Lessons From Crazy Heart

It’s funny I’ve fallin’/Feels like flyin’/for a little while

Note: This post contains some spoiler content…

A few weeks before I went to the theater to see Crazy Heart I saw the trailer. I instantly became interested in the story of the movie. The setting of country music instantly attracted me. I was also intrigued by the soundtrack – it had a ’70s outlaw country music vibe. I’ve always been a fan of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle and others.

After seeing the movie I have to say that it is everything and more than I built it up to be.

It’s a great story for viewers to connect with. Music fans can connect with the outlaw country music. The themes of the songs on the soundtracks cross musical boundaries (I think it was Willie Nelson who said, “There are only two kinds of music: Good and Bad.”). The story of a hardened outlaw singer and songwriter connects well with young and old alike.

The best part of the movie and the biggest lesson I was able to pull out was how the story related to entrepreneurship and life in general. The setting and circumstances may vary in detail, but the ups and downs and unexpected turns are what connects us all as humans.

Let’s take a closer look at the Lessons from Crazy Heart

The Ups and Downs of Life and Business

Crazy Heart opens up with the sight of Bad Blake traveling the American Southwest in his ’78 Chevy Suburban. He’s getting by day-to-day living on the cash he makes playing at small bars and even bowling alleys. His devoted fans remember his hits from 30 or so years ago and come to see him stumble through drunken performances to get a taste of nostalgia.

Bad’s his own business. He sells what his fans are still willing to buy and he puts on the best show he knows how.  He is able to get by in life by drinking and treating his body like a dumpster. He has the perception that his fans want a hard-drinking, fun-loving outlaw and that’s exactly what he gives them. It pays enough to just get by, but the business model doesn’t pay nearly as good as it once did.

Just as Bad found in the movie, most businesses find  that the typical model has a lifespan. Businesses reach a peak of profitability and then ride out the lifespan as long as they can. If the concept doesn’t change much profits will slowly diminish. New models will come along and slowly the demand for products wears off.

The successful businesses are those that adapt to change and have a progressive nature.

Bad knows that his old business model of touring is what pays his bills. He just doesn’t know how to reignite the excitement in himself and his music to get more people to come to his shows. He also doesn’t know how to broaden his audience and expand his fan base.

There are two interesting points in the movie where Bad discusses songwriting.

The first has Bad talking with his agent about new albums and new songs. The agent wants Bad to write some new material (update his business model) while Bad wants to remix his old hits and repackage them for fans to purchase (old business model).

Bad and his agent both have the feeling that Bad’s career is going nowhere. They both work hard to make a few of the remaining bucks Bad is worth. They keep fighting and hoping for some inspiration to strike and one day it does.

Bad’s agent is able to work with rising star and former Bad disciple, Tommy Sweet. Tommy learned how to play, sing and entertain from Bad and now is seeing his own success. Tommy gets Bad to open up for him at one of his shows. Just before the show the two have a chat about business and Bad is eager to get together to record duets on his old songs. Tommy says he loves working with Bad, but that such an album is not in high demand.

Tommy offers Bad the opportunity to write songs for his upcoming solo release. Bad brushes off the idea and the two go about their way.

Eventually Bad is able to find inspiration (love interest) and writes a great song. This song reignites his star and he finds a new business that he can sell. Over the next 18 months or so Tommy takes the song to the tops of the charts and Bad is bad in demand as an entertainer. His old music is finding new ears and new folks are coming to his shows as a result of the new song.

All businesses that expect to continually succeed need to be progressive in nature. Business leaders can work a successful formula to death, but to expect to have it ride a peak forever is signing a death certificate for the business.

People involved with kick and scream at the suggestion of change, but for the sake of continual growth and prosperity it’s necessary to find new models and new products that consumers demand.

The Impact of a Soundtrack

Lead actor Jeff Bridges credits Ryan Bingham with saving Crazy Heart. The importance of soundtrack in movies is understood by all involved. For this movie, Ryan Bingham was able to take the script and capture the mood in the song The Weary Kind.

