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

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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.

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

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

Value is going to be a big term in 2010.

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

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

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

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

Economic Trends

How The Recession Has Changed U.S. Consumer Behavior

From Forbes (Jan. 2010):

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

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

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

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

Impact on your business

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

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

What will make your customer feel good about their purchase?

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

From Forbes (Jan. 2009):

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

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

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

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

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

Impact on your business

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

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

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

Industry News

Tourism Industry Still Dealing With Cautious Consumers

From Gallup (Dec. 2009):

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

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

Read the entire article Tourism Industry Still Dealing With Cautious Consumers

Impact on your business

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

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

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

Web Design Trends

Web Design Trends for 2010

From Web Design Ledger (Nov. 2009):

1| Oversized Logos/Headers

2| Sketch/Hand-drawn Design

3| Slab Typefaces

4| Typography

5| One Page Layouts

6| Huge Images

7| Change of Perspective

8| Interactive/Intuitive Design

9| Modal Boxes

10| Minimalism

11| Oversized Footer

12| Retro

13| Intro Boxes

14| Magazine Layouts

Read the entire article Web Design Trends for 2010

Impact on your business

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

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

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

Conclusions

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

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

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

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

Copyright Notice

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

Thank you for your support!

Subscriptions and Enquiries
Hunting Business Marketing
Email: dayneshuda@gmail.com
Website: www.huntingbusinessmarketing.com

DISCLAIMER: The information, tools and material presented herein are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be used or considered as an offer or a solicitation to sell or an offer or solicitation to buy or subscribe for securities, investment products or other financial instruments, nor to constitute any advice or recommendation with respect to such securities, investment products or other financial instruments. This research report is prepared for general circulation. It does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and the particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. You should independently evaluate particular business decisions before making any moves or changes in relation to any content mentioned in this report.[/private_member]

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State of the Hunting Industry Report | December 2009

[private_member]MEMBERS – Please view in .pdf form – State of the Hunting Industry | December 2009 [/private_member]

Understand how the state of the economy is affecting the hunting industry

Edition 2          A Publication of Hunting Business Marketing           December 2009

Opportunities for companies expanding focus on the Web

Housing

Image courtesy of woodleywonderworks

Introduction

The holiday season is important for the US economy. Each holiday season brings families out to retail and online stores to spend the money they have saved on items for their family and friends.

When it comes to hunters, places like Gander Mountain, LL Bean, Orvis, and of course Cabela’s are favorites. Friends and families of hunters frequent these stores looking for the perfect gifts for their beloved hunters.

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The holiday season usually falls right in the middle to end of the fall hunting season so hunters’ appetites are whet for the latest gear for their hunting adventures. This makes it easy to know exactly what equipment will be needed for next season’s hunt. Hunters are in the prime of their fall hunting season so they know what is making them struggle and they know what gear they’ll need to better their chances next season.

Hunting businesses depend on the holiday demand season for much of their sales each year. Businesses, large and small, depend on the year-round saving and holiday spending to provide the sales and cash that hold them over until the late summer and following holiday season.

With Holiday 2008 being an extremely frugal one for families, hunting businesses struggled and some had to cease operations as cash ran out.

As you can expect, the 2009 holiday season is extremely competitive for all hunting businesses as they struggle for the attention of hunters and their loved ones. The struggle to gain attention, trust, and eventually sales forces margins to come down in an effort to tilt hunting customers in favor of purchasing gear and services.

With the deflation of the US Credit and Debt Economy (2001-2008), there is now a more frugal aspect to deal with for hunting businesses. The businesses that have been able to survive to the 2009 holiday season will continue to have to fight for every sale and every hard-earned dollar that the American Hunting Consumer is willing to spend.

The new reality of the hunting economy is a frugal consumer that does more research on products, equipment, gear, outfitting services, etc. as they want to get the most return for their dollars.

Successful hunting businesses will want to focus on every detail of the purchasing cycle while working to establishing trust with consumers as an individual level.

The Web will play a crucial role in building trust with consumers as communication barriers are broken down and business leaders can interact and help consumers with their problems and questions on an individual level. Use the Web and its technologies throughout 2010 to begin building trust for the 2010 Holiday Season.

Economic Trends

Lack of Money/Wages Top Family Financial Problem in U.S.

From Gallup (Nov. 2009):

When asked in an open-ended question to name the most important financial problem facing their families today, one in six Americans (17%) say low wages and a lack of money. Healthcare costs are next, at 14%. While the mentions of healthcare might be attributed to its prominence in the news, the issue of low wages may reflect another aspect of the job crisis in America today.

Read the entire article Lack of Money/Wages Top Family Financial Problems in U.S.

Impact on your business

With consumers having little confidence in their income, there is a realigning of priorities with any disposable income. Today, consumers are using the extra money they have to pay off debt from the Deb and Credit Economy days of 2001-2008 and to save for future rainy days.

The best thing for business owners to do is recognize the new frugal reality in the American Economy and foster to the needs of the mindset of consumers.

Starting a blog right now is a great way to begin building the trust with your consumers heading into 2010. Do a little research on keywords and interests in your particular niche in the hunting industry and begin building trust with your customers.


Economic Indicators

Christmas Shopping Forecast Reverts to Record 2008 Lows

From Gallup (Nov. 2009):

Americans’ estimate of the total amount they will spend on Christmas gifts this year has fallen precipitously over the past month, sending the figure back to last year’s record lows. Americans’ average Christmas spending prediction is now $638. This nearly matches the $616 recorded in November 2008, amid one of the worst holiday retail seasons in recent memory.

Read the entire article Christmas Spending Forecast Reverts to Record 2008 Lows

Impact on your business

The Gallup poll represents the changing US consumer economy as families are spending less this year and in coming years on gifts for loved ones over the holiday season.

Businesses can also expect that people will spend their money with more thought and consideration as they do their due diligence to make sure the gifts they are buying with their money provide the most joy and return for the gift recipients.

Address this extra due diligence by providing your customers with the knowledge they need in order to feel like they are making the best purchase this holiday season and into 2010. Blogs, videos, and guest articles discussing products and doing product reviews are great ways to build a trust and comfort with consumers that will allow them to feel like your business in the place where they can expect quality and good return.

Hunting Industry News

Hunt for the Hungry grapples with tough economy, declining deer harvest

From Post Crescent (Nov. 2009):

With the number of families seeking help from food pantries in times of a poor economy and high unemployment, the 10th anniversary of the Hunt for the Hungry takes on even more significance, organizers said.

The increased need for the food pantries also comes at a time when the state Department of Natural Resources said the deer harvest from the opening weekend of the gun season was down 25 percent from last year.

