture, or story. In the case of what you are being shown today, a basic YouTube video is the medium. However, this video goes further than 99% of outdoor industry videos ever go!

Here is the medium, the seed so to speak that we will build everything off of. Bill Winke, a whitetail authority has partnered with Muddy to bring fresh weekly content in the form of a web show. Every Monday consumers come back to watch the new episode of Bill Winke’s Whitetail 101 to see the latest info on where to hunt and what’s going on in the woods.

Phase 1: Optimizing

Outdoor Industry Marketing | Making the Most of Seasonal Content Before anything is published, posted, shared, and used the medium of content must be optimized. You wouldn’t want to set off on a November hunt without your bow or gun, not to mention any clothes…therefore you have to supply the content with what it needs to become successful!

I now find myself thinking first of the consumer, then immediately of google, before I even figure out what to write. Those two thoughts alone will form my subject, title, and majority of the blog…it’s the sweet spot so to speak. Getting this right sets the foundation for your content’s success.

Phase 2: Hosting Outdoor Industry Marketing | Making the Most of Seasonal Content

Where do these consumers go to watch the show? Weekly web show formats always have a site to land on such as Instead of realizing the potential to set up a “TV” format built around a brand, was born. It’s the host for Bill’s show, not to mention 3 other weekly web shows from always relevant and fresh content producers.Every single  week the new medium of content has a home where viewers can land and stay comfortably.


If it were a picture and a story instead of a video, the host would be the site’s blog. But since we started with a video, we can now double the content.

Phase 3: Doubling – Syndication

The next phase in using content fully is syndicating it. This is the process of getting it in multiple sites and third party sites. Basically pushing the Outdoor Industry Marketing | Making the Most of Seasonal Content content everywhere possible. The simplest form for us, without giving too much away is using the content to form 2nd level content. With the video now hosted on Muddy TV, along with 4 other shows that are all relevant to what is happening real time for themselves and other hunters and viewers. In my vision of perfected content as far as what consumers want to see, is a clear and concise format to gather and provide the information the video would supply. Each and every week 4 weekly web shows supply 4 videos of hunting, tips, strategies, how to’s and much more. Alone they are great content, together they are outstanding! For the video used so far “Early Rut Hunting Strategies” we formed a rut hunting 101 blog that utilized the video, along with every other video on Muddy TV for that week.


This blog is exactly what consumers want to land on, I only could have dreamed to find a blog like this in my teenage years of hunting. Not only are you supplied with great reading material on rut hunting strategies, tips, and tactics, but 3 videos that cover hunting the rut, tree stand locations for the rut, and how to run trail cameras during the rut. The blog itself is a powerhouse and another location for the video. This essentially doubles the content’s value.

Phase 4: Blowing It Up

For most, letting the medium grow simply means publishing the video or blog, and posting it on Facebook and other social channels. Great content that is Outdoor Industry Marketing | Making the Most of Seasonal Content optimized can and will go places, but blowing it up gets it there faster! Slapping the medium up anywhere and everywhere is syndication on a different level. It places the content constantly in front of the consumer. While we take our content’s syndication to a level far beyond where most of the outdoor industry dares not to go, it would be enough to say it needs to be done, without going into all the specifics…cannot give away just everything now can I?

Blowing it up in layman’s term is allowing it to reach its full potential organically through social media channels. If it is content with serious potential and capability then put dollars behind it, and other pieces of content such as live videos, supporting images, teasers, and whatever else gives it another look but supports the piece.

Phase 5: Sending It Out…And Letting The Content Do The Talking

Email is not dead, not by a long shot, especially when your show’s or brand’s e-blast looks like this.

BTW: really digging the urban dictionaries definition on this one…

Urban Dictionary: e-blast – A ridiculous non-word made up by marketing people who think the term “e-mail” is inadequate to describe the explosive excitement of their mass e-mails.

This is true to an extent, but not for what we are talking about here today…

Click on the picture to view the entire e-blast. Notice the structure, draw, and relevance to the consumer.

Outdoor Industry Marketing | Making the Most of Seasonal Content

This is a direct line with consumers and it is important to recognize one thing above all, this is not spam! To some, that’s what you instantly think when receiving any emails from businesses and companies and I would say a majority of the time you are right! The significant thing to remember with this direct line to the consumer is that it is fragile. You do not want to sever it, as it still holds a role in marketing. Instead of only focusing on products, let your available content do the talking for you! Each and every week one of these e-blasts is sent. Rather than blasting the consumers with the same products over and over again, we simply supply weekly, curated and relevant copy that offers an unbelievable amount of value and knowledge to the consumer. It’s not forcing the sale, it’s applying the medium to get the consumer in the right direction! It’s also building a relationship with the consumer as a desire to see the content develops over time.

At this moment in time, you should be thinking that you most certainly are not capitalizing with your seasonal content, and the seasonal opportunity…you may also be thinking at this point “Sure this looks great for brands/products but there is no way it could work with shows”. To that statement, I simply want to urge you to visit

If you still come back with doubts then keep reading!

Case Study 2: TV Show/Personality

Bone Collector

How Outdoor TV Personalities and Shows Capitalize

Up to this point, this article has been either a revelation for you or simply a picture show. Based on how successful or not you were at delivering your seasonal content is how you have taken it. When it comes to brands and products, the content flow can go both ways, but most of the time it’s fairly simple to create, optimize, and syndicate great content around the products and related topics surrounding the product. TV shows and personalities are a little trickier.

It’s not that there is a lack of content, in fact, it is the exact opposite.TV shows, film crews, and personalities never stop creating content. They are constantly filming, editing and/or producing content. The problem lies with what content is up for grabs. With limited content to be shown on “TV only” the sudden flow of content is shut off. After this the only pieces of content left to pick from are broken and shattered video content, teasers, and some past photos.

While a personality or TV show may have loyal fans and viewers that follow with numbers that appeal to even the biggest sponsor names out there, there is a point where this becomes no longer valuable…and that point is, unfortunately, TV. Stepping away from this blog for a bit, I want to point out a paragraph from another blog I wrote. This will particularly make you ponder content on a different level.

