How to Use Facebook Advertising

Facebook Advertising can be an effective way to acquire quality customers

Facebook Advertising

After the recent discussion in the forum, Paid Advertising – Facebook AdSense vs. Facebook, I thought it would useful to go through Facebook Advertising to show both how to use the paid advertising service as well as to see how effective an ad campaign can be for a hunting business.

For more detailed How-to instructions for Facebook Advertising please see Facebook Ads Help Center.

Let’s dive right into the step-by-step process for creating a Facebook Ad Campaign. I’ll set up a campaign for Hunting Business Marketing…

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Facebook Advertising Campaign

Starting out with objectives for an ad campaign is essential or tracking results and determining the success of the effort.

My objectives for this short-term Hunting Business Marketing Facebook Advertising effort is to get:

1| Additional traffic

2| Comments

3| RSS subscribers (long-term readers)

4| A new Member

Since this is a small campaign, I’d be happy with a few new visitors and potentially a comment on one of the free articles.

Let’s look at how to setup of the campaign…

The Hunting Business Marketing Campaign

Facebook focuses on making the features on their site simple, but if you have any questions about setting up a campaign for your own business that aren’t included in this guide, please ask them in the comments.

Visit Facebook

Click for sharper images

Welcome to Facebook

Login

Login to Facebook

Click Advertising

Facebook Advertising

Facebook Ad Manager

Facebook Advertising Manager

Click Create Ad

Create Ad

1. Design Your Ad

Design Your Ad

URL

Enter the URL for the specific page on your site you would like your visitors from Facebook to land on when they arrive at your site. I’m picking my Welcome to Hunting Business Marketing page because it’s designed to get new visitors introduced to relevant content.

You could create a page on your site dedicated specifically for Facebook users if you want. You could create an ad for your photo gallery and enter the URL of your gallery.

Ad Title

Here is one limitation – I wanted to put Grow Your Hunting Business or Hunting Business Marketing for the Ad Title, but Facebook limits the characters. I’ll have to be more innovative.

Ad Title Character Limit

Ad Body Text

I entered a short description of what Hunting Business Marketing provides. The text you include is important because you only want to entice your target customers to click on the ad. This will give you the best chance of converting.

Ad Image

I added the logo here. You can include your logo or any other relevant image.

Design Your Ad Step 1

2. Targeting

Location

You can choose the location you would like to target.

Age

Depending on your business, age may play a part in your ad targeting.

Keywords

This is an important section. Try typing in hunting. Make sure to click on All next to the Education section below first. As you can see, there are lots of hunters on Facebook. This means that there are currently about 650,000 to 700,000 people on Facebook, over age 18, in the United States or Canada, who like hunting enough to include it in there profile.

Hunters on Facebook

I’m going to use the following parameters for the Hunting Business Marketing Campaign:

United States or Canada

Age 18 or older

Who like hunting

3. Campaigns and Pricing

Campaigns and Pricing

Campaign Name

I’m going to call this campaign Hunting Business Marketing.

Daily Budget

My Daily Budget is going to be $10.

Schedule

I’m going to run this ad for one day so I’m going to choose to Run my ad only during specified dates.

I’m going to pay for clicks.

Max Bid

Now, the suggested bid range for the keyword hunting is on the high side – $0.80 to $0.92 USD. I’m going to go right at the top with $0.92 so my ad will have a good chance of being shown. This means my ad will likely get only 11 clicks for the day (October 3 through October 4) I’m going to run the campaign.

Hunting Business Marketing Campaign and Pricing

Click Create

Once your information is all filled in you can create your ad.

Hunting Business Marketing Campaign and Pricing Create

Review Ad and Make Payment

Check to make sure your ad is as you would like, enter your payment information and make your payment.

I’ll be running my ad for one day at the rate of $10.

Review Ad and Make Payment

The ad is now active, but pending review from Facebook. Once it’s approved it will begin showing up on the pages viewed by users on Facebook who are interested in hunting. (Approval may take a few hours)

Ad Pending Review

Tracking Results

To track the results of this ad campaign, let’s go back to the original objectives:

1| Additional traffic

2| Comments

3| RSS subscribers (long-term readers)

4| A new Member

After a few hours you will receive an approval.

Facebook Ad Approved Email

Now comes the fun part!

Check out the analysis of the campaign on your Ad Manager screen.

Ad Manager

After analyzing the results of the Hunting Business Marketing Facebook Campaign, I realize that it wasn’t much of a success. I got the projected clicks I expected – got a few visitors and potential readers, but as far as acquiring customers it didn’t get the ultimate results.

However, your initiatives with Facebook Advertising will differ so you should definitely experiment. I will probably continue testing various things with Facebook Advertising.

Things to consider

Some things to consider when becoming active with Facebook Paid Advertising include:

1| Time of Day/Week/Year

2| The Nature of Facebook Users

3| Limitations

4| Advantages

The time of day, week, and even year is important when you’re thinking about your goals for your Facebook ad campaign. Think about when your potential customers are likely to be using Facebook: Morning, night, evening? Are the users you’re targeting likely on their computers during the week during breaks at work or are they using it on the weekends while at home? Maybe they’re not using it on the weekends because they’re business hunting. Also consider that the Facebook user you’re targeting might more inclined to click on a hunting product or service ad as hunting season is approaching rather than when their favorite hunting is out of season.

Thinking about the HBM campaign, it seems that the nature of Facebook users probably is not who should be targeted. If there was a way to target users who owned hunting businesses Facebook Advertising may prove more beneficial for HBM, but until then it seems like it might not be the best marketing option. However, Facebook users are familiar with using features like photos and free community sites so if you’re hunting business revolves around this format you might find success.

