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The Death of an Outdoor Industry Business on Social Media

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

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

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

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

Pay to Play

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

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

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

Restricted Content

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

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

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

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

What is the Solution?

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

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

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

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! 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 Shooting/Tactical)

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

-Writers must have experience with optimizing content for search engines (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 an 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, videos, or 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.

 

Outdoor Industry Marketing | Outsourcing Your Content

Outsourcing Content Curation and Marketing in the Outdoor Industry

Based on the moves made by successful businesses in 2017, content and the lasting positive effects it has on search still is a huge part of a well rounded digital presence. In 2018, you could be asking yourself “what efforts should I make for content this year?”. One part of this effort will be (at least it should be) content curation and content marketing. Creation and marketing of high quality, relevant, and purposeful content in the form of video, photo, and writing that drives consumers to profitable consumer action. This content curation and marketing can be fulfilled by either internally hiring a content marketing manager or outsourcing content to an agency or freelance writers. Now arrives the question…” should you hire internally, or outsource”?

Your Brand’s Debate

Now as your company debates the question of whether or not you should outsource content or hire an internal content marketer, many comments will be brought up in favor, but more likely against outsourcing content. Hiring a content marketing manager gives you control of a well-connected source you can readily reach, communicate, and work with. Above all I feel like the main argument in favor of hiring internally is a consistent brand voice. While these arguments are made in favor of hiring internally, outsourcing content will likely be belittled with comments centered on lack of brand voice, expenses, lack of expertise, lack of internal company communication, and most of all lack of trust from business to business or business to individual (depending on if you go with outsourcing to agency or individual freelance outdoor writers). While all of these are valid to a degree, my aim here is to settle the debate once and for all.

As the outdoor industry navigates the treacherous waters after last year’s DGA, as a brand and company in this industry you should realize that you are already starting the content marketing race late. For more than three years now many top outdoor industry personalities, influencers, hunting product giants, and creative brands have been adapting and perfecting their content marketing efforts. Their success is a testimonial to the validity of the DGA and why it arrived last year. With that being said, will hiring internally or outsourcing catch your company up, yield similar results to the pioneers of the industry, or outcompete these already established digital authorities?

Pros and Cons

Before we dive into the most important aspect of this argument, the numbers, it’s a good idea for your business to dive into the pros and cons of both options. These will simplify the debate but also create some progress to a logical decision before looking at the numbers.

Internal Content Marketing Manager

Pros

  • Control – and a lot better line of communication is a great argument for an internal hire. They are a part of weekly or daily internal meetings, sensitive or confidential information, and would be already apart of new product or service development.
  • Brand Voice – again one the biggest arguments for hiring a content marketing manager internally would be a unified and consistent brand voice. Essentially It is much easier to for an internal content marketing manager to be consistent with voice in relation to information, products, or services. Think about it simply as the manager being able to comfortably use “we” in content, instead of a freelance writer speaking only to readers.
  • Less Expensive – considering what you know or think content curation and marketing is. An internal hire, depending on the skill set and experience level, is most likely less expensive than hiring an agency or freelance individual on a flexible schedule. However, this comes at a cost to your content. I have seen many internal content creators focus on only their given skill set or area of interest, leaving a gap in marketing the content as a whole.

Cons

  • Tolerance – you could have the worst product or service in the industry compared to your competitors. It is a harsh reality but hiring internally will only create a continuation of the problem. Hiring internally means his/her salary is based on tolerating and accepting the product or service and marketing it. Therefore, most if not all of the content will lack the excitement and life.
  • Creativity – being in an office environment….no matter how “creative”, “radical”, or “progressively open” you feel it may be will dull creativity. Why? Minds in an office or internal environment think alike. Decisions and marketing efforts become funneled, and it can be easy for a creative content marketing manager to lose creativity over time. This also comes down to other employee’s suppression of ideas, content, and campaigns that are outside the box…as it is not the “norm” of the internal environment.