Monica Clare, director of operations for St. Joseph Food Program in Menasha, said her pantry got about 900 pounds of ground venison from the program last year, enough to give nearly each of the 1,000 families a week served by the pantry a pound of meat.

That’s an important commodity because otherwise the pantry gives meat to clients only once a month, she said.

“We don’t get very much donated meat anymore,” although one donor does give the pantry turkeys to distribute at Thanksgiving, she said.

Read the entire article Hunt for the Hungry grapples with tough economy, declining deer harvest

Impact on your business

One of the difficult things about the new frugality in the US economy is that consumers and businesses need to cut back on their charitable giving to account for themselves. It’s not that businesses and individuals do not want to help others; it’s just that when things get tight some difficult expense cuts need to be made.

If it’s possible, continue donation your time and money to quality charities and conservation organizations. As mentioned above, in the new consumer economy people are looking to build trust with companies. A great way to establish this trust is to show that you and your business care about others by cutting back in other areas while still providing support for quality causes.

Giving back to charity and other causes may not have immediate return toward your bottom line, but the impact is seen in the long-run as trust is established with consumers who become long-term customers.

Hunting season a bonanza for many area businesses

From the Marietta Times (Nov. 2009):

You can buy anything from camoflauged gloves to pink guns at the Southeastern Trading Post in Waterford.

“We have four daughters, so we sell some pink shotguns and rifles that are designed to help get girls interested in hunting,” explained trading post owner Ted Offenberger who opened the store three years ago.

“Business is up this year, and we’ve been busy since before bow season began in September,” he said. “We expanded our inventory and sold a lot more bows this year than last. But we’re also expanding our gun inventory a little.”

Read the entire article Hunting season a bonanza for many area businesses

Impact on your hunting business

An example of a way businesses have been able to adapt to the new consumer economy is to do research and expand product and service offerings.

Consumers will still spend their money on things they need and things they want, but they’ll want to spend it with companies they trust. If you can establish a trusting relationship with your customers you’ll be able to expand into new products and services and grow in the new economic environment.
Hunting Industry Trends

New Year and New Websites for Hunting Businesses

Something to look for heading into the New Year is for businesses to begin making changes to their storefront or to their Website as they look for ways to make the relationship with their customers more valuable. Even simple changes to design and functionality can make for added value to your customer as they become more trusting of your business.

Please see 50 Best Hunting Website Designs for examples of quality hunting Website design.

Conclusions

The state of the new hunting industry centers on trust as consumers are looking for companies that are truthful in their marketing and effective with their products and services. Businesses that focus on ways to build a long-term trusting relationship with customers on an individual level will not only find success, but will find opportunities to grow and expand.

Copyright Notice

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

Thank you for your support!

Subscriptions and Enquiries
Hunting Business Marketing
Email: dayneshuda@gmail.com
Website: www.huntingbusinessmarketing.com

DISCLAIMER: The information, tools and material presented herein are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be used or considered as an offer or a solicitation to sell or an offer or solicitation to buy or subscribe for securities, investment products or other financial instruments, nor to constitute any advice or recommendation with respect to such securities, investment products or other financial instruments. This research report is prepared for general circulation. It does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and the particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. You should independently evaluate particular business decisions before making any moves or changes in relation to any content mentioned in this report. [/private_member]

Purchase Now | $10

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December 2009 Edition $10

Created by Dayne Shuda

Hunting Business Marketing

State of the Hunting Industry Report | November 2009

[private_member]MEMBERS – Please view in .pdf form – State of the Hunting Industry | November 2009 [/private_member]

Understand how the state of the economy is affecting the hunting industry

Edition 1           A Publication of Hunting Business Marketing        November 2009

Opportunities for companies expanding focus on the Web

Elk Mount

image credit: blhphotography

Introduction

The past 12+ months have been difficult for the entire world economy including businesses in the hunting industry. Hunting business owners have seen decreases in revenue and profit across the board and many have had to cut their staff or go out of business completely.

As companies have cut back on their discretionary spending, outfitters have seen their rate of corporate bookings drop dramatically from just a couple seasons ago. Like corporations, individual hunters have cut back on their discretionary spending. This has meant that a hunter may have passed on purchasing a new bow or a new tree stand this year in favor of saving money to pay off debt or to save for another rainy day.

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Times have been tough as consumers retrench and get their spending in line with a more sustainable economy. Hunting businesses have had to admit to this change in consumer mindset.

But while sales have been difficult to come by over the past year, there are opportunities for companies that are determined to expand their focus on the Web.

The businesses that have been able to weather the drop in spending are looking for ways to expand their customer base by focusing on what hunter want and need to fulfill their passions. Quality hunting businesses will always have the benefit of providing products and experiences that play into the passions of hunters. While a hunter may cut back on spending on big spending items, they may look for new parts so they can fix up their major hunting equipment.

Also, there is opportunity for quality hunting businesses to step into vacant spots left by businesses that have gone by the wayside. Hunters will still look for companies they can trust to provide for them. A business that can successfully move into new product and service offerings can expand their own business while the overall economy flattens.

Part of the opportunity for hunting businesses lies with online marketing – businesses that are able to successfully find ways to connect with consumers through online contact methods will find that they are able to build a trust that will provide long-term customers.

Is your business looking to expand its focus on the Web? If you’re not, your competitors probably are and they’ll be there to scoop up the void left by struggling businesses.

The Web

The Web is the opportunity is for businesses expand. Businesses that seem to have weathered the economic downfall the best in the past 12+ months seem to be the companies that build trust with their customers.

Connection channels such as blogs, forums, contests, video, photo galleries, and other forms of connection with customers are ways successful companies have been able to maintain their loyal customers while other businesses have lost their sales due to lack of commitment to their customers.

What is your business doing online today that will create trust between you and your customers that will lead to growth in the future?

A Look Forward

Let’s look at a few economic articles and see how the happenings today will affect your business tomorrow…

Economic Trends

Upper-Income Consumers Pull Back Their Spending

From Gallup (Sept. 18, 2009):

Despite a $2 trillion increase in U.S. household wealth last quarter, upper-income Americans’ self-reported average daily spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online is down 37% in the first half of September from September of a year ago. This decline — which is worse than the 28% decline in spending among middle- and lower-income Americans, and is worse than the August upper-income decline — is not good news, especially for upscale retailers and big-ticket-item sales.

Consumer Spending Sept. 2009

Continue reading the full article Upper-Income Consumers Pull Back Their Spending

Impact on your business

With many outfitting customers being upper-income consumers as well as upper-income businesses who purchase group outfitting packages, the fact that this group of individuals are not spending more this fall hunting season may prove for a difficult sales season for hunting businesses.

