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 MidwestWhitetail.com. Instead of realizing the potential to set up a “TV” format built around a brand, MuddyTV.com 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 www.bonecollector.com

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.


Hunting and Fishing Marketing │ Why Creative Services Aren’t Always Marketing

All Marketing Is Creative, But All Creative Is Not Marketing

By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer

It seems more and more I hear about “creative agencies” handling marketing for companies. While being creative is one of my foundational premises for successful marketing in any industry, the fact is creative agencies rarely have the full scope of skilled staff necessary to drive a marketing campaign, let alone marketing division, for a company. It’s no knock on the “creative sector” that is out there. I have some unbelievable creative designers on my staff, and many campaigns would not have been nearly as successful without their outside the box vision and drive. However, a true marketing agency will carry the full array of skills on staff, and creative is just one piece of that puzzle.

I’m not sure at what point being a creative agency became labeled as marketing. Sure, it’s absolute a part of the marketing genre. For many creative agencies they do just that, execute strongly a part of the marketing strategy. However, I have run across many creative agencies attempting (that’s key) to execute full tradition and inbound marketing strategies, only to fall short of success or miss critical deadlines.

It’s not as puzzling as it sounds. Creative people on staff are the group that gives life to a marketing vision. For the first time, a bunch of random brainstorming is harnessed and placed into a drafted, organized vision. It’s pretty cool when it turns out “exactly as I was thinking.” But here is where things get out of control for the creative side. There are now a series of revisions to get it to where it is acceptable (key term). See my company motto is to always do better. There is always room for improvement in the effectiveness and success of an inbound marketing campaign we run at Stone Road Media. Creative people also think this way, and at some point a project strategist or manager has to cut them off. Why? Timelines, cost, new projects, basically a whole host of reasons. At some point “perfection kills profitability,” and all businesses like profit. When a creative agency embraces a start to finish campaign the drag on of changes and perfection can be painful. But that’s an easy oversight for a company (although I hate missing deadlines!), where the real test is at for the creative is the success with consumers. The absolute best creative, outside the box, dynamite idea is only as good as the execution of marketing exposure. Whether that is social media, web, TV or print, the fact is it doesn’t matter how great the campaign idea and creative are if it doesn’t effectively reach the target, it will fail!

This is why a diverse, full-service agency team is needed from start to finish. Everyone on the team has their certain strong points. A strategist builds the campaign framework and goals, a project manager organizes and initiates the teams to complete deliverables, creative will focus on forming the vision into something tangible, and implementers will begin preparing web, social media, TV spots, and print for maximum exposure. Our team at Stone Road Media focuses primarily on the digital side so we are more concerned with our digital implementers having all channels of syndication “tee’d up” for delivering the campaign message. The strategist and project manager come back around to assure execution at the final level, and more importantly to gather analytical results from the success or failure of the campaign. This is a marketing agency that can take your idea, needs, or goals and run from start to finish. It’s a team of complements that work as one unit to deliver a successful end result.

As you begin to develop a strategy it’s often hard to ignore the creative bells and whistles. It is the first place rand ideas get a vision. Steve Smolenski, the other co-founder of Stone Road Media, and I are huge Apple fans. Not necessarily the apple products of today as much as the story of the company and its founder Steve Jobs. Steve was a strategist at heart, but he often was overcome creatively developing a vision that he would lead to fruition. As Jobs worked on the Macintosh in the 1980s, he fell victim to the “perfection kills profitability.” Missed timelines and overpriced parts made the Macintosh a much more expensive and delayed product to market. That collapse of “creative control” led to him being ousted from his own company. Now that is obviously a much more serious example but had there been a project manager or strategist counterpart to funnel his creative genius to abide by timelines and cost restraints the Macintosh could have changed the entire outcome of the Apple we all know today, for better or worse.

Lastly, companies that have already formed a vision and goals looking for an agency should consider creative agencies, or a full-service agency. Often the blinders are put on internally and the vision is inadvertently molded into what everyone expected it to be. Using a 3rd party allows an outsiders take to construct the vision often utilizing components that are learned in the industry outside of the four walls of the hiring company. This allows for a much more “free” conversion of the company’s vision to a complete campaign for the consumer it intends to reach.

As you being to lay out inbound marketing campaigns or divisions for your business, consider the strengths of your own company and areas that you need help. Look to employ a group that has a long history of successful work in your industry, as it will convey that they already have a grip on the target consumer. Sometimes bringing in multiple agencies to diversify and handle different aspects can be good. But always remember that the more agencies and people involved, the more difficult the communication wire will be. Communication between all parties will be the final straw to determine ultimate success of the marketing campaign, or just another good creative vision.