As I mentioned a few times above, there are limitations to Facebook Advertising: keyword targeting (and vs. or), character limits, etc. These are limitations to consider as you experiment with the advertising opportunity with Facebook.

While Facebook Advertising has its limitations, Facebook has been proactive in becoming business friendly over the past couple years as they’ve continued to improve their ad campaign platform as well as adding things like Facebook Pages, etc. I expect there to be lots of advantages for hunting businesses in the future beyond the advantages you have today: keyword targeting, spending limits, large user base, etc.

Summary

Overall, I would say this Facebook ad campaign for Hunting Business Marketing was good in the sense that it was a learning experience, but ineffective in my objectives. Even for the little effort it took to create the ad, it seems that the target customer of Hunting Business Marketing is not on Facebook. There are probably better opportunities elsewhere for HBM. However, there may be opportunity to target for HBM if I were allowed to select users with hunting and business as interested rather than users with hunting or business. I think this would make a big difference for target the specific customer of HBM. This was a small test for HBM, but there were interesting results.

I hope your results turn out a little better with Facebook Advertising.

Please share your experiences in the comments or in the Hunting Business Marketing Forum.

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Successful Business Highlight – Sportsmen of North America and Magnum Hunt Club

The Giveaway Model and the Online Hunting Industry

Online Giveaway Business Model

image credit: Jule_Berlin

I’ve always been a fan of innovative business models both on and off the Web.

The other day on 10 Things Every Hunting Website Needs (Plus a Few Extra Ideas), KRAY1, left a good comment and he asked if I could write a little bit about the giveaway business model:

With an MBA I have been intrigued by the revenue generating ability for someone to have fun hunting all over the world and others pay for their working-vacations! I saw sites like Sportsmen Of North America who give away a hunting trip a week to their members, to some of the ones you mention here. Also Magnum hunt club is another. You didn’t mention contests or give aways, but there is a huge draw there for folks who don’t have $5k-$15k to blow on a hunting trip, but for free, or $5-$10 a month are willing to join. There is so much valuable info free on the net, I can’t see paying for it, without a chance to win something. Maybe I’m just spoiled. What is your take on those sites?

I think it’s an interesting business model and it appears that the two companies KRAY1 mentions, Sportsmen of North America and Magnum Hunt Club have great Websites that serve hunters on the Web well while offering some great incentives to join their membership programs.

Let’s take a closer look…

Sportsmen of North America

Sportsmen of North America Website

Sportsmen of North America is a membership site that offers weekly giveaways plus a tiered membership approach with various benefits for members including:

– Store Discounts
– TV Show Access (free access)
– Weekly prize giveaways
– DVD Club
– Taxidermy Service Plan
– 5% Discount on all Sportsmen of North America Outfitted hunts
– Etc.

There are a lot of benefits to becoming a member of SNA and while I’m not a member I do see value in joining the service. The chance to win a hunt, as KRAY pointed out, is great for hunters who likely can’t afford to go on the hunt of a lifetime. And since SNA gives out prizes weekly the odds are about as good as you’ll find anywhere.

There is a lot of great content on SNA available for free to the public as well. The TV shows are amazing. I’ve always been a big fan of hunting shows so the emergence of video on the Web has been awesome for feeding my need for great hunting footage. SNA has lots of great shows available and I’m sure they have even more available for members.

The Model

The giveaway model is very interesting especially with the competitiveness of most business industries on the Web.

All companies on the Web are competing for attention and it seems that a business offering anything (especially guided hunts) will have a great chance to stand out from the rest of the competition.

Today when I went to the SNA Website I was greeted with an overlay offering the Grand Prize Giveaway – Polaris Ranger.

It’s a big time eye catcher for new visitors or previous visitors like me. It’s a substantial offer with lots of relevant value for potential members of the site.

There is so much that SNA offers for its members that it’s difficult not to believe that they have a ton of happy clients.

It’s also interesting that they show the monthly price (ex: $5/month), but say that it’s billed annually. This is interesting. I’m not sure what would work better, but I’m sure they’ve tested. I’ve always been curious as to what billing process works best for clients and also keeps a high retention rate. Annual, one-time billing? Monthly billing? Auto-renew billing each month?

I’m curious if anyone has any thoughts on it.

Anyway, I think Sportsmen of North America has a lot to offer to a variety of hunters on the Web.

Whether you’re looking for free content like a great blog post or quality hunting video that you can view for free or if you’re looking for a chance to win a guided hunt for a small membership fee, SNA has it.

The model seems to work in the competitive online atmosphere.

Most important is the fact that the business model offers a tiered approach that lends itself to a variety of customers making it very customer-friendly.

I hope SNA continues having success with their business model on the Web. It’s a model I think would work for a variety of hunting businesses.

Magnum Hunt Club

Magnum Hunt Club Website

Magnum Hunt Club is another membership site on the Web that offers a variety of benefits to hunters.

Here are a few of the things members receive:

– Hunting Videos
– Discount hunt list
– Hunt catalog
– Six free entries into the hunt giveaways
– Contests with other prizes
– Etc.

Magnum Hunt Club, like Sportsmen of North America, offers some great content, features, and benefits for both non-members and members. There is a forum for members which I’m sure has some great interaction for members regarding many topics probably relating to guided hunts, how to hunt articles, and more.

The Model

The business model for Magnum Hunt Club is nearly identical to that of SNA and I like it just as I like the SNA model.