Taken from – How to Show More “Digital Love” to your Sponsors

I do it, you do it, and your fans do it…there is constantly second screen usage while watching your show, especially in the newer “millennial” generation. In fact, 87% of consumers use more than one device at a time (Accenture 2015), and you guessed it, the smartphone is the most common device used. So what are they doing/looking for while on these devices? Well obviously their own social media sites, but more than half of consumers are inspired to seek out brand specific content during or after the show. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of consumers spend time reading about brands that interest them, and once found, 78% perceive a relationship between themselves and the brand after reading or watching digital content; 82% of which is positive feelings towards the brand – all of this by just giving them the content they seek (Demand Metric 2014). Honestly, think about the end goal of your hunting or fishing TV show, it probably/should involve a large viewer base and fans with brand/personality loyalty. They love your show and they can’t get enough of it…right? So giving them custom content, on a digital platform, can reach them through other channels or devices, and give you better results, views, and loyalty right? Correct! Companies with blogs, and custom content especially in the form of video, generate 67% more leads per month (Demand Metric 2014).
Content for hunting TV shows and outdoor industry TV personalities does not and should not stop at TV. It also should not be digitally introduced by simply slapping up past episodes and shows. Sure people like to watch the full episodes and frequently watch when available but you’re missing the boat. The key is as always time, relevance, and quality. Let’s run through a shining example of perfected content. This will be similar to the Muddy Outdoors example except for this time it shows the result of a much harder task.

Without going into every phase again here is the medium or the content that started it all. While Bone Collector’s “New” content or the next season will not air until next year, Michael created “fresh” relevant content for his fans to indulge in. This “extra” content that is relevant and new is the perfect medium to start with.

Then it starts the process of optimizing, hosting, syndicating, and sending It out…

Outdoor Industry Marketing 101 | Capitalizing on Seasonal Content Outdoor Industry Marketing 101 | Capitalizing on Seasonal Content Outdoor Industry Marketing 101 | Capitalizing on Seasonal Content

Besides the relevant, fresh, and outstanding content by a personality that, let’s face it, is on fire right now in the outdoor industry, the Michael Waddell’s  sponsors get more than their money’s worth. In fact, capitalizing on digital content, especially seasonal content is changing the game for the sponsor to TV show relationships. Sponsors are realizing their own potential for making the most of content, which allows them to take another look at the shows they support, and what they are getting in return.

Stone Road Media is literally on the brink of digital marketing, content marketing, and inbound marketing for the outdoor industry. We are continually raising the bar and as a result brands, companies, shows, and even personalities are taking another look at capitalizing their content.

How In the World Do You Capitalize?

Unfortunately this is not a one man operation. Even your team will have a hard time coping with the struggles and “grind” that is required to be spot on with every piece of content and to be effective all season long. It takes us at Stone Road Media a well-oiled machine to complete these tasks. If you want to maximize your marketing, content, reach, and strategy, and take interest towards how and why Muddy and Bone Collector are soaring through the season then simply contact us!

Just remember, if you succeed in extracting every single drop of life out of your show, brand, or products and the content that surrounds them, then you will be noticed and rewarded. If this blog and that last statement is not enough, then just place yourself in show season. Are you feeling good about where you stand?

For more segments in Outdoor Industry Marketing 101, visit Stone Road Media’s blog section. Here are three articles that you may want to read following this piece.

Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing | How to Acquire and Retain More Sponsors

Digital Content Marketing | A Unique and Different Digital Content Machine

The Content Sweet Spot | Hitting the Mark and Becoming Effective At Outdoor Industry Marketing


Article: Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as a content manager and strategist, benefitting the company’s many outdoor industry partners, and outdoor freelance writers.

Shooting and Tactical Marketing | Sniping Valuable SERP Real Estate

Sniping SERP Real Estate | Shooting and Tactical Marketing Plans

Photo By: Steve Smolenski – CEO/CTO
Graphics By: Deanna Riley – Web & Graphic Specialist
Article By: Weston Schrank -Content Marketing Manager

While it might be hard, I am going to try and refrain myself from going into the now scripted writing of talking about why content creation and content marketing is important. It in all honesty does feel scripted, like I am supposed to type those keys, those words, and those sentences in order on my keyboard to tell you the reader why content is important. Not today, I will not do it this time…By now, whether you are arriving at this blog from our own site or another blog, or if you have arrived from an organic search result, chances are you very well know how important content is. So saving time and space, I will move on to perfecting content marketing and moving on to the advanced stages by becoming deadly accurate with that content. This idea is how we have, and you can/should move on from basic digital marketing to full out sniping valuable SERP real estate. This is taking outdoor industry marketing, and more specifically shooting and tactical marketing to the next level, becoming a hardened content marketer, manager, or creator by creating top SERP ranking posts for anything you want…

“Each piece of content that is chambered into your content marketing machine should be primed with the proper optimization and value, dialed in with the correct keywords, and fired into the most effective location and position for your brand and product…resulting in leads and a lethal hit to your competition” – that is sniping valuable SERP real estate, that is effective shooting and tactical marketing…

SERP Real Estate?

Now when you’re going out to the field with a rifle, scope, and ammunition in hand, you have to know the lay of land and the terrain to determine what you are shooting at. You figure distance, wind, and factors that affect the flight to that target. In the case of your brand, product, or company this is learning what the real estate space is like on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).  But it goes beyond that, you have to look into what you can expect, what keywords, and long tails you should rank for, their average search volumes, what traffic you will own with a 1-5 or a first page position on that SERP. This is going into an intense content strategy for some, but for others it’s simply learning how to dial yourself and the content in. The fact is now is the time to do it! Dialing yourself, your brand, and your company in now will seize that real estate up before the industry and your competition does or plans to do so.

If you have a sense of marketing you know about content, its importance, and why you should create and optimize it. But really how valuable is this SERP real estate and how much work is involved to get the content there? What kind of traffic are you looking at…why does it matter that you have a presence on the first page of a search related to you? These question being contemplated in your mind might help move things along.


