15+ Hunting Companies Connecting With Bloggers

Quality hunting companies have shown eagerness to connect with bloggers

The Sportsman Channel

After writing How to Connect with Bloggers, I realized that it might be valuable to list hunting companies I’ve come across that have shown a willingness to reach out and connect with bloggers for mutual benefit.

Although there are instances of great relationships amongst bloggers and hunting businesses, it still seems like there is a disconnect existing between the two sets of passionate folks.

As Ben of Ben G. Outdoors said in the comments, “I’m not sure why some [companies] don’t respond [to blogger outreach], but I feel they are missing free marketing.”

Ben is exactly right.

Hunting Companies Need to Reach Out and Respond

It’s amazing that some companies will ignore emails from bloggers that are eager to write about them and their company.

Who turns down free, positive press?

Some companies even pay top dollar for the kind of media write-ups bloggers actively engage in.

In my experience, there are a number of quality companies that are willing to connect and engage with bloggers. These companies aren’t looking at the connection as a one-way street either. They are willing to offer value to bloggers (in various forms).

Bloggers Need to Reach Out and Respond

Even the content and ideas a company can provide seems like something bloggers should be willing to accept. Access to companies and people in the hunting industry that are seen as authorities in the hunting world should get bloggers excited.

There is value in a relationship for both bloggers and hunting companies. With little effort on both sides there can be value served to the audiences of both parties and each can grow over time as they share content and media.

Let’s take a look at companies willing to connect with bloggers…

Hunting Companies

Bowhunting.com

Website: Bowhunting.com

I like writing about Bowhunting.com. They are a unique retailer in the way they acquire sales through trust and authority by blogging, creating video, and sharing other content. They have written to thank me in the past for blogging about them. Even a simple ‘thank you’ goes a long way.

The Sportsman Channel

Website: The Sportsman Channel

Michelle is a member of HBM and is actively seeking out interaction with bloggers.

Sportsmen of North America

Website: Sportsmen of North America

It’s been a little while, but I received an email from a staff member here and we tried to work out a connection.

Outdoors International

Website: Outdoors International

Cory is very active in the blogging community and other social sharing sites with outdoor folks.

Native Hunt

Website: Native Hunt

Michael has been active with commenting on my blog for awhile. He love the interaction and working with hunting bloggers.

Dry Creek Goose Camp

Website: Dry Creek Goose Camp

Rick is taking big advantage of commenting on blogs and connecting on Twitter.

New Archery Products

Website: New Archery Products

These guys have started a blog and are willing to link to reviews bloggers are doing with their products. It’s showing an open mind to partnerships.

Trophy Score

Website: Trophy Score

Review: Trophy Score Business Review

Chip (a blogger himself) reached out to me about his innovative scoring software.

TNT Outdoor Explosion

Website: TNT Outdoor Explosion

I saw that Todd Cast of TNT Outdoor Explosion did an interview – Interview with Todd Cast, host of TNT Outdoor Explosion – with Mark at Wired to Hunt. Interviews are a great way for bloggers and outdoor businesses to connect.

Heartland Bowhunter

Website: Heartland Bowhunter

More from Mark at Wired to Hunt. Interview with New Member of Heartland Bowhunter, Matt White and Introducing Our New Wired to Hunt Contributor Matt White.

Stedi-Stock

Website: Stedi-Stock

Kevin at Hunting Life has a great series of interviews and podcasts. Here is The Hunting Life – Steadi-Stock.

Pheasant Phun

Website: Pheasant Phun

Dave is very involved with bloggers. He’s a great guy to know.

Team Huntress

Website: Team Huntress

Review: Sponsorship Case Study | Team Huntress

Jane is active on Twitter and always willing to share content with bloggers.

Wildlife Callers

Website: Wildlife Callers

Mark and Marc are building a great site and company by blogging and sharing content with bloggers. They also work on guest posting.

Camofire

Website: Camofire

Review: Successful Hunting Business Highlight | Camofire

Kendall has a unique business and comments on lots of blogs including HBM. This business is great to write about due to its unique nature.

Companies added by readers

Dream Pursuit

Website: Dream Pursuit

Short Bio: A non-profit organization providing hunting and fishing adventures for children and young adults.

Africa Hunting

Website: African Hunting

Short Bio: Your source for all things hunting in Africa.

Ghillie Suit Source

Website: Ghillie Suit Source

Short Bio: The name says it all.

Fish Creek Spinners

Website: Fish Creek Spinners

Short Bio: Trout, salmon and other fish species lures and spinners.

Land and Game

Website: Land and Game

Short Bio: The best selection of market value property in the industry. Period.

Bear Archery

Website: Bear Archery

Short Bio: Hunting and Archery Products.

Warrior Outdoors

Website: Warrior Outdoors

Short Bio: In relentless pursuit of the moment of truth.

My Buck Story

Website: My Buck Story

Short Bio: Share your stories from the field.

Marauder Outdoors

Website: Marauder Outdoors

Short Bio: West Virginia Hunting Adventures

Camo Vision

Website: Camo Vision

Short Bio: Camo eye wear to keep you covered.

Magnet Gun Caddy

Website: Magnet Gun Caddy

Short Bio: Easy place to store your gun.

Speedy Sharp

Website: Speedy Sharp

Short Bio: Quick, universal knife sharpener.

Hunting Life

Website: Hunting Life

Short Bio: A great resource for hunters on the Web. Directories for bloggers and hunting companies. Also a source of the latest conservation news.

Share Hunting Companies

If you are aware of other companies that are willing to connect with bloggers, please share them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list.

If your company is willing to connect with bloggers, please share in the comments…and pay attention for the next post.

I’ll keep adding to the list as I come across more as well. 🙂

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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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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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You Are Surrounded by Blogging Ideas

And you didn’t even know it

Sometimes when you’re looking for ideas to blog about you can search and search and seemingly nothing with come to you.

If you’re a business owner you may get the feeling that you’re hitting on the same topics over and over again. It’s possible that your readers are looking for a different perspective to change things up on the themes you cover with your blog.

There is good news for you, blog writer!

You have a wealth of insight and knowledge available at your fingertips. And the best part is that these resources are likely to be anxious to contribute and help.

You just have to ask…

Employees and Co-workers

When it comes to writing blog content that your audience finds engaging, you likely have some great resources in the employees and co-workers working right beside you in your office.

Stop by the office of your merchandiser and ask them about upcoming trends this season. Ask them for their thoughts and insight into what is happening in the industry.

Use their information in your posts and give them full credit.

