How to Connect with Bloggers

Your business has content, bloggers need topics

A Rose in Hand

An interesting thought was brought up in the Hunting Business Marketing Forum about connecting with bloggers. I started responding to the question in the forum, but felt that the topic was big enough to promote to a full blog post on the main blog.

Connecting With Bloggers

In another forum post, Generating Buzz, Mark of Wired to Hunt discussed a job he had with a marketing agency where he would help to connect businesses and bloggers by using the content the business would create and organize so it was valuable to bloggers.

Mark discusses that he would create a list of bloggers that were active and willing to accept relevant information from companies. These bloggers were then prioritized by traffic, quality of content, interaction of readers in the comments, among other criteria. From there the organization would craft the content so the bloggers could then use it for their blog posts.

It’s important to note that Mark says that each blogger received a unique email that was personalized. The communication was honest and up front in goal.

I think connecting with bloggers really begins by becoming involved in the online communities where your targeted bloggers are spending time.

A reason Twitter has become popular is because it allowed folks to connect with people and businesses they looked up to and wanted to connect with. Businesses can seek out connections with prominent bloggers in their niches and bloggers can seek out businesses that may have potentially useful information that can lead to quality blog posts.

Starting Relationships With Bloggers

As mentioned above, starting the relationships can start with a simple direct message or email that is personalized. The communication can originate from the blogger or the business.

A common experience some have is that after a few messages back and forth the blogger and the business contact lose interest with each and the relationship dies. This may happen because the blogger and the business didn’t find any common ground for a relationship where they share content and work with each other to produce blog posts for their target audience. It could happen because there just wasn’t a relevant way to connect the goals of each party.

It’s important to remember that not all bloggers will take content and turn it into blog post gold. Early on in your efforts this will be even less likely. The truth is that it will take one or two bloggers here and there over time that consistently take content and share it with their audience. Slowly, over time others will join in and eventually a critical mass will be tuning in to your stream of communication to absorb the content you’re sharing about your company.

Maintaining Relationships With Bloggers

Since it was mentioned that business and blogger relationships are often lost or that one of the parties loses interest over time I thought I’d brainstorm a few ideas to keep the conversation active as the life of the relationship ages.

Here are a few I can think off the top of my head:

  • Newsletter
  • Email Thread
  • Forum
  • Google Spreadsheet
  • HARO (Help A Reporter Out) for Hunting – HAHBO (Help a Hunting Blogger Out)

All of these are ways to keep the conversation active with your friends and followers. Not all of the bloggers you form relationships with will become actively involved with your brand by picking up your stories, but a few will become dedicated and over time those dedicated few will grow an audience around the content you’re sharing on the communication channel you’ve created for them.

The reality of interacting with bloggers is that you (the business) will have to take most of the initiative to continue the relationship where your provide ideas for blog posts to bloggers. Some will take the content and run with it and create amazing, unique content while others will ignore it. Some will need you to keep feeding them content while working to improve the content by making it more appealing to their interest.

Gaining permission to share your content with bloggers is the important part of the business-blogger equation. Forming relationships that are mutually beneficial is the way to find success with connecting with bloggers.

Summary

Connecting with bloggers is something most businesses want to be able to do, but sometimes don’t know how or don’t have the resources needed to connect and maintain relationships.

It takes time to first connect with bloggers – a few messages back and forth to get familiar with each other. After this initial conversation it takes even more effort on the part of the business to keep up the flow of communication while providing appealing content and topics of discussion for the blogger to take and use as inspiration for their own content.

It’s a process that builds over time, but when a business can commit and understand the importance of the blogging community there can be real benefit to both of the parties involved.

What are your thoughts on connecting with bloggers?

Businesses: What relationships do you have with bloggers?

Bloggers: What relationships do you have with businesses?

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State of the Hunting Industry Report | February 2010

[private_member]MEMBERS – Please view in .pdf form – State of the Hunting Industry Report | February 2010 [/private_member]

Edition 4           A Publication of Hunting Business Marketing        February 2010

Now is the Time to Prepare for the Fall 2010 Hunting Season

Introduction

Image courtesy of Alex E. Proimos

With a mixture of positive and negative economic news coming out daily there is volatility and uneasiness amongst businesses and consumers in the US.

The stock market is up from its lows of over a year ago, but there is still uncertainty of whether the increase is due to actual economic productivity or the result of stimulus in the market from the US Government going back to 2007 when the presidential administration and Congress sent checks out to everybody.

An entire industry in the housing sector was blown up artificially by low interest rates in the early 2000s and once the artificial demand lost its stimulus there was a crash back to reality. Since then there has been even more intervention in the markets with attempts at artificial demand and the anticipation of more exhausted demands has consumers and businesses on edge when it comes to confidence in the future.

And while there is volatility in the markets and in the confidence of consumers, there is still real demand for real products and services – both needed and wanted.

And this is where the opportunity for growth is for aspiring businesses.

[private_member]

Americans are worried about their jobs (if they still have jobs they are satisfied with) and this has had an effect on discretionary spending for the past two or so years. And while there has been a retraction in spending, that doesn’t mean that demand for wanted and needed items does not exist.

Demand for items is infinite and companies that can find ways to fill consumer demand despite the discretionary spending retraction will be able to find areas in the hunting industry that are prime for growth and expansion.

Whether it’s extending credit to consumers when they are struggling to make the purchases they have become accustomed to or if it’s finding products to sell that may be a step down in quality and cost, but still fill an emotional need, businesses that are able to connect with the new consumer pains and frustrations will be able to grow and succeed no matter what the economic outlook is.

Opportunity exists and it’s there for you to take.

Economic Trends

Watchdog: Bailouts created more risk in system

From Associate Press (Jan 2010):

The government’s response to the financial meltdown has made it more likely the United States will face a deeper crisis in the future, an independent watchdog at the Treasury Department warned.

The problems that led to the last crisis have not yet been addressed, and in some cases have grown worse, says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the trouble asset relief program, or TARP. The quarterly report to Congress was released Sunday.

“Even if TARP saved our financial system from driving off a cliff back in 2008, absent meaningful reform, we are still driving on the same winding mountain road, but this time in a faster car,” Barofsky wrote.

Since Congress passed $700 billion financial bailout, the remaining institutions considered “too big to fail” have grown larger and failed to restrain the lavish pay for their executives, Barofsky wrote. He said the banks still have an incentive to take on risk because they know the government will save them rather than bring down the financial system.

Read the entire article Watchdog: Bailouts created more risk in system

Impact on your business

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a problem caused by over extended spending and extended credit couldn’t be fixed with more extended spending and extended credit.

When the deflationary cycle of consumer and business contraction took hold in 2007-2008, the US Government stepped in and attempted to create demand by handing out borrowed money. It’s an effective tactic in the short-term, but has negative long-term consequences as the end result is simply a worse crash than what would have originally occurred.

It’s a difficult economic climate for any business owner to succeed in, but those who are determined to look for opportunity despite the political influence in the market are the ones who succeed.

When I take a step back and look at the successful business owners that I’ve come in contact with they are often void of strong political affiliation as they simply use their time worrying about that which they control rather than wasting energy on worrying about what may happen in the political happenings.

So while it’s important for research, planning, and strategizing, political and economic happenings are out of the control of businesses and the ultimate focus needs to be on understanding what’s happening in the economy and crafting strategies to succeed in spite of those happenings.