The Power of Knowing Your Customer

By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer

Whether you run your own small business or are in charge of a small piece of a large business, knowing your customer may be more important than any other thing that you do. No one has ever been successful selling a good or service to a customer they didn’t know. Even the late Steve Jobs knew that normal, everyday people wanted personal home computers, even before those people knew it themselves! Sure, you could make it by throwing generalized ads and marketing to the masses, but at the end of the day no other aspect of your business’s plan will be more critical than the foundation upon which you build…your target customer.

For some small business owners, their entire financial well-being will collapse by misinterpreting who their customer is. But that’s more of a rarity. In fact, most businesses know exactly who their customers are, as they have been the same for many years. But even these businesses can still trip and fall, when it comes to identifying how to market to a customer that you have not adapted too.

Far too often this is what happens in the outdoor industry. An aging demographic has led us to continue to market to the stronghold buyer. “Ol’ Reliable” that you know reads magazines and watches TV. The instant gratification is great, and year after year income remains where we like it to be. But there is a darkness looming. One that most do not want to realize, the fact that this old reliable customer is fading, and soon revenue will slip.

Millennials are driving the marketing in today’s true business world. We tend to sit on an island as the outdoor industry, just doing what has worked for us over the years. But soon what has worked, will no longer work. The day that comes to fruition, is a day that many will collapse under the immense pressure for footing in the digital marketplace. From search engine optimization to social media, from paid digital ads to pay per click ads, the digital marketing realm is one that is not taken advantage of by many brands in the outdoor industry. Brands that have long stood the test of time, yet still do not have a mobile responsive website! Are you kidding me? Did you miss the “Mobilegeddon” from Google? Guess so.

However, there are some who have embraced the digital front. Growing there brand steadily, and tracking all the benefits of the digital world. More importantly gaining information about their customers. Not just those who are already buying, but more importantly those who will be buying. The world of advertising is rapidly changing. If you have not yet adapted, you are missing the boat. If you aren’t sure if you adapted, pull out your smartphone and go to your website, does it look clean and navigable? I didn’t think so…

Digital Content Marketing | A Unique and Different Digital Content Machine

Efficient Digital Content Marketing Strategy

By Weston Schrank

Stone Road Media Content Specialist

There is much more to content creation and its marketing than the point, shoot, and post method, or worse complete regurgitation of others’ content. Often the high-quality video or photo, worthy of attention, is sitting unwatched and unseen on YouTube, Facebook, or other social media platform. It has little to no value in terms of marketing or website traffic because it lacks the engagement level and power to be found by Google and the new generation of customer.

Sound familiar? Well here is why…

Every customer whether working from the office, boating at the lake house, or working out in the gym is looking to be engaged by the internet, and for the first time customers are engaging more on internet devices than other modes previously advertised and marketed. The expensive commercials and print advertisements aren’t cutting it anymore. Searchers have a need to be channeled to the content they seek. It’s simple – for every query made, there is an answer delivered by the search engine. The shift of this new generation of customer has sparked the need for a shift in thinking behind digital content creation and marketing. The key to reaching these customers for your business and brand is to produce the answers they need, via the digital content you create and optimize.

To perform efficiently, a “machine” of sorts is required. One that can handle an extreme workload without sacrificing quality, and more importantly understands your business and the target consumer. This means every gear, piston, nut, and bolt of a machine is important. Knowing the consumer and how to reach them is simple with a right machine programmed for your niche digital content creation and syndication. The creators or key components of this machine are consumers of your business, but now expanded their interaction into passionate professionals brought together for the purpose of driving others like them to your business. But, unlike a simple production line with one product (a simple photo, blog, or post), this digital content marketing machine produces unique, powerful, original content with each unit. Innovative digital content marketing specifically designed to your niche, and more specifically business. Non-regurgitated, never seen before pieces with a unique fit for maximum efficiency in driving website traffic.

Each component coming from a “professional” is not just the mindless blog or photo. It’s packaged with the ability to be found. With a strategy in mind that will reach out and engage with a specific searcher’s query relevant to your business.

There is a three in one system to this digital content marketing. Each piece is generated with creative thinking, professional knowledge, and minimal budget. But more importantly a photo or video is generated with written content, injected with search engine optimization (SEO) by one valuable individual, and then placed into the hands of a firm with the ability to get it found on Google by your target consumer.

The final product? Much more than the lifeless post on social media. Something the consumer will search for, find, connect, and engage with. The organic effect…

It’s time to rethink digital content creation and what it can do to drive inbound marketing and your business growth. It’s time to #BeDifferent with Stone Road Media.

Weston Schrank holds a Bachelor Degree from Purdue University. An advocate of communication and driving information to engagement, Weston has developed an understanding of specialized digital content creation and SEO into exciting business relations with Stone Road Media clients.