Offer to write the content for them so they don’t have to feel obligated to sit down and feel pressured to churn out great content. Ask them for their thoughts on various topics you think your audience will find interesting and take notes. Then gather the best thoughts and put them in a blog post.

If you have other guides and hunters on your staff then ask them about their top five tips for the upcoming season. Ask them if they are going to try any new techniques this season.

Find the interesting things that you and your readers are curious about.

Ask your secretary for advice on topics. Don’t be afraid to ask any questions. People will often surprise you with their unique perspective on life. You’ll probably learn something and that extra knowledge will translate into some killer blog content.

Ask your employees and co-workers for their insight. You’ll gain killer blog content and probably learn and grow closer to those you work with daily.

Family

Most people go to their family for advice on happenings in life.

If we’re looking for advice on love, loved lost, how to shoot a free throw, how to purchase a house, or what to do when the baby starts crying, parents are likely the first place most go to find answers.

It’s no different when it comes to blogging.

Your parents can offer sound insight into the questions you have about certain topics you blog about. Perhaps you need a different perspective on what’s happening with the Department of Natural Resources – your mom or dad may have the perspective that can connect with another part of your audience – one that you can’t reach simply because of your unique outlook on life.

Also look to your siblings and kids for insight. Every one of us grows up in different worlds and each of us has a different perspective on reality. The more you can use several perspectives to form a consistent stream of communication the better you’ll be able to bring in lots of people to see things as you see them.

And don’t forget about significant others.

They usually (99.9% of the time) have the correct perspective and will often knock some sense into your argument.

Friends

When I need an honest perspective on something I’m having trouble writing about I’ll often ask one of my close friends.

I have a small group of friends that I trust to give me honest feedback no matter what the subject. I don’t have to worry about either of us getting angry for a response because it’s expected that we’re all adults and can take any criticism or feedback that comes.

Sometimes it’s good to be told that you’re an idiot.

And on a good side of friendship, you can ask your friends for their insight into topics you’re writing about. Find friends that have careers in different or similar fields and ask for their take on the topic. You will probably find some interesting perspective you can use in your next post. And some of your readers will probably relate to what your friends are discussing.

Clients and Business Partners

Clients are often a great perspective for blogs.

It’s very beneficial to write about the relationships you have with your clients – good and bad. You can have your clients write their own posts, you can write case studies revolving around your clients and you can ask clients for their perspectives on certain industries.

If you have a client that specializes in a certain area of hunting, ask them for their insight on certain topics as it pertains to topics you’re interested in writing about for your site.

The more you can engage your existing clients, the more your future clients will want to do business with you.

People want engagement. Give it to them.

Summary

Do a little searching around your world and you’d be surprised at the knowledge you’ll find right in front of you.

The people you see and interact with every day are full of great ideas and insight. Give them a chance to share it with you by asking for their opinions on topics. It’ll make for great blogging content and you’ll probably form some great and more meaningful relationships as a result.

Have you ever sought out insight for the topics you blog about with your co-workers, family or from others in your life?

Please share in the comments.

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The Impact of Online Video in the Hunting World

Online video is an opportunity for individuals in the hunting world…

Video Camcorder

Hunting business owners often ask me what I think about the future of online hunting video and the role it plays for business owners.

Video, as it’s always been, will play a major role in the connection between business and customer.

The role of online video continues to increase:

  • 76.8 percent of the total U.S. Internet audience viewed online video.
  • The average online video viewer watched 356 minutes of video (approximately 6 hours), up 15 percent versus December.
  • 100.9 million viewers watched 6.3 billion videos on YouTube.com (62.6 videos per viewer).
  • 54.1 million viewers watched 473 million videos on MySpace.com (8.7 videos per viewer).
  • The duration of the average online video was 3.5 minutes, up from 3.2 minutes per video in December.
  • The duration of the average online video viewed at Megavideo was 24.9 minutes, higher than any other video property in the top ten.

Statistics courtesy of YouTube Surpasses 100 Million U.S. Viewers for the First Time – comScore, Inc.

Marketing strategy should involve all communication mediums that improve the quality of the connection you share with your customers. The ultimate goal of the Web and the available communication mediums (blog, image sharing, and video sharing) is to connect with customers on as much of an individual level as possible so as to foster a trusting relationship that provides the customer with valuable products and services and the business with profit.

As online video continues to grow, it’ll be important for proactive businesses to figure out how to connect with their target customer via online video. The challenging part will be to analyze the target customer and focus on creating video content that is relevant to both the customer and the business and is sharable.

Let’s look at a few potential ways you can use video in your marketing strategy…

Understanding Your Customer and Your Business

As I mentioned above, the key to successful online video strategy is to gain and understanding of your customers. This way you’ll always keep your focus on creating video content that is relevant to your customer.

You don’t have to make videos for every hunter on the Web. You only have to make the most relevant video for your specific target customer. This is where you’ll find the most success and return for your monetary and time investment.

I like the approach the folks at Woods N’ Water take with their online video series available on My Outdoor TV.

Here is their description of their online video:

Woods N’ Water Television Series is not only entertaining but specifically produced to be interesting, exciting, informative, filled with humor, and true-to-life; honestly portrayed adventures without a lot of hype. The information on the program is straightforward and not wrapped around hard selling our audience products. It is refreshingly honest and doesn’t contain any rock music over the hunt, ridiculous whispering you can’t hear, bad acting with exasperated high-fives, pumping arms, shaking closed fists, giggling after a kill, or phony excitement after taking an animal. We just don’t do that. We respect our audience’s intelligence and do all we can to give you a show that you can not only relate to, but believe in as well! You can count on a down-to-earth show jam packed with excitement, anticipation, humor and honesty. Over the last 25 years, we have compiled an overwhelming number of our programs–95% or more–in the wild. We have also produced several programs in hunting preserves from 1,000 to 5,000 acres in size. While hunting in preserves is not for everyone, some members of our viewing audience enjoy these programs and, for a variety of reasons, hunt in preserves. Whenever we tape a show in a preserve, however, we make sure that our audience knows this fact by clearly stating it in the opening sequence.

Blat and Bleat from Woods N’ Water

Woods N’ Water understands their customer and by showing videos such as this video on calling, they are using their knowledge of deer hunting and educating their users. Woods N’ Water is creating a trust and increasing the likelihood of their target audience joining in for a guided hunt.

Viral Video

Viral video seems to be the buzzword used most when the topic of online video is discussed.

Creating video that is shared amongst your target audience is an obvious goal for any online video strategy.

Often when we think of viral video the first things that come to mind are guys performing crazy stunts on You Tube or babies being caught saying funny things. It’s mostly America’s Funniest Home Video-type stuff.