Americans Leery of Too Much Gov’t Regulation of Business

From Gallup (Feb 2010):

At a time when the debate over the optimal role of government involvement in regulating business is a prominent policy debate, new Gallup polling shows that 57% of Americans are worried that there will be too much government regulation of business, while 37% worry that there will not be enough. Half of Americans believe the government should become less involved in regulating and controlling business, with 24% saying the government should become more involved and 23% saying things are about right.

While the American public may favor some of these initiatives [of the US Administration] on an individual basis, the current results underscore the degree to which the average American in a general sense is concerned about too much government involvement in business.

Read the entire article Americans Leery of Too Much Gov’t Regulation of Business

Impact on your business

There is uneasiness among Americans when it comes to Government intervention in business and economic markets.

Consumers and business owners are unsure of how intervention will affect their personal situations, but most Americans appear to be of the feeling that intervention in the economy and the markets will have a negative long-term impact on the economy as a whole.

Understand the uneasiness and remember that’s happenings are ultimately out of your control and there are still growth opportunities despite any political agenda.

Americans Agree: Quality Jobs Remain Hard to Find

From Gallup (Jan 2010):

As the Obama administration and Congress shift their focus to the economy and jobs after the State of the Union, Gallup polling suggests they need to consider quality as well as quantity. One in 10 Americans (9%) believe now is a “good time” to find a “quality job” — a situation that has persisted over the past year, and a huge deterioration in job-market conditions from January 2007, when nearly half of Americans (48%) expressed optimism about finding a quality job.

While Americans disagree about many things — and rarely reflect an overwhelming consensus about anything concerning the economy — their views about the lack of quality jobs are a clear exception; the total lack of optimism about the prospects of finding a quality job in January 2010 is consistent across ages, incomes, genders, and regions of the country.

Read the entire article Americans Agree: Quality Jobs Remain Hard to Find

Impact on your business

Unemployment and underemployment remains one of the most important issues facing consumers and business owners in the United States today.

Official unemployment is at around 10% while underemployment is hovering around 17-18%. Still others in the economy feel they are working harder and longer today for less pay. This group of individuals obviously has a mindset that is retrenched in contraction mode while others that have quality jobs still remain uneasy about their ability to have stability in the near future.

It makes for difficult marketing, but as mentioned before – demand is infinite and consumers still demand that which they need and want. Businesses able to find ways to foster demand whether it’s through credit, lowering of standards or creative marketing will find success in today’s economy.

Gallup Economic Weekly: Self-Reported Spending Declines

From Gallup (Jan 2010):

As the Dow Jones average plunged more than 400 points last week, consumers pulled back, with self-reported spending falling 24% from the prior week and 27% from the same week a year ago. This breaks the positive early January trend that saw spending running slightly higher than last year’s comparables. At the same time, economic confidence was about the same as the prior week and Gallup’s Job Creation Index showed that hiring remained essentially unchanged.

Impact on your business

The uneasy feeling amongst consumers stems from the volatility and the questionability in the current economy. Consumers are simply questioning the viability of any sustainable growth in the economy and whether they should be able to count on future stability that could lead them to make more discretionary purchases in the short-term.

As consumer spending continues to fall or flatten over the long-term, it will be difficult for businesses to maintain their current models.

Business models will have to change and it will become essential for businesses to find ways to tap into consumers’ demand despite the new variety of barriers that exist.

Industry News

Hunting License Sales Up By 3.5 Percent in NSSF Index of States

From National Shooting Sports Foundation, Inc. (Feb 2010):

In a year when one word, “fewer,” described life in America — fewer jobs, fewer home sales, fewer purchases — hunters were responsible for generating a welcome “more” category, as hunting license sales rose by 3.5 percent in 2009 in states that make up NSSF’s Hunting License Sales Index.

The 12-state index comprises several states from four main regions of the United States. Nine of those states recorded hunting license sales increases from January through December of 2009 over the previous year, according to Southwick Associates, a research firm that monitored the license sales information.

“Many factors such as weather and the economy affect hunting license sales in any given year, but in 2009 the economy likely had a more significant effect,” said Jim Curcuruto, NSSF’s director of industry research and analysis. “While the reasons for the 3.5 percent increase are speculative, past research shows that during slowdowns in the nation’s economy it is possible that people have more time to hunt and that hunters take the opportunity to fill their freezers with nutritious, high-protein meat acquired at lower cost than if a similar amount was purchased at the supermarket.”

States participating in the NSSF License Sales Index are New York and New Jersey in the Northeast; Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana and Tennessee in the Southeast; Minnesota, Indiana, Kansas and Texas in the Midwest; and Oregon and Utah in the West. States were selected for their ability to provide license sales data on a regular basis. The geographical selections were made to offset potential variation in license sales by region. As more states are able to provide necessary data, the number of states will be increased, said Curcuruto.

Read the entire article Hunting License Sales Up By 3.5 Percent in NSSF Index of States

Impact on your business

It was a disappointing hunting season in my home state of Wisconsin so it made me happy to read this report from the NSSF.

It’s good to see that there is some growth or flattening in the hunting industry. Hunters continue to want and need the best hunting equipment and the best land access in order to fulfill their demand for the best hunting experiences and the biggest trophies.

This demand will never cease to exist. New barriers may form like uncertainty, instability, and tightening financial situations, but this simply changes the business model for hunting businesses.

Find ways to break the barriers that exist for your customers and you’ll find success.

Online Trends

What Can SEO-Savvy Blogs Do For You?

From Fathom SEO (Feb 2010):

To blog or not to blog – if that is your question, then reading this post should help you find the answer.

Creating a blog for your company is an excellent way to implement SEO strategy. Many people do not realize the important connections between successful, regularly-updated blogs and SEO rankings. TopRank Blogging recently published a survey covering the “Impact of Blogging on Search Engine Optimization.” Of the 326 participants, 87.4% “successfully increased measurable SEO objectives as a direct result of blogging” and 94% “reported seeing measurable SEO benefits from blogging within 12 months.”

Of course, all statistics need to be taken with a grain of salt, but the overall impression you get from this data is that blogging positively impacts SEO functions. The bigger question worth asking is: Why does this happen?

Those who have spent time in the industry and seen the tangible results provided by SEO-friendly blogs can attest that these information creations serve several important functions. Blogging can

Read the entire article What Can SEO-Savvy Blogs Do For You?

Impact on your business

Connecting is an important step for businesses today.

Success will come for businesses that are able to break the barriers that now exist in their customer’s life. Blogging is a great way for businesses that put together a blogging strategy that works to fill a trust void or to break down a barrier in the customer’s life.

Look for the frustrations in your customer’s life and answer those frustrations with a blog.

Conclusions

It’s a difficult economy environment for businesses and consumers today.

Uneasiness and uncertainty exist throughout the demographic spectrum and things don’t appear to be changing as far as confidence and outlook go.

Businesses will find success by finding the new barriers that exist for their customer’s and finding ways for their customer to get past the new barriers. This could be extending credit to someone who may not have the means to make purchase or it may be by connecting with customers via a blog and building a trust that makes customers feel good about making a purchase today that will benefit them.

Copyright Notice

This publication is NOT copyrighted by Hunting Business Marketing. All contents are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States. Please share the contents of this report via any channel you prefer with any hunting businesses owners you know who would benefit from receiving a copy. Please provide attribution to Hunting Business Marketing.

Thank you for your support!

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Website: www.huntingbusinessmarketing.com

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Hunting Business Marketing

The Secret Marketing Tactic of Successful Companies

“Think about the wheel and how you would reinvent it.” Mathews Bow Technology

Golden Forest

A secret marketing tactic that successful companies use is to continuously update existing products while really marketing the benefits of the updated products.

