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Stone Road Media | Outdoor Industry Freelance Writing Opening

Outdoor Industry Freelance Writing Opening

Stone Road Media currently has several outdoor industry freelance writing openings.

We are looking for capable outdoor freelance writers that eat, sleep, and breathe all things outdoors to join our team of freelance writers at Stone Road Media! Following our blog: Growing Opportunities for Outdoor Freelance Writers we ourselves have many openings that have recently surfaced due to the growing need for digital content.

It is not often that you find an outdoor industry job with such a gateway into a “behind the scenes” look at the workhorses of the outdoor industry.

Stone Road Media is on the front lines of marketing for the outdoor industry. By attaining a freelance writing opportunity with this company you will gain the ability, knowledge, and experience to write superior, valuable content for brands, companies, manufacturers, and personalities in the industry.

Requirements

-Writers must possess the willingness, eagerness, and ability to learn.

-Writers must have a love for all things outdoors (Hunting, Fishing, Camping, and even Shooting/Tactical)

-Writers must be extremely knowledgeable of hunting/fishing tactics beyond the common level of the everyday hunter and must possess the ability to accurately display the tactic.

-Writers must be familiar with the term SEO

-Writers must be familiar with the majority of brands, manufacturers, and personalities in the industry

– Must be able to meet necessary deadlines

-Must be passionate about writing

-Must have a computer/laptop of your own

-Must have a reliable access to internet

-Must have a reliable access to a cell phone for phone meetings and conferences

-Must have excellent skills in written communication, grammar, blogging, etc…

-Must understand the difference between representing a brand vs. representing a personality

-Must be somewhat knowledgeable and proficient at gathering related to content, videos, and photos for the pieces written

-Must be able to receive constructive criticism when needed

* Must possess the ability to write a blog that offers more than the blog it stands next to on a SERP (does not simply copy and paste another blog that currently stands on a website). Is familiar with Plagiarism.

How to Apply

If you are interested in gaining ann outdoor industry freelance writing position with us.Please email info@stoneroadmedia.com for serious inquiries.

PLEASE INCLUDE:

  • Resume
  • Links, docs, or pictures of 3 previous blogs, articles, magazine pieces

Note: Upon initial contact and review, you may be asked to provide 1-2 blogs given with specific topics, for a specific client, and must be able to complete in a reasonable time. For one or both “tryout” blogs you may or may not be paid, depending on quality and value of writing.

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.

About:

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 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.

Content Marketing | An Outdoor Industry Content Gap Is Growing, Which Side Are You On?

Outdoor Industry Marketing | The Authoritative Gap of Hunting,
Shooting, and Fishing Content Marketing

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

The tables have turned, the smallest TV, manufacturing company, or web series show can beat out the big dogs of the hunting, shooting, and fishing industry with hard work rather than large budgets. They key to this is focused on digital media and inbound marketing. The playing field is level with these considered and it is a race for the authoritative title on any given topic, product, and sector in the industry. This is a big chance for anyone in the outdoor industry.

This is old news for hunting, shooting, and fishing content marketing. This gold nugget has been discovered and out for a while, but if this is news to you, unfortunately you are already falling behind, and the gap that is forming may be too big to jump.

So what’s the latest from our friend and your foe google? The hummingbird update, the fast, agile, in, and out pivotal change. Without paying attention to this many hunting, fishing, and shooting companies and brands that were once authorities, WILL BE ousted. Those not taking notice and applying to their digital media and digital content marketing will begin to free fall in reach, audience building, audience retention,  engagement, and eventually sales.

Let’s hash this wound open again, content is king, but authority is that “higher power in the sky”, it rules the content.

Content creators, their businesses, and brands that take note of the changes will take advantage of this, and an authoritative gap will be form. This gap will not be insignificant, but enormous, and once you are ahead it could be easy to stay ahead.

Which side of this gap will you be on?

What Your Business Needs to Know

  1. What Is the Gap and Why is it Important?

The facts behind this claim is that the hummingbird has asked for a lot more from your content creators and creative sector. The latest blog, article, web purposed TV episode, or you tube video have new requirements to give them power online to reach the audience. The purpose of hummingbird? When you begin to dissect and understand it the reason is clear.