But to create focused viral video there is a formula you should take so the results of your video going viral have the highest potential for actual return on your invested time and money.

In the post 3 Viral Video Ideas for Hunting Businesses I discussed my non-scientific equation for creating compelling online video:

(Clever Entertainment) + (Sharability) + (Target Audience) + (Product/Service/Personal Brand Tie-in) – (Push-Marketing) = (Successful Viral Video)

In this video, the team at Bowhunting.com does an excellent job of understanding their audience and using the ingredients for a quality viral video:

(192” Trophy Buck) + (Video blog, Share features with video, emailed to followers) + (Bowhunters) + (Products used in the video are available for sale on Bowhunting.com) – (Users opt into view the video online) = (Successful video for Bowhunting.com)

Now, Todd Graf of Bowhunting.com worked hard to harvest that trophy buck and the buck is definitely the story of this video. However, you can create quality viral video by using the aspects of your business that match the formula.

Goal-Oriented Video

As with anything, it’s important to focus on specific goals for your online video strategy.

When you’re sitting around brainstorming ideas for a video throw around some ideas for specific goals. This could be something like “How do you feel about making a video that increases the awareness for our new turkey call or for our collection of turkey calls?”

Sometimes if you start with an idea for a specific goal, the ideas for creating the actual video will fall into place.

Check out the videos from Arkansas Outdoors Online TV.

This video was focused on educating the target audience, turkey hunters, on the proper way to use a specific turkey call. The goal of the video was probably to turn casual visitors into dedicated followers or subscribers. Turkey hunters will likely find this video valuable and will come back to Arkansas Outdoors Online for more video content.

Summary

Online video is going to be a big part of the future success of businesses in the hunting industry. Get started with your video initiatives today so you can take advantage of the video communication medium to connect on a more valuable level with your customer.

Understand your business and your customer and set strategic and specific goals that will create win-win situations for your customer and your business. This is the recipe for long-term success with any marketing strategy.

Don’t be afraid to test different things. Continue testing – it’s the best way to find out what your target audience is yearning from you.

Best of luck with your online video strategy.

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3 Rivers Archery Broadhead

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25 Tips for Web Conversion

Lifetime customers create lifetime profit

Getting Visitors to Click

image credit: audi_insperation

When you start or look to expand your hunting business with a new Website your design and functionality should focus on converting your Web traffic into long-term customers.

Working with a Web programmer and designer can be a great experience. However, when it comes to actually working to develop a Website that is focused on converting sales, simple things tend to get lost in the excitement of getting the site launched. During the process of launching the site we all have the tendency to include too many features while the features that really matter (the converting features) lose priority on the Web page.

Let’s look at a few tips you can use when developing your new business Website…

1| Answer Customer Questions (Before They Ask)

Take a few moments to consider the questions your potential customers have asked you and then answer them in priority order on your site – possibly in a FAQ or even on the Home page.

2| Use Testimonials

Social proof is huge today in a world where customers don’t always trust new businesses. Show that you’re trustworthy by showing testimonials.

3| Get Your Visitors to Call You

If you are good at connecting with customers over a phone call…don’t ignore that fact. Make getting visitors to call you personally over the phone the conversion goal of your site.

4| Show Partnerships

Like Social Proof with Testimonials, your potential customers may perhaps benefit from seeing familiar badges of approval. They like seeing company logos they recognize on your site if those companies are ones you’re associated with.

5| Stir Up Emotion

Emotion is huge for conversion. People make decisions based on feeling good, sad, scared, etc. Look for the emotions your visitors want to feel and make your product and service part of the emotional experience.

If you’re an outfitter you could do something like cutout the face of a happy hunter with a trophy harvested on your property and include the words ‘Insert You Here’ (a cheesy example, but you get the point).

Emotion drives conversion.

6| Remove Options

Don’t give your visitors too many options. Give them conversion options only. If you want your customer to subscribe to your newsletter, give them the option to subscribe, show the benefits and then give them the option to subscribe again. Nothing more.

7| Remove Clutter

Don’t get caught up in the feature game on your Web. Simple Websites that lack clutter often have the most impact.

8| Let Down Your Guard – Show Your Passion

Emotion drives conversion.

Let your customers see your passion in all of the elements of your site. Your passion will drive their passion. Don’t be afraid to let yourself smile in photographs or in your voice when writing content. Visitors connect with passion and trust companies who share their passions in life.

9| Show the Value

Are you offering a truly great price?

Show and tell your customers that you are offering something of value. Give examples and comparison.

10| Create Urgency

Emotion drives conversion.

Use urgency and timely events to trigger conversion. Don’t tread over the line of deceit, but use urgency to show your customers the path of conversion that will better their lives.

For more on this topic, please read How to Use Current Events to Trigger Buying Emotion

11| Visually Impact

What do you see with the following sites?

Yahoo Home Page

Google Home Page

This is an old example, but the point is that Google focused on the simple fact that they want their visitors to search the Web. Yahoo instead tried to be everything for their visitors even when they had the simple search feature like Google.

Yahoo Search

Their goals were different. Google got visitors to search and then engaged them by offering relevant information to click (their revenue is clicks). Yahoo took a different route?

What do you want your visitors to do?

12| Stay Away From Put Offs

One of the things I dislike on sites are put offs or features on sites that turn me off instantly to the site. One example would be music or noise or sounds that begin automatically when I visit a Web page. 99% of the time this happens I leave the site.

For more on this topic, please read Video on Your Website: The Compromise

Does your site have anything that will cause visitors to leave instantly?

13| Prices

Show your prices if selling a product or service on your site is what you want to convert. Your customers are wondering. Answer their questions right away.

14| Impactful Items First

Think about what your customers want to know most…answer their questions right away on your site.

15| Appealing Format and Design

Visual appeal is important for any Website.

For text on your site, use formats that allow visitors to scan quickly. Allow their eye to capture the important information only and then they’ll come back to dive more in depth into your arguments.

Also, if your site can effectively capture the feeling and emotion that your product or service creates you will not only convert more customers, you’ll convert more quality customers if you deliver on your promises.

16| Relevant and Impactful Photography

Like appealing format and design, photography drives emotion and conversion. Use photos that appeal to emotions. Don’t overdo photography and always use relevant photos.

Deliver on the promises your Website makes.

17| Strong Headlines

Think critically of the headlines and topics you use for your Website. Think about the headlines on pages that will capture attention.

For more on this topic, please see The Cosmo Headline Technique

18| Relevant, Simple Call-to-Action Verbiage

Do you want your customers to Buy Now? Subscribe?