Giveaways are great for attracting attention and finding a relevant audience on the Web. If your business has the budget to offer things of value for your audience you have a chance to stand out from your competition.

Giveaways are also great for bloggers looking to build their subscriber numbers.

Magnum has a good looking Website and it seems they also have a great business model for succeeding on the Web.

Giveaway Business Model in General

As I mentioned earlier, one of the most difficult things for businesses on the Web is finding a way to gain the attention of the hunting audience.

There is a lot of competition for attention and companies are always coming up with innovative ways to connect with hunters.

It always comes down to the company and the individuals who provide the most value whether it’s with features on a site, resources such as experts or anything else hunters find valuable.

The giveaway business model that Sportsmen of North America and Magnum Hunt Club use is very unique and I think it serves hunters on the Web very well. It’s a model that stands out and provides lots of value for members.

There are lots of things hunting businesses can take away from the giveaway model.

I already mentioned that you can giveaway prizes and things as a way to gain more email subscribers. You can do giveaways to build your RSS subscribers, Twitter followers, etc.

There are lots of ways to be innovative with giveaways.

The most important thing to remember is that people on the Web always look for value.

Good giveaways also have the potential to spread around the Web and create lots of traffic for sites. I’ve seen bloggers get a hold of a great giveaway and spread the word on their blog, on blog comments, forums, and Twitter.

And while I’m a fan of the giveaway model I’m a fan of value first and I believe that when a site or business provides value they’ll be successful no matter what their business model is.

The giveaway model is great for the Web and I think it really helps hunting businesses capture the valuable attention of hunters.

I like the giveaway model and I’m interested in hearing if you have had success with giveaways?

Or have you noticed any other bloggers or hunting businesses who have utilized the unique giveaway model to provide value for customers?

Bonus

It’s always fun to look at the stats…

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How to Drive Visitors Deep Into Your Website

Easy come, easy go

Drive Visitors Deep Into Your Website Content

image credit: Cellular Immunity

The Web, right now, is the ultimate competitive environment for attention. Everybody on the Web has limited time (even if they spend 24 hours each day surfing Websites).

It simply isn’t possible to view all of the quality content on the Web.

So the battle is on for you to put out content and market that content so your Website can gain the attention of the limited resource you’re after – the attention of hunters.

How you structure your Website or blog (or combination of both) is just as important as the quality of the content itself. You can’t have one without the other. You can’t have a great product or service or content without equally great marketing and you can’t have the best marketing without a quality product to market.

I think it’s important to focus on how you present your products, services, and content on your Website just as much as you focus on creating your product, services, and content.

If you own a Website and you see the stats of your visitors or if you pay attention to your own Web browsing habits, you’ll probably understand that most of the time you bounce off Websites that don’t have structure and interest and stay on Websites that do (this is of course assuming the sites have content that interests you).

So while you’ll need to create remarkable content, it’s also important to focus on the structure of your Website if you want to be the source of satisfaction for your readers’ attention.

Website Structure

The structure of your Website is important, especially during the planning stages of the development of your Website, because you have to think about how you can make it easiest for your customer to go through the buying process efficiently and effectively.

You want the visitors to your Website to be able to navigate your site no matter what stage of the buying process they are in.

One important thing to remember is that you are not your customer. You already know more about your business and your products than anyone else. Your customer may just be looking to discover an answer to a problem they have while stumbling upon your site. They may be looking for as much information about your product before they actually make the decision to purchase or they may be ready to purchase this very minute.

Let’s take a look at those three types of business offerings (product, service, and blog content) and discuss a few ways you might be able to drive your customers deep into the content on your site.

Product (or Service) Company

If your hunting business specializes in making remarkable products that significantly help hunters in their pursuit of trophy game then there are two different types of Website you can have 1) Informational (no selling on your site) 2) Informational and E-Commerce (you sell your product on your site).

The important thing to remember is that your customers are going to find your Website during different stages of the buying process. Not all of your customers are going to discover your Website and product for the first time and not all of your customers are going to have done their research on your company and product and are simply looking for a place to make their purchase.

Let’s look at a few quick tips for each of product sites. (They really aren’t that different.)

Information Site

For an information site your main focus is going to be on putting out enough content to convince your customer to purchase your product. Your target visitors are going to be in the discovery and research stage.

Your customers in the discovery stage will likely find your Website via a search query then enter into one of the search engines, like Google. They’ll be searching for slightly more specific terms than you may first suspect like “top bows for 2009” or “best tree stand for bluff country”.

You’ll want to focus your content on terms like these.

This is where a blog becomes important.

Search engines love blogs because blogs are generally a source of constant information. Search engines like your site if you are continually putting up valuable and unique content.

Search engines will also love you because they’ll be showing their customers (people who search) relevant and up-to-date content.

With a strictly informational site you’ll also want to make sure to include more detailed information about your product.

When your customer is in the Discovery Stage they don’t want a bunch of detail – they want to be intrigued by the benefit your product might provide them.

However, when your customer reaches the Research Stage, they are interested in learning as much as they can about your product. This is where you can provide more detailed information in an easy to follow and functional way.

Information and E-Commerce Site

With an information site plus an e-commerce site you’re going to want to have all of the aspects of the information site plus you’ll want to focus on the Ready to Buy Stage of your customers purchasing decision.

With an e-commerce site, you have the ability to suggest complementary products during the stage when your customers are already in the buying mood. You’ll want to focus on providing them options that add even more value.