This graph derived from Advanced Web Ranking shows you a general idea of what kind of traffic the first page rankings will give you. Generally the numbers come to around 30-35% for #1, around 15-17% for #2, around 10% for #3, and around 3-8% for 4-10, and lower off of the first page. Now these numbers are extremely variable taking into consideration what type of keyword it is (unbranded vs. branded), long tail keywords, whether or not the SERP contain ads, and where they are located (top, bottom, or right side), and the search intent. In general the percentages and the graph will look the same. The real number we see off of this is that on average 70-75% of the clicks are on the first page…around 65-70% of those being #1-#5! This is no big trade secret, but knowing what to do with this information plus a few more tools is a skill and trade acquired with experience.

Is Ranking for Shooting and Tactical Marketing SERP’s Possible?

No, at least not without the knowledge, optimization, and power of literally perfect SEO tactics. So the real answer is most definitely YES, but only if you’re willing to put in the work. When it comes to firearms marketing, tactical marketing, gun marketing, and content marketing related to shooting and tactical companies, it is a tough and highly competitive field. You know this, and that is most likely why you are here in the first place.

Knowing this can almost seem entirely too daunting of a task to tackle. In this regard outdoor industry marketing, including shooting and tactical marketing officers and their campaigns just revert back to google ads. That is the easiest way to derive traffic from SERPs right? Yes and no, google ads have their place. In fact sponsored results account for 64.6% of clicks for high commercial intent keyword searches, while 35.4% of click are from organic unpaid search results (WordStream, 2012). But again, that is looking and considering search intent, product specific searches to be exact. When a user is searching product specific, a good strategy is being there with google ads, but SEO and organic search still does own informational searches, the information that consumers look for when educating themselves before they buy. In addition, your organic searches can own real estate right under ads, keep in mind much cheaper and more long term than those ads at that…For firearms marketing, tactical marketing, and gun marketing, and all forms related to the shooting and tactical marketing industry, this is an important concept to understand.

Let’s say we look up “holsters”. If someone is looking for this, they are undoubtedly looking to buy in most cases. More often than not the consumer will get much more specific than this, such as a search for “IWB holsters”. But the general search for holsters reveals top ads, right side ads, and bottom ads. In a SERP like this, organic is receiving a beat-down from sponsored results. But before the search for “holsters” might take place a majority of consumers will search with informational queries. Informational queries? In this case it might be a search such as “top concealed carry holsters” where a consumer might be looking for reviews, opinions, and a detailed article ranking concealed carry holsters. In this case, when looking for information, the consumer often skips right over the top sponsored results, and goes directly to the organic results. They are skipping the ads and going to your content.

So again going back to the real question, is trying to rank for shooting and tactical marketing SERP’s possible? Absolutely, the unquestionably great thing for content managers, strategists, and creators like me, (with any size company, budget, and resources) we can rank and compete with even the largest players in the shooting and tactical marketing industry. Know how, quality of content, consistency, and relentless creation of content can become a form of domination over competition. Content marketing and organic search results are an even playing field.

Shooting and Tactical Marketing Plans and Sniping SERP Real Estate

When and if you have a thoroughly trained asset behind a well-made and optimized machine, they can and will make devastating blows. These assets will begin knocking down rankings, any and all, whatever they choose, and the “hunting ground” is google…it is open season! We see these results everyday with our own content. We decide what keywords are most advantageous to own real estate and knock down the low hanging but valuable fruit down first. This highly specific sniping of real estate gets the ball rolling so to speak, establishing constant traffic across the content, landing pages, and shop from queries made monthly, weekly, and daily! Actually getting there with this content is an entire other discussion, again I am really trying to refrain from talking about the actual content itself, and trying to be more specific to this more advanced stage of content marketing. Sniping real estate is dialing in your content strategy, keyword and long tail keyword focuses. When this processed is refined into a well-oiled content machine, you will gain steady, reliable, and dominating flow of consumers across your website and pages, creating very valuable leads.

As you dive further into looking at inbound marketing, and trying to perfect your shooting and tactical marketing plans, it may be fitting for you to look into the assistance of an outdoor industry digital marketing firm like Stone Road Media. The least you can do is dive further into the topic of trying to develop you own content. Finding your content sweet spot, and sniping valuable SERP real estate will have great returns in the long run!


Photo: Steve Smolenski has worked in the graphics and web design field for over 19 years. His expertise is in the areas of product development, R&D, graphic design, web development, SEO, and Social Media. He thrives integrating his technology background with 27 years of hunting and wildlife management. 

Graphic: Deanna Riley grew up in western PA with a love for the outdoors, which lead to her drive to capture the essence of what’s around us in her nature photography and design work. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design, and is excellent at web, logo, and print design as well as social media.

Article: Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as a content manager and strategist, benefitting the company’s many outdoor industry partners, and outdoor freelance writers.


Finding the Content Sweet Spot for Your Outdoor Industry Marketing

The Content Sweet Spot | Hitting the Mark and Becoming Effective At Outdoor Industry Marketing

Graphics By: Deanna Riley – Web & Graphic Specialist
Article By: Weston Schrank -Content Marketing Manager

Having a strong content game is difficult. Any content manager, producer, and marketer will attest to this statement if they have been in the grind for a while. It is quite easy to hit a block, seem repetitive, and can at times feel like a struggle to think of, create, and manage effective and interesting content. Luckily for content creators, freelance writers, videographers or marketers in the outdoor industry, it’s addicting for us to do our jobs as it one of our deepest passions and obsessions in life. Our own team at Stone Road Media, lives and breathes the outdoors, we know, even better WE ARE the audience, the customers, and the consumers we target. However, even with this intense drive and understanding, it can be quite easy for content to come up short and miss the mark. The fundamentals of your content should have 3 goals in general, and understanding the goals and where to place the content should be key for any brand, marketer, content producer, or freelance writer in the outdoor industry.  Missing the mark is wasting time, resources, money, and more importantly valuable content. When it comes to outdoor industry marketing, hitting the content sweet spot is demanding, but particularly effective when done correctly.

So what is the content sweet spot? It is the point between the 3 general focuses and goals of content, balancing each goal perfectly to achieve maximum effectiveness. While this might sound a little bland and honestly un-informative, it all makes sense when you have a deep understanding of what the goals of your content should be. To start, do you even know? Sure one of your goals is to drive people to the website, create leads, be successful at conversion, and drive sales. But that is only one goal, and without focusing on the other two, you will never get there.