The most successful companies in any industry usually have figured out the cyclical nature of their business. These companies are experts are working to develop new innovations on their existing, successful products to make them just a little better with each new selling season.

After coming up with a slight, but remarkable innovation to their existing best-seller, the truly successful companies are experts at communicating the benefits of the updated product to their customers so each customer feels like they must have the updated version. Their current model has become obsolete.

Let’s take a closer look at the secret tactic of successful companies…

Update Your Existing Products

The trick to using this tactic successfully is to figure out what your best-selling products are and then working to continuously improve the product while adding a slight (but the most valuable) addition each season.

Customers have a continuous thirst for the best products that answer their frustrations. If you have a product today that solves a customer’s frustration you have something that is valuable.

However, what is valuable to your customer today may not be tomorrow. There are always competitors working hard in their garage to create something that’s better.

The most successful companies across all industries have figured this out and work hard to create updates to their successful products and introduce them just before their peak selling season.

Companies across all industries update their current best-selling products to continually create a need with the customer. Companies in the shoe industry like New Balance are updating their athletic shoes each season to create demand for their products from their existing customers. A customer who purchased the New Balance 987 last season will have to buy the updated New Balance 988 this spring season so they have the latest update of their favorite shoe that includes additional cushioning in the insole to soften the landing.

That’s not an exact example from New Balance, but let’s takes a closer look at some actual examples of this tactic in the hunting industry…

Mathews Bows and Archery Accessories

An example of a very successful company that does this in the hunting industry is Mathews, Inc.

For nearly two decades, Matt McPherson of Mathews, Inc. has been an innovator in the archery industry. Matt’s true genius for design in archery is his ability to continually create the bows that give hunters the best chance for success in the field. Matt’s most successful business strategy, one that has worked since the inception of Mathews, Inc., is the continuous update of his existing bows.

Just as the rut comes to whitetail country every year in the fall, Mathews, Inc. released a slightly updated bow that features some breakthrough technology that revolutionizes the archery industry. And the new bows usually sport new names.

Each season, the new Mathews bow may not seem like a huge innovation, but the company does an exceptional job of marketing the slight innovations that make a big impact for the customers. Single Cam technology was one of the first innovations for Mathews. Parallel limb design came later along with perimeter-weighting and harmonic dampening. Each of these innovations has their clear benefit for the bow hunters.

While each new bow may not change much from season to season, the bow design has changed quite a bit since the 1998 version…

Mathews Bows History

New Archery Products

My first set of broadheads was a set of Thunderheads from New Archery Products.

I thought they were the best broadheads available. I had seen my favorite bow hunters on ESPN outdoors using them to harvest some of the biggest whitetails I had ever seen.

Over the years, I used Thunderheads with success. I remember when the innovation of ribbed technology came. It was a simple update to the Thunderhead (ribbed shaft), but to me it meant that I would be a much better hunter in the woods.

I had to have it.

This year Bowhunting.com showcases the updated Thunderhead from New Archery at the 2010 ATA Show.

The new feature?

Dual serrated blade.

The Thunderhead Edge.

Summary

A wise person once said, “You only have strike gold once.”

This saying is true in the sense that companies can work to come up with a truly remarkable product that hits a homerun with customers and continue adding slight upgrades to that product with each new selling season to maximize profits from the innovation.

Figure out the cyclical nature of your product industry and work to create a product that is truly remarkable and that hits home with your customers.

Once you hit that homerun, work to slightly improve that product and release it with marketing power just before each peak selling season so your customers need to have it.

Find the frustrations, solve the problems, and continue building and serving a need.

It’s a formula that successful companies use.

And it’s one you can copy.

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Trophy Score | Business Review

Trophy Score for the iPhone by Anchorpoint

Two Whitetail Does

Chip of Anchorpoint contacted me about an iPhone app that he and his business have created for trophy hunters. He introduced me to Trophy Score – an application that takes you through a step-by-step process for scoring your hunting trophies.

I thought it would be valuable to go through the app while taking a look at Anchorpoint as a business and look for ways Chip and his team could possibly market their business.

Chip sent me a coupon (Trophy Score App is $4.99) and I was on my way.

I didn’t ask Chip for any direction up front as I wanted to go through the Trophy Score process as the simpleton that I am.

Let’s get into it…

Trophy Score

Anchorpoint Outdoors

After getting the info from Chip for Trophy Score, I went to my significant other for some assistance. Using her iPhone, she quickly loaded up Trophy Score and handed over the phone for me to play with.

I went to the living room by my trophy whitetail buck (it’s a trophy in my eyes) and began working with Trophy Score to score my buck.

Dayne Shuda Buck

It took me about 45 to 60 minutes to get through scoring my buck.

Trophy Score was extremely simple to use. There are easy help directions for each section of the scoring procedure. It was easy to enter in my measurements. The 1/8 button made it even simpler and faster.

And at the end Trophy Score calculated my score and it came out to 117 4/8. I was extremely proud.

Trophy Score

I would give Trophy Score 9/10 for simplicity and ease of use.

It’s truly a great product for hunting enthusiasts.

Anchorpoint Marketing Suggestions

Trophy Score and Trophy Score Fishing

Now let’s get into the business and marketing areas of Anchorpoint and their original product, Trophy Score.

I think Anchorpoint has a great product in Trophy Score. It’s simple, which is one of the things I value highly. It’s easy to use and straightforward in its purpose.

The next step for success for Anchorpoint is effective marketing.

By reaching out to bloggers, Anchorpoint is taking a very important step in marketing their product. Anchorpoint reached out to me and offered me something of value – their app, which was valuable to me because I’m a diehard hunter who has never been able to score his trophy plus they gave me access to the app free of charge.

In return, Anchorpoint is getting a mention on a blog with similar audience – hunters and hunting business owners.

Continue on this path of reaching out to bloggers while offering not only free app access, but also by offering advice on scoring trophy game and other areas of expertise.

The team at Anchorpoint could write guest posts on hunting blogs that focus on scoring trophy game – the process, the records, the history of the record organizations (Boone & Crockett, Pope & Young, etc.), the story of record animals and the hunters who have harvested them.

I would also get in contact with influencers in the hunting industry that have online influence and technology influence and offer them something of value.

Focus on the things that allow those who you contact to share their experience with you on a blog or in a forum or in an email newsletter. You don’t have to expect that everybody does a blog post review on Trophy Score – some will because they want to return the value, but all may not.

Even focus on getting in touch with outdoor bloggers who are rising in the online hunting industry as they are hungry to get good content and eager to connect with influential leaders in hunting business.

Focus on reaching out and offering value first and the rest should fall into place including links, write-ups, recommendations, etc.

Summary

Anchorpoint has a great product in Trophy Score. I was impressed with how easy it was to use and how simple yet eye-pleasing the app was. It’s a great product with great potential as tech-savvy hunters catch on with the advantages of mobile and online applications especially when it comes to scoring a trophy and sharing the score with peers.

Anchorpoint as a business is also doing things well to market Trophy Score. They reached out to me and offered something of value (access to Trophy Score). In return I wrote about the business and the product as I experienced it. I was very satisfied to figure out the score of my personal trophy and passionate people like to share news online.

The more Anchorpoint focuses on reaching out to influencers and up-and-coming bloggers and hunters on the Web the more success they will find over the long-term with marketing Trophy Score.

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Image courtesy of FreeWine

How Will Your Customers Discover You?

The underserved rarely speak up – they usually just leave

Guitar

Today I was driving in my pickup when a Taylor Swift song came on. I hit my preset button to change to another local country station and another Taylor Swift song came on. I hit one more preset, this time for local pop station, and yet another Taylor Swift song came on. I finally had to turn on the CD I had in the player (Diamond Rio – 16 Biggest Hits).