Some Ideas

A few ways to drive visitors deeper into a product Website include:

Text linking

Related products

Complementary products

“You may also like…”

Suggested products

Our Top Ten Products

Our Top Searched Terms

Related information

Product reviews

Testimonials

Etc.

The thing to remember if you’re a product company is that it’s easier to provide your current customers with something more than they’re already buying from you. Look for products to complement the products they are already purchasing and allow them to discover these products as they’re going through the purchasing stages of the products they’re already committed to buying.

Blog

If you’ve seen a few posts on this site you’ve probably recognized that I’m a big fan of blogs.

Take a look at a few of my previous posts and pages:

20 Steps to Starting Your Hunting Business Blog/Website

10 Ways to Create Stunning Hunting Blog Posts

Reviews of Remarkable Hunting Blog Posts

Effectively Using Keywords in Your Blog Titles

Write Better Blog Headlines: Tonight at 6

How to Start a Blog that will Grow Your Outfitting Business

The First 4 Days of Your New Hunting Blog

How to Use the Web to Grow a Successful Hunting Business – A Tutorial

The reason I’m an advocate of blogging for your hunting business Website is because a blog will provide search engines (and your customers) with tons of up-to-date and useful content, unique insight, and answers to problems.

A blog also provides you many ways to drive your customers deep into product/service relevant related information.

You can use text links, lists, categories, archives, and highlighted posts to drive your current and new customers deep into your posts.

Here are a few more ways you can drive visitors deep into your blog content:

Related post links

Related offsite post links

Suggested reading links

Post series (Part 1 through 6 for example)

Lists of Lists

Favorites

Favorite Lists

There are so many ways to direct point your readers.

I’m sure you can come up with more suggestions.

If you have any please feel free to share in the comments.

Summary

You have to remember that Web users will do what they want, but there are a few things you can do to try and capture their attention while they’re on your site.

The goal of any Website owner is to provide valuable content, products and services for their target customers in a way that is easy to digest and follow.

Figure out ways to drive your visitors deeper into your site by providing them more value than the content they first discover on your site.

Even if your loyal visitors come to read your new content, things like text links and suggested reading are important.

I visit many blogs nearly every day that provide text links that still drive me to content I haven’t discovered on the site yet.

Do you have any more ideas for driving deeper engagement on your site?

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What is the Point of Twitter?

What is the point of Twitter?

Afraid of Change

image credit: Sammy0716

Twitter seems to be everywhere these days. Recently the latest numbers came out from Compete.com and the big news was that Twitter passed The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal in traffic.

There is a lot of buzz on and off the Web about Twitter. You know something has reached the masses when your parents are asking you “What is Twitter?” and wondering if it’s something inappropriate.

Well I got caught up in the word-of-mouth buzz and passed along the news to a few people at work.

I received one response back “Why is Twitter compared to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and not other sites?”

This was an awesome response.

It caught me off guard and while some people might take that the wrong way, I take it as a chance to ask the question “Why?” and look for a more beneficial answer.

I love when people ask “Why?”

So I thought I’d take some time to discuss what exactly why people use Twitter, how I benefit from Twitter, and how exactly you may be able to use it for the benefit of you and your hunting business.

Why should I use Twitter?

I used to think that people who asked “Why should I use Twitter?” simply didn’t get it. Now I’m starting to realize they raise a valid point.

Why do people use Twitter?

After thinking about it for awhile…it seems people use Twitter for one of two reasons:

1) Self gratification

2) Empowering of others (which may cause self gratification).

Think this is too simple?

Think about it more…

What do you notice as you Tweet and read the Tweets of others…

Do you use Twitter to converse with your peers? Your conversation is empowering to the both of you, plus you get self satisfaction by feeling connected with others who may share a similar (or complete opposite) worldview.

Do you share links to remarkable articles? You’re empowering others by sharing great content while ultimately trying to get some self-gratification by feeling important for sharing such great content.

Do you share links to your own work (I’m guilty)? While you may be trying to empower others (and that’s the goal) you may on some level just be trying to get attention and self gratification (it’s always fun to check your bit.ly stats to see how many clicks your link got).

So why should I use Twitter?

The two reasons I mentioned above are precisely the reason you should use Twitter: for self satisfaction and to empower others (while [subconsciously] looking for self satisfaction.

It’s the ultimate form of connection with other humans and content.

Twitter may be seen as a news source (as I implied when I passed on the news about Twitter passing The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal for Web traffic), but Twitter really is the latest technology that allows us as humans to connect with others, learn, and improve ourselves.

When people pass along up-to-the-minute news on Twitter, they are simply trying to achieve one or both of those two things.

It’s not wrong.

It’s simply fact and it’s great.

So yes, Twitter can be compared to The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal (where it looks impressive), but it can also be compared to other forms of connection (where it might not seem as impressive – the iPhone, etc.).

Why and How I use Twitter

As you have probably guessed…I use Twitter for both of the two things I mentioned above: for 1) Self Gratification and 2) Empowering others (which may cause self gratification).

If you follow me on Twitter (@DayneShuda), you probably know that I put up a link to every one of my blog posts.

You also probably notice that I link to articles, blog posts, and other content I find important enough to share with you.

These are both examples of empowering others (sharing remarkable content for the benefit of others) while at the same time empowering myself (I feel like I’m important when I share something people like).

But what I find the most unique is what happens when I share seemingly unremarkable things on Twitter.

For example, I can post something like:

Tweet about opening beer

And get a few responses:

Twitter responses

What’s the significance of this?

Connections.