It is separating the lifeless regurgitation posts from the spot-on authority on any given subject. Did your deepest fear just come true? If your content and content marketing strategy is this, basically your entire “Blog” or “Video” content of the site is nothing new or unique, it will lack authority and you will fall behind.

Why does all this matter to your business, brand, and/or product?

The world and this industry have gone digital, the most significant sentence of this article is this. “Your customer will seek you 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 will beat out the competition. The actual change of hummingbird and its requirements and guidelines for new content will eventually create an authoritative content gap. This will stack your content as the top results for every search a customer types, related to your business.   Those top results will place your expert content in front of the competitions, causing a free fall.

If you’re already lost with this start, it may be easier to touch up on the basics of hunting, shooting, and fishing marketing.

  1. Be a Content Marketing Expert

We see immeasurable blogs, articles, and videos that are completely lifeless. They are sloppy regurgitations of an authoritative piece from another site, slapped on their site or You Tube channel, and posted on Facebook to be subsequently ignored by the intended audience.

What did they think would happen?

Fans, customers, and Google knows who and what the experts are. Those that are not will be slapped. Every piece of content needs to be correct, well executed or written, optimized, and syndicated.

If you only knew how much was and is changing and how fast this change and gap will occur, you would be embarrassed at the current content you are putting out and how you are marketing it.

  1. Go Beyond the Content

Redesign and rethink your strategy. The first step in the creative process and to any content creation is deciding on the topic. My main duties at Stone Road Media’s content manager completely focuses on content, obviously right? But this goes far beyond the piece of content and topic. I have a need to understand every other team member’s role, our company’s goals, the clients, their brand, their objectives, their customers and audiences, and ultimately put all of it into every single piece of content I create or review.

Every piece is tailored with a specific goal. This goes beyond brand-focused content and the sale. Is the piece designed for a company’s, client’s, or brand’s prospects (audience building) or actual customers? Am I framing the piece for seekers, or for retention? It will be small and broad, or specific and detailed, in either case the piece will be from an expert, well written, and optimized. Every piece is diverse, will include altered keywords, search terms, and objectives, but all structured around the overall end goal.

  1. The Content Goes Beyond You

Once the content is teed up and out the door, it is posted and unleashed on the site and to the audience. The next crucial step is social media marketing. This is not advertising but syndication. Content that is written or executed well, by an expert, syndicated across several social sites (not just Facebook and Twitter) but a continually growing number of platforms will be noticed. Once the process is repeated (literally weekly) over and over again, the authoritative-gap will form.

You will be ahead, and stay ahead.

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 the 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?”

For more information on Stone Road Media’s digital media assistance and multi-faceted team, contact us today at info@stoneroadmedia.com.

Weston Schrank holds a BS in wildlife science and management. 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 the content manager for Stone Road Media’s partners.

ROI for Inbound Marketing | Measuring KPIs for Digital Marketing Results

ROI for Inbound Marketing | Measuring KPIs for Digital Marketing Results

By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer

With the aggressive increase of companies investing in digital marketing, the question is what is my return on investment (ROI) on these inbound marketing services? Before we start to break down the different metrics to determine the success or failure of digital marketing services, we have to discuss what was collected or measured from the dominant marketing actions prior to exploring the digital marketing realm. This typically leads us to print and TV. Once the question is reversed on a company’s marketing team, the ability to measure anything marketing related comes into question. The fact is TV and print are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to gauge the detailed analytics such as impressions, direct actions taken, and associated sales. This isn’t a bash article on TV and print, in fact, some specific arenas have some of the most effective TV and print campaigns ever! Think of TV shows like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, and the almost cult following they have created. What has slipped is the ability to reach consumers with brands through these channels. Take for example this year’s Super Bowl. How many commercials can you actually remember as impactful? Turn back 10-20 years and you can easily recall the first time seeing the Budweiser frogs or FedEx Cavemen. Things have changed and thus companies are looking to digital engagement for more impactful marketing. In order to determine something as impactful, you have to be able to measure the results. That’s where the various digital marketing “key performance indicators” or KPIs are sought out by marketing and analytic teams.