Freelance Outdoor Writers or Agency

Pros

  • Creativity – flows from a creative content agency or freelance writer. They are the outsiders looking in. Chances are they have perceived your brand for years, they are the consumers, giving them a unique and valuable perspective. This also creates diversity, something that could bring new life into your brand and even your brand’s voice.
  • Experience – is hard to come by. I don’t mean writing ability or even hunting/fishing experience. Normally this sets freelancers aside, but agencies bring more experience to the table as a whole. Not only writing and content creation, but an agency could bring a skillset to the table that could generate twice or three times as much profitable consumer action than an internal hire. They also continually work with other brands in the industry and have direct access to trends, fluctuations, and other content in the industry.
  • More Bang for your Buck – …literally. The experience and skill set that comes from outsourcing content to an agency could also create relationship and infrastructure for other needs. These could be social media marketing, web/graphic design, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), video production, analytics, and a host of other services most marketing agencies or a well-rounded individual freelancer could offer.

Cons

  • Communication – is absolutely the number one architect or destroyer of a brand’s success when it comes to outsourcing content. I have seen brands go from a top content authority in this industry to the very bottom over just a few short months…what happened? Communication stopped! Communication, to a level of an open phone line at any time, is often needed to create, syndicate, and market content freely and successfully.
  • Expensive – hourly or contracted agencies and freelancers are one of the first reasons brand hire internally. Good agencies or freelance writers know what their value is worth to you. However, they normally bring a broader and more experienced skill set to the table to create more effective content and ROI’s on content.

The Needed Skillset

I brought up the terms experience and skill set over and over again in the pro’s and con’s section, and for good reason. Now, obviously, I am leaning you towards making a decision to hire an agency for internal content marketing efforts. Most of the time the majority of business owners and marketers agree that this is a great route, especially if you have limited resources. However, I also know that one key hire could contain all of the skills set’s necessary to fulfill what an agency could…but that would be golden goose in terms of this industry. You won’t come by a marketer that can not only write or manage writing over numerous outdoor industry topics, or niche specific topics, that can also post, optimize (SEO), syndicate, and market that content on social media channels…at least in a way that doesn’t look like a train wreck. Optimization of content alone using SEO tactics can double if not triple content’s ability to drive traffic and drive profitable consumer action. Most content creators/marketers might have SEO on their resume but do they have the numbers or case studies to prove their understanding?

I can’t argue that the right individual that has the skillset, experience, knowledge base, organization, and drive could be a smarter investment for your brand. Again, this golden goose most likely has his/her own brand or company already and is not floating around looking for a job. However, I know that an agency is a lot more likely to have this skill set and experience covered. Checks and balances between individuals and departments in an agency prevent such train wrecks that could result from lacking in one area of content marketing.

Numbers to Prove Agency Success

While I can’t directly attest to a successful content marketing strategy from an internal hire, I can report impressive results from businesses that chose to outsource content to Stone Road Media (SRM). One client…let’s just name “Outdoor Industry TV Brand A” employs many SRM services including content, SEO, and syndication. Without giving away to much confidential information or industry secrets, the following numbers give you glimpse of what a successful agency can do for your brand and business. Over the course of multiple year relationships, “Outdoor Industry TV Brand A” grew both page views and sessions by around 70% (70% increase for 2017 vs 2016 and 2016 vs 2015). Organic traffic increased around 167% year over year from 2015 vs 2016 and again from 2016 vs 2017, an impressive increase considering page views are pushing close to 3 million!

Number’s from Stone Road Media’s 2018 ATA Show Content Marketing Kit.

 

This is a testament to the ability of an agency to fulfill a brand’s need for content marketing. Above all, it can show you what you are missing out on by either not implementing your own content marketing strategy or what your internal hire might not be achieving.

By any means, this blog and others like it on this website should be a comparison to how you approach digital marketing in the years to come. With the rest of the Outdoor Industry pushing forward into the digital marketing realm, how long will you wait and fall behind?