Use relevant calls to action. It seems simple, but some sites miss this fact. If I want to buy a product, don’t offer me a button that says “Submit”.

Don’t confuse.

19| Expedite Conversion

Limit the barriers to conversion. Use your common sense and don’t trap your visitors, but don’t waste their time with procedures that aren’t absolutely necessary to conversion.

20| Offer Exclusives

Exclusivity is a valuable thing. Offer exclusive offers to your clients. Show visitors that if they become customers they will be part of an exclusive group.

21| Be Truthful

Don’t hide facts from your visitors if they’re important for adding lifetime value to the business-customer relationship. Customers will find out about any skeletons in your closet. Be honest about your business and they’ll be no surprises later on.

22| Be Open

Show your customers that you are open to their input. Allow them to be part of an open organization where they can impact the success of your business by converting to subscribers, customers, or followers.

23| Increase Engagement

How can you strengthen your engagement with your visitors?

Engage your customers by asking for their opinions, help, and input. Offer to help them with their problems before they ask your competitor for a solution. Engage your visitors and look for any way to further the connection.

24| Think Long-Term

Always think long-term with conversion. Don’t be deceitful with copy or photos. Be honest and open with your communication and always deliver on promises. Make sure your Website is truthful and visitors will develop a trust that converts them to long-time customers.

25| Give Praise!

If your visitor converts to a buyer, subscriber, or follower, give them praise and make them feel like they have made the best decision of their life. Show them with strong and truthful emotion that their commitment won’t go unnoticed. Give them something of value if you can. This could be something as simple as giving your new Twitter followers access to a free gift (even a simple gift like a keychain or access to a ‘special’ photo gallery).

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Grow Your Followers like a Country Music Singer

“You’re listening to today’s country, today’s  WAXX 104.5 FM”

On Air

image credit: curtis.kennington

The other day I was reading a blog post from Ramit Sethi (@ramit) about how guest posting has been his biggest way to gain a larger audience while increasing traffic to his Website, iwillteachyoutoberich.com. Read the entire post:

How to get 150,000 people to read your blog post in 1 week (and how I did it)

Ramit’s suggestion for getting readers to your site is to write amazing guest posts for other Websites. It’s a great way to expand your audience by reaching out to provide valuable content for others who already have a large audience.

I was thinking about this suggestion while I was riding in my truck one morning. I usually listen to the local country music radio station and just then they were interviewing a rising country music singer who said, “You’re listening to today’s best country, today’s WAXX 104.5 FM”.

After the singer said this, they station played the singer’s latest hit single and I thought to myself that doing guest spots and reaching out to the audiences of others is exactly how rising country music singers expand their audience and increase their own stature.

Let’s take a look at the strategy…

Reaching Out to Radio Audiences

One of the first things new country singers do when they’re trying to market themselves and their music to new audiences is to go on radio tours.

A radio tour can last a few weeks and the tour sees the singer going around the nation to radio stations, big and small, trying to share their new music with the disc jockeys. If the disc jockey is impressed with the singer and with the new music they may decide to play the song on the radio for his or her audience. The DJ may also decide to let his or her audience decide how the new song and artist fare by asking for feedback whether it’s by having listeners call in to share their feelings or by giving listeners the chance to share their opinion with voting versus another up and coming star and song.

It can be difficult for new artists to continually go from city to city for tiring weeks on end trying to beg radio stations execs to play their music. Plus the artist has to have an amazing song before they can even begin to think that his or her song will get radio play.

Guest posting is a great way to build your audience and the process is similar to the way rising country signers visit radio stations asking for the disc jockeys to share their music with a large audience. When you decide to write guest posts, you’re essentially asking those who have larger audiences than you if you can borrow their audience’s attention in exchange for remarkable content.

You’re going to have to give up some of your best content for two reasons:

1| You have to impress the blog owner

2| You have to impress the blog audience

Country artists would love to have people listen to their music only by purchasing a copy for themselves, but to expand their audience, artists have to provide remarkable content in exchange for access to those who have large audiences with similar interests.

It would be great if your blog or Website could get lots of traffic by people simply coming to your site directly, but the reality is that to expand your audience and reach out to that target customer, you’re going to have to reach out to other bloggers who have larger audiences and offer some of your best original content in the form of a guest post so you can access their audience.

Look to provide value to another audience and hope that you capture their attention (and the attention of the blog owner) so that they eventually become a fan of yours.

Reaching Out to More Popular Singers’ Audiences

Another way that rising singers reach out to other audiences is by touring with country music stars who have large audiences and followers.

The goal of providing opening act entertainment for large music stars is to get in front of a large audience in hopes of turning someone else’s fan into a fan of you. Rising country stars often take little pay and provide their best touring show (sometimes even turning down smaller gigs and possibly higher paying gigs) for the chance to expand their audience with their eye on a bigger prize (their own headlining tour) in the long-term.

Your goal with guest blogging is to write original content that is remarkable enough to impress the blog owner (so they will possibly talk about you in the future) and the blog’s audience (so they will look for more info on you). This will require you to, in a sense, give away some of your best posts to other blogs. It’s tough, but worth it when new readers discover you.

Country singers would love it if they could focus all of their time earning money by playing their own songs live to the audience that they already have, but the reality is that if a country singer wants to become a star they’ll have to expand their audience by touring (sometimes for very little money) with a larger star in order to get in front of a larger audience.

While you might have to temporarily give up some great content when you guest post, the benefits are great if you can get in front of a blogger’s larger audience in hopes of gaining a few new long-time readers.

Slowly Building a Following

Guest posting and working off your own site with the goal of expanding your audience is a long process and any growth you see will come over time, but it’s by far the best way (along with writing remarkable content) to grow the traffic and revenue to your hunting business site.

While you’re focusing on building a blog to complement your hunting Website, remember that it will be a slow process that will have long-term benefit for connecting with new customers who will trust you and purchase your products for a lifetime.

Summary

What’s most difficult about this strategy for blog writers is giving up some of the best content you write to other blogs and Websites.

Rising country stars understand that their fan base will drive their careers. The singer understand that they have to spend time working with those who have large audiences with the goal of turning those audience members into fans. It takes a lot of effort for seemingly little immediate return, but the long-term benefit of gaining audience members and fans slowly is important for forging a successful career.

Just as rising country singers work with radio show hosts to get their music played and just as those same rising country stars tour as opening acts, you can do guest posts and work with bloggers who have established audiences as your provide them with valuable content in hopes of attracting new fans and customers.

Give some of your best, original content to those who have large audiences.