The importance of creating trusting relationships with your customers is even more important during slower economic times as customers put more focus on their overall spending. Customers will look to do business with companies who offer trust along with quality products and services.

Today might be an opportunity to work on providing an email newsletter campaign that keeps you in touch with your customers on a regular basis. Include things like related articles written by your team, new photos from this season’s hunts, etc. Try doing things that let your customers know you care about them and their spending money.

Economic Indicators

Americans See Little Hope of Finding a Quality Job

From Gallup (Oct. 2009):

Gallup finds 10% of Americans feeling that now is a “good time” to find a quality job, reflecting no improvement since February, and less than the 33% who held similar views as the recession began in January 2008 and the 14% recorded as the financial crisis hit the economy in full force last October.

Finding a Job

Read the entire article Americans See Little Hope of Finding a Quality Job

Impact on your business

Jobs drive savings in any economy and savings drive spending.

If your company depends on hunters spending having and spending discretionary income then unemployment is a key economic indicator for your business growth in the future. Watch the unemployment rate and look for news articles that indicate that companies continue to cut back and not hire or for any reverses in the current employment trends. This will be a good indicator for your corporate and individual consumer growth.

But as with anything, there are advantages available for those who are observant…

For an interesting trend please read Consumers Spend More on Weekends, Payday Weeks

Hunting Industry News

Direct Strong For Cabela’s Despite Cutbacks (Web traffic up 14.9%)

From Direct Magazine (Oct. 2009):

Cabela’s Inc., generated $624.3 million in revenue during its most recent third quarter, up from $611.8 million a year ago. The company’s net income jumped from $9.7 million to $18.8 million between the quarters. The most recent quarter ended Sept. 26.

During an earnings call, CEO Tommy Millner said the company would not be as aggressive in reducing catalog pages as it was in 2009. But it is going to continue to shift spending from paper catalogs to electronic channels. Traffic to the company’s Web site jumped 14.9%, Millner said, and he does not anticipate this slacking anytime soon.

Continue reading Direct Strong For Cabela’s Despite Cutbacks

Impact on your business

Cabela’s has long been one of the best run companies in the hunting industry. They provide quality products and services to hunters and those hunters continue to use their discretionary income to make hunting-related purchases from Cabela’s because Cabela’s has built up a trust.

Over the past year it seems that Cabela’s has reorganized its business for the future of consumer spending, which will see consumers reorganizing their own spending habits. As consumers begin to save again, they’ll only use financial services for big purchases from companies they trust (Cabela’s). These customers will also spend wisely on products of high quality that will last longer rather than looking for the lowest cost, lowest quality, and lowest lifetime.

The future will be about quality. The companies that provide quality products and services through trusting connections with consumers will thrive in the new hunting industry paradigm.

Hunting Industry Trends

Will the Economy Hurt Whitetail Deer Hunting This Year?

From HuntsWhitetail.com (2009):

There’s one very big money-saving benefit to hunting whitetail deer, though.

Spending too much on food these days? The whitetail deer hunting season might be just the solution you’re looking for. Deer is a great addition to the diet and is healthy and tasty.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department isn’t sure, but Randy Curtis did tell Fox44.net that “more people may hunt this fall to save money on groceries.”

Sure, saving money on our families’ food probably isn’t the primary reason we hunt, but if it gives us another reason to get out in the fields this year and bag ourselves a nice deer, I’ll take it.

Continue reading the full article Will the Economy Hurt Whitetail Deer Hunting This Year?

Impact on your business

While hunters may look to the woods for food during the economic downturn, hunting is still an expensive passion. The article above does a great job of exploring both sides of the argument. Hunters who have lost their jobs as unemployment continues to rise will have to cut back in some places in order to get by with only what they need and a little bit of what they love.

Where will hunting fall in the list of priorities for your customers?

Notes from Kevin Paulson of Hunting Life (2009):

“I think the state of the Hunting Industry has been filled with a year of ups and downs right along with the economy.  This has been a year of strong cut backs for many hunters who just have not had the money to spend.  Those hunters are still hunting but they are hunting much closer to home for the most part. Outfitters and lodges have seen a dramatic drop in the number of calls coming from new hunters.”

“Dedicated hunters are still pursuing their passions of hunting and conservation. Corporate bookings are almost non-existent this year, but there are still companies offering them to select customers.”

“Most hunters this year have kept to purchases that are essential versus the wants that most hunters have.  This year I kept my bow instead of upgrading and spent a few extra dollars for really nice arrows.  As well this year, I have worked with a lot of individual companies purchasing items direct versus using the big box stores because I knew I was helping out a small manufacturer versus big business.”

For more from Kevin Paulson and Hunting Life check out Twitter @HuntingLife and Facebook.

Conclusions

Times are tough in the hunting industry, but there is always opportunity. (For one last story on opportunity, see Surrounded by Job Losses, Montana’s Firearms Industry Thrives).

Unemployment will likely remain flat or even continue falling as companies cut back to remain profitable. Until something comes up in the future that will drive jobs again, consumer spending will remain at reasonable levels. It’s unlikely we’ll see the outrageous consumer spending of 2002-2007 every again.

While these boom times are gone, there is still great opportunity for hunting businesses to expand and grow.

Consumers, including hunters, are going to look for companies they can trust to provide the best quality products and services. While consumers will remain cost-conscious with their spending, they’ll be more long-term focused, which means that spending a little more today is all right as long as the product or service is the most beneficial option for the long-term.

There is also great opportunity for hunting businesses on the Web.

Customers are looking for the businesses that are willing to reach out and connect on a meaningful and valuable level and the place they’re looking is online. Start a blog, become active in online communities and on your own Website. Engage your customers and look to provide value to their hunting passion.

The companies that provide long-term value for customers will find success in the future hunting industry.

Copyright Notice

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

Thank you for your support!

Subscriptions and Enquiries
Hunting Business Marketing
Email: dayneshuda@gmail.com
Website: www.huntingbusinessmarketing.com

DISCLAIMER: The information, tools and material presented herein are provided for informational purposes only and are not to be used or considered as an offer or a solicitation to sell or an offer or solicitation to buy or subscribe for securities, investment products or other financial instruments, nor to constitute any advice or recommendation with respect to such securities, investment products or other financial instruments. This research report is prepared for general circulation. It does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and the particular needs of any specific person who may receive this report. You should independently evaluate particular business decisions before making any moves or changes in relation to any content mentioned in this report. [/private_member]

Purchase Now | $10

Add to Cart

November 2009 Edition $10

Created by Dayne Shuda

Hunting Business Marketing

Security is an Illusion

“Sure, some people like the security of a regular paycheck, but if recent events have taught us anything, it’s that this kind of security is an illusion.” Leo Babauta of Zen Habits on The Get-Started-Now Guide to Becoming Self-Employed

Security is an Illusion

image credit: Anonymous Account

The title of this post may suggest a negative tone, but I’d like to take the idea of security in a different direction and put a positive twist on something that is commonly viewed as negative.