The song became the theme during production. The mood of the song is perfect for setting viewers up to understand the life of the lead character.

The songs in the movie parallel the life and business model Bad Blake follows. The songs he wrote that made him an outlaw country music star take him through ups and downs and as we first see him the songs are finding their last bit of interest with Bad playing them in broken down venues.

Then Bad finds inspiration and pens The Weary Kind and interest is renewed in the entertainer.

The soundtrack of Crazy Heart sets the tone for the movie. As a viewer, I was captured by the authentic sound of the “classic” Bad Blake songs. I was also swallowed up by The Weary Kind as the song connected me with the story of Bad Blake.

Credit goes to T. Bone Burnett, Ryan Bingham, and Stephen Bruton for putting together the Crazy Heart soundtrack.

Summary

Crazy Heart, the story of Bad Blake, parallels the life of a business.

Business models go through their life cycles and it’s important for business leaders to be progressive focused. People involved with the business will want things to remain the same, but without change there cannot be growth.

Successful leaders push through the resistance and change their models to give consumers something they demand.

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How Influence Shapes Your Marketing Strategy

The people that influence you affect the way you perform marketing

Think of the folks in your life that most influence your decisions.

Who comes to mind?

Parents?

Older siblings?

A star athlete?

Your boss or mentor?

There are lots of people that influence the way we are, the way we lives our lives, and the decisions we make – professionally and personally. The people we look up to as role models are typically the same people who inspire us to succeed and do good in the world.

Let’s take a closer look at the impact of influencers in our marketing lives…

The Origin of Influence

While I was growing up the people that influenced my life the most were typically older brothers of friends, professional athletes, and men in my family (not my Dad in my younger years since immature kids typically don’t look to their Dad for influence).

As I grew up, the people I looked to for guidance changed to more meaningful influencers. These were people such as my Dad, business leaders I both knew and didn’t know, and a few actors and musical artists.

Looking to my Dad for personal advice and insight seems to make sense since he was very successful at being a father.

Looking to business leaders for insight into business success makes sense for me since my long-term goal is to become successful in all aspects of entrepreneurship.

The Sociology of Influence

It’s logical for people to take inspiration from those that are successful in the fields we want to be successful in ourselves.

Those that are driven to succeed in their professional lives in various fields will seek out the insight of successful people in the same industry. It’s common for influence to come from the leaders we work with at our daily jobs. These folks are successful and are usually willing to comment on their own path of success. Seek out the most articulate leaders you work with directly and ask for their continuing stories of what it takes to become successful in your chosen field. It’s likely these folks will still be driven to a higher level of success and they may even discredit the amount of success they have had up to the current point in their professional lives.

In today’s world of information, there is a easier access to the success stories and blueprints with the Web.

Business leaders often have their stories published online. Some leaders maintain their own blog where they share their insight on a regular basis.

It’s easy to find interviews with influential business leaders with a simple search. Favorites quotes from interviews and articles can often provide the inspiration to take our own success to the next level.

There are sites dedicated to finding the best of Inspirational and Motivational Quotes and using images to share their meaning: Slice Quotes.

In a connected world, influence is infinitely available.

The trick is filtering out the noise while paying attention to the people and insight that can have the most impact.

How Influence Shapes Marketing Strategy

Something I struggle with almost daily is the balance of Influence and Marketing Strategy.

I read hundreds of blogs and articles each week. I like reading about marketing strategy as it relates to direct marketing.

I work both in the direct to consumer marketing industry as well as in the business to business industry. It’s even difficult to understand the various needs and wants of each type of customers (consumers and businesses).

The insights I read from business leaders that blog do shape my marketing strategies and decisions. I look for case studies and examples of success in various industries and try to relate the stories to strategies I can utilize for my own growth as a business professional.

I think the most important thing to note about influence is that all actions should revolve around focused strategies.

I’ve done things in the past where I’ve read something insightful in a blog post from a marketing industry leader and have jumped right into implementing the strategy. Sometimes it’s worked and other times it hasn’t.

There is nothing wrong with experimenting and I think it can actually be positive. But to save time and effort, I’ve found much better and more effective (and efficient) success by always asking the question: How does this influential insight relate to the overall marketing strategy?