It’s one of the best ways to grow your traffic and ultimately your revenue.

Update: I’m always looking for opportunities to write a guest post. If you’re interested please contact me. Here are a few Guest Posts I’ve Written

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Opportunity for Hunting Product Manufacturers

Can a Trend in Home Furnishing Mean Opportunity for the Hunting Industry?

Multi-Generational

image credit: Roy Montgomery

An article on a recent trend in the home furnishings industry sparked some thought on a potential opportunity for manufacturing companies in the hunting industry.

Even in today’s difficult economic times there seem to be opportunities for entrepreneurs to expand their product and service offerings to fulfill the needs of audiences throughout the US and the World – this includes businesses like yours in the hunting industry.

If you read the news or if you know someone in a business or profession involved with the housing industry you know that that particular sector of the economy has been struggling of late compared to the prior five years or so. Whatever the reason for collapse in demand for housing in the US (and we all have our arguments about the US economic collapse), it’s generally understood that opportunity for growth as a housing industry business is not looking good.

However, the article I read today proved that there is always opportunity where most see demise.

Let’s take a closer look at that article and discuss a potential opportunity for your business…

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Trend in Home Furnishings

The article I read was:

Multi-Generational Design The Hot Trend at home.

Multi-generational design is one of today’s fastest growing trends in the housing industry. As more and more people understand the benefits that smart planning affords to those of all age groups and abilities, a demand is being generated for products that combine style, safety, beauty and comfort with practicality and versatility. In fact, it’s what good, smart design should be.

Please read the entire article. It is a quick read and is well worth it.

What I liked most about the article was its positive outlook as the author described a genuine opportunity for home industry businesses to capture a growing trend. It’s always important to look past the difficult news put in front of us each day and sees the opportunity to provide quality products and services for customers willing to pay a fair price for things they need to improve their lives whether it’s through necessity, escape, or other enjoyment.

Just because the housing market may never again reach the peaks of 2003-2005 in the US it doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities for businesses in the housing industry.

The article mentioned above looks into the growing trend of multi-generational homes and the article looks specifically at the potential for companies to design products that are not only beautiful, but functional for extended families and households.

One example of a product the article mentions as being functional for family members of all ages includes simple and elegantly designed hand-held shower heads. This product makes it easier for people to clean their body while also making it easier to clean hair.

It’s important to remember that just because the paradigm that the US consumer was used to in the past may be changing, but it’s not always a negative situation. Changing times always provide opportunities for innovators to create products to fill new voids and needs in any marketing.

And there may be a new opportunity in the hunting industry as well.

Opportunity for Hunting Product Manufacturers

After reading this article about making products for the home that are functional for customers of all ages I thought about a few products in the hunting industry.

Specifically I was thinking about tree stands (because I have just put a few up this year for some bow hunting). Each year I struggle to put up my hang-on stands so I can get close to some nice whitetail deer. The stands I use are heavy and difficult to hoist up to the spot on the tree I see fit for hunting. I use hang-on stands and hang-on ladder steps that have straps that go around the tree and cinch. Each time I move a stand or put one up each fall I end up being exhausted from all of the work that goes into the process. Not to mention the fact that I have to do some tightrope-worthy work to get the stand up to the spot on the tree.

It’s a little dangerous and while I consider myself to be in good shape, I believe the process is too difficult and I’m sure others feel the same way.

There has to be a better way to accommodate tree stands so hunters can get keep the mobility of a hang-on tree stand while being able to easily hang and take down the stand.

Would it be possible to create a tree stand that was easy for hunters of all generations (child, parent, grandparent, man, or woman) to hang and take down each time they wanted to increase their chances of hunting a trophy?

Is there a way to create a tree stand that used a pulley system where the hunter could connect a smaller piece to the tree, climb back to the ground, and use a pulley system to pull the hang-on stand into place?

After doing a quick search, I found this video from Pine Ridge Archery where they actually do have a pulley system. Would it be possible even for them to take this a step further and allow for the tree to somehow snap into place when pulled up to the base on the tree?

I’m not sure, but perhaps it’s an opportunity.

The article mentioned above discusses the increase in multi-generational homes, but there is an opportunity for hunting product manufacturers to take the same approach with product design. Focus on functionality that is simple and functional rather than complex.

It’s not easy to create simple products, but with a focus on making products that are functional and useful for all ages it can open up new creative thought.

Summary

Because customer needs change in the market there are opportunities for advantageous businesses to step up and create products that meet the new demand.

While the housing and related industries are probably not going to see the same peaks as they did a few short years ago, people will still live in homes and they’ll still want to create a comfortable and functional place to live for their families. This is the opportunity the author of the article mentioned above addresses by describing the increase in demand for multi-generational products that are elegant in design and functional and useful for all generations.

There may be the same opportunities in the hunting industry for hunting product manufacturers to create products that are functional and useful for all generations of hunters.

What do you think?

Any product ideas that could benefit multi-generations of hunters?

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How to Get Subscribers for Your Email List

The secret to success is in your list

Let Me Tell You a Secret

image credit: Photo Mojo

There was a question in the forum about Email Campaign Results and Kevin of Hunting Life brought up a great point – “the hard part [of a successful campaign] is building a quality list of subscribers”.

Coming from the catalog world, I realize that the power of any successful company is their ability to build a strong list of quality customers. The power to build a list of customers who have opted into your products and services with their purchases or approval for you to contact them can make a business successful for a long time.

Building a strong subscriber base for your hunting company begins with the quality of your products and services. In order for Web users to subscribe to your email campaigns you’re going to have to gain their trust. You’re going to have to show them that you will provide valuable content within emails, whether it’s access to new information and products, exclusive promotional offers, or unique articles that relate to your business.

There are things you can do on and off your own Website that will gain the trust of your visitors and get them to sign up for your email campaign.

Let’s take a look…

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On Your Own Website

In order to build a strong subscriber base of valuable subscribers you’ll need to convert the people visiting your site. Those visitors who are coming to your site likely heard about your business via offline referral, searching a keyword phrase related to what your business does, or they followed a link from another Website (online referral of sorts).

These visitors are highly valuable as they’ve already shown an interest in what your business provides and they’ve taken the first step by visiting your site. It’s important to convert these visitors to subscribers so you can market your products and services to them via your email campaigns.

Let’s take a look at a few specific things you can do on your Website to convert visitors…

Put your sign-up in multiple places

Depending on how your Website is setup, there are many places you should be putting your email sign-up.