The idea of security as illusion is not something we should all fear.

As an entrepreneur, understanding that no business, person, or job is secure is exciting and should continue refueling the fire and passion you have when first starting a hunting business.

Let’s take a closer look at why your understanding that security is an illusion should actually excite you…

Staying Ahead/Looking for the Next Breakthrough

I’ve always thought that the companies and business owners who were most successful were always those who never stopped looking for the next innovation that would help them better serve their audience and customers.

Even today the people I find most successful on the Web or the leaders in business are looking for the ahead at ways to improve – ways to make their business better than the competition.

One example in the hunting industry I always look to for inspiration is Mathews Bows and Archery.

In fact, Innovation is a highlight of the Mathews philosophy:

We strive to achieve the extraordinary through the continuous improvement of people, process and product.

This is a great mission statement for any company and Mathews is definitely a great example of a company that lives up to its mission by continually providing innovative archery products that seem to revolutionize the bow hunting industry every season.

It’s truly amazing for a company to continually be the leader in design, functionality, and effectiveness when it comes to a product that has been around for thousands of years.

More on Mathews Innovation:

Matt McPherson started making recurve and compound bows in the early 70’s.  Many designs and years later, Matt decided to take one of his newest innovations; the Inner Cam (patented 1985), and started McPherson Archery.  The company was sold in 1989 and in 1992 Mathews, Inc. was born.

In addition to a lifelong passion for the sport and boundless energy, Matt had one major advantage: an invention that would revolutionize the archery industry.  His design for single cam technology; the SOLOCAM®, made Mathews bows lighter, faster, quieter and powerfully accurate.  Today, McPherson is owner and CEO of the largest grossing bow manufacturer in the world.

In addition to his role as CEO, McPherson leads the research and development team and has produced 31 patented innovations  including the Harmonic Damping System™, Zebra® ZS Twist Bowstrings and the V-lock Zero Tolerance Limb Cup System.  His passionate pursuit of creative distinction and high-performance engineering inspired the company slogan, “Catch us if you can.”

There is always new competition with new innovations that take industries by storm and knock the leaders off their pedestal. This is one of the reasons why it’s necessary to make sure that you are the continuous innovator in your area of the hunting world.

Looking at Yourself

One of the difficult things it seems with our own businesses it taking a good objective look at our strengths and weaknesses especially when it comes to where we feel our business is secure and where the business is weak.

I don’t think it’s always the fault of the business owner or those involved closely with the business when it comes taking an objective look.

Take your Website for example…you probably look at your Website often and you probably have a few things you’d like changed and it’s likely those changes would be beneficial.

But it’s the things you don’t see that are often the most important for your audience – the people who will use your Website as a resource and a way to connect with you and ultimately trust you enough to purchase your product or service.

It might be worth it for others, perhaps someone who fits your customer profile, to explore your Website and provide feedback. This person will likely come across some simple things you can change to make your user experience more simple and beneficial.

This concept works for your products and services as well as other areas of your business.

Getting opinions and taking a look at yourself and your business is one of the crucial aspects of understanding that security is an illusion and that your business needs to be a continuous work in progress to avoid falling for the security trap.

Preparation

While security is something that can’t truly ever be achieved, there are things you can do (once you understand that you’re business is never secure) to prepare for the day your product or service is replaced.

I’ve always been a big fan of keeping some cold hard cash on hand or some other assets that seem to have value just in case something happens to the business.

Beyond keeping some cash on hand to pay the bills in a crunch, the most important assets you have if your competitors come up with an industry changing innovation are the relationships and connections you make by being a quality person and business to work with.

In my experience I would say that people are loyal and trusting with businesses and business owners who treat them fairly and respectfully.

This is a strong loyalty that takes time and commitment to gain from customers.

But once you have it and if you continue to honor the trust, these customers will be loyal to you and give you time to catch up and surpass your competition if you reach a point where you fall behind for a moment…and it happens to all businesses at some point.

It’s something you can prepare for and you shouldn’t be afraid of it happening.

Security is an illusion and once you understand this you can prepare for the little surprises that are not an illusion, but certainty.

Summary

Understanding that your business is not secure is an empowering realization.

Once you realize that you have to continuously work and challenge yourself and your staff to work and improve every aspect of your business you will feel the power to change the industry and shift paradigms.

Mathews archery has continued to be the leader in the bow and archery field because their make innovation and lack of security in their field the mission of the business.

Continue to take a look at all aspects of your business and don’t be afraid to ask your customers, business partners, employees, friends and family for advice and input into how you could make your products, services, and processes more user-friendly and efficient.

While there is no such thing as security, you can prepare for your future of insecurity. The most important thing you can do to prepare yourself for the day you’re caught off guard is to make the most of your current and future connections relating to your business.

Trust is hard to come by in any business field and it’s the relationships, connections, trust, and loyalty that will keep your business strong while you take time to adapt to changing innovations in your industry.

Don’t fear the fact that security is an illusion – accept it and use it as motivation to continuously improve your hunting business for the betterment of you and your customers.

Turing the idea of insecurity into a positive emotion is one step you can take right now that puts you ahead of most of your competition.

Do you have any others thoughts on security and your hunting business?

Please share in the comments and I’ll be sure to respond promptly.

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How to Find Your Lucky Break

Do you think you create your own luck in life and business?

Find Your Lucky Break

image credit: alancleaver_2000

There is a common phrase we often reply with when somebody calls us “lucky”.

I’d rather be lucky than good.

When operating a business of your own there are many times you feel that all you need is one big, lucky break to push you forward on your way to riches.

Your lucky break may be getting your first client or getting your first lead via a targeted search term or even just getting a comment on your blog.

Whatever your break is there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of seeing your luck sooner rather than later.

While it you may think it’s better to be lucky than good it’s also important to improve your odds of being lucky by working hard at the things that increase your chances of catching lucky breaks.

Let’s take a look at a few of the ways you can find your lucky break.

Blogging

Since starting this blog I have met and made connections with many great people in the outdoor industry.

My luck has also seemed to improve as a result of writing posts for this blog.