Having the focus on the defined marketing strategy has allowed for more growth and impact on the businesses I’m involved with.

Influence has been great for me and I continue to seek out the advice and insight of the leaders in the world. Having a focused strategy and vision has allowed me to better utilize the influences in my life.

Suggestions for Influence

Here are a few suggestions for seeking influence and using it to further your strategies and visions:

  • Seek influence from family and friends
  • Seek influence from industry leaders
  • Recognize influence from unexpected sources
  • Form strategies
  • Apply relevant insight to your business strategy

Influential People in My Life

  • Parents
  • Uncles
  • Business associates
  • Co-workers
  • Marketing leaders (typically those that blog)
  • Successful CEOs and business owners
  • Experiment

Who are the influential people in your life?

Have the people with the most influence on your life changed over time?

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Your Business Needs to be More Like Coffee

Coffee kick starts the morning for most people in the world

“Each year some 7 million tons of green beans are produced worldwide. Most of which is handpicked.” Coffee Statistics

People love coffee. There wouldn’t be a demand for people to handpick millions of tons of coffee each year if there wasn’t a strong demand for the little beans that turn morning zombies into day workers, artists, bloggers, and innovators.

Without coffee in the morning there would be a lot of people struggling to wake up and commit to working on the things they love.

Somehow, over many centuries, coffee has become a ritual. The ritual knows few boundaries including ethnic, geographic, or demographic. The power of coffee as a product is its ability to become part of people’s routines.

When mornings begin, coffee is often the first thing people think about.

So the question is…

What makes your product as necessary to the daily lives of your audience as coffee?

Asking yourself what makes your product or service like coffee is simply a way of restating the ‘So what?’ question each entrepreneur needs to ask themselves at some point.

What about your product is going to make people think about reading your insights and observations all the time?

What is going to make people think about you and your business when they come across a problem in their life?

When people are frustrated with aspects of their lives they look to sources of insight and innovation for answers. Companies often fill the void left by frustration by having a proven track record of creating products and services that add value to the lives of consumers.

How can your company be a company that answers the frustrations of consumers?

Finding Frustrations

When a passionate hunter wakes up in the early morning of the archery deer season and heads to the woods only to miss on a shot at a trophy buck, he’ll often look for answers as to why he missed?

Did the arrow come off the rest?

Was the draw length not set properly?

Was the trophy further away than originally thought? Was it closer?

Did the sight come loose sometime in the ATV ride to the truck?

Could there have been better preparation?

Frustrations lead to questions about all aspects of our daily lives. When companies are able to answer the frustrations of target customers they have formed a profitable connection.

Answering Frustrations

When people needed an arrow rest to hold their arrows in place no matter what the condition or situation, the innovators at Trophy Ridge came along with the Whisker Biscuit as the answer to the frustration.

With effective marketing and positive reaction to the Whisker Biscuit, hunters began waking up each morning feeling like they needed to have a Whisker Biscuit on their bow in order to successfully harvest trophy game.

Just as people need coffee before they can be successful each morning, hunters felt the need to have a Whisker Biscuit arrow rest in order to be best prepared for any situation required to harvest their trophy of a lifetime.

Convincing Consumers

Once you have successfully found a frustration and found a way to product a product that answers your customers’ frustration, the next step is convincing your customer that you are here to add value to their lives.

In its original form, coffee is bitter, black, and unappealing.

What would make a person believe that consuming a hot, black liquid each morning would somehow give them energy to perform?

Over time, people were convinced by marketers, friends, and family to consume coffee. And as each person tried the wondrous brew they became convinced of its power to transform them into super humans.

You need to show your target audience that your product has the ability to make them super human.

Reach out to the influential people in your target audience and get in their heads. Ask them questions about their frustrations. Innovate and test products that attempt to solve their frustrations. Ask for feedback and once you’ve convinced them that you have helped to make them superhuman, use the relationship to build a long-term marketing strategy that will build the buzz around your new Super Coffee-like Product.