 

Why Your Business Will Die on Social Media

Social Media Marketing | Death of a Hunting and Fishing Business

By: Jeremy Flinn, Chief Marketing Officer

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

For years, hunting and fishing companies have built their businesses upon the rapidly growing social media platforms. The problem is even though it is “your page,” you control very little. From the content, you can post to the people you reach, the platform determines your success and failure. For instance, many companies have been scratching their heads over the massive drop in engagement and reach on Facebook. You see Facebook delivers content via specific algorithms. In many cases, great content still does great. However, great content is rare, and what is posted is lackluster advertisements and promotions. So, it becomes a “pay to play” model. How do you think the social media giant was ever going to live up to such an insanely high IPO? Surely wasn’t through adding me into Farmville. The fact is they control the algorithm, which controls your reach. As you became more and more dependent on the platform, they began to squeeze the reach of your posts. Now you are likely in a position where much of your business banks on these platforms whether for sales, sponsorship numbers, or both. What do you do?

social media marketingThe Harsh Reality Social Media Marketing

Well, I can say this. If you aren’t planning on dumping a lot of spend money onto the platform it won’t be getting any better. And for many, even if they have the money, it will do nothing for them. Why? Facebook’s strict Community Standards and Policies, will prevent anyone pushing firearms, ammunition, bows, arrows, knives, and many more items related to our sector from “promoting” posts through paid advertisements. Not only that, but many pages are finding organic posts to their fans that violate policies are now getting pulled, and pages are being threatened to be deleted! Can you imagine losing that following base? Well you need to, because if you do or show any of the above, it’s coming. At some point having a harvested whitetail buck in the photo with your bow beside you will be enough to unpublish your Facebook business page, and force you to audit your entire page and clean it up of related posts.

When that is your business, what do you do?

Now is the time to take control. You need to grow the assets you control which includes your website, content, and email list. If you are neglecting these now, you better get to work. These are the only assets at the end of the day that you can fully control and guide to success. No, your TV show is not something you control, nor is the magazine ad you placed. You directly influence via your actions with your website, content, and email list. And your current social media platforms can help you grow those, you just have to know how to use them wisely.

What does this look like? Take a look…

About the Author: Jeremy Flinn is Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Stone Road Media, an outdoor industry marketing company focused on brands in the hunting, fishing, shooting, and outdoors. For questions about your own content marketing, drop him an email at jeremy@stoneroadmedia.com.

Stone Road Media’s Marketing Media Kit

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.

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

Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing | How to Show More “Digital Love” to Your Sponsors

By: Weston Schrank

Stone Road Media’s Content Manager

Frankly, this idea of digital content is changing the ballgame for Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing, and what is expected from the sponsored partnerships in the outdoor industry. If you’re not paying attention, “the train is leaving the station” so to speak. Brands and potential sponsors of your TV show, and now more than ever the actual TV shows themselves (your competitors), are realizing the potential for digital content marketing and acting upon their new found knowledge. In simple terms, it’s almost sickening how much a sponsor would spend with traditional ads and sponsorship for a TV show alone. What are they paying for? Honestly ask yourself. It would be the logo and mention in the sponsor reel, a couple of B-roll shots inter-cut with the main story line, and one link on their sponsors page of their website (this last one might even be a stretch for some). At best, a sponsor was receiving brand recognition, and a personality behind their product or company. What’s even worse about this situation, is that it is in fact still going on in today’s diverse marketing platform! There is a new bar of expectations between hunting and fishing TV shows and their sponsors/partners, being set by hunting and fishing marketing agencies seeking the most return for a sponsor or manufacturer’s investment into a show. The hunting and fishing marketing game is changing, the consumer is changing, and as a result the whole industry is seeing a shift.

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). Now that we are talking actual result, the light bulb is starting to flicker in your head! So let’s just recap this before going further. Basically creating and promoting custom content on other platforms that are available online (digital content marketing) will give you more viewers, more loyalty, and more leads to your hunting and fishing brand and sponsors. This is still not to mention that consumers will be searching, finding, and engaging with this content on social media and other platforms if it is available 24/7. This is real time reach, and results that yield more than your scheduled and restrictive show times.

How to Acquire and Retain More Sponsors with Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing 5Increasing leads, viewers, engagement, and loyalty…that is what attracts sponsors, and what your sponsor and partnership is based upon. I’m not doubting your understanding of viewers and how you acquire sponsors, all I want to do is set the table for the main course of what I am trying to deliver. While the TV show has been, and still is a great outlet, outdoor content marketing and inbound marketing is by far the most effective marketing technique (monetarily and predictive) in the outdoor industry. The fact is that brands, potential sponsors, and partners are recognizing bigger returns on digital content marketing than the traditional ad spend and sponsor route. So how do you retain and gain sponsors? How do you jump on before you’re left behind?