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift

Now, I happen to respect Taylor Swift as a singer and songwriter. As a marketer, I can appreciate the work she puts into not only creating songs that her audience loves, but also the work she puts into marketing her brand so that she can grow a large audience.

However, as a young male, I can’t particularly relate to the topics Taylor Swift sings about. Nor do I relate to the melodies she writes.

Who is serving me today in country music?

Uninterested Customers Change the Channel

Your customers are out in the world right now not even realizing that you exist.

When people are listening to the radio and they consistently hear music they simply don’t like they will just change the channel.  People won’t complain or make a fuss. They simply change the channel in an effort to find something that satisfies their desires to feel emotions – to connect with singers, lyrics, and melodies.

Just as people change the channel on the radio, your potential customers are searching for the right way to connect with a business such as yours so they can answer their questions and have their problems solved. They may not even know that they’re looking. We don’t give much thought to what we’re doing when we change the channel. Often we look for certain stations that have played some quality music in the past, but we rely on the disc jockeys to bring us new music that will satisfy us.

Who are the disc jockeys that can take your story to your customers?

Marketing is the art of connecting your business with the customers who don’t even realize that you exist. All great markets have a knack for finding target customers, but there is also an area of marketing that requires the art of discovery.

Discovery

Some of the biggest jockeys in charge of spreading the word about quality businesses on the Web are bloggers.

Bloggers are a business’s most valuable resource for spreading the word on the Web. Bloggers have audiences that rely on them to bring quality information and perspective consistently. Over time, bloggers build their loyal audience and look for sources of consistent information and content to provide that audience.

Businesses that come forward with fresh perspective that adds value to a blogger’s audience is an extremely valuable resource.

It’s important for businesses to seek out the influential bloggers in their niches as well as in niches where they may not expect to find their target customer.

Many businesses today are discovered in blog posts as bloggers review products and services and give trusted information to their audiences. People read blogs to learn and to be entertained, but most importantly, people read blogs as a way to discover something that satisfies their needs – needs they may have not even known they needed satisfied.

Bloggers are like disc jockeys in a way because they are trusted by their audience to bring new and exciting content that satisfies needs. Bloggers are important for businesses and customers alike.

Find the bloggers that are influential both in your niche and in related niches and allow them to tell your story. Give them all the resources they need to effectively allow their audience to discover and connect with your business.

Summary

The other day I heard a song on the radio that caught my ear.

I was on my way to work, riding in my pickup when a smooth country song with a sweet, rolling melody came across the radio waves. I’m a Little More Country Than That was the name of the song and it instantly made me wonder who the singer was.

I found out that the song was by Easton Corbin. He’s a newcomer in the country music world. He has smoothness in his delivery that I haven’t heard since George Strait (one of my all time favorite singers).

Without the discovery nature of radio today I may have never heard I’m a Little More Country Than That.

Easton Corbin
Easton Corbin

Marketing is about making connections with others in the world. The goal of any business is to take its products and services to those who need or want them. It can be difficult to find your customers and while targeting continues to improve, discovery will always play a huge role in the nature of connecting business with customer.

I don’t fit Taylor Swift’s target audience, but because the radio station played a variety of good country music along with hers I was able to discover Easton Corbin.

It can be difficult to find people that want and need your products and services. Take your story to the voices in the industry and allow them to take your story to those who can discover you and become your customers.

Easton Corbin – I’m a Little More Country Than That


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Starting a Hunting Business – Foxfire Outdoors

Does your business pass the ‘So what?’ test?

Water Drop

Rick Kratzke of Whitetail Woods introduced me to a group of hunters from West Pennsylvania that are recording and producing their own brand of fair chase deer hunting.

Jeff, Josh, and Anthony make up the team that is Foxfire Outdoors.

The Foxfire Team has great ambitions to turn their passion into a successful hunting business. When individuals show the drive to take their passion to the next level it gets others excited and even though the road is difficult, people will join the passionate team in pursuit of success.

Foxfire Outdoors

Foxfire Outdoors

Website: Foxfire Outdoors

DVD: Keystone Madness

According to the Foxfire Team and Rick via his blog post, Go Hunting With Foxfire Outdoors, the team has been filming their hunting adventures for a few years, but have recently made the decision to produce professional videos to sell with the eventual goal of turning Foxfire Outdoors into a major hunting industry brand.

Suggestions for Success

After taking a look at other similar businesses and thinking about ways Foxfire can find success I put down a few suggestions for the team…

Unique Marketing Angle

New businesses need to determine why hunters and potential customers should care about their product. They need to pass the ‘So what?’ question that customers will ask when they see your product on the shelf or on your Website.

Foxfire will need to determine what it is about their unique brand of hunting and hunting videos that will make hunters want to watch. There are millions of videos and lots of written content on the Web and all of the content creators are vying for the limited attention of Foxfire’s targeted customer.

My suggestion, after watching a few of the videos, would be for Foxfire to take their existing videos and try adding a few extra segments that add value as a way to test with their audience the ones that attract the most attention.

One of the possible things to test with the videos would be a short terrain analysis of the hunting situation.

Foxfire could have a sit down style segment where they take topo and aerial maps and dissect their strategy for each of their hunts. I would also suggest going through the video of the hunts while pointing out terrain funnels, feeding patterns, time of day, scrape activity, etc.

The fall deer season is also the season for football. One of the popular segments on NFL shows is to analyze the video tape and even draw X’s and O’s of specific plays so the viewers at home can gain and understanding for how the play developed. This allows the viewers to learn about how the game is played and they’ll be better prepared the next game and have more fun as they are able to see the plays taking shape.

Now, only the most passionate NFL fans find this type of analyze enjoyable.

It’s also true that this type of strategy will only attract the most passionate of hunters, but that OK. In the online world it’s the passionate people you want as loyal fans of your business.

Strategic Partnerships

One of the things Foxfire is already doing is creating strategic partnerships.

Foxfire is reaching out for sponsors who manufacture products and offers services that fit with the business at Foxfire Outdoors.

It’s crucial to the success of any business to create partnerships that allow businesses to share the interest in the success. When a business like Foxfire enters into a partnership with a sponsor such as Deer Ridge Innovations, Inc., they are creating a relationship where the success of one company is important for the growth of the other. Because the businesses are associated with one another there is interest by both parties to push the other onto success. This can be through the form of operational strategies to simple tips on ways to market products and services.

Foxfire is on the right track with their strategy to gain strategic partnerships. Staying on this track will lead to sustained success.

Email Newsletter

Successful businesses understand that consistent communication with customers is important for building loyalty and trust.

Loyalty and trust are the keys to lifetime value when it comes to customers who are willing to purchase your products and services for a long period of time.

Today, email newsletters are great ways to consistently communicate with your customers and even potential customers are you discuss the important and valuable aspects of your business.

For Foxfire, starting an email newsletter would be a great way to build buzz about new video clips, upcoming DVDs, upcoming contests, and other ways for the subscribers to interact with the company and the team.

Communication is crucial for building loyalty and trust. Loyalty and trust will lead to long-term customers, which leads to a successful business.

Blogger Outreach

Foxfire is taking a great step by forming relationships with hunters and bloggers. They are using communication tools such as CamoSpace. This is how the Foxfire Team met Rick of Whitetail Woods. As a result of this relationship, the two parties were able to help each other. Rick was able to get a good story for his blog by writing about the things Foxfire is doing to leave their unique mark in the hunting world.