When you find people who share the same interests, feelings, and worldview as you, you are able to form connections that are beneficial for all parties. You can truly create inspiring products and services when you connect with your customers or your peers.

So it’s been interesting to see the response you can get by sharing what might seem like something irrelevant to others.

I guess even when we think we’re the only ones thinking or doing something we find others just like us.

How Twitter can help you

Twitter can be whatever you want it to be. Sure…Twitter today may seem like the ultimate source of up-to-the-minute news, but who’s to say that tomorrow someone else doesn’t find a better use for it?

Most businesses start out with a goal and end up adapting and changing to meet the demands of their customers.

The free market is powerful and smart businesses are challenged and excited about changing for the benefit of their customers (and for their own profit).

So here is my suggestion for you: Use Twitter.

Use Twitter as I use it. Use Twitter as you see others using it. Do what is successful for others and you’ll be sure to find success as well.

But even more importantly – don’t forget that nobody has figured out the right way of using Twitter.

And that’s probably the single best thing about Twitter – the company lets its users decide what is important and beneficial.

You can find your own way to benefit from using Twitter. It’s what is great about being an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, you strive to change what people currently settle for.

Don’t settle for what Twitter or anything on the Web currently represents. Work to find your own benefit. This is how you can become remarkable.

Twitter Saturation?

Today, after I heard the “Why?” question from a coworker I came across a post from Dr. Pete on SEOmoz The Real Power of Twitter.

As you can tell by the chart above, Twitter is getting big. And when something gets bigger than big it tends to outgrow its welcome.

Consider the first paragraph of Dr. Pete’s article:

I’ve been suppressing the urge to write this post for a while now. It’s not that I don’t love Twitter (I suspect my wife is a few days away from scheduling my intervention); it’s just that I’m saturated by it. It’s not the tweets themselves, but the incessant whining noise made up of every second-rate media personality in the world “discovering” Twitter on a daily basis and every self-declared “social media guru” regurgitating the same How to Twitter post a thousand times a week.

So Twitter has probably reached saturation. Personally I reached a saturation point with Facebook. I haven’t been using it much in the past few months. I’ve found better use of my time with other things such as reading blogs, writing for this blog, and working on other new ideas.

Does this mean Facebook and Twitter have no use?

Absolutely not.

But I think there is a lesson here: [Presently] The Web is the ultimate form of competition in a free market. Just what is the competition for you ask?

Site editors are competing for your attention…constantly.

A service that captures the imaginations of millions today may be gone tomorrow.

Why?

Often when a Web business finds success they get complacent and stop competing for your attention. It may be because they become too caught up in the benefits you can create for them and not the other way around.

On the Web, the user is the benefactor of the pure competition.

Business models are still being worked out on the Web. Those that have succeeded have truly scare products or services that benefit a segment of business or consumer customers. And these companies continually perfect their services/products or work to change the paradigm in their favor through innovation.

Once again, customers win in this situation.

So has Twitter reached saturation?

On some level I think it has, but there is still a place for it with your business just as there is a place for Facebook – for now.

Summary

The real lesson with Twitter, Facebook and any new innovation on the Web is that the most advantageous aspect of it all is connection.

The Web allows you to connect with people and content fast, efficiently, and on a deep level of interaction.

The Web allows you to learn about life, information, history, and just about everything else.

Technologies will come and go on the Web.

Tomorrow the new will be old – the innovative will be prehistoric.

It’s the way it is and businesses shouldn’t be afraid.

As long as you truly dedicate yourself to benefiting your customer you will have success.

And with success and true scarcity comes profit (which is what we’re all after).

Update

The idea of “…staying ahead of the curve and continually looking to improve with technology instead of waiting to see what others do and then act…” is something I read at The Future Buzz from Adam Singer.

It’s a theme he often touches on. Here is the post I think I first noticed it from: Your Marketing is (most likely) Dated.

“Don’t let your business miss the boat just to uphold the status quo. Diving into something new is actually less risky than ignoring it. You have everything to gain and far less to lose. The wait and see approach is far more dangerous, because you risk ceding ground the nimble competitors.”

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Keep Your Hunting Website Relevant During the Summer Stagnation

Where did everybody go?

Sweet Summer by the Lake

image credit: Per Ola Wiberg

The summer months are coming around the US and in most hunting regions this means more time spent outdoors – it definitely means more golfing, boating, grilling, and general outdoor fun for me and my fellow Wisconsinites.

As is expected, as your Website viewers rush to spend their precious time outside, your Website or blog traffic may decrease.

The proof is in this chart from Google Insights:

Google Insights Hunting Cyclical Season

click for sharper image

Your customers are on the way down into the stagnant times of the year-long hunting season. For them, the hunting season (on the Web) won’t peak until late fall.

I’ve written before that The Hunting Off Season is the Best Time to Improve Your Hunting Business, but maintaining a connection with your readers online is important as well.

You should encourage them to get outside and enjoy the summer months, but even though they aren’t spending as much time online it doesn’t mean you can’t maintain steady traffic and interest.

Here are a few ideas to keep your Website relevant during the summer stagnation:

Mirror their schedule

You probably recognize the time of day your blog or Website gets the most traffic. This may or may not change when the summer months hit.

Think about your typical visitor for a second: hunter, nine to five worker, access to a computer at work (or only at home after work or in the morning prior), kids, no kids, married, not married, retired, etc.

If your typical visitor is me, I’m a hunter who spends time browsing the Web while at work (7am to 4pm Central Time – don’t forget time zones). I do visit a few sites to research and get ideas.