ROI for Digital Marketing – Defined

When most business-minded people think about the term ROI, they instantly gravitate towards a monetary attribute. That could be anything from gross sales to cost per acquisition of customers. These areas are incredibly important KPIs when evaluating the success of any inbound marketing campaign. However, with the increase popularity in strategies such as social media marketing and content marketing, there is a myriad of other metrics that can be monitored and evaluated to determine successes of the digital marketing campaigns. When discussing the KPIs of social media marketing we can discuss organic growth (likes), total impressions, total reach, and total engagement. Those all are very relevant and important but don’t be afraid to expand on that to include what is the true “means to the end” for social media – getting people to your website. How many people came from Facebook to your website? Twitter? Instagram? Of those, how many navigated more than one page? When you evaluate a marketing campaign’s success you must look at it holistically with regards to your end goal, which on inbound marketing, is getting in front of potential consumers and sending them to your website, products, or services. Each of these attributes can tell us a lot of the success or failure of the campaign, as well as tell you a lot about your customer and their behaviors.

Digital Marketing Measurable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Measuring KPIs in arenas like digital ad buying (display ads) and search engine marketing (Pay-Per-Click), are a little more standard than some of the other inbound marketing services. Standard metrics are noted like impressions, click thrus, click thru rate (CTR), and contributing sales. A note to be cautious on with display advertising KPIs, is to make sure to cross reference what your advertising platform provides in terms of numbers with your Google Analytics account. Hopefully you have created a trackable link when you created the campaign so that you know where the traffic is coming from. Often you will receive “inflated” numbers, particularly clicks to a website. This is an easy metric to cross reference with Google Analytics and determine the number that truly reached your website, content, and products. The same is said for Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising thru platforms like Google AdWords and Yahoo/Bing. You can easily pull data on all of the above and even conversion rate and cost per conversion, if you set up conversion code on particular pages of the website. It will sound like a broken record, but Google Analytics will become your main source to pull KPIs, you just have to know what to look for in the complex, informative system.

Determining Digital Marketing ROI “Success”

With all that said, what the hell do we consider “success” for these metrics of digital marketing? I mean if it’s 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 pageviews, 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 (pageviews), 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 ending up a Plan B or C. You only come to success if Plan/Company A falls through! Don’t be second fiddle.

The world of digital and inbound marketing is unbelievable, and primed for attack if you know what you are doing. No matter the size of your company, you can be competitive. It’s so much more than who has the most ad presence, it’s about who is the authority in their niche. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Focus on your areas of interest, 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.

Jeremy Flinn is Chief Marketing Officer of Stone Road Media, and an entrepreneur. Founding several successful companies in the outdoor industry, Jeremy works with over 15 companies in the outdoor industry to improve their digital marketing KPIs and increase revenue streams.

 

 

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

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.

Outdoor Internet Marketing │ Maximizing Your Digital Media

Outdoor Internet Marketing │ Maximizing Your Digital Media

By Jeremy Flinn, CMO Stone Road Media

Digital media has been an extremely hot topic lately in the outdoor industry. The writing is on the wall with TV, in just a few years TV has begun to fade in engagement. The fading traditional marketing method has gave way to unbelievable growth in the digital media sector. From original digital content to repurposed TV shows, content on the internet is reaching more people than ever. Why? With the hectic lifestyles of today’s society, having the ability to watch content when you want, where you want is extremely critical. But most companies are not utilizing digital content to its fullest, in fact, many are completely wasting the content.

I’m sure the latter seems quite impossible to you, but if you’re only reaching a few thousand views on YouTube you are definitely wasting the content. Content is king. If you are only utilizing content on one platform, especially if it’s not your website, you are missing the mark. The key to successful digital media is reach. The internet allows a smart digital marketer to syndicate content across many platforms in order to maximize impressions and engagement. No that doesn’t just mean Facebook and Twitter, it means multiple social media platforms, content syndication sites, and in our industry forums. Hunting, fishing, and shooting forums are extremely underutilized as a tool to gain valuable SEO and targeted reach.