I’ve had the chance to discuss some great business ideas with brilliant minds and those amazing business ideas that always seem to be elusive are now always right in front of me.

I wasn’t sure what this blog would turn into when I first started it, but now a few ideas are coming together and I think it’s going to turn into something beneficial for all hunting business owners.

I feel both fortunate and lucky to have stumbled on a few great business ideas as a result of writing for this blog and the connections I’ve made along the way.

Starting a blog for your hunting business can be one of the most rewarding things you can do both from a business and a personal standpoint.

A blog is one of the best ways to create quality content that slowly build search traffic to your business Website over time.

A blog is also a great way to make connections. As more people visit your site and as you visit other blogs, you’ll meet some wonderful and influential folks in the outdoor industry.

A blog should be one of the biggest focal points for your hunting business on the Web if you’re looking to increase your chances of catching that lucky break.

Write about the things your customers care about and make sure you are passionate about the topics and the rest should fall into place.

It all starts with a little focus and your passion.

After that it will seem like luck is following you around.

Social Media

One of the Web phrases that has reached mainstream over the past few years is “social media”.

Social media sites (the big ones that most people have heard of are Titter, Facebook, and MySpace) are places where Web users gather to make connections.

Still, some people are afraid of what social media sites can offer because people are generally afraid of change.

The truth is, social media is not really change. Social media is all about making connections just as you and I do every day in our offline lives.

We meet new people when we visit the bank or when we go to a conference.

Social media is exactly the same; the only thing that changes is the setting is now taken online and there are no location barriers.

I had a valuable experience when I wrote What is the Point of Twitter awhile back.

It’s a simple question that most people have about social media. They wonder what the point is of spending their valuable time messing around with something they are not familiar with. It’s a logical question.

The benefit of social media is the increase in your chance of making a connection that may lead to a business opportunity or perhaps even a sale lead.

Social media is simply about making connections and the more people you connect with the higher your chances are of catching your lucky break.

Thirst for Knowledge

One of the things I’ve always seemed to have is an inquisitive mind. I’m a Wikipedia addict. I don’t know how I ever lived without having all information available to me in a moment’s notice.

If I ever have a question about something or if I can’t seem to figure something out I will spend as much time as it takes to figure out the answer or solution.

The bad part about being inquisitive is that I can spend too much time on things that may not be important.

The benefit of being inquisitive is that I’m always looking for more knowledge on all topics and trends.

I’ve become convinced recently that it’s beneficial to try and stay current with the new trends and technologies on the Web (and offline as well).

I’ve come to accept that not all new technology and developments are best for every business and I’m likely to find a few that will fail, but the things I’ve found that have worked have proved to have benefits that far outweigh any setbacks that may happen.

I’ve even had people say that I’m lucky to find something so quick when they haven’t even heard about it yet (and I’ve said this to other inquisitive people as well).

So another way you can increase your chances of catching a lucky break is to stay on top of what’s going on both in the hunting industry and on the Web.

By staying up-to-date with new developments on the Web I’ve also been able to make more connections with other inquisitive people as well as people who have questions about the new technologies. I’m seen as an expert at times (I’m definitely not an expert at anything though) and people ask me questions about various new things that happen on the Web (and after they ask me I have to go to the people who I think are experts and ask them the same question).

Either way, staying ahead of the curve has led to new connections that have been beneficial for me and my hunting business.

Always be willing to take chances with new technology and developments and don’t be afraid to fail. It’s often the failure and lesson learned that lead to some of the biggest breakthroughs (the things people see as lucky developments).

Summary

As you can probably tell, most of these ideas for catching your lucky break involve making connections with people. The idea is to create mutually valuable relationships and connections with as many people as you can.

Valuable connections lead to leads for your business or potential readers for your blogs or even to long-term clients.

With the Web today, there are no location barriers so you can connect with anybody throughout the world. It’s exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

Don’t be afraid to jump right into new things.

Don’t worry about failing.

Don’t worry about meeting new people.

The people who continually make connections are the people who always seem to be luckier than the rest of us.

So, do you think you create your own luck in life and business?

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How to Do It All – The Time Management Question

“I figure there are 24 hours in a day: 8 for family, 8 for sleep, and 8 for work,” Clint Black.

Clint Black in Concert

image credit: jvh33

When I look at problems or frustrations people (including myself) are having I try to look for the common sense or simple solution.

Too often we search for solutions to our problems by looking for complex answers.

Cory from Outdoors International asked about the problem of Time Management [from the post What are your Questions?].

Time management is something all of us can relate to. It doesn’t matter if you’re a full time parent, a kid in school, or a hunting business owner – everybody is busy doing something and managing time is a struggle as we all work to fit everything we want to accomplish or experience into our short days, weeks, years, and ultimately years.

So for a possible solution I’d like to take a common sense approach to my thinking regarding Time Management.

Priorities

The fact that we all need to prioritize our daily activities has been beaten to death into our brains our entire lives. To say the very least…prioritizing has become cliché.

But as is usually true with clichés – they’re usually true and simple fact.

Do you have a mental picture of what is most important in your life?

Does your priority list begin with your significant other, your kids, your parents, yourself, your work, or anything else?

There is no right answer for everyone, but there is a right answer for you. The trick is that only you can correctly answer the question for yourself.

Create your own priority list. It doesn’t have to be long. Try to create the list so that each of the lower priorities builds value for the priorities above it.

For example, if family is your number one priority, you are your second and work is your third, your work should provide value to you and your family. Everything you do when you work should add value to your own life and happiness, which should add value for your family.

It’s a simple concept and once you have you have an understanding of what really makes you happy it will be easier to make decisions only as they affect your top priorities.

Complete Understanding of Tasks

I’d like to go back to the Clint Black quote about time management:

“I figure there are 24 hours in a day: 8 for family, 8 for sleep, and 8 for work.”

His philosophy seems fairly simple and I think managing your time can be this simple. You just need to have an understanding of what makes for a valuable task. What I mean by “valuable task” is that you should understand how everything you do throughout the day affects your priority list and where it fits in your day and whether each task is truly valuable or not.

Side Note: Clint Black’s 8/8/8 rule is not universal. Your life may include similar priorities or completely different priorities. Your life may also require a different ratio. The point is to understand your own ratio and make sure you understand how your daily tasks affect your life and happiness.

8 Hours for Family

One memory I have from my childhood is sitting in the living room and looking out the window waiting for my Dad to come home. He was a commercial airline pilot and he often left for a trip on Sunday night and would come home later in the week – usually later on in the week.

As soon as he would come through the door I’d give him a big hug and then (as most young sons do) I’d beg him to play catch or shoot baskets or play an inside game of some kind.