Since bloggers are a business’s best resource on the Web, it’s important for Foxfire to continue reaching out to bloggers such as the outdoor hunting bloggers at the Outdoor Bloggers Summit.

The key is to approach bloggers in a way that shows you have something of value to offer them. Be prepared to offer something of value first. This could be in the form of offering a DVD for a blogger so they can run a contest on their site. Or to potentially write a guest post about hunting video production.

There are lots of ways businesses can reach out to bloggers to form mutually beneficial partnerships. Get creative with the things your business can offer bloggers and then reach out with a friendly hand.

Summary

Foxfire has some exciting hunting footage. The team is definitely on the right track for hunting business success.

It’s exciting to see passionate hunters working hard with their passion for video production and hunting and turning it into something hunters find entertaining and educational.

Communication is crucial for Foxfire as they’ll have to reach out to influencers in the online hunting world in an effort to reach a larger, but passionate audience of hunters.

By working toward building relationships with bloggers and honing their craft for video production, Foxfire will find success in the hunting industry.

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

Successful Business Highlight – Smashing Magazine

Sportsmen of North America and Magnum Hunt Club

Successful Business Highlight – Camofire

What to read next on the Web

White Knuckle Productions NEW DVD Coming Soon; An Interview with Creator Todd Pringnitz

If You Don’t Embrace the Web, It Shows You Don’t Care

The Pros and Cons of Using Video in Your Site or Blog

Image courtesy of mescon

State of the Hunting Industry Report | January 2010

[private_member]MEMBERS – Please view in .pdf form – State of the Hunting Industry Report – January 2010[/private_member]

Edition 3           A Publication of Hunting Business Marketing        January 2010

Now is the Time to Prepare for the Fall 2010 Hunting Season

Introduction

2010 will be an interesting year for the US economy.

Berries

Image courtesy of ellienvanhoutte

Consumers and businesses are still reeling from the recession and wondering if the so-called recovery will continue and lead to sustained growth. It seems that ‘recovery’ for most businesses is defined as slowing the drop in business that occurred in 2008.

So while businesses have been able to flatten their trend in the past few months and consumers have been able to save more in the short-term while increasing their spending of late, there is still an uneasy feeling among most Americans going into the new decade.

The hunting industry is no different.

[private_member]

In some states like Wisconsin, hunters are feeling the poor effects of a slow hunting season. Not only are hunters reeling from the poor economic conditions of the past year, but they are feeling let down by the state of the hunting situation this past fall.

While it seems there isn’t much to look forward to in the hunting industry there are bright areas and even some opportunity to build your business’s value to set yourself up for success in 2010.

Value is going to be a big term in 2010.

Consumers are looking for value in every purchase they make. Value doesn’t always mean the lowest price, but it does mean the most for a given amount of money for a quality product or service. Customers are paying attention to the true competitive advantages businesses are offering.

So while your business may not be able to match the prices of your competition due to operational restraints, you may be able to compete through value-added services such as trusted customer service or via an informational blog on your Website.

Now is also the time to think about making changes to your Website and overall Web presence before the summer and fall hunting spending seasons kick off.

Align your goals for the upcoming year and begin implementing your strategies today so you’re prepared for a successful season.

Economic Trends

How The Recession Has Changed U.S. Consumer Behavior

From Forbes (Jan. 2010):

While the downturn has certainly changed the economic landscape, it may also have fundamentally altered the behavior of numerous U.S. consumers, who are now learning to live without expensive products. Many companies with strong premium brands are anticipating a rapid rebound in consumer behavior–a return to normality, as after previous recessions. They are likely to be disappointed.

New McKinsey research found that, in any given category, an average of 18% of consumer-packaged-goods consumers bought lower-priced brands in the past two years. Of the consumers who switched to cheaper products, 46% said they performed better than expected, and the large majority of these consumers said the performance of such products was much better than expected. As a result, 34% of the switchers said they no longer preferred higher-priced products, and an additional 41% said that while they preferred the premium brand, it “was not worth the money.”

For companies attempting to address the change in consumer behavior, understanding the economic theory that explains why it is now shifting can help to inform decision making. Textbook theory posits that changes in the relationship between how much consumers are willing to pay, on the one hand, and their perception of the value they are receiving, on the other, underpins behavioral changes. As the exhibit shows, if consumers perceive enough value in a premium-brand product (Product A), they will favor it over the product of a more basic brand (Product B), despite the premium product’s higher price. In a recession, though, consumers become less willing to pay more–the slope of the demand line flattens, and the preferences of some consumers begin to shift from Product A to Product B.

Read the entire article How The Recession Has Changed U.S. Consumer Behavior

Impact on your business

Consumer sentiment has definitely changed in the past 18 months. Consumers are looking for value with all of their purchases – both necessary and for enjoyment. The important thing to remember is that consumers are not simply looking for the lowest priced item in any competitive market. Consumers are looking for the best value at any level of the price chain as it makes sense for their purchasing ability. Consumers are willing to spend more money today on an item they know will last long and provide value for the longer-term.

In your marketing efforts in 2010, work to show your customers the value in the purchases they make from your business. Don’t worry about the prices your charge if they are higher than your competition. Focus your email and Website copy instead on the value for your customer.

What will make your customer feel good about their purchase?

Marketers: Expect A Return To Core Brand Value–And Values–In 2010

From Forbes (Jan. 2009):

Consumers want brands with four ”goods”: Good taste, good for health, good for the wallet and good for the planet.

Call it 2010. Call it twenty-ten, or even 2K10. No matter how you refer to the last year of the first decade of the 21st Century, everyone in the marketing is wondering what the past few sobering years will mean for brands and consumer behavior.

It doesn’t take a seer, or even a branding professional, to declare that consumers will continue to demand value, no matter which direction the economy goes. Consumers have learned–some the hard way–that financial discipline is a must. They will also demand that the values practiced by the companies with which they choose to do business are good and honest and trustworthy. And lest any company thinks it can put one over on anyone, a text, a blog, a YouTube video or a Tweet will quickly prove otherwise.

While I’m on online trends, I believe we’ll see a survival-of-the-strongest scenario in social media sites. The only bet I’m willing to make is the continuing growth and popularity of Google  ( GOOG –  news  –  people ) and Twitter. My sense is that before the end of the next year we’ll see some jump-balls between a number of other well-known social networks. People are busy. Consumers will become more selective, looking for digital brands that offer unparalleled usefulness and connectivity, along with rich content and multiple relevant applications. On the business side, I expect that more and more companies will rely on social technology to encourage collaboration between employees, and collaboration with customers. And they’ll turn to sites and applications that provide them the same usefulness and efficiency.

Read the entire article Marketers: Expect A Return To Core Brand Value–And Values–In 2010

Impact on your business

While financial discipline is a must for consumers and businesses, the mindset of consumers is always to consume within their own comfortable levels of risk. The triggers for emotional rationalization will change in 2010 as consumers look for different reasons to make purchases for items they need and want.

Consumers are saving their money more while still looking for ways to make life enjoyable. While consumers tighten their belts on some of the big purchases and look to cut back on some debt, they’re still looking to make purchases where they perceive there is value.

This added value will likely come in the form of a sacrifice by your business. It may mean that you’ll have to discount a price on a guided hunting trip or that you’ll have to find a way to manufacture your hunting products more cost effectively while making your customer feel like they are getting great value for their money.

Industry News

Tourism Industry Still Dealing With Cautious Consumers

From Gallup (Dec. 2009):

While half of Americans foresee no change in their travel spending in 2010 compared to 2009, a larger proportion plan to spend less in the coming year than say they will spend more. That deficit is particularly high relative to air travel and hotel stays. However, even the percentage of Americans saying they will spend less on vacations in general exceeds those saying they will spend more by a slight margin, 27% vs. 22%.

