For Integrated Marketing On A Budget
By Mark Kakkuri
The firearms industry may be in a bit of slowdown following last year’s presidential election and the ripple effects of pro-gun legislation across the nation. And you’re wondering whether your marketing efforts should follow a similar slower pace. Contrary to popular belief, this might actually be the time to pick up the pace of your marketing — but with some clever, low-budget tactics and an integrated approach. Here are five effective integrated marketing tips to keep your products and services in front of your customers, while watching the budget.
1. Social Media
Your customers are very likely on some form of social media — and probably checking it all day long via their mobile devices. Will they see or hear anything from you? In just a few minutes you can launch a company Facebook page and ask all your friends to follow it. Then, post videos, photos and information about your business: A video of an employee fulfilling an order, inventory arriving at your store or an informal tour of your company. It’s okay to use the video camera on your mobile phone to do this but keep it short, simple and professional.
For an even simpler solution, check out Instagram. Start a company Instagram account, and, if you have a product-intensive business, post photos of your products on a daily basis or, better, people using your products. Ask for current customers to submit photos or run a photo contest. Remember: Your social media platforms should point to your company website and your company website should offer content from your social media platforms.
2. Email Marketing
You’ve probably received your fair share of annoying emails — somebody trying to sell you something you don’t want or need. But, I’m guessing every now and then you get an email with a subject line that captures your attention and gets you to open it and read it. You should be sending out marketing emails that, for your current and yet-to-be customers, fall in to the latter category. Lots of resources exist for how to start an email marketing program but basically it boils down to this: capture customer and potential customer emails, use a good email marketing tool such as Constant Contact or MailChimp, and know your customers and communicate with them in a way that truly serves them.
To get email addresses, ask for them on your website, in your social media feeds and in your store. In exchange, offer truly useful content such as coupons or expert advice. Offer anyone you email the opportunity to easily unsubscribe or renew. In other words, never spam anyone and follow proper email marketing etiquette. Finally, communicate regularly but purposefully, carefully and patiently.
Editor’s Note: Outdoor Marketplace regularly covers additional ways to blend technology and commerce — see the July 2016 issue (“Beyond The Bricks: Embracing ‘Click And Mortar’”) for more.
3. Store Event
If you run a traditional brick-and-mortar store, the key is to get people to the store and in the door — and then keep their interest while they’re there. As you run your digital marketing campaign (Tips 1 and 2 above), don’t forget the more traditional means of reaching out. Got a local “celebrity” who has something to do with your industry? Invite them to the store to do a “meet and greet” with customers for an hour or two. Or, invite a representative from your local police department to hold a Q&A at your store on safety or some aspect of shooting. No doubt you are an expert on your own products and services; as such, offer a free training event to teach customers about your product or service and how to use it. If you offer products made by another manufacturer, contact the manufacturer to see if they’ll send a representative to your store to present or educate. Or, offer a storewide special on just that manufacturer’s products.
4. PSA/Press Release
You don’t have to be a public relations pro to get editorial coverage in your local newspaper. In fact, newspapers are often looking for local events to cover. If, for example, you’re holding a public training event in your store (Tip 3), send a public service announcement or press release to the managing editor of your local newspaper. Give them the facts of the event and invite them to attend. The editor may do anything from running a brief announcement in the print and online versions of the newspaper to sending a reporter to cover the event. Be prepared to show the reporter around, offer comments and quotes, and pose for pictures. If a story publishes, let it be known on your website, social media feeds and email marketing (Tip 1 and 2).
5. Customer Service
Sometimes the best marketing is the individual service you provide to your customers, day in and day out. You know the rule: Treat someone professionally and kindly and word-of-mouth can bring in new customers. To facilitate more of these kinds of referrals, ask your current customers to comment on your company’s Facebook or Instagram page (from Tip 1) or get their permission to quote them in an email (from Tip 2). In other words, use their testimonial to help convince others your business is worth their time and effort.
MarkIV 2245 Lite
Ruger Mark IV Safety Recall
In June, Ruger announced it was recalling all Mark IV pistols (including 22/45 models) manufactured prior to June 1, 2017. Ruger recently discovered the pistols have the potential to discharge unintentionally if the safety is not utilized correctly.
In a statement, the company said: “Although only a small percentage of pistols appear to be affected and we are not aware of any injuries, Ruger is firmly committed to safety and would like to retrofit all potentially affected pistols with an updated safety mechanism.”
To simplify this recall process for retailers and consumers, Ruger created a website portal where customers can input their Mark IV’s serial number to determine whether or not it needs to be retrofitted and to sign up for the recall: www.ruger.com/markIVRecall. This webpage also provides additional information, such as four short videos that provide an overview of the recall, how a customer can check his or her pistol, what the retrofit process entails and how to ship the pistol to Ruger.
Ruger will retrofit Mark IV pistols with new parts on a first-come, first-served basis. Once ready, the company will send a prepaid USPS box with a shipping label and detailed packaging/shipping information to the customer — who would need to mail the grip frame assembly only. Ruger stated it will “make every effort” to return each pistol within one week after it arrives and a free magazine as a “thank you” for customers’ patience and cooperation.
Ruger’s handling of this recall exemplifies standout customer service.