I’m not sure where he got the energy, but he was always willing to put his things down, kiss my Mom hello and then spend an hour or two with me and my younger brother before we would fall asleep.

This story is a reflection of my Dad’s priority list. When I was growing up, his family was on the top of his list (it’s important to remember that priority lists will change throughout your life).

His days didn’t fit the perfect 8/8/8 ratio. However, throughout the weeks and months he would spend just as much time with his family (and sleeping) as he did with his job.

His tasks that related to my family may have included things like tossing a football around with me and my brother, cleaning up around the house, mowing the lawn, having a nice dinner with my Mom and his two boys.

The tasks for family may seem ordinary and sometimes wasteful, but I hope you understand the importance of tossing a football to your son or daughter. It’s something valuable for their lives (and hopefully yours as well).

Understand the tasks that truly add value to your family’s lives and focus on making the most of the time you have with them.

8 Hours for Sleep

There is not much to say for this period of time. We all need to sleep – some of us more than others. Lately I’ve been doing well and feeling healthy with about 6 hours a night. I’m sure this will change with time and I’ll get back to the normal 8 hours.

Spend your days getting things accomplished as they relate to your priority list and you’ll rest easy with a feeling of ease and success each night.

8 Hours for Work

For most of us work is something we do to earn a living so we can enjoy live ourselves and provide for our family. For most it is really nothing more than this. And this is fine. It might not be fulfilling as some see, but the fruits of working hard at a job so you can spend quality time away from work can be very beneficial and lead to happiness.

For some of the luckier (or more motivated) ones, a job or work is simply an extension of our passions in life. These people find fulfillment in accomplishing great things through their work and passion.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones.

I enjoy many things in life and a few of those include marketing, the Web, hunting, and writing.

With the job at Mason and this blog I am able to enjoy these passions. While I do consider both to be work, I also consider them to be part of the legacy I’m building for myself. I work to continuously build my knowledge of the world around me and my work encourages and challenges me to continually learn and innovate with new ideas.

Each day I look at the tasks I want to accomplish as they relate to my work and I try to make sure each is something that is adding to my (hopefully) expanding knowledge base.

Most Important First

After you have your overall Life Priority List setup, you’ll also have your daily to-do list. It doesn’t have to be written down (although it can be – I use lots of sticky notes). Mental lists work just as well.

The simple thing to remember is to always start your day with your most important tasks.

It doesn’t matter if these tasks are simply or difficult. Determine what is most important for you to accomplish today as it relates to your live priority list and focus on finishing them completely and competently.

There really is nothing more to say about it. Work on your most important tasks until they are complete each day. Clear out all distractions and you’ll find yourself getting more things done. More importantly, when you accomplish the big things on your task list, you’ll sleep better knowing you had a successful day.

For more on this concept, see Purpose to your Day: Most Important Task (MIT).

Bonus Time

Now, if you go through the process of developing a priority list of what is most important to you in your overall life as well as creating daily task lists, you will find yourself with some bonus time.

As a quick example, in high school I had a job at a local country club. I started by working in the bag room, cleaning the golf members’ clubs and eventually moved to the pro shop. A few of the club members would comment to my boss, the club pro, that I always seemed to be standing around looking for something to do. It’s a simple observation and as most of the club members were successful professionals they had a right to question my idleness. The thing was (and my boss even told this to a few of the members) was that I always tried to get daily tasks done during times when the pro shop was busy (usually early morning after the regulars teed off). I did the most important tasks thoroughly and efficiently when everyone else was busy as well. This way I had time to converse with the members and tend to their needs when they came back from their rounds.

Now, the trick I’ve tried to learn over the years is how to fill the “Bonus Time” that comes with efficient use of early day time.

When you truly get through your tasks for the day as they relate to one of the priorities on your list, you can simply move on to something that makes you happy and adds value to the aspect of another one of your priorities.

Did you get your daily work tasks done earlier in the morning than you thought? Why not surprise your kids and take them out of school for an early brunch. Or why not surprise your wife by taking her flowers.

When you finish your tasks (and you will) take some time to focus on the things that make you happy. Don’t waste it with meaningless things. Do things that truly impact your life and more importantly, the lives of your friends, family and those around you.

Understand Waste and Eliminate

Our lives sometimes seem like we’re moving from one task to the next without any time to sit and think about if what we’re doing is getting us closer to accomplishing our goals for life.

The truth is that our lives are usually full of wasted moments.

It’s sometimes tricky to understand which moments are important and which are wasteful because it’s unique for each individual including you.

A simple example from my own life was TV. I canceled my TV when I caught myself watching TV shows for no reason at all. Sure they seemingly fulfilled the entertainment aspect of my life, but now that I have canceled cable I find myself focusing on tasks more appropriate for my priorities.

Do you have waste you can eliminate?

Summary

Time management is an issue for many professionals. It’s difficult focusing on what is truly important at work as well as what is important in ourselves as well as for our families.

Create your own priority list. Develop mental or physical daily tasks starting with the most important first. Use your bonus time effectively.

You’ll find yourself sleeping better at night knowing you’ve had a fulfilling day when you are accomplishing things that meet your vision for life.

It’s a wonderful feeling when you can go to bed with a smile each night.

Side Note: I have to say that many of my recent thoughts on life and productivity come from the blog Zen Habits and Leo Babauta’s book The Power of Less.

Also: If you have a question you would like answered please use the comment section on What are Your Questions? I can’t wait to hear from you.

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7 People You Need to Know for Web Success

Every hunting business owner should have these people on speed (email) dial…

Big Writing Desk

Image credit: psd

Now, I don’t mean specific individuals.

I’m talking about remarkable people you will need to find in order to have a successful marketing strategy for your hunting business.

It’s likely you may be able to fill some of these roles yourself, but don’t be afraid to seek out all of most or all of them.

You can’t do everything – nobody can. It’s simply not possible and it’s foolish to try.

You can, however, do anything. And your “anything” is the area of the hunting industry you’ve chosen as your focus.

If you’re an outfitter, you’re area of expertise is how to harvest the game in your region of the world. You’re the best at it and your customers come to you when they want the best in the business.

There are great people out there and each business owner needs to find them and form mutually beneficial connections in order to have success on the Web.

Let’s take a look…

1) Developer

Having a developer you can trust to be timely, efficient, and innovative is something you simply can’t be without when you bring your business to the Web.

Business relationships with developers can be difficult. It’s tough for non-developers (such as myself) to understand that changes and modifications take time (and money). Having a developer who can provide truthful and accurate deadlines and schedules can help ease any tension as you make changes to your Website.

