4 More Takeaways
From NSSF Summit


Image: Adobe Stock

With the dust settling from NSSF’s first-ever Marketing & Leadership Summit — held May 10–12 in Austin, Texas — we wanted to provide a follow-up to last week’s story with some additional talking points that came out this super-charged industry event. (For a refresher, read our review of the Summit here.)

1. Don’t Smell The Milk

It doesn’t take much for a customer to leave a place of business — in fact, many leave as a result of one employee. In a panel on customer retention, Clay Ausley of Fuquay Gun in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., shared the following with attendees: “I read many years ago 68% of the customers who stop doing business with a store is due to the actions of one employee.”

Using an analogy he picked up from his time in the grocery industry, Ausley shared if a customer comes in and complains of milk being spoiled from the day before and you smell it, you’ve instantly broken their trust.

“It’s a gallon of milk, let it go. Apologize, and get a new gallon of milk and thank them for their business and tell them how much you appreciate them,” he advised. “You’ve now taken a customer with a problem and resolved it eagerly, you have sincerely apologized for the issue and expressed your appreciation for them.”

It may sound counterintuitive, but if a customer has an issue with the service or product they received and you’re able to solve the problem — they’re likely to become a more loyal customer than one who never had an issue at all.

Ausley explained, “The customer now knows for a fact should they have a problem, you’re there for them. They don’t know the other stores will care as much as you about their needs and satisfaction. They now feel they can trust you.”

Stores making connections with customers, and meeting their needs, will stand out from the rest.

“If you want your customers to be there for you, guess what — you must be there for them,” Ausley said.

Clay Ausley of Fuquay Gun imparted the following wisdom on Summit attendees: If a customer
comes in with a minor problem, don’t “smell the milk” and break their trust.

2. A “One Size Fits All” Approach To Marketing Won’t Work

Rob Southwick of Southwick Associates shared updates on his firm’s extensive consumer segmentation research. The five largest consumer segments, or personas, include: Skills Builder, Hunter, Family Guardian (largest segment), Urban Defender (fastest growing) and Prepared For The Worst.

Each persona has a different motivation to buy and preference once they make a purchase — which is why a “one size fits all” approach to marketing won’t cut it. A multi-faceted campaign is needed to connect with more potential customers.

3. A Sense Of Community Does Wonders

If any lessons can be gleaned in a post-pandemic world, it’s evident consumers are looking for authentic connections and to belong. Your store or range can help set that precedent by becoming involved in charitable efforts.

During the Customer Retention panel, Jacquelyn Clark, co-owner of Bristlecone Shooting, Training & Retail Center in Lakewood, Colo., shared some insights on how charitable events have impacted her facility’s relationship with customers.

“People want to do business with and be loyal to organizations that they ‘like’ and feel are good community citizens,” she said. “We’ve done a number of fundraising events for local non-profits over the past year — L.E.- and veterans-based — that involve a competition on the range where proceeds are donated.”

Bristlecone hosted a sales event to benefit victims of the Marshall Fire this past winter, providing another way to connect with the community.

“If you’re using social media and email to market these events on the front end, then communicate how successful they are and how much is raised on the back end. It can go a long way toward building brand loyalty, and in turn customer/member retention,” she advised.

Two years after guiding an expansive rebrand effort, Staccato CMO Kristin Marlow says
the new brand is thriving with a diverse base of customers.

4. Develop Brand Enthusiasts

Kristin Marlow, CMO of Staccato, was instrumental in the rebranding effort from STI Firearms to Staccato in mid-2020. In the Customer Retention panel, Marlow explained how the rebrand unlocked an entirely new segment of customers — diverse in age, ethnicity, location and gender.

“Because we have so many different types of customers — and because there are so many new gun owners in the market — we see building a brand as incredibly important,” she said. “A strong brand rises all tides.”

Marlow noted Staccato is focused on standing for something that connects with people emotionally — which will encourage them to stay connected to the brand over time.

“We protect freedom and celebrate those who embody freedom,” she said. “That’s everyone from law enforcement officers to the mom protecting her kids to the friends who do crazy things like the Tactical Games. This comes out in our marketing in how we ‘show up’ as a brand. People first. A defined look and feel, voice, tone. Not dark and tactical. Light and approachable. Easy to use.”

It’s a formula that has worked, evidenced by the growth the brand has experienced over the past two years.

Save The Date

If you’re a forward-thinking dealer, marketer or industry executive, consider attending the 2023 Marketing & Leadership Summit. It will be held May 8–10 at the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District in Savannah, Ga. For more info: nssf.org/summit.