Education, Networking & More
At NSSF’s Marketing &
Leadership Summit

3 Immediate Takeaways To Enhance Your Business

A panel on customer retention, featuring the perspectives of (from left) Kristin Marlow, Staccato;
Clay Ausley, Fuquay Gun; Jacquelyn Clark, Bristlecone Shooting, Training & Retail Center and
moderated by SI Editor Jade Moldae, highlighted ways stores and brands can create
communities to encourage repeat business.

An event three years in the making, the 2022 NSSF Marketing & Leadership Summit was held May 10–12 at the Hyatt Regency Lost Pines Resort in Austin, Texas. This first-ever event combined elements of the NSSF Summit and CMO Summit, giving more than 200 manufacturers, dealers, wholesalers and marketers two days filled with an array of insights, education and networking opportunities.

Speakers at the event included firearms industry CEOs, dealers, internationally acclaimed business consultants. In addition, retired Navy SEAL Jason Redman provided a rousing address on leadership, resilience and the Overcome Mindset.

With this being NSSF’s first Summit since 2019, there was a real sense of enthusiasm and energy from attendees — who were able to take home dozens takeaways. We’ve identified three standout ones that will impact your business today.

1. The Need For Real Connection

Consumers today are seeking real, authentic connections with brands they interact with — and the events of the past two years have certainly fueled this desire. Mark Schaefer, a renowned business consultant, speaker and author, shared if a brand can effectively connect with its customers, it will be “relentlessly relevant.”

“The most human company wins — consumers believe us, not our ads,” he shared.

A “human-centric” brand, one that features real people in an authentic way and being “of” a community rather than “in” it (i.e., rolling up your sleeves and showing up), will be more relatable and connect better with end users.

In a CEO panel discussion, NSSF President/CEO Joe Bartozzi (far right) moderated
a panel featuring (from left) Bryan Tucker, Davidson’s; Al Kasper, Savage Arms;
Brett Flaugher, Winchester; Jim Chandley, Nation’s Best Sports.

2. Capitalize On Opportunity

While many industries have suffered severe contractions due to effects of the pandemic, the firearms industry has benefited from an unprecedented opportunity — with NSSF estimating nearly 14 million first-time gun buyers have joined our ranks since Jan. 2020.

In a CEO panel moderated by NSSF president Joe Bartozzi and featuring Jim Chandley (Nation’s Best Sports), Brett Flaugher (Winchester), Al Kasper (Savage Arms) and Bryan Tucker (Davidson’s Inc.), panelists shared how they’ve approached the challenging market over the past couple years and highlighted the growth opportunities ahead of the industry. One example, the shooting sports is one of the fastest-growing sports in U.S. high schools. In addition, interest from women and minorities continues to climb.

Further illustrating this growth point, Phillip Smith, founder of the National African American Gun Association (NAAGA), shared the motivation for launching his organization — which has ballooned to 45,000 members — and how it’s providing a sense of community. Smith encouraged the industry to embrace the differences of this segment, emphasizing “we have more in common than what makes us different.”
In “Who is Today’s Firearm and Accessories Customer?” Southwick Associates President Rob Southwick provided insights his team found in an update on the consumer segments (personas) and their preferences, motivations and more. With each persona having its own unique set of preferences, Southwick advises against a “one size fits all” approach — it doesn’t work.

3. Customer Service: Even Incremental Changes Help

Customer service is going to play a significant role in whether or not the industry succeeds in capitalizing on the opportunity of 14 million new gun owners.

Shep Hyken, a customer service and experience expert, shared some compelling statistics with Summit attendees:

• 52% of consumers will be willing to pay more if they can get good service.

• 83% of consumers are willing to switch due to bad service (and it doesn’t take much).

According to Hyken, if a store or brand can provide better customer service than a competitor — even if it’s a marginal difference — it will maintain a significant advantage.

In a panel on customer retention, moderated by SI Editor Jade Moldae, Jacquelyn Clark (Bristlecone Shooting, Training & Retail Center), Clay Ausley (Fuquay Gun) and Kristin Marlow (Staccato) shared their perspectives on how their brands have zeroed in on superior customer service, charitable events, adding value and building a community of enthusiasts to retain customers.

In addition, the value of hiring good people can’t be understated as they represent the face of company’s brand to the customer. Ausley shared nearly 70% of customers leave a business due to the actions of one employee.

Save The Date

Other highlights of this new event included a business relocation panel featuring Smith & Wesson President and CEO Mark Smith, Waypoint Advisors Founder Dave Cooper and Enterprise Florida COO David Rogers moderated by NSSF SVP Larry Keane. Seth Mattison, thought leader and founder/CEO of FutureSight Labs, closed out the Summit with insights on how to unleash the power and perspective of every generation involved in a business today.

NSSF announced the 2023 Marketing & Leadership Summit will be held in Savannah, Ga., May 8–10, at the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District.

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