I also spend the mornings and evenings online. But once the summer hits I spend more time outside (on the lake, on the course, or in a backyard grilling and downing a few tasty Bud Lights). So my afternoon and evening Web browsing drops off significantly in the summer.

So the best time to catch me with blog updates, emails, RSS updates, and updated Websites is in the morning. I’m just getting up and during the week I still go through my daily routing of checking email and relevant sites before work.

Now, I’m guessing the same pattern is true for most of your site’s visitors. Afternoons and evenings are busy in the summer. Whether it’s taking kids to tee ball or taking in a volleyball game with friends, your visitors are going to be busy after twelve o’clock.

So the best time to update your blog or send out an email might be in the morning when they’re getting up. (If you send an e-newsletter out in the morning you might be seen at the top right away). If you’re conversing in forums or commenting on blogs, your posts will be seen first if you time them to be in the morning.

Lunch is also a popular time as people who work at desks and computers have some free time to browse their favorite sites. Sure, some of your visitors might take a lunch outside due to the nice weather, but some will take the time to pay bills, check sports standings, and check their favorite hunting sites.

Think about when your visitors are going to be spending time online and when they’ll be outside. Use their outside time to work on your site/blog and use their online time to participate and connect with them.

Staying relevant

If your blog is about discussing hunting strategy, during the summer you could discuss summertime strategies for scouting and brainstorming tactics for the upcoming season.

What are ways your readers can use their time this summer (outside in the woods) scouting and upping their chances of taking a trophy animal in the fall?

In the summer it’s difficult to think that hunting is relevant so as a writer or site editor you can provide a resource for information.

It might be summer, but your readers still crave information that adds value and benefit to their lives as hunters. Other hunting blogs may be taking a break or covering irrelevant material and just accepting the downturn in traffic, but make your blog relevant and you’ll see your hunters make time to read your blog or visit your site despite their time crunch.

If you’re a product manufacturer, create relevant emails and Website images for the summer months.

Highlight how your products are relevant now. Why do your customers need to get your products now? Or why will your customers have added value by visiting your site or buying your product/service now versus the fall hunting season?

There are many examples for individual businesses, but the important thing to remember is to stay relevant to your reader’s or customer’s mindset for the summer months.

Add value (become necessary)

Adding value to your customers hunting life is important all year round, but when their attention is elsewhere it’s even more important because you have more competition for their attention.

You have to make yourself necessary to their hunting lives. I check LewRockwell.com and Michael Shedlock’s site everyday whether it’s snowing or 80 degrees and sunny outside. The sites are necessary to me personally. I need them as part of my personal development.

How do you make your site necessary?

Well, it takes quality content and a unique voice. You have to provide insight that relates to your reader’s worldview and adds value to their daily lives. What information and insight can you provide that is necessary to your reader’s daily lives and their busier lives during the summer months?

It’s not easy to provide valuable information, but if you can continuously provide valuable content you will be able to maintain your readers and traffic during the summer months.

Stay Clever

Another thing you can do during the summer doldrums is to build up your creativity and your ability to be clever. People love clever content.

Think for a second, about a piece of content that you found clever.

Perhaps it was a song?

For me an example is He Stopped Loving Her Today by George Jones. This is one of my favorite songs in part because it’s clever. The ending is clever, but not outrageous.

If you can create clever content you’ll create curiosity that will give your readers a reason to visit your site or blog when they’re busier. Cleverness makes people think long after they leave your site. This is a powerful characteristic of Websites and blogs.

If you can create clever content you will have a powerful pull for readers.

Summary

The summer months are coming. This is a downtime for the entire Web, but especially for hunters. Your readers likely spend a lot of time outside and away from their computers during this time of year. And this is a good thing. You have readers and visitors who love the outdoors and that’s what hunting and your blog is all about.

But even because traffic will go down overall this summer it doesn’t mean your site or bog has to become irrelevant.

Focus on updating when your visitors are going online and catch them when they’re online.

Stay relevant – make your content unique to what is going on now and how it can help your readers.

Continually add value (as you do all year) to your readers and customers. It’s even more important now as you fight for their precious attention.

And stay clever. Create a unique need for your blog.

Don’t be afraid of the summer months – embrace it as a challenge.

I know you’ll do great!

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Offline Hunting Businesses Anonymous – 12-Step Program to Joining the Web

“Hi, my name is Dayne and I need the Web.”

Stairs with a Red Wall

image credit: hiddedevries

Even today, hunting businesses seem afraid to take advantage of the Web. People seem afraid to join the Web and use the tools available to make meaningful connections with future customers, business partners, and competitors.

For those who are or have been afraid to bring your hunting business to the Web and realize your full potential, here’s a quick 12-Step Program to help you get over your fear and take your hunting business to the next level.

1) We admitted that we are powerless without the Web and our business is unfulfilled without it

The Web statistics for the hunting industry are huge and the benefits of having a Web presence are simply too great to ignore anymore for hunting businesses.

It’s easy to decide to start a blog or Website for your hunting business today and have a presence today or within a few days. Take some time to admit that your business needs the Web.

If you need that extra incentive to push yourself over the edge, remember that the Web is another way to add value to your customers’ experience with your business.

By adding value to your customers’ experience, you’re increasing your chances of referral business, which is the best way to attract new customers.

2) Came to believe that the Web could restore our business’s competitiveness

Face it; if your business does not have any sort of online presence today, you’re behind your competition.

Today, hunting business have great Websites and blogs that are full of useful information, resources, and content for current and potential customers to use and benefit from.