Summary

Coffee ingestion is about a third of that of tap water in the US and Europe.

People wake up each morning feeling the need to brew at least one cup of the bitter elixir as a way to fuel them through their day. The power that coffee has over a large audience is amazing.

Every business has to pass the ‘So what?’ question before seriously considering the chance of making any profit. It is possible to copy processing and products, but in the long-term, customers are still looking for the one thing that puts you ahead of your competition.

The companies and products that are successful over the long-term are successful at:

Finding frustration

Answering frustration

Convincing consumers

What makes your product like coffee?

What makes you stand out ahead of the competition?

You don’t have to be entirely different than your competitors.

You do need to find the aspect of your business and product that makes people need you first thing in the morning…

Your business needs to be more like coffee

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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.

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Hunting Business Marketing

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.

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Hunting Business Marketing

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

What to read next on the Web

Top 5 Reasons for Ongoing SEO Services

70 Usable Stats From The 2009 State Of The Blogosphere

Breaking Rules – Website Design

Image courtesy of ralphbijker

What Daylong Deer Hunting Taught Me About Blogging

It’s not easy to sit in a tree for 10 hours waiting for a deer to walk by

Oris Pocket Watch

I’ve always enjoyed spending time out in the woods, in my tree stand, with a Thermos full of extra black coffee, waiting for that trophy buck to walk past.

Recently I was out in the woods on a crisp, chilly, brisk Wisconsin autumn morning and about halfway through the day I got to thinking about blogging (there is a lot of time to sit and think out in the deer woods).

A day in the woods waiting for deer to walk by is a lot like the process of starting a blog.

Let me explain in more detail…

Initial Burst of Excitement

Hunting

Usually when I get to my tree stand (about 20 to 30 minutes before sunrise – shooting time is typically about 10 minutes before sunrise) I find that the first 45 minutes to an hour of sunlight is the best time to see deer during any hunt.

I like to hunt in travel funnels so in the morning the deer are typically moving from their evening and nighttime feeding areas and heading back to their daytime bedding areas. They typically do this right around sunrise when the temperature is cool and the daylight still low.

There is often much excitement in the deer woods in the early morning. It’s fun and thrilling and I’ve harvested most of my deer during this time.

Blogging

Starting a blog follows much the same trend of an all day deer hunt.

When you start a blog for your personal passions or for your business passions you will likely become excited during the initial days and weeks of the blog as people discover your writing, leave comments, and even share your posts on sites like Facebook and Twitter.

When you first start a blog you’re also usually excited about the new undertaking and you’re telling anybody that will listen about your new blog. You’re being more active in the various communities on the Web and you’re getting people interested.

It feels great to be a blogger who has just launched a blog.

Midmorning Lull

Hunting

After the early morning rush of deer there is usually a drop off from about 9am to noon.

Things quiet down in the woods as the deer are finding their daytime bedding areas. They stick close to their beds as they chew on their cud and rest for the morning. There is never much movement during this time.

I have seen deer during this time of course. They’re usually running, being chased, or possibly looking for some acorns very close to their daytime bedding area.

This is usually the time during my daylong hunts that I take out a good marketing book and take some time to read.

Blogging

After the initial excitement of starting a blog wears off (and it typically does) there is a lull in activity – both from you and your initial readers.

The drive and excitement from you tends to wear out as your initial rush of ideas for blog posts wanes. The traffic of curious visitors can wear off as curious hunters continue searching the Web for new blogs to frequent. It’s difficult to get loyal readers especially in the first few days and weeks of blogging.

There is typically a lull period of blogging that takes place. Don’t let it discourage you. Take this time to look back on what was successful with your blog initially and work to implement new posts and activities to build on the success. The lull is a great time to study your blog and expand on your initial successes.

Midday Uptick in Activity

Hunting

Four seasons ago I spent the entire opening day and second day of the Wisconsin deer gun season in my stand. I typically like to spend the entire day in the woods, but sometimes it’s difficult to stay out from noon to 3pm as my beloved Packers are usually playing.