Here are just a few:

1| Header, right side or left side of your home page

I have seen email sign-up areas in multiple places on the home page and I’m sure all work depending on how sites test the conversion of getting subscribers. I like having the email sign-up near the top right of the home page, but I am in favor of trying it out in various places to see what works best. And what works best can change over time as well. I’ve seen it work on the left side very effectively as well. So continue testing.

For an example of the power of testing your email sign-up here is a speech by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4 Hour Workweek on how he tests various things to convert first-time visitors to long-time subscribers.

How to Build a Successful Blog [Random Findings 8:00]

2| Main pages (other than the Home page) on your site

Most Websites today have at least a few pages other than the home page such as a products/services page, a photo gallery, a blog, a contact page, possible a store, maybe product reviews, and other areas hunting businesses feel are important enough to highlight in the top navigation menu on the site.

You can take advantage of these pages by using their specific content to show a benefit to subscribe to your email campaigns. One of my favorite email campaigns is Field and Stream because they always include great headlines for awesome photos in their gallery. Field and Stream has an awesome gallery of hunting photos and they always use these photos in their emails.

You can do the same for your hunting business with your own photo gallery and you can put the call to action email campaign subscription sign-up in your photo gallery and near each photo by saying something like:

“To get updates on the latest photos in this gallery subscribe today”.

This is a powerful benefit for your visitors who are looking for amazing hunting photos. If you can show that there is a specific benefit, people will sign up because they see the value in subscribing to your email campaigns. And the best part is these people are likely to be satisfied when you actually send them updates with your email campaign that includes photos. And once that trust is there you can promote your other services and because you have the trust of the subscriber, they are likely to convert over to buyers.

Use specific calls to action on each of your site’s pages as ways to share the benefits on your site with your visitors on a deeper level via email subscription. If you have a forum, tell your users that if they subscribe you’ll share with them the hottest topics in the forum each day. If you have a page that offers your various outfitting packages, tell your visitors that if they subscribe to your email campaigns they’ll receive updates on the latest hunts you offer as well as limited time discount offers or something along those lines.

There is a lot of opportunity with specific calls to action for getting people to subscribe to your emails on your pages.

3| Blog posts

If you have a blog for your hunting business (and I suggest you do) and you have done some keyword research and you’re targeting topics that will likely attract the attention of potential customers via search, you will get some new visitors to your blog posts and your goal is to convert these people to subscribers.

One way to do this is to include a call to action at the end of your blog posts. New readers who read an entire post on your blog are likely interested in hearing more from you. After all, they made it through an entire post. This is not an easy thing for writers as Web users tend to have little patience.

Since some readers make it through an entire post, why not offer them the chance to subscribe to your email campaigns by including a benefit call to action like this:

“For the latest blog posts subscribe via email”

Don’t let your quality visitors get away without getting them to subscribe to your email campaigns.

Testing Calls to Action

As Tim Ferriss mentioned in his speech, testing is very important for getting strong conversion on your site. And this is not only true for getting new visitors to subscribe to your email campaigns, it’s important for getting new and long-time subscribers to convert as paying customers as well.

Try changing your language with your calls to action.

If the current language at the end of your blog post isn’t working:

“Sign up for blog posts via email”

Try changing it up to something new:

“Get the latest blog posts and other benefits with our email updates”

There are lots of things to test with calls to action and it takes testing to find what’s best for your specific business.

Communicate the Benefits

Earlier I touched on the importance of communicating the specific benefits readers will get from each of your site’s pages if they subscribe to your email updates (ex: photo gallery).

Here is an example of how one company, Conversion Rate Experts, shares the benefits of their email campaign with their visitors in order to convert them to subscribers.

Lots of companies do a great job of communicating the specific benefits visitors will receive if they subscribe to an email campaign.

Make sure you share the benefits of your email program with your readers and visitors and get them to convert to subscribers.

Then you’ll be able to deliver on your promises (providing them what they actually signed up for) as well as providing relevant product and service offerings.

Visit Other Websites

You’re going to get some traffic to your Website if you’re doing things like paid advertising, sharing links with other hunting Websites, paying for listing in directories, listing your business in free directories, etc, but in order to grow your own audience you’re going to have to spend some time off your site looking for other Websites that share your target audience.

There is a lot of opportunity to grow you’re the audience on your site and the size of your email list by spending time off your own Website.

Let’s take a look at a few…

Guest Posts

One of the things I enjoy doing is writing guest posts on other blogs. Here are a few examples:

Bow Hunting and Pumpkin Pie – A tragedy

How to Start and Outdoor Conservation Charity

How to Keep up with the ‘Big Boys and Girls’ on Twitter

Guest posting is a great way to introduce you and your business to someone else’s audience. And it doesn’t only benefit you it benefits the blog you’re guest posting on because you’re providing the blog owner with quality content for their site as well as providing quality content for their readers to view and discuss.

Look for other blogs and Websites that share a similar audience to the one you’re targeting for your hunting business and offer to do a guest post. Site owners and bloggers usually welcome content providers with open arms.

Here is a great how-to on guest posting from Problogger:

How to Guest Post to Promote Your Blog

Interviews

Another thing you can do to get the attention of someone else’s audience and convert them to email subscribers is to participate in interviews.

Make yourself available to be interviewed on the topics you’re the expert in – what your business provides.

Ask other site owners if they would be willing to interview you via email, phone, or video for use on their site as a way to share your expertise with their audience.

Also ask other site owners with large audiences that you would like to target if you could interview them and then allow the interviewee to share the interview on their site with their audience.

By exposing you and your business to other audiences, you’re expanding the reach of your marketing message and showing your potential customers the benefits of your business.

These are just a couple of ways you can participate off your own Website that will bring traffic to your site in ways that will likely convert people to your email list with proper calls to action. You can also do things like participate in forums, blog commenting, etc.

The possibilities are endless and only know the limit of your own creative thinking.

Always Leave a Call to Action

Now, with all of this offsite activity it’s important to remember to include calls to action so the other audiences know what they’re supposed to do now that they’re aware you and your business exist.

Make sure when you participate in discussions on other sites that you provide ways for new readers, listeners, and viewers of how they can contact you and subscribe to updates from you.

When doing guest posts, leave your Website and email subscription link so people can quickly sign-up.

When doing interviews do the same or if it’s video/audio, tell the users the address of your site and where to look for your email sign up and what they can expect when they subscribe.

The work you do off your site can go to waste without quality calls to action.

Make sure you’re converting your new audience to subscribers so you can share your quality products and services with them via your next email campaign.

Maintaining the Trust

Once you get new subscribers on your email list it’s important to deliver on the promises that you mentioned that got them to subscribe.