By doing exactly what you are doing! Your biggest asset, and the sponsor’s biggest asset is you, an original content creator. You just need to be more efficient and diverse with that content. While outdoor content marketing is establishing itself in the outdoor industry and TV, overall, is falling behind, sponsors still need skilled content creators. You are a show, you have the video content, and you create more every single day! You are by definition a content producer and you are what google loves – up to a point. You have a TV show, so you have new shows and new seasons every month and every year. Now ask yourself what are you doing on the digital side? At most are you posting regularly on social media and updating your website with pictures, teasers, and information on show times? This is honestly as far as the majority of shows seem to get. What we are proposing is a completely different idea, one that changes the game of a partnership and the relationship between a hunting or fishing TV show and their sponsors. I want to warn you, however, you need to pay attention to how you are attempting this new standard. Some companies in this industry have started taking the hints, and have jumped…they are just off to a very rocky and unproductive start.

Hunting and Fishing TV – Content’s Full Potential?

There is a clear understanding that custom content produced and provided to your consumers on the digital platform, alongside and beyond your TV show, will generate desired results. So how do you create and use your content to its full potential. Honestly, that is probably the biggest question partners come to us with and what we address at Stone Road Media. There is no lack of understanding behind the premise; executing it, however, and getting the maximum benefit out of your marketing and content is our department. We are starting to see a new progression in this industry, companies are starting to hop onto the right path but they are driving it with the wrong vehicle. The “first timers” or “innovators” of this outdoor digital content real estate for the taking, are not what they perceive themselves to be. There are some companies in the outdoor industry that have attempted to take the jump to digital content marketing. The sum of their actions are basically taking the hunting and fishing shows that have aired, segmenting them into bits and pieces, and have placed them on YouTube or another platform such as online TV or an online web show site. They are all striving for it to be reachable digital content that attempts to get ahead of TV shows and the shifting outdoor industry, and in turn be a better option for a partnership. Don’t get me wrong, they are creating content that the fans are searching for and eventually watching, but it is not producing the results it should be. What I am trying to say is this digital content real estate is still open, the players in this game have a foot in the niche but are far (extremely far) from dominating it. The content they are using lacks optimization, customization, originality, and as a result…traction! It is the right path to the digital content we are talking about, just poorly executed and as a result, concludes without the organic effect that we have proven ours can create with our partners. In turn this digital content, that in some situations can be moderately valuable content, ends up like every other useless piece of digital trash, stored on the far reaches of Google’s results with minimal reach. Now before we dive into how your content, the open real estate, and how digital content marketing changes the game for the sponsor-TV show relationships in the outdoor industry, we need discuss how we can successfully execute what the falsely acclaimed “first timers” attempted.

Content is King – It’s All About the Fans!!!

The reason these “innovators” or falsely perceived “top dogs” of the digital content, online TV, web shows, or YouTube channels are failing, is they are not giving their fans and consumers enough thought – or worse ignoring Google’s algorithm desires. Sure, they produce content viewers want, but they are not paying attention enough to take full advantage of it and reach everyone that could potentially be interested in their brand (syndication). There are no shortcuts when it comes to digital content and its marketing, it’s the cold hard truth of Google. Especially now, with the release of Google Hummingbird algorithm. If you want the desired results of the organic effect and a top spot in the ranks of relatable content to your brand, you have to be an authority on that content and optimize it as such. Speaking in clear English, a video on YouTube, an online web show, or other similar platform with the single title “John Doe’s 180-Inch Whitetail”, and no description or tags, will go absolutely nowhere. It was a complete waste of a hunt, editing time, and the 30 minutes it took to upload. This is the current standard of the outdoor industry. Get some subscribers and viewers, put up a video, and you have a web show. What’s even worse is these shows claim to be on the forefront of the industry, and the very same shows are going to sponsors with this junk. So like all things in life, to be successful learn from the mistakes! Overall we see 4 mistakes made by companies claiming to be the niche dominator when it comes to online and digital content.

  • 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 help. If you’re the sponsor you might have a better idea of this, but the maximum benefit will still be out of your reach.