Honestly when I was forming the idea for this blog, I was trying to figure out the best way to explain how to structure content around these goals. I know this same principle has been taught or explained for content marketing before with this, and it really is quite simple…elementary school simple, but in my mind pretty effective. It’s a 2nd grade lesson for today, a Venn diagram!

Outdoor Industry MarketingThe 3 goals of your content with the content sweet spot being the intersection at the perfect balance. In other diagrams on the subject, it’s all about dialing into the sweet spot between the consumer and your expertise, but in this niche, the outdoor industry, fishing marketing, hunting marketing, shooting and tactical marketing, we know the general topics and direction of the content we produce. This is understanding where the sweet spot is between the customer, Google search, and your website. It’s easy to only concentrate and get carried away with only one aspect, but this makes the content miss the mark at achieving your goals…if you even know what they are?


Content Goal Number 1: The Customer

Outdoor Industry Marketing“Every day your target customers are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of digital advertisements. Whether via website ad space, email marketing, social media ads, or AdWords, the irrelevant nature or broad generality have made that outdoor industry consumer nearly numb to the delivery.” – Customer Profiling For Greater Customer Engagement

When it comes down to finding your brand/company’s outdoor industry marketing content sweet spot, your first goal should, and always be the customer. When Stone Road Media’s Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Flinn wrote the above quote, he meant it, and hit the nail right on the head. This kind of hits home doesn’t it? Our passion is and will always be the outdoors, whether that is hunting or fishing, the sad reality is that we have learned (rather have literally been forced) into being numb to the delivery of outdoor industry content. Some fans and consumers would even say it has ruined the industry. Season after season, any click would take us to bland, lifeless, uninformative product focused content.

Literally it has been forced down our throats, and it makes a lot of people sick. The moment really hit home when I was discussing SEO, Google, and outdoor industry marketing, with my father over lunch…literally taking a break from writing this very article. Now remember he (an old guy) is the generation that grew up on the good ole days of print and magazines. His words were, “even if I did get on the internet and look up something on hunting or fishing, I wouldn’t click on anything, at least not the first things to come up”. The second thing he mentioned was “if I do happen to click on something, it isn’t what I thought I was going to read and a lot of stuff pops up that I don’t want to see”. While he really doesn’t operate a phone that well, and never touches a computer, he knows a surprising amount, at least something important enough to put in a blog, about content marketing in the hunting and fishing industry!

What my father was basically saying is that the consumer has learned to avoid ads, really again been forced to avoid those first (paid for) results with the green ad box. When a SERP pops up in front of him, an advantage for those that can reach the consumer with content organically. But it has to be content for the consumer…VALUABLE content. This has forced your customer to only steer to the content that they want to see and are searching for. Real information not slandered in buy this and click this…but engaging, interesting, informative and consistent content.

In this reality, your number one goal for any content produced should not be a repeat, or a broad generality like so many other blogs, videos, and sites have produced over and over again. You have to strive for the content that the consumer is really searching for, what they want to see. So what? Honestly up to this point a whole bunch of smoke has been blown without some real numbers to show you why giving consumer’s content for them is worth it. I’ll admit it, it does need some numbers.

More than half of consumers are inspired to seek out brand specific content during or after the show. Sixty-eight percent (68%) of consumers spend time reading about brands that interest them, and once found, 78% perceive a relationship between themselves and the brand after reading or watching digital content; 82% of which is positive feelings towards the brand – all of this by just giving them the content they seek (Demand Metric 2014)….  giving them custom content, on a digital platform, can reach them through other channels or devices, and give you better results, views, and loyalty right? Correct! Companies with blogs, and custom content especially in the form of video, generate 67% more leads per month (Demand Metric 2014).”  – Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing | How to Show More Digital Love” To Your Sponsors

Content customized for your consumer is powerful, anything less than that minimum is wasting time, resources, and money. It should be specific and be given enough power to be the authority piece on that topic. If it is not then there is no use creating it. Ask yourself or your content creators and free-lance writers if it is something you or they would read, something informative that is interesting, that gives a return to the reader. This is your content’s first goal, capturing the audience, readers, viewers, and fans.

There is an endless amount of content for your brand to create that can achieve this goal. There is always another subject or detail to dive into, and there are an endless amount of ways and combinations to make it attractive to the consumer! Here are a few ways…

Content Goal Number 2: Google Search

Outdoor Content Marketing with Google SearchAfter you have thought of a very valuable piece of content for the customer, you need to relate it to your website. While the website is your first content goal it is your last…make sense? I know it doesn’t, it barely makes sense to me why I would even rank them like that, but at the same time it is correct. The fact is that you, me, bob, or whoever, it doesn’t matter, if they are reading this article they are looking into content marketing, and have a brand or they are a content creator for a brand. So? Well you or they are already in the mindset of driving people to your/their website. While the consumers and customers are set as your first goal for your content, the first thought it your head is and will always be your website. To be effective at digital, inbound, and content marketing, you have to put the website as the first initial unspoken goal, but the last overall concrete goal. Is that clear? I didn’t think so… hopefully this will clear it up.

The Google Search is your next content goal, it is your delivery system. “No social media is my delivery system” is what you probably thought. It is initially, for a short time, but google is long term, organic, continuous, domination type lead delivery!

“Your customer will unknowingly seek your brand, TV show, company, and product or service out online, so you need to give them exactly what they are searching for.” It is the premise behind the BE SEEN. BE FOUND. BE DIFFERENT of Stone Road Media. Customers will educate themselves before the buy, whether that buy is online or in the store. Those businesses and brands that give the information, detail, expert opinion, enjoyment, and influential piece on the subjects and topics related to their goals and objectives, and if they do it consistently will beat out the competition. How?

The fact is that custom content alone, no matter how attractive it actually is will not go anywhere without proper optimization for the google search. Optimization? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to be exact, and if that is new to you then read up!

More often than not, literally we see this all the time in this industry, a piece of content is slapped on YouTube, Vimeo, and/or the blog page of a website with no optimization.