If a customer has the choice of a business that offers a blog, a weekly e-newsletter, a content-rich Website, and a connectivity presence on sites like Twitter vs. a business that doesn’t have any, who are they going to choose?

3) Made a decision to focus our energy and our business lives on enhancing our connections with the Web

The Web is a medium of exchange for making connections. As a successful hunting business owner you already know how to make valuable connections with customers and business associates.

With the Web, you can increase your ability to make connections by using tools that enhance your ability to share information, resources and knowledge.

Your time and your customers’ time are important. The Web is a time saver for you and your customers.

Focus your energy on becoming familiar with ways the Web can increase your ability to connect with your customers and business associates.

Use the Web as a medium of exchange to enhance your business connections.

4) Made a searching and fearless inventory of our hunting business

It’s difficult at times to look for weaknesses in our business. Fear often plays a large role in our willingness to avoid an honest look at where we can improve.

Fear may also play a role in your reluctance to bring your business to the Web.

It’s not unusual for people to feat what they don’t understand. Lots of people don’t understand the benefit of tools like Twitter or a blog.

Do an inventory of your business. Don’t let fear deter you from analyzing that your business can benefit from the resources on the Web.

5) Admitted to ourselves and to someone else the exact reasons of why we need the Web to succeed

Once you realize that your business is better off with a Web presence, admit to someone else (a friend, a business partner, or a co-worker) that you are willing to take the steps necessary to succeed on the Web.

This step will help you remain accountable for your progress.

Success on the Web will come slow at first and it’s difficult to continue striving to succeed. Frustration will play a role in your early development. So it’s important to have others pushing you along and holding you accountable for the success of your business.

When you feel like giving up your pursuit of utilizing the Web, you’ll have the added drive of wanted to succeed to prove to yourself and to your friend, business partner, or co-worker that you have what it takes to be a success on the Web.

6) We’re entirely ready to have the Web improve on our offline weaknesses

Even if your business has been extremely successful in its offline pursuits, there are areas where your business is weak without an online presence. Your ability to provide important and valuable content for your customers is one of the important areas.

Get to a point where you are willing to accept and become prepared to use the Web to improve your ability to provide valuable content for your customers.

Blogs, e-newsletters, e-books, email updates, etc. are just a few of the ways you can continue providing beneficial content for your customers more effectively online than you could offline.

7) Humbly asked others for assistance with Web tools and strategies

Don’t be afraid to approach others with your questions about how to effectively use the Web to improve your business.

Others in the hunting industry are willing to provide help and assistance so that you can succeed.

There are tons of great outdoor blogs you can visit for information on how to use the Web to improve your hunting business.

8) Made a list of all the ways the Web can successfully help our business to succeed

After doing some research about how the Web can specifically enhance and improve your hunting business, it’s important to create a priority list.

Use this priority list as a guide and plan for increasing your Web presence.

Once you have this list created, you are ready to begin the process of bringing your hunting business to the Web.

9) Made a direct commitment to prioritize and implement a strategy for our hunting business based on the ways the Web can help our business succeed

Now that you have your priority list, it’s time to commit to implementing your business’s Web strategy.

Sometimes the most difficult part of implementing a plan is getting started.

If your #1 priority is starting a blog, take the first step of opening an account with a service like WordPress and follow their easy instructions for making your blog a reality.

Utilize resources and connections when you come across something you need help with. Don’t let fear deter you from moving to the next step in implementing your Web strategy.

10) Continued to take inventory of our businesses strategy and admit when we need to utilize new tools and strategies

People on the Web continue creating new tools and technology that can improve our business’s ability to add value to our customer relationships.

It takes a committed effort to continually stay in the loop on new technology and how it may or may not improve our hunting business.

Blogs, Twitter, and forums are all great places to join conversations about new technology and how it may help businesses like ours.

11) Sought through our passion for success to continue to improve our business and its strategy – both offline and online

Just as technology changes on the Web, our business strategy (both online and offline) needs to change.

There is a lot of trial and error on the Web. That’s what is great about the nature of the Web. We can try new things and if it doesn’t work out we can quickly change course and try the next strategy.

Even if you continually change your strategy, your customers will see you as someone who is willing to continue improving for their benefit.

You may start an email newsletter for your customers, but after some time you may realize that a blog might be a better strategy for enhancing the value you can provide for your customers.

12) Having an awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to continually work to improve the value of our customers through our business practices

As a successful business owner, you already realize that success comes from a willingness to improve the value you and your business provide for your customers.

This fact doesn’t change when you increase your business’s Web presence.

Remain committed to improving your business practices so your customers continually benefit as a result of their relationship with you and your business.

Resources to get you started:

How to Use the Web to Grow a Successful Hunting Business – A Tutorial

20 Steps to Starting Your Hunting Business Blog/Website

12 Tips to Keep Your Visitors Coming Back to Your Hunting Website

Increase Your Web Presence

Essential Lists

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The NFL Guide to Website Traffic

It always seems to be about traffic on the Web

Football Laying in a Field

image credit: Jayel Aheram

I’ve written about traffic before here on Hunting Business Marketing. These posts always seem to garner interest. I write the posts to help you, a hunting business professional, have success on the Web. Here are my previous posts on traffic:

It might be the fact that football season and whitetail deer hunting season occur during the fall that I always associate the two.

For me, the only time I come out of the woods during opening weekend of rifle season is to watch the Packer game except for this past season since they were on Monday night. And of course the ’05 season when they were just terrible (4-12 ugh), but it worked out because I harvested a nice 11 point at 1:30pm.

Anyway, that’s why I’m writing about the NFL on a hunting business blog.