Showing Love to Your Hunting and Fishing Sponsors

With that out of the way we can progress into what you came here for…your hunting or fishing TV show sponsorships. Once you have jumped the hurdle of not only producing custom content for your fans, optimizing it, and giving it legs, but you can begin to show sponsors “digital love.” When you begin to see the results, the “organic effect” as we call it, of your content marketing…the sponsors will also notice. They do not only see the viewers and reach potential that is seen through traditional sponsor eyes, they see further into the value of your content from the digital perspective. The potential of how the relationship should work is simply explained, take advantage of every piece of custom, original, and relatable content. This will be the new standard for hunting and fishing TV show – sponsor relationships.  Honestly getting to the point of producing or receiving the content is the easiest part of this process, knowing what to do with it and using it to its full potential is by far the hardest part.

Hunting and Fishing TV Show Marketing 11Here is a taste of what should be going on between hunting and fishing TV shows and their sponsors.

Links

The bare minimum of relationship should not only be to think in terms of sales or reach but help each other maximize digital presence. This means syndication and linking. The smallest amount of this should be at least blogs, forums, and discussions with backlinks between companies and products. Links built the right way is a small portion of the big picture, but it helps to build online presence and authority on the relevant subject of the relationship.

Embedding Content

The lifeless YouTube videos you have on your channel are a shining examples of knowing you came to the right place. A couple thousand views is pitiful, and relatively speaking completely wasting the content. This goes both ways. Whether it is a how to, tips and tactics, a hunt, or a fishing webisode from the TV show or a product video, review, or teaser from the sponsor company, the content, in this case a video, should be embedded again with a chunk of relatable copy, optimized, and syndicated across all available platforms in the relationship.

Specific Hunting and Fishing Brand Based Content

Once you start specifically going into the relationship and maximizing every piece of content, you can start to fall into a pit. This pit is going too far into specific brand-based content. All too often a TV show will get set into trying to sell the product. This is about as boring, and unoriginal as you can get. I’m not necessarily talking about reviews here, but blogs or video paired content that focusses to heavy on the relationship itself (linking and embedding the company or product) and not thinking about the customer. It still needs to be entertaining or informational, it needs to benefit the viewer.

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

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

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 benefitting the company’s many outdoor industry partners.

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 Industry Marketing | How to Spend your Money Wisely

Outdoor Industry Marketing | All advertising is marketing, but not all marketing is advertising

By Jeremy Flinn, COO/CMO – Stone Road Media

“All advertising is marketing, but not all marketing is advertising.”

The statement is a type of logic called transposition. Simply it says if you have advertising then you are marketing, but if you are marketing that does not mean you are advertising. This is actually a good thing for your business!
Why?
Well, advertising traditionally cost money. Historically, the large, dominating forces in the outdoor industry were typically the ones with the largest advertising budget. This money was spent on TV, Radio, Print, Trade Shows, and the like. Because of its “free reign,” the budget was not closely monitored for literal Return on Investment (ROI), but simply to make sure a “consistent” flow of business came in.
Today’s “consumer engagement” specialists are evolving at a rapid pace, and those resistant to change will likely be spent faster than their annual advertising budget. No longer is it appropriate to consider advertisers and marketers one in the same.

Advertisers tend to spend money, whereas marketers tend to make money.

Big difference? Absolutely. But that isn’t to say that advertisers don’t have a role in the consumer engagement process. In today’s outdoor industry, TV, radio, and print are very powerful modes of marketing. However, for the first time in history use of internet driven devices exceeded the use of any one of those platforms. In order to succeed in marketing effectively through the internet, it takes a new wave of thinking…organic.
Like the food, organic in the internet has the same base term – natural. Organic internet marketing, often termed Inbound Marketing, reaches the targeted consumer through natural search methods. Those companies stuck in their ways with paid advertising, have no shortcuts here. Research from Google, who currently owns 90% of annual searches, recently showed over 82% of clicks on their Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) were on organic links, with the small balance on those paid “Pay per Clicks.”

It’s all about relevant, unique content. If you create content the user is likely to look for, then the odds of directing them to your website, and subsequently services and products, is astronomically higher. The traditional advertisers that plan to use “available content” from other feeds and blogs will often fall short again, as content is connected to the original source and your posting is simply a “backlink” for the original page.
In the end it’s simple. Embrace the fact that advertising still has its place; but be fully aware that it WILL NOT provide you a complete marketing strategy.

Advertising spends money, marketing makes money….end of story.