Look for a developer who likes to keep up with new technologies and developments, but also uses efficient processes and simple concepts.

2) Designer

People are visual and that includes your customer. Having a talented designer on your team is necessary for your business. The designs of your logos, emails, Website pages, and other promotional items need to be relevant to your business and make sense to your customers (current and potential).

Make sure you find a designer who will take the time to listen to you and understand what your business is about so they can create items that present your business in the best way possible to your customers.

A designer doesn’t need to have experience in the hunting industry for them to be the perfect fit for you and your business. Instead, you should find someone who is a good listener and communicator. This trait will allow you to express your needs and it will allow them to create materials and make adjustments so your customers can visualize what your business is about.

3) Marketer

A quality marketer will have a few key traits.

1) Drive to continuously improve

2) Understanding of how to share

3) Ability to connect business and customer

When looking for a marketer to match your business, you’ll want to make sure they have each of these three personality traits. All three are crucial so don’t give in to just one or two if a person has had success in another.

The first trait is important because things are continuously changing on the Web. Complacency is the ultimate villain for any business – not the competition as is often thought. You need to find someone who has the passion to continuously be in the loop as to new technologies and tools coming out and how they impact you and your business.

The second trait is important because in life and especially in the atmosphere of the Web, sharing is imperative for success. Sharing resources, knowledge, ideas, products, and services are how business can connect with other businesses and most importantly customers. Having a marketer who is a master of sharing content of all forms will be priceless to your success on the Web.

The third trait is important because connecting is essential to Web success. Connecting with other business owners and customers is how your business will succeed on the Web. The Web is simply an enhancement of connecting. Having a marketer who understands and excels in connection is an asset you and your business will continually benefit from.

4) Writer

People are usually surprised at how much writing is involved with business marketing on the Web. Each Web page will have descriptions, stories, etc. for visitors and potential customers to read.

Your visitors are looking for information on topics and they want to find the best business available to solve their problems. So it’s important that the content on your site provides answers and convinces visitors to use your business’s services or products.

You’ll want to find a quality writer who understands what your business is about and who knows how to use words to connect your business with your potential customers. Writing is a lot of work and quality writing with compelling content is difficult to create.

Having a skilled writer to express your message is crucial to your hunting business’s success on the Web.

5) Salesperson

A salesperson is someone who can communicate vocally to your current and future customers. They need to have an understanding of what your customers need and how your product or service can benefit them.

A salesperson needs to be one of the most driven individuals on your team. They have to be able to communicate not only with customers, but with everyone else on the team. They need to have a complete understanding of the business so they can answer any and all questions for potential and current customers. And if they can’t answer a question they have to know who to ask in order to get a quality answer in a timely fashion.

6) Profit and Loss Accountant

For any business to be a success on the Web there has to be someone on the team who understands the profit and loss of all actions taken by the business. These actions include margins, paybacks over time, and how all other expenses will affect the business and future incomes.

If you can find someone who is skilled with numbers and understanding the margins necessary for a business to be successful on the Web you should pay them accordingly and keep them happy because without a quality accountant you may find yourself in trouble down the road.

7) New Web User

This person is kind of a wild card and one most people wouldn’t think about. I have included them here because I think it’s one of the most important people you can have.

Find a person (grandma, cousin who lives in the woods, friend who’s never seen a computer, etc.) and show them your Website and related items and have them work and interact.

If they can’t understand what you’re doing then your Website is too complicated.

Complicated is easy to do and creating simple processes is difficult.

Find someone to test all of your new Web related items who can give you honest feedback because if they can use your items and it’s easy, your customers should be able to use the items as well.

Summary

The most important factors for finding people you can work with are trust, reliability, talent, and communication skills.

Find people with these traits for each of the roles mentioned and you will see your business have success on the Web.

Can you think of any other key people to have on your Web team?

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Form Connections with Hunters Before You Need Them

This morning, a friend of mine, Stu McMullin, was talking about a blog he was reading. The blog is IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com and the editor is #1 Bestselling author, Ramit Sethi. I read through Ramit’s post Ramit’s Inbox: An email from a very confused guy who can’t find a job. At the end, Ramit gave some key takeaways that struck me as very simple, yet very relevant and important for hunting businesses:

  • Build skills before you need them
  • Networking is not a dirty word – make personal relationships before you need them

Forming a Connection

image credit: mpeterke

Now, Ramit was referring to personal growth and development, but the same advice is crucial for your hunting business:

Form connections with hunters

Forming connections is the essence of the Web. It should go without saying and I’m sure you know that connections are the lifeblood of any hunting business. Who you know – vendors, partners, employees, or most importantly customers and the connections you have with them are what will make your business strong.

If you build strong connections with vendors you will be in a great position to get access to new services and products that will improve your business and your own products and services. If something goes wrong and your vendors know they can count on you to continue paying they’ll come to you (their strong connection) with available inventories.

Your business partners, other businesses you work with, and friends in the same industry are invaluable resources when you have questions about trying something new, gaining perspective and advice, or any number of things that require the knowledge and experience of others.

Your employees are the energy that makes your business function. One person can only do so much as far as taking a business to its fullest potential. By strongly connection with people who have the ability to expand your business (with benefits for them and for you), you’re setting up your business to reach its fullest potential.

Your customers – this is your gold. A strong connection with your customers is the ultimate connection you can make. If you can show that you’re willing to put your customers first, to put the improvement of their lives, the improvement of value added for them, you will form connections that will be strong through good and bad. And as we see during these times, there is nothing worth more than a loyal customer.

Form connections with hunters before you need them

The true brilliance of Ramit’s key lessons was that you need to plan for the future and establish relationships before you foresee a specific need for connections.

Sure, you may be close with your employees now while times are relatively good with your hunting business. But what happens if you have to put in extra time to get a job done for a client? What happens if you need to ask an employee to change their job – maybe move from one department to another because their work over the years seems to be better suited elsewhere? If you have a strong connection with your employees you will be able to transition (at least as smooth as possible) when your business requires extra work or a change. People, for some reason, are naturally afraid of change in their lives. I think it’s because it threatens their perceived security. But when there is trust, people are more open to change. If your employees trust in you (from past experiences or successes), they believe in you and your business and are willing to give their time and capital to grow the business and themselves.

Now, when it comes to forming connections with hunters before you need them, there is no better place to look than your own customers or potential customers.

Hunters are the people you look to for capital in exchange for products and services that required your own capital to create. This exchange and trust doesn’t occur overnight. You have to constantly work to improve the lives and well-being of your customers in advance of their needs and expectations.