Well in 2005 the Packers were on their way to a less than stellar 4-12 campaign so I knew I wouldn’t miss much if I stayed in my stand during the midday.

At about 1:30pm a nice 11 point buck walked up the logging road to my stand and I was able to harvest him. It’s been the nicest buck of my hunting career. (The Packers are struggling again this season and they play at noon next week so we’ll see how things shake out).

Deer sometimes like to move around midday. It’s nothing like the morning or evening, but there is some movement – typically by bucks. I’m not exactly sure why, but I hear stories of hunters taking deer as they walk to their trucks for lunch.

Midday is not a burst of excitement, but it’s a good time to hunker down and wait patiently.

Blogging

After you start your blog and you get past the initial excitement of launch and you make it through the lull that follows there is a time when you’ll start to see your traffic begin to increase – usually at a slow, but steady rate.

This uptick in activity on your blog usually happens because you’re starting to establish your blogging voice. During your blog’s lull you took the time to analyze a few of the trends on your blog and now you’re focusing on writing the types of posts that connect with your target audience. You’re starting to build a group of loyal readers who look forward to your posts on a regular basis and when presented with the opportunity they share the news about your blog with others.

This is a slow building period for bloggers, but it’s usually enough to keep you driven as your traffic and impact continue building.

Evening Rush

Hunting

About an hour or two before sunset there is another exciting rush of deer activity in the woods. Deer will now make their way from their daytime bedding areas to their evening and nighttime feeding areas. They’re beginning to get hungry and they’re well rested from their daylong sit.

The does will make their way to the feeding areas and if the rut is in full swing the bucks will be crossing their travel routes hoping to find Miss Right.

It’s a fun time to be in the woods as there is lots of exciting activity. And this activity seems to continue right up until it’s too dark to see your own hand in front of your face.

Blogging

As your blog slowly builds a following over the initial few months and even years you’ll start to see an increase in the number of followers and visitors. As more and more people discover and spread the word about your blog you’ll begin to see exponentially increasing numbers.

It’s a fun time to be a blogger as you seem to hit your own critical mass. This is what all bloggers dream about when they start their blogs.

However, most bloggers don’t make it to this point because they get frustrated with the time it takes to reach this point.

Conclusion

Just as with hunting all day – most hunters don’t make it through an all day hunt and as a result can miss out on opportunities.

Put in the time and effort to make it all the way through your blogging cycle.

It’ll pay off over time.

What are your stories of success in the blogging world?

What stage of blogging are you in?

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

20 Steps to Starting Your Blog

Aggregate Your Archives

How to Write a Blog Post

What to read next on the Web

Getting Over the Blogger’s 6 Month Itch

The Flashing Christmas Light Technique for Writing Irresistible Bullet Points

Thoughts on the Influencer Audience

Are We Addicted to Giving Our Own Opinions?

image credit: wwarby

Using Others to Find Motivation

Is self-motivation a myth?

Self Motivation

image credit: Hotshoe!

It seems like most people tend to believe that the most successful people have a way of self-motivating themselves to achieve more than perhaps others do in life.

I’m not sure if self-motivation is as simple as:

“Ok self, you’re going to become successful today by accomplishing this…”

I think motivation is a combination of wanting to feel self-gratification while wanting to have an effect on the lives of others.

Validation also seems to play a part in the motivation mix.

The tricky part of motivation is simply…understanding where it exactly comes from.

People, especially business owners, seem to struggle with finding the motivation to do daily tasks that fit into the plan for their vision of success. There are always days where it’s difficult to justify writing that blog post or commenting on someone else’s blog or taking the time to write a nice email to a fellow hunting blogger.

There is a trick you can use that brings the entire concept of motivation together.

Let me explain…

Gratification

One thing that motivates us in our entrepreneurial adventures is gratification (there is also security, freedom, and a few others that come into play).

Entrepreneurs want to feel good about what they have worked hard to accomplish. Business owners want the happy feeling that comes from making a hunter smile from ear to ear with joy over harvesting a trophy animal on a once in a lifetime hunt.

It makes us happy when our business positively has positive effects on our customers.