The reason I’m writing about the NFL is because it’s a busy period in the NFL. Free agency is only a few days old, but there has already been plenty of excitement.

The Green Bay Packers (my favorite team) and management are sticking to what has been their approach since ’05, which has been to sit back in the initial weeks of free agency and focus instead on value free agents and the draft in April.

The Packers approach is one way of building championship teams and the other is of course the Washington Redskin approach, which is to pay big bucks for splashy free agents (Albert Haynesworth, DeAngelo Hall, and Derrick Dockery in ’09 alone).

There are a mix of teams who follow the Draft and Value Free Agency Approach (Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and New England) and those who follow the Splashy Free Agency Approach (Washington, Minnesota, and Dallas).

Side note: By ‘Value Free Agency’ I mean teams that sign resign their own players to extensions before their contracts are up and teams that sign unrestricted free agents for a more realistic dollar value; usually after the first week or two of free agency. By ‘Splashy Free Agency’ I mean big name players that make a huge splash with astronomical amounts of money attached to their new contract.

We’ll know what approach wins come February ’10.

The off season team-building period of the NFL reminds me of how Websites work to build their presence.

Building organic or natural traffic is similar to how teams use the draft and value free agency to build a team from within and paid traffic is similar to how teams sign big name free agents.

Natural Traffic and Draft & Value Free Agency

Pros

In the NFL, teams that focus on bringing in strong talent through the draft and value (underappreciated talent) players are able to create a solid foundation for their franchise. From the beginning (the draft) players are able to learn a system and grow with the team. Rookies (beyond the first 15-20 picks) are real (relative) bargains for NFL teams. If a player is a success early on after they’re drafted, the team can offer a contract before the player is due to make it to unrestricted free agency. This is a way for the team to save future money by giving the player guaranteed money before that player has to risk injury by waiting for their contract to expire (Aaron Rodgers in ’08).

If the team knows how to build organically through the draft they can have sustained success (New England and Pittsburgh).

The same approach can work for your hunting Website. If you spend your time creating excellent content and making strong connections via mediums like Twitter, blogging organizations, forums, etc., you can build a strong foundation of steady and quality traffic for your site.

This approach takes time, but you’re building a solid base of loyal readers who understand your content and are willing to spread your business service/product through word-of-mouth.

Cons

The natural approach takes some risk out of the equation as far as current dollars are concerned. NFL teams that don’t spend big money on splashy players avoid the common letdowns i.e. Joe Johnson, Jerry Porter, and Javon Walker. However, by not signing big players in free agency, teams are missing out on the occasional Reggie White. (Thank goodness the Packers made that move in ’93).

If you’re avoiding paying for traffic you’re not strapping yourself for cash. However, you’re also taking a chance of not gaining some potentially huge traffic numbers to your site. You might be missing out on a lucrative traffic opportunity.

Organic traffic building is also a slow process. Building a solid foundation of natural traffic (making connections with potential readers by reaching out as well as through keyword planning and search) takes time and can wear a person out.

Paid Traffic and Splashy Free Agency

Pros

Sometimes a player is a splashy free agent for a reason. In the NFL, some players take the chance to reach free agency while risking injury because they know if they have a good ‘contract year’ there is a good chance teams will get into a bidding war. Each year NFL teams have needs for certain positions (usually QB, the lines, receiver, and cornerback). These teams get desperate for proven talent and are willing to pay premiums for the available players.

Sometimes, as in the Reggie White case, the team’s choice to pay top dollar pays dividend (’96 Super Bowl Champions!).

Splashy free agents can have instant impacts as their proven talent transfers to the team paying them the big money.

Sometimes on the Web there are sources of paid traffic that pay off for Website owners despite the large costs. You might be able to find a pricey, but highly trafficked site where you can stick a banner ad and get tons of traffic. It might cost a ton of money for a monthly or yearly contract, but the traffic could turn out to be high quality and convertible (profitable).

Also, paid traffic can have instant payoff. If there is a need for instant traffic, the paying approach is generally the best way to get spikes in traffic.

Cons

There is a huge risk in NFL free agency to get into bidding wars over players that aren’t really worth the huge amounts of money teams pay. Too often these players don’t live up to expectations.

The same is true for paid traffic. Often, new Web users and new site owners look for the quickest way to get traffic to their Website. This approach often leads to letdown and a loss of value.

More often than not, NFL teams get burned on big names and more often than not, Website owners get burned on paid traffic sources.

What is the best approach for you and your hunting business?

I favor the Natural Traffic and Draft & Value Free Agency Approach for my Websites (and for the Packers).

While this approach runs the risk of losing out on some major traffic from paid sources, I think it also forces my creativity to flow in figuring out ways to gain natural and organic traffic.

Just as Ted Thompson (the Packers current GM ’05 to ’09…) gets flack every off season for not signing big, splashy names, I also have to sit back and watch as others are able to get traffic through paid sources.

As with everything on the Web, the important thing to remember is value.

Always look for value when spending money and spending time. Understand the risks involved and determine when it’s acceptable to take on risk and when it’s best to avoid temptation.

I feel that paid traffic has a significant place if it’s truly valuable for you and your business. Look at the quality of traffic the source you’re paying has been able to provide their existing clients.

Look for paid sources that work to truly empower their clients.

A paid traffic source that glows about their clients’ success is much better than a paid source who brags about their own (false?) achievements.

Focus your energy on creating great content (your draft) and adding value by spending time building connections on the Web. Also look to pay for some traffic if the situation is truly valuable (your value free agents).

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