A good piece of content for the consumer with no optimization is like showing up to a job fair, you have the experience, the skills, and the education, but have no name tag, no resume, and you are afraid to speak….you are basically non-existent to employers”

This about sums up the majority of outdoor industry sites and content posting.  They are non-existent to google and as a result the customer as well.  Literally hundreds of great pieces of content over trail cameras, tree stands, fishing rods, baits, guns, ammo, tips, tactics, and videos, you name it, it all has been posted for readers and viewers that never can find them. Why? They lack optimization. To start they have horrible titles, more artistic or dramatic  more often than not, or my personal favorite example of what not to post in the outdoor industry “BOB’s 180 inch 2010 buck” video on YouTube.

The title is just the start, getting that right is pretty basic and common sense. Title generally, your contents title should be exactly what your consumer is looking for! After this, sub headers, keywords, LSI keywords, density, hyperlinks, backlinks, multimedia use, content length, pictures, picture titles, and much more have to be considered and optimized. Getting that mastered takes work…I promise you.

That is the basic framework behind achieving the content goal of the “google search”, it is printing that resume, grabbing a name tag, and being vocal at your job fair…

After this syndication, advertising, and social media takes place, but other than that the content you have created is out of your hands and into the consumer’s hands. Google takes into account many things, I have no 100% idea of what it does, no one does and it is always changing, they keep marketers guessing. What we do know is that it listens to the consumer. Dwelling time or average time on page in Google Analytics, bounce rate, exit rate, all of these analytics google takes into account as should you as they are key performance indicators or KPI’s for your content.

Content Marketing KPI Goals With google lending an open ear to consumers and letting the indicators speak for themselves about the content you create, it only enforces that creating optimized content for the consumer will set the base for achieving the third goal, your website.








Content Goal 3: Your Website

Your website Content marketing goals

Your final goal is bringing it all around. You have achieved your first goals. You have captured the consumer through a top ranking organic search, you have kept them engaged with the content, and they are reading and watching the whole piece, now what? How does it benefit your site, your brand, how do you get a return on your investment?

How do we consider “success” and achieve the goal of “Your Website” for our hard work and the content we are creating and delivering?

Here is a great excerpt from a past article, something SRM’s Chief Marketing Officer, Jeremy Flinn wrote:

“If the digital, inbound, and content marketing is not directly generating dollars in the account; how can we really say we are succeeding, let alone say there is a ROI, on the inbound marketing services implemented? You’re right, at the end of the day you aren’t paying the office rent/mortgage with page views, and last time I tried, my employees were not a big fan of direct deposit of visitor sessions. OK, maybe that was a horrible attempt at digital marketing comedy, but the fact is cash is king, right? It is, but all of those KPIs lead to money in the bank! In other words, all of the indexes (in the form of KPIs) that we are tracking and working so hard to improve are the means to an end. That “end” is a customer for our service or product. The more customer visits (sessions) to a website, the more they look at the brand, services, and products (page views), and longer they are impacted by our company content and products/services (time on site) the more likely they will become a customer! In the end, the stronger your digital KPIs are, the stronger revenue flow will be. It doesn’t matter if you make revenue via advertising, eCommerce, or at retail, the bottom line is nearly 70% consumers are starting the buying process online. This initial step may be a long (or short) way from the end (buying) depending on the purchase, but it very much is true about “the first impression is everything.” Those with little unique content to engage with, will lose customers on the brand, products, and services and fall short…” – Content and Digital Marketing Results

Again this is where you can get lost or become too focused, the first and last step is your website, traffic, sessions, and in the end a ROI for the content you produce. There is a fine line to forcing the issue, in other words slandering your content up with buy this, click this, and ads. Your end goal for the content, as far as your website goal, shouldn’t be to make that reader buy that product on the spot, it should be a lasting impression that slowly creates consumers and their trust for your brand, product, or service. Converting one reader or lead out of 100 is not as valuable as creating a base of addicted consumers, there addiction being your site and your content.

The world of hunting marketing, fishing marketing, and inbound marketing is unbelievable, if you know what you are doing. No matter the size of your company in the outdoor industry, you can be competitive if you are dialed into your content sweet spot. It’s so much more than who has the most ad presence, it’s about who is the authority in their niche with the content they create. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Focus on your consumers, optimize the content, and generate website traffic. As you dial into your content sweet spot, just remember and then record and analyze your digital marketing KPIs. Let the numbers do the talking, and lead you to greater revenue in the bank account.


Graphic: Deanna Riley grew up in western PA with a love for the outdoors, which lead to her drive to capture the essence of what’s around us in her nature photography and design work. She holds a BFA in Graphic Design, and is excellent at web, logo, and print design as well as social media.

Article: Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as a content manager and strategist, benefitting the company’s many outdoor industry partners, and outdoor freelance writers.

2 Need to Know Lessons in Fishing Marketing and Fishing Social Media

Fishing Marketing and Fishing Social Media | Inbound Marketing

By: Weston Schrank
Stone Road Media’s Content Marketing Manager

In the most recent news for fishing marketing, as it holds true for the outdoor industry in general, the tables have turned. The smallest fishing TV show, fishing manufacturing company, and/or even the startup fishing brands can oust out the big dogs of the fishing industry. Oust them out? What do we mean? Should you be concerned? It all depends, especially if you have not noticed, a major, huge….COLOSSAL shift has happened in your industry. The shift is from traditional fishing marketing to digital media and inbound marketing. The playing field is level with these considered and what has formed is a very real race and competition for open real estate. This is old news for fishing marketing, or at least it should be…

To catch up on what you need to know, or to test yourself on how much you really understand when it comes to fishing marketing, dig through these two lessons and see how you fare.

Fishing Marketing Lesson 1: Digital Marketing and Content

This is digital marketing, and if it is not something you’re fishing marketing plans and budget strives for then you need a quick lesson to help you understand how you are missing the boat and how your business will start drowning. The focus here is content, and it’s obligation for lead generation, customer acquisition, consumer engagement, and brand awareness. When discussing digital marketing, especially content it can begin to sound complicated, and to a point it is, but to really grasp what the terms associated with it like search engine optimization (SEO) is, you can actually just Google it. No seriously, Google it. This will be the best lesson and best advice you will probably hear today.