Gratification definitely plays some part in our motivation to continue providing the best products and services. It’s why you and other business owners work so hard each day to improve your business – to feel the satisfaction of making your customers feel satisfied in their purchase of your products and services.

In a sense, this motivation does not come from within each of us. It comes from the good feeling you get when your customers share their praise and thanks to you after being overly satisfied beyond their expectations with the products and services you have provided.

It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with your customer feeling like they received something of value.

It’s important to recognize the fact that gratification plays a role in your motivation.

It’s not wrong to want to feel gratification.

It’s natural for humans to want to do that which makes them feel good about themselves and helping others while expecting nothing more than gratification once and awhile is something that can lead to positive and healthy motivation.

Having an Effect

In general, we all want to have an effect in the world.

We want to people to say nice things about us at our funeral (or we at least want to think now – while we’re alive – that people will say nice things about us at our funeral).

Wanting to have a lasting effect on others in this world throughout and beyond our lives is strong motivation to do something today, tomorrow, and each day for the next 50 years that will leave a mark and positively change someone’s life for the better.

Validation

Father and Son

Original Flickr Photo: Schmelzle Family

Original Blog Post: The Schmelzle Family | Minneapolis Family Photographer

Photographer Credit: April Bodenburg | Minneapolis Family Photographer

April’s Website: AprilBodenburg.com

April’s Blog: AprilBodenburgPhotography.blogspot.com

April’s Flickr Photostream (She is amazing!)

I remember hearing something somewhere onetime (real specific I know…) that all children simply try to accomplish something in life that makes their parents proud.

It’s interesting that motivation can be that simple at times.

But it’s true.

There is nothing like the feeling when Mom or Dad tells you, “I’m proud of you.”

A parent telling you that they’re proud of you is the first validation in life that we all had. It’s often the purest form beyond hearing it from other loved ones like a spouse or child, but it always seems to go back to the first validation we had as kids with our parents.

Again, I don’t think it’s necessarily self-motivation when we’re doing something with our business partly to make our parents and other loved ones proud and that’s Ok.

Understanding that part of our motivation comes from others, especially from those we love, leads us to doing things and making decisions based on the motivation we experience as a result of using others to motivate us to do great things.

Using Others to Find Your Motivation

Motivation comes from places we likely don’t always understand or anticipate.

Motivation can come from seeing your loved one working hard to accomplish something – a painting, a marathon, a rubik’s cube or another task that’s challenging – and realizing that seeing them work, struggle and finally succeed motivates us to do something just as good and possibly better.

We see how satisfied those around us feel when they accomplish something challenging and it makes us want to accomplish something ourselves in order to feel the same way.

Understanding that self-motivation doesn’t always come from yourself (it still seems weird to write that) is a big step in understanding where you can find motivation to get your through the day, the week, or even just this hour as your work tirelessly to improve your hunting business so you can positively affect the lives of your customers is a BIG step to finding enjoyment and pride in what you do each day.

Anytime you’re stumped for motivation or if you’re ever feeling like you just need to sit back and give up for awhile, take a few minutes to reflect on the reasons you started your business in the first place:

Think about how you can use others to find your motivation to succeed and continue turning your business into something successful and impactful.

There are lots of sources for motivation and it usually doesn’t come from you.

Summary

I’m not sure that self-motivation is necessarily a myth, but it seems like most of things that motivate us to succeed in business and in life come from those around us who have the biggest impact on our lives.

Business owners seem to have a drive to succeed in finding gratification for their hard work.

Business owners look to have a positive effect on the lives of others while also finding the purest form of validation for hard work and accomplishments.

There is nothing wrong with using others to motivate you. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to find that extra drive to push yourself to do great things.

So seek out those resources around you and use others to find your motivation.

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“You ever realize that you’re wasting time and have to give yourself a little lecture? Then you twitter about it… and waste more time.” Cory Glauner (@gothunts)

Focusing on the Most Important Tasks

image credit: 96dpi

One of the things I struggle with frequently is focusing on what’s important to reaching my goals in life. It seems like I get into situations where I’m spending way too much time on tasks that aren’t as important as others.

