The Redesigned Outdoor Channel Website

Taking video to a new level of engagement

The New Outdoor Channel Website

Recently, I was watching videos on the Bulls and Beavers You Tube channel and I came across one with Todd Birkholz of The Outdoor Channel. Chris Burget of Bulls and Beavers is doing a quick interview with Todd as he presents The Outdoor Channel with a Best of the Best Award from Bulls and Beavers.

Toward the end of the video, Todd mentions the newly redesigned Website and how the wonderful content makes the online world one of the best of the best for hunters using the Web. The video as Todd describes is now available extensively on the new site (over 130 show pages with 50 state pages) so visitors can increase the value they receive from The Outdoor Channel. It’s a great strategy for The Outdoor Channel to improve their customers’ experience while increasing traffic and advertising revenue.

Let’s take a closer look at the newly redesigned site…

Online Video

The Outdoor Channel has always had some of the best video content available on their television channel so it makes sense that they highlight video content on their Website.

The presentation of the video player on the site is unique to The Outdoor Channel. The players sits on the right side of the page while there is a promotional area to the left that displays a rotating presentation of other channels. It’s a good setup to present the video content the visitors have chosen to view while cross promoting the other content on the site.

The full screen option has a clever design as well showcasing the other video content at the bottom of the screen for a brief second before it collapses so the viewer can view a true full screen of the video they’ve chosen.

An important aspect of the site to note is that there is some text content on each page to attract search engines. While search engines are getting better at crawling video and imagery on sites, they still need text to be able to determine what a site and page are about so they can return relevant results to their users.

Having detailed descriptions is a crucial element to have on your site if you’re going to utilize video.

Personalities and Branding

Outdoor Channel Personalities

The Outdoor Channel Personalities page is an example of a great way to organize content on a site.

Fans connect with and seek content from their favorite personalities and providing them with a way to access their favorites within a few clicks enhances user experience while increasing loyalty.

Once a visitor clicks on their favorite personality (or perhaps one they are curious about) they are taken to a page dedicated to personality. The pages are full of great bios, descriptions and of course great video clips.

Greg Miller In Pursuit

On each personality page, fans can connect with their favorite outdoor folks on Facebook or write comments on the Outdoor Channel page.

Each show on the channel has its own page on the site. This gives fans of individual shows access to exclusive content they can’t find anywhere else. There are video clips, photos, and other content to keep fans occupied while spending time on the site.

Greg Miller In Pursuit Show Page

Community

With My Outdoor Channel, The Outdoor Channel has allowed their audience to build user generated content around the passions users share for the outdoors as well as for the content on The Outdoor Channel TV channel and the Website.

My Outdoor TV

I’m a big fan of hunting pictures, so the my outdoor channel photo gallery is wonderful to see.

My Outdoor Channel is a lot like MySpace and other social networking sites in that it allows users to keep profiles, find friends, post videos and photos, write blogs, and interact in other ways that connect people around their passion for the outdoors and The Outdoor Channel.

Monetizing Online Content

As with their TV strategy, it appears The Outdoor Channel is utilizing sponsorships and advertising to generate income from their site.

As the site continues adding video clips and more features that increase viewings and page views, they’ll see an increase in revenue as brands look to connect with their target audience that is viewing content on The Outdoor Channel.

Also available on the site are DVDs of popular shows on The Outdoor Channel. This is a strategy that seems to make sense as fans of the personalities and shows look to have hard, physical copies of their favorites at home for their viewing anytime they want.

Outdoor Channel DVDs

The Outdoor Channel DVDs

Possible Future Strategies

Entire Show Videos

Since The Outdoor Channel is focusing on ad revenue for their site, it’s important to increase the metrics that advertisers look for when determining where to spend their money. Advertisers are looking for branding opportunities and direct sales conversions for the companies.

From what I can see right now, it appears there are only clips of shows and videos on the site. This leaves viewers to subscribe to satellite or cable to view the entire shows on the television channel when the shows are scheduled (or on DVR at their viewing pleasures…which allows people to skip commercials).

It seems like it would be beneficial for The Outdoor Channel to test showing entire show videos on their site. They could break the videos up into segments to allow for advertising videos in between segments. There are other creative ways to implement successful and relevant advertising into clips and entire show videos as well.

Since viewers may not be able to see their favorites shows on TV each week they may be missing out and advertisers on the TV channel may be missing out on impressions. By allowing viewers to see shows on the site, The Outdoor Channel could increase traffic to the site while providing value to their customers giving visitors reason to repeatedly visit the site while increasing time on the site and traffic.

Blogging

As a way to increase the text content on the site, The Outdoor Channel has the resources to put together an awesome blog for their followers.

Staff members could highlight videos on the site and write about what’s happening with the content on the site and the video on the TV channel. People like Todd could write about updates to the site’s features.

I like what the staff is doing with the CMT Blog. This could be a potential model to follow.

CMT Blog

There is potentially room to have the TV stars write posts and provide updates on their shows and what they’re seeing in the hunting world. Even if it was once a month or so, the content would add up and visitors would love it and keep coming to the site for updates.

Search engines love text content that is updated frequently and a blog seems like a perfect addition to the site.

The more content and page son the site would only increase page views, which means stronger metrics to entice relevant advertisers.

Summary

The Outdoor Channel’s new site is wonderful. There is a ton of great video content on the site for visitors to view and interact with. The way the content is displayed makes it easy for visitors to take in the video content and to share the content with their hunting buddies.

What are your thoughts on the newly redesigned Outdoor Channel Website?

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

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Video on Your Hunting Website: The Compromise

The Impact of Online Video in the Hunting World

What to read next on the Web

Why Video Blogging Hasn’t Taken Off

Should You Host Your Videos On Your Own Site?