In addition to broad changes in vacation spending, nearly 3 out of 10 Americans — 29% — plan to spend less on airline flights specifically in 2010 than they did in 2009, while 16% say they will spend more, and about half say they will spend about the same. The same pattern is seen for hotel stays, with 30% planning to spend less and 16% planning to spend more.

Read the entire article Tourism Industry Still Dealing With Cautious Consumers

Impact on your business

Travel and tourism mirrors the hunting industry. Hunters often travel many hours to their hunting camps each year or travel around the country and world for a chance to take a guided hunt at trophy game.

It’s good to see that Americans are looking to continue spend money on travel and leisure in the coming years. It’s not unexpected that Americans are looking to spend less – they’re looking for trips and vacations that offer value. People want to have a good experience for the money.

If your hunting business can perceive value, you can attract these consumers.

Web Design Trends

Web Design Trends for 2010

From Web Design Ledger (Nov. 2009):

1| Oversized Logos/Headers

2| Sketch/Hand-drawn Design

3| Slab Typefaces

4| Typography

5| One Page Layouts

6| Huge Images

7| Change of Perspective

8| Interactive/Intuitive Design

9| Modal Boxes

10| Minimalism

11| Oversized Footer

12| Retro

13| Intro Boxes

14| Magazine Layouts

Read the entire article Web Design Trends for 2010

Impact on your business

If you’re thinking about redeveloping your hunting business Website for the 2010 hunting season then now is the time to start the process.

The process for a redevelopment takes a few months to implement and you’ll want to have all the bugs worked out in plenty of time for the summer spending season when hunters are spending money in anticipation of the fall hunting season. You’ll also want to be prepared for the spending in the fall as hunters purchase the gear they will need for their hunting strategies.

For more, please see 50 Best Hunting Website Designs for examples of quality hunting Website design.

Conclusions

Today’s customers are looking for trust around every corner.

In 2010, you’ll want to show the emotional value that will allow consumers to rationalize purchasing your products and services. Will your business leave your customer feeling positive about their purchase today and for the long-term?

Consumers are saving and changing their spending habits, but their desire to consume remains. Communicate with your customers today and earn their trust as a valuable resource and they’ll reward you with their hard-saved dollars.

It’s a new consumer market, but the dollars are still out there to be had.

Copyright Notice

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Hunting Business Marketing

The Top Marketing Posts of 2009

Some of the best marketers in the world wrote valuable content in 2009

Cougar

You may have noticed that in each post on HBM I link to a few posts from around the Web that I find relevant and (hopefully) interesting. It’s my little effort to share some quality content from around the Web. All of the articles are worthwhile and while your time is limited, it’s definitely worth it to read some of the most compelling articles as they relate to your business.

With the end of 2009 here, I thought I’d go through the HBM Archives and complete the top 50 marketing posts.

Enjoy.

1| The Future Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Be a Disrupter

Appeared with HBM Post: Disrupt the Hunting Industry

2| SEOmoz

Website: SEOmoz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 10 Tips for When Startup Life Gives You Lemons…

Appeared with HBM Post: If You Want to Be Creative, Why Do You Structure Your Life?

3| Copyblogger

Website: Copyblogger

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 5 Steps to Going Viral on Twitter

Appeared with HBM Post: The First 4 Days of Your New Hunting Blog

4| The Future Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Social Media, Web 2.0 And Internet Stats

Appeared with HBM Post: 4 Lessons Learned from the Movie Catch Me If You Can

5| Dosh Dosh

Website: Dosh Dosh

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Everyone Uses the Internet for a Reason

Appeared with HBM Post: Why Hunters Use the Web

6| Seth Godin’s Blog

Website: Seth Godin’s Blog

Top 2009 Marketing Post: How to Send a Personal Email

Appeared with HBM Post: Give Away Your Hunting Knowledge for Free

7| Problogger

Website: Problogger

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 5 Ways Blogging Can Make a Difference for You in This Economy

Appeared with HBM Post: Give Away Your Hunting Knowledge for Free

8| The Future Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: A Creative Commons License Is The Ultimate Music Promotion Tool

Appeared with HBM Post: Give Away Your Hunting Knowledge for Free

9| Twitip

Website: Twitip

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Think Like a Toddler to Find Your Voice on Twitter

Appeared with HBM Post: Think like a Buck in Rut and Find your Blogging Voice

10| Problogger

Website: Problogger

Top 2009 Marketing Post: The Essential Guide to Growing Your Blog on Minimal Time

Appeared with HBM Post: 3 Viral Video Ideas

11| SAMBA

Website: SAMBA

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Hamster Burial Kits & 998 Other Business Ideas

Appeared with HBM Post: 40 Quick Tips and Ideas for Growing Your Hunting Business

12| Chris Brogan

Website: Chris Brogan

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Cafe Shaped Business – The Roger Smith Hotel

Appeared with HBM Post: 10 Things Every Hunting Website Needs (Plus a Few Extra Ideas)

13| Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That!

Website: Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That!

Top 2009 Marketing Post: You already have a word of mouth topic

Appeared with HBM Post: 10 Things Every Hunting Website Needs (Plus a Few Extra Ideas)

14| Zen Habits

Website: Zen Habits

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Bad Habits Slap Us Down, but a Theme Encourages

Appeared with HBM Post:

15| Manage Your Life

Website: Manage Your Life

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 9 quick ways on how to manage work stress

Appeared with HBM Post: Staying Power – Why Some Businesses Have It and Some Don’t

16| SEO Book

Website: SEO Book

Top 2009 Marketing Post: True Internet Marketing Icons / How Online Marketing Works

Appeared with HBM Post: Take Note of What Every other Hunting Business is Doing – Then Do the Opposite

17| The Future Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 77 Insights From More Than A Decade On The Web, Daily

Appeared with HBM Post: Web Users Take the Path of Least Resistance – Just like Deer

18| Seth Godin’s Blog

Website: Seth Godin’s Blog

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Solving a Different Problem

Appeared with HBM Post: Web Users Take the Path of Least Resistance – Just like Deer

19| The Way We Watch

Website: The Way We Watch

Top 2009 Marketing Post: What Do People Remember After the Video Ends?

Appeared with HBM Post: 50 Viral Videos (and how they spread)

20| The Business of Blogging and New Media

Website: The Business of Blogging and New Media

Top 2009 Marketing Post: How to Release Your Web Marketing Potential

Appeared with HBM Post: The Impact of Online Video in the Hunting World

21| The Future Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 10 Secrets for Creating Viral Content

Appeared with HBM Post: The Impact of Online Video in the Hunting World

22| Copyblogger

Website: Copyblogger

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Persuasive Online Video Strategies That Prompt Action

Appeared with HBM Post: The Impact of Online Video in the Hunting World

23| Chris Brogan

Website: Chris Brogan

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Social Media Needs to Become a Team Sport

Appeared with HBM Post: The Sports Agent Guide to Marketing

24| Specky Boy

Website: Specky Boy

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 50 Impressive Magazine and Newspaper Styled Web Designs

Appeared with HBM Post: 50 Best Hunting Website Designs

25| Noupe

Website: Noupe

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Web Design Trends: Testimonials Design

Appeared with HBM Post: 50 Best Hunting Website Designs

26| Six Revisions

Website: Six Revisions

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 16 WordPress Sites to Help You Build a Better Blog

Appeared with HBM Post: 50 Best Hunting Website Designs

27| Murray Newlands

Website: Murray Newlands

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 10 Elements of a Successful Twitter Landing Page

Appeared with HBM Post: The Top 10 Twitter Landing Pages

28| Problogger

Website: Problogger

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Getting Over the Blogger’s 6 Month Itch

Appeared with HBM Post: What Daylong Deer Hunting Taught Me About Blogging

29| The Way We Watch

Website: The Way We Watch

Top 2009 Marketing Post: What Do Chris Brogan and Michael Caine Have in Common?