For example, just before I sat down to write this post I was working on some changes for the Hunting Business Marketing site. Most of these changes were functional and somewhat visual. After struggling for awhile to figure them out I realized that I was wasting valuable time that I had meant to use for writing.

I’ve always been inquisitive and while I find that characteristic to be a positive quality it also has the tendency to get me in trouble once and awhile concerning time management.

Life seems to be balancing act of tasks we need and want to perform and since we’ve all only got a limited amount of time available it seems imperative that we figure out the tasks that are truly most important in achieving our goals, aspirations, and happiness.

So how do we decide what is most important?

Let’s take a deeper look…

Understanding Your Business Goals

Prioritizing your time to ensure your happiness most likely includes family, friends, and becoming successful, but for this article I’ll just focus on the success of your hunting business and your business goals. I’m guessing there is a chance that the success of your business is one of your main goals for your life anyway so I hope you understand the focus on the article. Maybe I can address the personal side of priorities and life in another post.

Anyway, back to your business.

Let’s take a look at a couple questions to consider…

1| What are your business goals?

It’s important to understand what your business goals are in order to better prioritize your tasks.

I’ll just use myself as an example and hopefully you can mold it to match your own.

Today when I was working on the site I realized the things I was working on (functional changes) weren’t as important as the core things (creating valuable content) I should have been working on.

So I immediately switched over to writing this post and next I’ll focus on adding content to the Hunting Business Marketing Book and creating other content for Hunting Business Marketing.

You see, I realized that what is valued most here is the written content.

While functionality is important and definitely needs my attention, I realized I needed to create content and get caught up to the point where I felt good enough to stop creating content and focus on other, less important, priorities.

So today I had a moment when I realized what my business goals were:

1| Create content that helps hunting business owners better market their business and serve hunters

2| Create a voice for Hunting Business Marketing that is personal and attentive to the needs of hunting business owners

3| Create a simple and functional Web site that makes it easy for hunting business owners to access the content

4| Create revenue opportunities that allow Hunting Business Marketing to be profitable and successful in respect to #1

These go more into detail, but you get the point.

After realizing that these were my goals for Hunting Business Marketing I knew that it was time to stop tinkering and get back to focusing on the content.

2| What do you do best?

While I don’t claim to be a masterful or influential writer, I do understand that I love writing blog posts and other content that helps hunting business owners with their marketing strategies and goals.

I enjoy analyzing statistics, occurrences, and trends while providing my thoughts on how the activities around us affect the hunting industry and individual hunting businesses.

And while I may not be the best at creating content, it is what I’m best at (or at least what I enjoy doing most).

So my time (right now) is best spent focusing on creating valuable content.

Now, I also realize the importance of presenting the content in ways that make it easy for your to use and understand.

This is where the other priorities for my business goals come in…

Continue Learning

Creating valuable content is my number one goal, but I know that it’s important to continue to learn new techniques and strategies that make my goals mentioned above more efficient and effective.

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of reading, researching, and other time consuming activities while I’ve been working on a new Website.

With encouragement from Sarah Hicks, I’ve been trying to learn how to do things myself instead of hiring out tasks.

I’ve spent a lot of frustrating hours working on the new site and it’s felt like a lot of wasted time more than once.

But as time goes on I’m realizing all of the valuable things I’m learning through the process that will help me in the future for making my goal of providing valuable content to hunting business owners more efficient.

So the final point is that while it’s important to focus on what you do best, it’s just as important to continue learning so you can not only achieve your business goals, but make the process of delivering them more efficient and effective.

Summary

It’s important from time to time to take a step back and analyze the daily tasks we do throughout our day.

Ask yourself a couple questions:

1| What are your business goals?

2| What do you do best?

There are other related questions more specific to your unique situation, but the important thing to realize is that your life is short and if you want to be happy and satisfied you need to focus on what’s most important for your life’s goals.

Do the things that make you happy and that lead to success.

If you’re not happy and successful…what’s the point?

Bonus

Cory is one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter.

Follow him at twitter.com/gothunts if you are not doing so already.

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