With email, it’s easy for people to unsubscribe to your campaigns or worse, put your emails in their spam filter.

Make sure that your emails include the content you promised like the specific benefits you may mention like:

“Subscribe for email updates that include the latest additions to the photo gallery”

Make sure everything in your emails is beneficial and valuable for your readers.

Bonus – Break Rules!

I am a fan of breaking so-called ‘rules’ or standards on the Web.

Just because I may think that the top right is the best place for your email sign-up on your home page doesn’t mean that it’s the absolute best place to put yours. Try new things that nobody else has tried. Sometimes the best way to get the attention of visitors is to catch them off guard with things that are non-standard.

I like putting the email subscription call to action at the end of my blog posts, but maybe for you it works best at the beginning.

Don’t be afraid to try new things and set your own rules with your Website. See how your visitors respond and adapt to what they’re telling you with their actions.

The beautiful thing about the Web is that it allows you to adapt quickly to the needs of your audience.

Summary

Converting visitors to email subscribers on your site is important for building long-term relationships that lead to strong sales conversions for your business on the Web.

Try a few things on your own Website like:

1| Putting your email sign-up in multiple spots

2| Testing calls to action

3| Communicating specific benefits

You’re likely to see an increase in the number of visitors you convert to subscribers on your site.

Also do some participation off your site to extend your marketing reach to other audiences.

Try things like:

1| Guest posting

2| Interviews

3| Blog commenting

Make sure to always leave strong calls to action so that your new listening audience has a way to subscribe to your email campaigns.

As your email list grows, make sure you’re following through on your promises by providing valuable content in your emails. Make sure that everything in your emails is valuable for those receiving them. It’s easy for people to unsubscribe or to put your business in the spam filter so make sure you give them a reason to open the email and click through to your Website and ultimately purchase your products and services.

The strength of your business on the Web directly relates to the quality of your subscriber base. Grow your email list with quality subscribers and you’ll see stronger sales conversions for your business.

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Can Business Partnerships Work?

“This ride has been everything and more than we could ever have dreamed.” Brooks & Dunn

Strong Business Partnership

image credit: striatic

Today I heard the unfortunate news that one of my favorite country music duos is going to breakup and pursue their own interests and careers.

For 20 years Brooks & Dunn were the ultimate country music powerhouse. They sold over 30 million records and toured the US every year with one of the biggest and most entertaining stage shows every produced.

Some of their hit country singles include:

Brand New Man

Boot Scootin’ Boogie

Hard Workin’ Man

She’s Not the Cheatin’ Kind

You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone

My Maria

He’s Got You

Red Dirt Road

Believe

Their breakup announcement got me thinking a little about business partnerships.

There have certainly been some successful business ownership relationships, but there are also instances where a business partnerships have led to hard feelings between former friends, husbands & wives, brother, sisters, cousins, parents & kids, etc.

The fact is that when you go into business for yourself, you will encounter business partnerships in some form or another.

I think the recent news about Brooks & Dunn as well as some interesting thoughts on hunting can give us some insight into how to approach all business relationships.

Combining Talents to Form a Powerhouse

It’s kinda like a lost and found in a border town

image credit: Beau B

Brooks & Dunn

Kix and Ronnie were kicking around honky tonks and clubs around Nashville and surrounding areas for quite a few years before producer Tim Dubois put them together in 1990 at Arista Records Nashville.

Each had his own record label at sometime in the ‘80s. Each had their own singles released and Kix even had an album released on Capitol Records Nashville.

There is no doubt that these two guys were talented individuals.

What’s interesting is the fact that once these two talented individuals combined their talents as a duo, a business and creative partnership, they had enormous success right out of the gate with their first album on Arista.

The single Brand New Man was released in the spring of 1991 and the album of the same name followed later that summer.

The single was catchy as hell and sounded like no other songs on radio at the time. Both singers had distinct voices and while Ronnie’s voice is purely unique on country radio (plus he wore awesome aviators on that first album cover), Kix’s expressive nature puts him at the top of the game for showmanship and entertainment.

The two are explosive and eye-catching stage and records.

Today, their debut album has sold more than 6 million copies and the former struggling no-name country singers became overnight successes.

Subsequent albums and singles have been just as successful as the pair has never let up their work for the past twenty years.

It’s interesting to wonder if either of these two guys would have made it big individually or if it was the combining of their two talents that caused their success. It’s hard to know the former scenario and the success as a pair is difficult to deny.

Perhaps now we’ll have the pleasure of seeing each succeed individually and I hope for this to happen.

Hunting

image credit: Lee Coursey

Turkey calling is what I originally thought of when I thought about partnerships and the pastime of hunting.

But after kicking around the thought for a few minutes I also realized that partnerships in hunting could be anything from scouting, putting up tree stands, guiding, outfitting, dragging or packing, and many other forms of partnerships within the world of hunting.

A lot of skilled hunters go it alone when harvesting trophy game, but there are just as many or more instances of hunters helping each other to harvest trophy book animals.

Personally, I know I could never have had any hunting success without the help with scouting, stand skills, shooting skills and other hunting skills I learned from my Dad and others in the hunting camp I originally belonged to for ten years.

Today, I am confident going out to the woods on my own and attempting to harvest trophies, but I still find value in teaming up with another good hunter to increase the odds of success.

The truth with hunting is that a good partnership can lead to an increase in the chance of success come hunting season.

Your Business

When it comes to business there will be nobody as passionate about your own business like you.

If you have started a business on your own there is nobody that will understand the same vision you have for success.

For most people, however, there is a limit to the amount of resources such as time, money, and effort one individual can put into a business venture and it will only go so far without additional commitment business partnerships can provide.

In my observation and experience I’ve realized that the best chance for success with business ownership is to maintain 100% (or as close to 100% as possible) ownership while opening up to certain partnerships through expanding products, services, or workforce.

I’ve seen too many hairy situations where friends, family and other new business partnerships form with 50/50 or similar stake and things turn out bad to be convinced that it’s the best option.

Now there are exceptions to the ownership theory I have and you’re welcome to share your own in the comments below. My opinion is always evolving and I don’t mind being proven wrong.

The type of business partnership I have seen become most successful comes in the form of putting together talents that complement each other in ways that create a business entity that offers something truly unique that individually wouldn’t be possible.

The first example I can think of that hopefully fits this situation would be a successful hunter and businessman such as Bill Jordan and the television channels (or ownerships of the networks – Disney?) ESPN and The Outdoor Channel.

Bill Jordan brought his hunting expertise for harvesting trophy animals and creating camouflage patterns with the producers of television shows to create one of the most interesting hunting shows around.