Appeared with HBM Post: What do Chris Burget and Garth Brooks Have in Common?

30| Fathom SEO

Website: Fathom SEO

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Google Analytics Benchmarking: Turn it on!

Appeared with HBM Post: Use Bounce Back Offers to Get New and Old Business

31| Online Marketing Blog

Website: Online Marketing Blog

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 7 Considerations for Tracking Social Media Success

Appeared with HBM Post: 10 Remarkable Hunting Business Blogs

32| Outdoor Media Resources

Website: Outdoor Media Resources

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Appeared with HBM Post: 10 Remarkable Hunting Business Blogs

33| Conversion Rate Experts

Website: Conversion Rate Experts

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Conversion Killers – Does Your Site Contain Any “Nuke Buttons”?

Appeared with HBM Post: 25 Tips for Web Conversion

34| Chris Brogan

Website: Chris Brogan

Top 2009 Marketing Post: How Does This Share

Appeared with HBM Post: 25 Tips for Web Conversion

35| The Future Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 19 Reasons You Should Blog and Not Just Tweet

Appeared with HBM Post: 25 Tips for Web Conversion

36| The Future Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Shutterstock Gets Social – Digital PR Case Study

Appeared with HBM Post: Sponsorship Case Study – Team Huntress

37| Copyblogger

Website: Copyblogger

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Beyond Headlines: How to Get Your Audience to Read Every Word

Appeared with HBM Post: Sponsorship Case Study – Team Huntress

38| Chris Brogan

Website: Chris Brogan

Top 2009 Marketing Post: The Beauty of Collaboration

Appeared with HBM Post: How to Choose a Hunting Business Directory

39| Daily Blogs Tips

Website: Daily Blog Tips

Top 2009 Marketing Post: How to Optimize Your Site for Local Search

Appeared with HBM Post: How to Choose a Hunting Business Directory

40| Online Marketing Blog

Website: Online Marketing Blog

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Influencing the Social Web: Agility is a Factor

Appeared with HBM Post: How Small Businesses Can Beat the Big Competition

41| Lateral Action

Website: Lateral Action

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 9 Ways People Respond To Your Content Online

Appeared with HBM Post: How Small Businesses Can Beat the Big Competition

42| Online Marketing Blog

Website: Online Marketing Blog

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Strategic Link Building for SEO

Appeared with HBM Post: How Small Businesses Can Beat the Big Competition

43| Copyblogger

Website: Copyblogger

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 5 Things Sesame Street Can Teach You About Breakthrough Blogging

Appeared with HBM Post: How to Find Your Lucky Break

44| SEO Book

Website: SEO Book

Top 2009 Marketing Post: The Search Taxonomy: Getting Inside the Mind of the Searcher

Appeared with HBM Post: 8 Little Details That Make Big Differences on Hunting Websites

45| Zen Habits

Website: Zen Habits

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Feng Shui On Steroids: Design Your Space to Achieve Your Goals

Appeared with HBM Post: 8 Little Details That Make Big Differences on Hunting Websites

46| The Fugure Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: No Niche is Ever Too Crowded for Fresh Thinking

Appeared with HBM Post: Befriend the Best Hunters and Businesspeople on the Web

47| Daily Blog Tips

Website: Daily Blog Tips

Top 2009 Marketing Post: 8 Tips for Aspiring entrepreneurs

Appeared with HBM Post: The John Mellencamp Guide to Success in the Hunting Industry

48| SEOmoz

Website: SEOmoz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: The Real Power of Twitter

Appeared with HBM Post: What is the Point of Twitter

49| The Future Buzz

Website: The Future Buzz

Top 2009 Marketing Post: Clinging to the Past is Not a Strategy

Appeared with HBM Post: What is the Point of Twitter

50| Louis Gray

Website: Louis Gray

Top 2009 Marketing Post: It’s Not Too Late to Spring Into Reading 5 New Blogs

Appeared with HBM Post: Write Better Blog Headlines: Tonight at 6

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

The Top 50 Hunting Blog Posts of 2009

What to read next on the Web

The Top 50 SEO Posts of the Year – 2009 Edition

Image courtesy of jurvetson

2010 | The New Normal Hunting Economy

Spending habits have changed – how will it affect your business?

Gears

The past 18 months (2008-2009) has yielded a steep drop in consumer spending.

Gallup is one of the best resources on the state of business in the United States and they recently released a report on the spending habits of consumers in the US:

Upper-Income Spending Reverts to New Normal

Please read entire article. It’s well worth the 5 minutes…

Consumer Spending by Income 2008-2009

In a sign that the new normal in consumer spending continues unabated, upper-income Americans’ self-reported average daily spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online fell 14% in November, reverting to its relatively tight ($107 to $121) pre-October 2009 average monthly range. Middle- and lower-income consumer discretionary spending increased by 7% last month but remained in its tight 2009 average monthly range of $52 to $61. Still, consumer spending by both income groups continues to trail year-ago levels by 20%, even as those comparables have gotten easier to match — possibly dashing hopes that upscale retailers and big-ticket-item sales will do better this year.

Fall 2008 was a difficult season for businesses that became depending on the level of spending (including credit spending) taking place in the bubble economy of 2002-2007. All of 2009 hasn’t been much better and Fall 2009 seems to have been flat or below 2008.

Looking ahead to 2010, there are signs of a flattening or worsening economy and the impact this may have on the hunting industry may be great. There is a potential threat of increasing license fees and taxes on hunting related items as many states scramble to make up for lost income revenue. Consumers are also cutting back their spending to pay down debt and save for an uncertain future.

That isn’t to say there is nothing you can’t do to prepare for your own prosperous 2010.

Let’s take a deeper look at the new normal economy for 2010, the impact it will have on your business and the hunting industry, and things you can do now to position yourself for success…

The New Normal Hunting Economy

The current state of the US economy has two realities:

1| 2002-2007 was a false boom economy where business and spending took place that wouldn’t have occurred in a normal market

2| 2009 and beyond will see consumers saving the money they are still able to earn while using it to pay off debt they incurred in 2002-2007 and/or to save for an uncertain future

For hunting businesses, money is tight for individuals and for businesses that have seemingly had money to spend on what may have been nice-to-have activities such as hunting in the past 5-6 years. In 2009, consumers cut back on their discretionary spending including items that may include guided hunting trips, a new bow, or a new camo suit. Some of these items have lost their appeal as customers became uncomfortable with their debt situation, especially as it related to the deflating of the housing and building sector.

While 2008 and 2009 were difficult for the hunting industry, there is hope for companies that are willing to take a step back, look for an understanding of the new normal hunting economy, and take action to provide targeted hunting customers with valuable products and services as they continue to pursue their passions in the outdoors.

5 Things You Can Do in 2010

2010 appears to bring a year of uncertainty for businesses as they try to figure out the best way to serve the needs and wants of consumers in the new normal economy. It’s often said that the more consumers save and pay down debt the worse the economy will be. While this may be true for the short-term, it’s best for the economy as a whole and for individual businesses if consumers pay down debt and save for long-term prosperity.