 “As soon as you type the phrase “What is SEO,” SEO is occurring? Google is reaching out to find the most authoritative site on the terms you are looking for and will rank them in the search engine result pages (SERPs). This complex algorithm from Google is revised and released a lot. It is often too much to comprehend for most business owners, thus the advice provided by digital marketing firms like Stone Road Media…The term Pay-Per-Click or PPC is thrown around a lot, and often can be a quick way to drive traffic to your business. But if not managed correctly it can also be a quick way to drain the bank account. PPC, like Google AdWords, allows you to create a targeted ad for your business to “jump ahead” of the organic results on a SERP. This sounds great in theory and can be very effective, but lately, Google has found that over 80% of the clicks on the SERPs occur on the organic search results. Why? Basically the consumer has evolved and knows that the top and right columns are for “paid ads,” and tend to lean more towards the organic area more it’s ranked highly for a more definitive reason than “the highest bid.”” – There’s more to Digital Marketing than Social Media

The last bit of that is key. Basically you have to work hard and know what you are doing to own the very valuable fishing marketing web real estate on a given SERP related to your business and brand. This is the tip of the iceberg for digital marketing and fishing marketing as all of this revolves around what your focus should be and where your content should be. Written, video, and pictures are the critical component to successful digital marketing, it is digital media, and chances are you have been wasting all of it up to this point. Don’t keep making the same mistake! Some of the big players in the fishing industry, and we all know who they are, make very simple mistakes when it comes to this aspect of fishing marketing.  The second part of this lesson in fishing marketing content are the lessons not to make! Here are the four mistakes when it comes to fishing marketing, and more specifically content in digital marketing by this industry.

  • Not Original– their content is regurgitated common sense blogs, or reused and segmented TV show footage put online. This content is old, it’s bland, tasteless, it’s short (200-500 words, if any), and it’s not relevant. In order to get Google’s organic effect you need to first start with original, new, custom, never seen before content.
  • Not Optimized –This is by far the most lacking in the industry. Once you have an original piece it needs to be “teed up”. This means optimized attributes including title, Meta description, Meta tags, keywords, and the list goes on. Even the best magazine and print freelance writers are behind in this aspect. For video content, the process is even more meticulous as it needs an authoritative chunk of relatable copy for Google to know what it is.
  • Not Repeated –This is not just a week-long, month-long, or even year-long process. New custom content that is optimized needs to be continuous, relentless, and anticipated by your fans and audience. The biggest mistake we see made beyond these first two points above, is putting up the first season or round of your content, and being dormant for 6-7 months. Hunting and fishing is seasonal, your content shouldn’t be.
  • Not Syndicated –Your content is king and you are on the right track if it is custom, if it is optimized, and it’s on-going. The next step is getting this content out and available to your fans. This is where marketing, social media platforms, and syndication comes into play. If you are the content producers, you can reach the first three steps with some hard work, but the last step may require some. If you’re the sponsor you might have a better idea of this, but the maximum benefit will still be out of your reach.
  • Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing | How to Show More “Digital Love” to Your Sponsors

The problem in avoiding these mistakes is it really does take work by a dedicated team of individuals. Sure you have content flowing into the company from “pro staff”, “field staff”, or sponsored personalities, but that is honestly the start of your problems, the big question and solution is learning what to do with it…

Fishing Marketing Lesson 2: Fishing Social Media and Social Trotlining™

When it comes to fishing marketing and more specifically fishing social media the best way to describe the social media platform to aim for, the platform that will actually show results is best explained with something we all know well…the trotline.

Fishing Marketing and Fishing Social Media

Social Trotlining™ utilizes the exact same principles of the fishing technique. A brand (Main Line) determines its target consumer and then sets up a myriad of social media accounts (Leaders) including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram. These accounts lay out a variety of digital content (Bait) that a potential lead can come through or “be caught.”

When an outdoor industry company makes a social media post on Facebook or Twitter, it’s like casting out a single rod. Although multiple outdoorsmen can be caught over time with the digital content it is very one-dimensional, and often limiting in impressions Social Trotlining™ not only increases the effectiveness of a company engaging with targeted consumers, but it also builds the companies standing as a whole in the internet universe.” – Engage With More Outdoorsman on Social Media | the Art of Social Trotlining™

When Stone Road Media’s Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Flinn developed the idea of Social Trotlining™ and has put it to work with our clients, the results are astonishing. The reason for your social media platform is to reach and engage with consumers. This is where the custom, optimized, authoritative content we create and/or optimize with a client really comes to full force. Engaging users on all social media platforms, by using custom compelling original digital content is often where businesses miss key opportunities. Not with a lack of effort but rather understanding of how it all works and how to get all of it in front of the consumer.

As you plan for 2016 and 2017 fishing marketing of your company and beyond, remember that most companies are already investing into digital, content, and inbound marketing. From the lessons you learned today on fishing marketing you now know the worldwide web is not as endless as it seems, and there is a definite amount of real estate to be grasped. Content is critical and your fishing social media platform is critical, stop wasting time, money, and resources. Whether you are a small or large company, seize the chance now while the industry is still shifting to make sure you and your company make the cut.

Stone Road Media | Media Kit

Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as a content manager and strategist, benefiting the company’s many outdoor industry partners.

Hunting and Fishing Marketing | Appealing to Google and the Customer with Multimedia

Appealing to Google and Your Customer | The Power of Multimedia in Hunting and Fishing Marketing

By: Weston Schrank
Stone Road Media’s Content Marketing Manager

Everyone that is potentially reading this, considering the year and time I wrote this piece, is or has grown up reading hunting and fishing magazines. Depending on your passion, you waited for that magazine each and every month. You would reserve a spot in the calendar, even a chunk of time after dinner but before bed, a time for just you and the latest hunting and fishing articles. What do the old print and magazine articles have to do with this digital blog? A big part of digital marketing and more specifically content marketing is taking lessons from the past and capitalizing on them when tested. Print and digital are two different beasts entirely but they were birthed with the same purpose, engaging the consumer. To bring them together, digital and content marketing must make it a priority in tempting the consumer into the content. This pull and addiction was mastered by print writers, as we know to have been very successful at evoking emotional connection to the story and topic through detailed descriptions, delicate vocabulary, and well-formed article structure. In the world of digital that can and should all apply, but it can be done far easier with the simple task of embedding multimedia. In the world of hunting and fishing marketing this is a must! As the hunting, fishing, and outdoor industry peaks its head into the digital scene, it must open the lesson notes on where the industry has come from and how it has thus far acquired readers, fans, and customers. Until recently it was print or TV shows for many brands, but now hunting and fishing marketing must include well thought out a content and digital marketing strategy that includes the use of multimedia.