I’ll leave the details out of that partnership, but it should be easy to see that in every business there are instances where the owners or managers look for expertise outside of their own to expand the venture successfully.

The tricky part is determining how to ensure the partnership’s success.

Differing Expectations, Goals, and Personalities

It’s taken every bit of strength that I have to keep a hurt look off of my face

B&D

One of the things that will often lead to stressful and strained business partnerships is differing expectations, goals, and personalities amongst the parties involved from the outset of the relationship.

I can’t speak for Kix and Ronnie, but I’m sure there were discussions initially between them and those at their label about expectations for the duo as well as the work ethic and personalities of each.

I mean, as talented individuals I’m sure neither wanted to risk what may have been their last chance at superstardom.

It may have also been an instance where they two got together and tried a few things in the studio and everything seemed to turn into magic so they ran with it and the rest fell into place. This would be the lucky outcome, but would not be the norm.

The positive thing to remember about Brooks and Dunn is that both wanted to be country superstars and the fact that both of the men had spent the better part of the previous decade trying to make it on his own was proof enough to each other that each was committed as the other when it came to creating music that would connect with the American audience in a big way.

No matter what the business venture, it’s imperative to find someone as passionate, with common expectations and goals and complementary personalities as you.

Hunting

One of the things I’ve found interesting over the years with hunting is the expectations and personalities of individual hunters.

When I was growing up, I hunted on a farm in Buffalo County, Wisconsin that was home to some big whitetail bucks. On the property we practiced Quality Deer Management meaning we typically only harvested bucks 3 ½ years or older. There always seemed to be exceptions over the years, but this was the general rule.

Throughout those years and now today when I hunt on other property I see other hunters who simply care about harvesting a deer each year for the venison or other reasons.

I’ve come to the personal conclusion that it’s up to the property owner to determine the proper management for his or her particular property.

The fact is that there are various expectations, goals, and personalities in the hunting world as well as the business world.

I always found it interesting that while certain people of the same beliefs typically congregate toward each other in the hunting world (QDM believer and QDM believer) there are always exceptions in certain camps and that always leads to some interesting discussion.

When hunting, it’s important for the property owner to have as full of understanding as possible with the hunters on the property to determine what is best for the management of the land and the game that inhabits it and the results expected.

Your Business

When it comes to your business it can be difficult to find someone or some business that shares the same expectations, goals, and has similar personality qualities as you.

As I mentioned earlier, you are the only one who cares fully about your business. You are the only one who truly shares your vision for the ultimate success of your venture.

The best advice I can share with you about business partnerships of any kind is to get out each other’s expectations, goals, and personality qualities as soon as possible.

You’re going to want to observe the personality of the person you’re working with.

It’s hard to question and judge someone you see as qualified and reputable, but it’s important to judge their personality as early as possible before getting too involved in a business relationship. The more you avoid judging personality the higher the chance of disappointment down the road.

Communicate early with anyone you’re thinking about forming a business partnership with and make sure you share the same or similar expectations and goals for the partnership.

Also make sure to judge the personality of the person you’re becoming involved with professionally.

It’s best for all parties involved if the understanding is reached early on concerning expected results and communication throughout the partnership.

Pride and Money

Getting nowhere, I’m tired of thinking/Guess I’ll do a little wishful dreaming

B&D

A wise man once asked me as it related to business, “How will this offer make me money?”

It was one of the most honest and simply questions I’ve ever heard anyone ever say.

There is no use in denying the fact that successful businesses make money.

If you don’t make a profit as a business you won’t find success.

Along with money there is the pride factor that goes along with success.

Most entrepreneurs I know want to be seen as successful by others. They want to feel the pride of knowing that they have overseen the growth and success of a business. If there is a partnership there is no doubt that it can, at times, be difficult to share pride and money.

I can only pass a guess at the fact that pride and money play a role in the breakup of Brooks & Dunn.

They’re two of my most favorite people in the music industry and I have nothing but respect, but I simply can’t shake the feeling that pride and money play a role.

If I try to put myself in their position (and I can really only attempt, but probably never really imagine) I’d want to see if I could prove to myself that I could become a success on “my own”.

It’s how both started – with the dream of becoming solo stars in the country world.

And I don’t doubt that each dreams of touring and selling records as solo artists in the future the same way they sell them today – only with 100% of the profit rather than 50%.

Pride and money don’t make anyone a bad person. It’s simply how we operate and it’s what fuels our dreams as entrepreneurs.

Hunting

With hunting there is not necessarily the money aspect, but there is certainly the pride aspect involving the harvesting of trophy game.

Hunters are always prideful when they are the ones to fire the shot that puts a trophy in the record book or puts a story in the memories of those involved.

The hunters I’ve come across always seem to be more apt to tell the stories of how they did individual scouting, sitting, standing, stalking, and ultimate harvesting of a nice animal versus telling the story of how they worked with other hunters to outsmart a trophy buck.

It’s the nature of humans I think to want to feel prideful of their own successes.

It’s part of what makes us have the drive to succeed while at the same time it can be a hindrance to our own growth.

Your Business

With business, the same want to grow individually rather than with a partner exists I believe.

I think pride and money play a big part in our drive to succeed as entrepreneurs.

Ultimately I think we all want to succeed on our own whether to prove to ourselves or to someone else.

When you’re entering into business ownership partnerships in particular that you understand that at some point pride and money will come into play and strain the relationship.

It’s common for business partners to buy out shares from others or for businesses (or bands) to breakup to pursue individual dreams.

It’s not wrong – it simply seems to be the way entrepreneurs operate.

Summary

Business partnerships come in all forms and they’re all tricky to deal with.

In the case of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, they turned struggling solo careers into a twenty year partnership that led each into successful careers beyond what either probably imagined at the outset of their business and creative relationship.

But twenty years later, they are going their separate ways for reasons only they know for sure and we can only guess.

There is also the interesting parallel with hunting involving expectations, goals, personality, pride and money. Hunters are individuals just like Brooks & Dunn and business owners so there will always be similar outcomes. It’s interesting to look at how the characteristics of hunters can relate to business owners. It may help us both understand how to improve as business owners when we can relate our experiences to our other passions such as hunting.

Don’t be afraid to enter relationships with your business, but be aware of the tendencies of partnerships and use them to the advantage of all parties involved.

Partnerships can lead to lots of success and if you’re struggling with your business maybe there is a partner you could team up with to take your business to the next level.

So after all this the question still stands – can business partnerships work?

Answer: Yes.

Just look at Brooks & Dunn.

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