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 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
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
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.
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 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 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.
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
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…
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.
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.