What we have discussed so far is for outdoor industry video producers, but what about manufacturers? Sure, you likely have some internal digital content that can be syndicated to the masses. But what about all the endorsements and sponsored shows that you invest thousands of dollars into each year? You aren’t only investing in the personalities, but the content they produce. That content would not exist if it wasn’t for your contribution. Where am I going with this? You need to access that media to maximize your own digital presence. I know there are timeline restrictions on media broadcast to major TV networks like Outdoor Channel or Sportsman Channel, but there are plenty shows and/or “B-roll” that is very accessible and available to syndicate. The fact is that most just don’t ask producers or even know what to ask for. Step one is getting your hands on the content. That’s honestly the easiest part. Step two is knowing what to do with it. From publishing to syndication platforms, there is so much work behind getting the deserving reach out of quality digital media.

This content is not only entertaining, it’s most likely informational and can be incredibly persuasive in a customer deciding whether to buy your product. Why not use the content to its fullest. Odds are you won’t have exclusive access to it, but who cares. The goal is to get it out to as many people who are potential customers as possible. You can only control what you can control, and this is important when discussing digital media. If you have the digital media in your possession, you can ensure it reaches the people you want too. However, if you rely on someone else to get it out there who is not on your team or hired to complete your goal, then there is nothing you can do.

As you begin to think about your 2016 marketing strategy for hunting, fishing, and shooting, what are your plans for digital media? Do you have any? Can you get some from your investments? If any of these become “yes,” then the bigger question is “now what do you do with it?”

For more information on Stone Road Media’s digital media assistance, contact us today at info@stoneroadmedia.com.

Think Your Customer is “Old School” | Buying Behavior of Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting Customers

Marketing to Hunting, Fishing, and Shooting Customers │ Think Your Customer is “Old School” – Think Again

By Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer

One of the most common reasons for not doing digital marketing in the hunting, fishing, shooting or tactical industry is that the primary customer does not exhibit the buying behavior of a typical online shopper. They are simply “old school” and buying behavior is influenced by one of three ways: TV, Print, or just by knowing the brands they always go with. I’m not here to argue the last point much because I know that true for even a millennial buyer like myself. I tend to buy many of the same brands I did growing up because they were reliable. However, what we have to be sure of is that the business is always think a step ahead. Let’s say that 75% of your business comes from this “old school buyer.” In the firearms sector this is often an older demographic, much like the aging hunting community. They are often financially secure, versus a kid coming out of college, but although they may the customer today, what about your business tomorrow.

Unfortunately at some point the customer of today will pass through this world, if you have done nothing with your brand to reach the customer of tomorrow, you’re a sitting duck. SiriusDecisions research group discovered even with today’s buyers, 67% of the buying behavior journey happens online. Simply put there is more to just being available, you must be found, be engaging, and be informative or you will not be in business for much longer.

As your secure customer begins to age, the buying behavior will rapidly fall off. Last time I check Social Security didn’t allow for much hobby spending, and with the average hunting, fishing, and shooting customer making $35,000 to $75,000 per year, it’s highly unlikely money won’t be an issue later in life.

The 2014-2019 Daedal Research on the US Sporting Goods Market Trends revealed that many sporting goods and specialty retail store are not growing or driving business, in fact eCommerce is the sole reason for pushing companies’ bottom lines north. Though the industry may be growing in revenue, aside from eCommerce, selling sectors (like retail) grew a measly 2%.

In today’s outdoor industry marketplace, you need to have three major actions in mind:

  1. Be measureable – If you are spending money and not tracking traffic, sales, or impressions related directly to the ads, you are blind to your ROI potential. The worst thing to say is “well its marketing budget allotted, we don’t need to keep track.” Measure what can be measured, and evaluate what the ROI is, or in many cases, is not.
  2. Be Hyper-connected – Ever cruise the web and see the product, service or brand you recently viewed seem to pop up everywhere. Yea, that’s them embracing inbound marketing. The more places you are in, the more impressions made. BUT it must be for the right cost.
  3. Adapt to the Shift – The buying shift is happening right now. Customers use online resources more than 2/3 of the time to start the buying process. Yet I still see hunting, fishing, and shooting companies with non-mobile responsive websites! Ever hear of Mobilegeddon? Apparently not…

Whether now or in the future, you will likely have 80% of your revenue come from 20% of your customers. If you are not constantly working to grow, and in the outdoor industry replenish, that 20% your revenue will suffer.