In 2010, consumers will still look to spend on leisure, especially for the things they value most as enjoyment. Hunters that are extremely passionate about hunting and the outdoors will still spend their hard-earned money on trips, gear, and knowledge.

The key to the new normal economy is for businesses to understand that the most passionate customers will be the ones spending their money and they will want the highest quality product and service that serves their hunting needs in the long-term.

1| Reassess Costs

After a false boom period like there was in the US economy from 2002-2007, it’s best to use the correction period to reassess investments made during the boom and make sure that investment is going to true growth areas of the business rather than into areas of false growth.

Like a local business that sees false growth when the circus comes to town, businesses today have to understand that there was a lot of demand in the economy (2002-2007) that was based on an abnormal appetite for debt. As this appetite for debt restructures, businesses need to assess costs and determine where to invest and divest.

2| Analyze Existing Customers

Along with assessing current costs comes the importance of analyzing where your company’s most passionate demand originates.

Some customers you may have acquired during years past may have been your customers due only to false demand for your products and services.

However, you also likely acquired some customers who are extremely passionate about you, your business, and the products and services you provide. It’s these customers that you will want to focus your attention on in 2010.

What will best serve your most passionate customers?

How do you acquire more passionate customers in 2010?

3| Improve Customers-Business Connection

After determining your most passionate customers it’s time to work on improving the connection you and your business have with that customer.

Today there are many ways to increase the value in the connection you have with your passionate customer. These ways include long-term strategies such as email newsletters, blogging, video, and sharing information that improves the value of the product and service you provide your customer.

Improving the value of the customer-business connection is a long-term process with little things you can do each day to work toward a successful customer connection strategy.

What are you doing today that will grow your connection over time with your passionate customers?

4| Improve Your Weaknesses/Improve Your Strengths

As mentioned above, a correction is the perfect time for you to assess your costs, customers and ultimately your strengths and weaknesses.

Now is the time to improve on your weaknesses and on your strengths so you can best compete for your most passionate customers. As is evident today, consumers are pickier with their decisions. To retain your most passionate customers and to acquire new customers you’re going to have to improve the areas of your businesses that are behind your competitors as well as on the areas you excel. This will ensure that you stay ahead of the competition and provide the most value for passionate customers.

5| Expand

After all the assessing and reassessing of your company and customer is in place, it’s time to look for areas of opportunity to expand.

A business that is growing is succeeding and companies that remain complacent with their current state of affairs will soon be left in the dust as competitors expand and improve their products and services.

Where are areas that you can expand?

Are there products you can offer that allow you to use your current set of expertise to provide value to your passionate customers?

Summary

Successful hunting businesses will have no problem adjusting to the new normal hunting economy. In periods of correction the businesses that best provide quality and customer service will survive as consumers reassess their spending and look for quality in all they work for.

Periods of correction in a productive and consumer economy are exactly that – a correction. As consumers correct their saving and spending habits, businesses must do the same and assess priorities as it relates to offering the most value to consumers.

In 2010, the best strategy for businesses will be to focus on the needs of their most passionate customers. Providing the most value through products and services will ensure lasting connections that will lead to long-term satisfaction for the customer and profit for the business.

What has your company been doing to prepare for the new normal hunting economy?

What have you been doing to prepare for 2010?

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

State of the Hunting Industry Report | December 2009 ($10)

State of the Hunting Industry Report | November 2009 ($10)

Note: State of the Hunting Industry Reports are available to all HBM Members

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Image courtesy of ralphbijker

Ecommerce Search – Pay Attention to Your Audience

Your audience will tell you what they want

Binoculars

Last month Google came out with a new service for businesses with current or future plans for expanding ecommerce presence.

Google Commerce Search

Google has a great way to approach new products. They test new products by allowing limited membership to their new programs and products while they work out the kinks and learn from the group of users who test the new products and services.

Google Commerce was rolled out with Birkenstock and it seems to be a big step for companies with a focus on ecommerce. The step may not be directly related to Google Commerce Search, but the trend that Google Commerce Search addresses is certainly important for businesses with an ecommerce presence as well as for companies with any Web presence.

Let me explain…

Search and Ecommerce

In Google’s Commerce Search video they mention an amazing statistic:

Web site visitors spend an average of 8 seconds on a site before deciding whether to stay. And 70% of online shoppers use search to make this decision.

It seems that the Web and ecommerce has honed in the consumer’s focus of searching for products. Or perhaps consumers have always used search in some form to discover the things they are looking for.

Whether it’s a catalog or a Website, the designer can make suggestions with headings in navigation or in a table of contents, but consumers will still page through a catalog or page through a Website to discovery products on their own.

I’ve been noticing an increased emphasis on search and specifically on the importance of the search bar design on many popular ecommerce sites.

LL Bean

Visit the site – LL Bean

LL Bean now features their search bar directly right in the middle of their home page. The search bar is also highlighted with a color (a shade of LL Bean green) and the text ‘Enter item # or keyword’ is prominently displayed.

LL Bean Search Bar

LL Bean has obviously been doing some testing of their own and has discovered that their customers are using the search bar to discover, find and purchase the products available on the site.

It’s a great example of a company paying attention to their audience and using Website design and functionality to add value to their customers.

Here are a couple other examples…

Zappos

Visit the site – Zappos and Zappos Zeta

Zappos Search Bar

Zeta Zappos Search Bar

The search bar on Zappos’s test site, Zeta, has the search bar with a color background to highlight the search functionality even more.

Bowhunting.com

Visit the site – Bowhunting.com

Bowhunting Search Bar

The search here is not in the typical upper right hand side of the page. It’s toward the upper middle area and the company is using Google to provide their search functionality.

These companies realized what their visitors wanted – search functionality – and fostered their Website design around those expressed needs.

Your customer may be expressing different needs for your Website and business. You just have to figure out what they are asking.

Listen to Your Audience

A key to success on the Web for any company is to pay attention and listen to your audience.

Successful marketing driven companies in any contact channel have always been exceptional with testing various initiatives while listening to the feedback their customers provide to the testing. Google has made their mark on the Web by following the principle of testing and rolling out products that their audience responds to with the most long-term excitement. There will always be misses along the way, but the testing and listening strategy is a strong strategy for any company.

Testing at times can seem difficult and time consuming and to setup formal tests it can take time, but is often worth the effort to see the results.

Often times though you’ll find that you can listen and pay attention to your audience without setting up a formal test.

For example, I’ve noticed on the Hunting Business Marketing blog that the types of posts that get shared the most are posts that highlight the success of others. These are usually list posts such as 50 Best Hunting Website Designs. However, posts with more in depth commentary such as Successful Business Highlight – Smashing Magazine are also successful.

I didn’t setup a test for types of posts, but I like to try writing posts of varying style while paying attention to what readers are responding to the most. It seems to be a great way to learn and grow as a writer and as a business owner.

Paying attention and listening to your audience is the key to testing and finding the needs of your customer. Successful companies are able to recognize these needs and address them with improvements to their value chain.

Summary

Companies involved in ecommerce have been alerted to a growing trend in Web consumer need – search.

Google has offered their own search for companies with an ecommerce focus with Google Commerce Search.

Successful companies always test and pay attention and listen to what their audience is telling them. Companies with long-term success are able to not only listen to their audience, but are also able to try new things that successfully address the expressed needs of their audience.

Setting up formal tests and even doing a little in depth analysis of your Website are great ways to listen to what your audience is saying. If you notice an area of expressed need that you can address then roll it out and see how your audience reacts. If it’s positive then great. If the response is so-so then try something new.

The key is to pay attention and continue adding value to your connection with your audience.

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

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