While print and digital content are comparable in terms of purpose they are downright different in the fact of what is available. While print was relatively constricted to vocabulary and pictures, it only had to focus on engaging the consumer, not acquiring them.  Digital content must not only engage the consumer but be appealing to google as well, now serving two purposes. One, procure consumers from an extremely competitive field, and two appeal to and engage that buyer. While digital content has multimedia at its disposal, this competition and job description has become a lot harder for online content creators, managers, and marketers to see returns on effort. Just as hunting and fishing print writers developed into masters of engaging readers, outdoor industry content marketers, brands, and shows must dictate the digital content they produce.  This process is and has eventually lead to the final result of becoming proficient at the embedding of multimedia in every piece of content. With Stone Road Media as the front-runner of hunting and fishing marketing in the outdoor industry, we are doing, have done, and are verifying this.

With the realization of open real estate and the earthquake beneath the industry’s feet forming a content and web real estate gap, the time could not be more spot on and important to take control of your content and multimedia use. This has been adequately described in “Content Marketing | An Outdoor Industry Content Gap Is Growing”.

“2016 has come with some big changes that will be noticed by this industry! Do not fall behind. Every company, brand, and product has competition, the top spot for every search related to your business is key. Do you have the content to bridge that gap? An authoritative content gap will begin to form for every topic, subject, and product in the industry. You need to ask yourself, which side of the gap you will be on and where your competition will be?”

Under the weight of this rapid snatching of open web real estate, we have returned our content management and marketing goals, team, and content machine.

What is Outdoor Industry Multimedia?

Multimedia – several forms of communication or expression (Merriam-Webster). Basically this is content that incorporates forms such as text and images (basic) with video, audio, and interactive content (advanced). For the outdoor industry, and as far as hunting and fishing digital marketing should be concerned, this is the blueprint for acquiring and engaging consumers. Each and every piece of content on your blog, channel, and site should incorporate the use of multimedia to appeal to not only the consumer, but more importantly to google. As a rule of thumb every piece of content that goes on our site, a client’s site, or partner’s site must have a minimum multimedia use. Why?

“Sixty-eight percent (68%) of consumers spend time reading about brands that interest them, and once found (search query on google) , 78% perceive a relationship between themselves and the brand after reading or watching digital content; 82% of which is positive feelings towards the brand”Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing | how to Acquire and Retain More Sponsors

Content is useless when it does not do its job. An unsatisfying article on summer bass fishing, summer deer mineral usage, or the handgun or rifle selection process wouldn’t sit well with either the editor or reader of a magazine. In the same sense a poorly optimized piece of content does not sit well with google, resulting in a  2nd, 3rd, 4th or worse page rank for related search queries. On the other hand a well optimized piece of content must be natural, interesting, and valuable to the consumer. Multimedia use in digital content is the balance between the two.

How to Use Multimedia in Outdoor Industry Content

Now I am not simply telling you that what you have been doing this entire time is working, considering if you are like 70 % of the industry (the 30% being our clients and partners). I’ll express to you now to clear your mind…putting some basic text or a blog with a picture of a buck, a food plot, a boat, or an 8lb bass, or even better just uploading YouTube video is not going to cut it! There are a lot of websites out there that just simply do that, but this will change shortly. At the advent of Google’s hummingbird update, the content game and resulting real estate gap has been completely re-figured. This is ultimately is what will separate the regurgitated post websites, and the truly “original and valuable” content creators that prop themselves up to be the authorities. This is why multimedia use is so key, and why our clients our soaring to the top of every search page all around you!

The reason this blog exists? It pains us to see the so very real struggle of hunting and fishing brands, TV shows, and company’s going through with this. Here is an example…

Content Marketing for Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting | The Future of Outdoor Industry Marketing from Jeremy Flinn on Vimeo.

Content Marketing for Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting | the Future of Outdoor Industry Marketing

(Video) – Content marketing has been deemed as the future of all marketing. For small and large brands, alike, now is the time to seize the space in your niche. Find how by reading on…

Its common knowledge that the entire industry is going towards video content, it’s simply the best way to tell the story and engage consumers. Those who cannot produce video settle with the next best thing, a podcast. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, but both are considered prized multimedia for the outdoor industry. For hunters, and content creators in the hunting and fishing industry, creating quality content is not the problem, at least not from where we sit and view it. There is so much content out there with potential. You currently reading, you most likely have several YouTube or Vimeo videos sitting on a channel, or perhaps several podcast sitting on your site, but…(you know what I am about to say) you’re not getting any traction!  While you might have filmed a thrilling 180 inch whitetail hunt, or a great “how to” fishing video, you failed to reach the consumer with it. The main reason? Simple optimization, basic titles, keywords, and a lack on your part to think before you post. This is the struggle we see EVERYWHERE IN THE INDUSTRY. If a brand, content creator, company, or site does achieve basic optimization to tell google what it actually is on their site, they will most likely fail on another step. This second critical step is syndicating content with your partners, your shows, your hunting and fishing TV show sponsors or whatever the case may be. Without this syndication of multimedia, you basically see the current state of the industry, a ton of content with no rhyme or reason. While it pains us to see this, what’s even more painful is trying to watch hunters, fisherman, outdoor enthusiasts, and your consumers trying to wade through this content. “It’s sad to see extremely valuable and quality content go unseen” – quoted for one reason only, it is happening!

If it’s not already there yet, I want to place a light bulb in your head. Dig and sift through all of the related multimedia that pertains to your brand. Now how much of it are you currently using? If it’s below 80-90%, the 10-20% being newly produced or out of date media, then you are way behind. If this is your situation, write some copy (text) to go with those videos, the podcasts, and the pictures. Slap this up on your blog or landing pages, optimize it, and use it to your benefit.