In other words, you have to stay ahead of what your customer needs, wants, or expects from your hunting business (and your competition).

You can’t simply wait for other hunting businesses to create something remarkable and then tag-a-long.

You have to form connections with your customers in advance of their expectations. The focus of your hunting business should be to continually find ways to better the lives of your customers. A thought process with this type of thinking will allow for a deeper relationship and more value for your customers and more value (profit and non-monetary) for you and your hunting business.

Summary

When it comes to the connections you make on the Web and through your hunting business, form strong and valuable connections with hunters before you need them. There is no way anyone can predict exactly when a connection will show its true worth. The only thing we all can do is to be genuine, honest and trustworthy now and trust the connection will be prove valuable in the future.

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Questions for Hunting Businesses to Ask Hunters

One of the best things to do for your hunting business is to ask questions of…guess who?

Old Time Hunter

image credit: freeparking

Hunters!

I know, I know. It seems obvious, but I for one forget to do it as often as I should. How often do you ask your customers or potential customers, questions about what they’re looking for? What their feeling? What they would like to see from a hunting outfitter, blog, or Website?

I believe that open-ended questions on the Web are the best for forming meaningful conversations and connections.

Here are a few example questions (for you to build from) when you visit the places on the Web hunters frequent.

On a Hunting Forum

First, learn the accepted rules of forum conduct and then begin interacting with the members by asking questions that will add value to their experience and that are related to your business (in that priority order).

What are your experiences (good or bad) with an outfitter/guide?

Do you have any thoughts on what might be wrong with hunting Websites?

What are some thoughts you have on successful hunting business marketing? (Wink, wink – I’d ask this one)

In the Comments on a Blog Post

For hunters that have blogs to document their love for hunting, their hunting experiences and the like, commenting on their posts is a great way to make a connection.

What are your suggestions for applying this technique to [insert your hunting niche]?

What would you change about your hunting story if you could?

What would you recommend for a newcomer [or modest or expert] for further reading on this subject? (A question I’d love to answer on this blog).

On Twitter

Twitter is great for asking questions of your hunter followers (once you have enough – and it doesn’t take as many as you’d think if you ask great questions – to get valuable feedback).

Has anyone else gotten into a tree stand while hunting only to find out there is a branch in your draw zone? How can you fix that on the fly?

Have you ever been in a hunting situation where better equipment could have made a difference?

Does anyone have any hunting equipment ideas or needs?

Summary

Remember to ask questions that will add value to your reader’s life experience and that will prove valuable for your business (in that order).

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A Guide to Understanding Hunters on the Web

You can read a hunter’s mind.

Hunters are telling you what they want. You just have to read between their words.

Glasses on a Book

image credit: Elvire.R.

There are a ton of analytics available on the Web. You can analyze page views, visitors, page views per visitor, time spent on the site, conversion per click, conversion per view, profit per click, contribution per click, etc.

Each of these analytics has their place in determining what is most profitable for your hunting Website.

Another area of understanding needs to be your ability to understand what your customers are actually asking for from you and your company.

Here are a few ways you can read between your customers’ words, listen to them, and improve your hunting business.

Encourage Conversation

There are some obvious ways to encourage conversation on the Web such as allowing for commenting, voting, ranking, forums, blogs, live chat, etc.

It’s becoming more common, which is a good thing, for Website owners to allow for customer interaction and participation in public format.

Companies are letting down their guard. Companies are letting go of control and actually gaining some of the most valuable knowledge available from consumers.

The companies allowing for participation and communication are the companies succeeding on the Web.

Lately I’m realizing I have more success with sharing than with hoarding my secrets.

Give away your own control and let your customer tell you what to improve on. It’s what the beta concept is all about.

Let your readers tell you what they would like from you.

Let them review new products.

Let them review existing products.

Share your company’s methodology and strategy on a blog.

Let your customers comment on the ideas. Maybe you’ll save yourself time and effort if it’s not popular.

Don’t feel like you need to hide secrets from your competitors. There is a big difference between coming up with a great idea and actually following through with a great idea.

Just make sure you understand the ideas worth follow (by listening to your customer) and implement it better than your competition.

At that point, who cares if they know your idea ahead of time?

In fact, they probably are thinking the same thing. And if not, they’re waiting for your ideas to generate buzz before they try to copy it. They’re listening to you instead of their customer. They’re already doomed.

Share your thoughts in public and encourage conversation.

Understand what customers are asking

Once you’ve encouraged conversation between your customers and you, you have to understand what your customers are asking.

With customer comments on your product/service, it can be easy to pick up recurring themes. Some of your products might be receiving constant praise while others receive never ending distaste.

Welcome this wealth of knowledge. Your customers are letting you know what they want.

The important thing to remember about customer feedback and conversation is that they’re going to give you their thoughts in their terms.

It’s your job to interpret their feedback into your terms.

For example, a customer may leave you positive feedback along the lines of

“The custom field portrait you created for me was the talk of the room at Christmas. Thanks so much!”

Your customer is telling in their terms that you turned their trophy memory into the hit conversation piece of the family event.

To interpret this feedback in your terms, you need to remember what it was you did to create this customer satisfaction (or dissatisfaction).

In this situation, the attention to detail in cleaning up the hunting photo was crucial, the professional layout was unique, the details of the hunt provide answers to questions, and the photo gives people something to visualize.

From your customer’s feedback you are able to understand what in your terms what the customer is asking.

Implement what customers want

From encouraging conversation and receiving conversation, you’re going to have the necessary knowledge for improving your business from your customer’s perspective.

Once you gather this information and analyze it into your terms, you’re going to want to implement the positive themes into your business and remove the underperforming themes in order to improve your business.

Let’s go back to the previous example about the custom field portrait.

You’ve analyzed that the customer really appreciates your attention to the photo itself. They appreciate your ability to improve the quality of the photo. Your professional design was inspiring. The details on the portrait answered questions, and the photo gave people something to see.

Your customer values these benefits, but perhaps they don’t necessarily need you to send them (via mail) a tangible portrait. Perhaps your customer is willing to purchase a hunting portrait, receive it via email file, print it and frame it themselves.

Try to understand what your customers are asking and don’t be afraid to focus on what they’re asking for and removing your focus from nonessential business functions.

Summary

Beyond analytics your customer is willing to provide you with the knowledge necessary to improve the products and services they want you to provide.

Be willing to accept their input.

Be willing to interpret their feedback into your own perspective (while always having their needs as your first priority).

And understand how to improve important business functions while removing nonessential functions.

Your business will be better off by reading between your customers’ words and improving the product/service they actually need.

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