How Multimedia Bridges the Gap Between Google and The Consumer

Once you begin employing every piece of multimedia, you will begin to understand the massive value it brings to your brand. Google loves well optimized blogs, articles, and pages, but it loves those same pages more with pictures, videos, audio etc. The key here is so does the consumer! It bridges the gap!

After some time, mastering this multimedia use for your brand, will not only acquire customers organically but evoke the responses you desire and get them hooked. Just like print and the hunting and fishing magazines did/do, if every one of your posts contain quality pictures, a video, some well written and intriguing text, and information that readers want, you have done your job! For this you need strategy, a content manager, skilled content producers, and a will to grind!

This is just a taste, the entry-level basics of what is rapidly becoming the new standard for digital marketing and hunting and fishing marketing. Outdoor content marketing will be, and is developing, as the future and focal point of the outdoor industry. This is based off and includes multimedia use. Whether you are a sponsor, a hunting of fishing TV show, a brand, or a company in this industry, no matter your size, impact in the industry, or your budget, outdoor content marketing and multimedia use can boost you in the industry. As you plan for the 2016/2017 marketing of your company and beyond, remember that a lot of companies are already investing into outdoor content marketing. There is only so much space in this competition, and once you get ahead in the game it could be easy to stay ahead!

For more information on Stone Road Media’s front running digital media assistance and multi-faceted team that has harnessed content production, management, and marketing, contact us today at

Weston Schrank is Stone Road Media’s Digital Content Manager. He has turned the obsession of outdoors and hunting, expertise in wildlife and land management, and understanding of specialized content creation and SEO into an excelling and devoted career as a content manager and strategist, benefiting the company’s many outdoor industry partners.

Hunting and Fishing Digital Marketing | Customer Profiling

Hunting and Fishing Digital Marketing | Customer Profiling for Greater Customer Engagement

By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer

Every day your target customers are bombarded with hundreds, if not thousands, of digital advertisements. Whether via website ad space, email marketing, social media ads, or AdWords, the irrelevant nature or broad generality have made that outdoor industry consumer nearly numb to the delivery. If you have run any ads like this you often scratch your head at the mass number of impressions and nearly pathetic click thru rates – usually way south of 1% (unless you’re talking about fat-fingered mobile ads). If you do get clicks, like with social media ads or AdWords, your analytics will often tell the story of high bounce rate and low time on site – meaning lack of quality visitors. With all the digital noise, you have to prepare your brand and product to stand out from the rest. The best way to do that is to present an ad of extreme relevance. Sure, the visual aesthetics and call-to-action (CTA) matter, but at the end of the day, if it’s not relevant, it’s not getting engagement. Delivering effective digital advertising is much more than buying run of site (ROS) display ads or throwing a “Don’t Miss Sale” email together. It takes an extremely strategic and refined plan of action to not only deliver the advertising, but get the engagement you are looking for whether that’s website visits, content delivery, contest entries, or direct sales. That’s where customer profiling becomes incredibly effective.

No, this isn’t the profiling of old where you get sold onto 50 different lists or receive 100 credit card applications in the mail because you are a managing member of one LLC. Actually, a major driver of our business is customer profiling not for the business, but for the consumer. Why? You do not want customers to waste precious seconds of the day engaging or searching aimlessly for something they need. By delivering hyper-targeted advertisements, you not only make advertising more effective for the business, but also the customer. For example, why would you send an ammunition ad to someone who is only a bow hunter or target archer? Those might be wasted ad dollars if you are on CPM impression-based model. Or why advertise your brand of “deer minerals” for someone to click, only for them to find out it contains molasses (a food) and is illegal in many states during some or all of the year? Customer profiling is a much more effective way to reach the right customer for your brand, product, or service. The days of bulk/mass targeting are over. It hemorrhaged budgets, and generated extremely poor results (if you forgot, look at a run of site click thru rate on display ads again). So how do you begin to customer profile?

It all starts with an email address. To me, and email address is their name. In fact, it’s also their location. With that one line that includes the @ symbol, I not only can know the person, but can deliver a message. The email address is the foundation of customer profiling and should be targeted long before you begin to build any information on that customer. Without the email address, the rest of the information is irrelevant. Why? How can you utilize the information gathered if the person is just a random visitor to the website? Retargeting code through Google AdWords is not going to separate them out very well. No, this requires special attention. The email will begin to build a database, in which you will grow the profile and begin to understand the consumer in much greater detail.

Once you have the email, acquired through any of several “moral” internet methods, you can begin to build the profile through questions and surveys. Why moral? The days of bulk buying email list will shut down your mass email account, like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp, so fast your head will spin. If you consistently get more than 1 spam report per thousand emails sent you can be subject to account suspension. If you bought a list, I can guarantee this will happen as those customers signed up for something that may be related, but is not specific to your brand or products. Building the profile will require a well thought out strategy in the email blast. This could be as easy as a contest, or as blended as great content and a survey or poll that lets a sportsman speak their voice. Either way, it is a great opportunity to target what is happening now. For example, you wouldn’t poll a deer hunter about what their favorite rut call is in the middle of turkey season. Odds are the response rate will be low as they aren’t thinking about that activity. You will often only get one chance to ask that question. Timing and presentation are everything so don’t throw out a 20 question survey unless you are offering one hell of a prize opportunity for those that complete it.

As you begin to collect customer profiling information, store it in a secure database that you can revisit, sort, and extract relevant contacts. That’s a lot of information to put into an email account management tool and sort through, so doing it in Excel and importing the target emails for a particular topic can be much easier. Once you have started to reach the targeted lists, study the analytics like open and click thru rate or even the sales derived from the eblast, as compared to those untargeted in the past. You should see significant increases in the KPIs you are most interested in. This is a great way for TV Shows looking to please sponsors, as they can show powerful and extreme targeted numbers for specific products. Again, why send the next best whitetail grunt call out to everyone when half your list lives mainly in western elk country? The choice is yours, but if you make a customer’s life more streamlined, your success will often follow the same suit.