Are Marketing Dollars Shifting? Exhibit Industry Down 12.5%

Win Membership to Hunting Business Marketing

If you’ve ever been curious about what’s behind the secret walls of Hunting Business Marketing then here is your chance to take a peek and get inside.


HBM Membership

Behind the walls of Hunting Business Marketing lies a great wealth of knowledge and opportunity for you and your business.

Here’s what comes with your membership:

1| Access to the Q&A Forum

The Q&A Forum is the best part of this deal. In the forum there is already discussion about how to succeed in the hunting industry. You’ll be able to ask any question you need an answer too and you’ll also be able to participate in the questions and discussions of other members.

Participate in discussions about:

  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Blogging
  • Web Design
  • And more!

2| Access to Member-Only Content

Articles on the most important subjects relating to the success of your business.

3| Access to HBM | The Book ($10 Value)

A book that has been read by some of the smartest and most successful leaders in the hunting industry.

4| Access to the State of the Hunting Industry Reports ($10/each)

Monthly reports discussing the implications of the economic landscape on the hunting industry.

2-Month HBM Membership ($40 Value)

You’ll get 2 months of access to HBM and all of the content available today and in the coming months.

And to top it all off…the BEST announcement yet:

I’m giving away 10 HBM memberships!

That’s a total giveaway value of $400!

Don’t wait. Here are the details of entry…

Contest

The rules are simple:

1| Sign up for the Hunting Business Marketing Newsletter

You can sign up following the link above or you can enter your name and email address into the forms at the top of every page on HBM or on the bottom of every blog post.

Yep – it’s that simple.

If you’re already signed up for the Newsletter, don’t worry – you’re already entered to win.

Entries are accepted through Sunday February 28th, 2010 with the winners announced on Monday.

Image courtesy of Dazzie D

25 Tips from 25 Hunting Industry Leaders

Something I’ll do when I’m looking for inspiration and insight is to look for tips and quotes from leaders in business and industry as motivation to keep me inspired in my daily life.

Luckily, the finest minds in the hunting and outdoor industry share their insight and expertise daily through communication channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.

An effective strategy for any business is to share your valuable knowledge. It’s a great way to build your reputation as a leader in the industry.

So push aside those feelings of keeping your nuggets of useful information secret and share the wealth with your potential customers.

Here are some of my recent favorites:

1| Mark Kenyon – Wired to Hunt

“Before ever setting foot on a piece of land to go scouting, significant work should be done to maximize the effectiveness of your scouting efforts and to minimize the time that you need to be in your hunting area. The most important piece of work that you must take care of is learning the lay of the land and this is accomplished by studying maps.” – from Using Google Maps to Scout for Whitetail Deer

2| Cory Glauner – Outdoors International

“Good books are for sharing.” – from Twitter

3| Jane Keller – Team Huntress

“Some searching for something personal, some not really searching but thinking they have come along to support a friend or a relative, and some think they are there just to teach. However, one thing is for certain. After an enjoyable and unforgettable weekend, bonds will be made, and lifetime friendships forged. But most importantly, we will all have learned, in more ways than you could have ever imagined. Team Huntress is more than just a woman’s outdoor clinic.” – from Passions Found

4| Chris Burget – Bulls & Beavers

“Life is short, Live where you love and love what you do.” – from Twitter

5 | Jim Braaten – Sportsman’s Blog

“What’s with all this hype about the Apple Tablet to be announced later today? Will it replace my Etch-A-Sketch?” – from Twitter

6 | Stacey Huston – A Focus on the Wild

“Even when you think you are prepared, things can catch you by surprise.. but all you can do is go with what life gives you, and try to keep up.” – from Life Comes At You Fast…

7 | Sherry Kerr – Outdoor Media Resources

“If you’re an organization or business, why would you not follow-back those who are squarely in your target market?” – from Twitter

8 | Holly Heyser – NorCal Cazadora

“It’s late, it’s cold, I have the sniffles and I don’t care. I’m going hunting.” – from Twitter

9 | Andrew Bennett – Deneki Outdoors

“The first food source that we’ll cover is arguably the most important to our rainbows on the Lower Kanektok. It seems a little gross to us land-dwellers, but salmon flesh is protein-packed and extremely abundant.” – from Trout Food: Salmon Flesh

10 | Mark Healy – Wildlife Callers

“And, the truth is, bobcats aren’t terribly hard to call – they are terribly hard to see. I absolutely believe that most bobcats called in go unseen by the caller. Generally speaking, bobcats come slower to a call and use cover all the way in. There are always exceptions to this rule, but more often than not they will be slow and methodical about their approach. Also, if you’re serious about harvesting more bobcats, take binoculars on every stand. Once a bobcat has gotten a visual on the speaker or the bush it’s in, they will stop coming and sit down. A motionless bobcat in a bush at 30 yards is nearly impossible to see without binos.” – from Gray Fox & Bobcat Calling – What Sounds? When? How Long? How Loud?

11 | Bowhunting.com Staff – Bowhunting.com

“The pre-rut is going strong right now. Hunt scrape lines in the evenings if you can!” – from Twitter

12 | Michael Waddell – Michael Waddell Blog

“TX is a lot of fun to hunt for adults and especially kids, as a matter of fact; starting last year I use an annual trip to TX, as a hunt to work for. Mason has to get straight A’s and good conduct in order to go. Well this year Mason rocked out on the A’s in school so off to TX with went with the Flextone Game Calls crew. After 3 days of hunting, Mason connected with an old 130 inch 11 pointer, and his first Javelina with his Remington 7mm-08! He also smoked him a big doe with a crossbow. We had a blast hunting together” – from Straight A’s in School and Mason Waddell Goes to Texas

13 | Jim Crowley – Hook & Hunt Tv

“So the next thing to do is acquire permission to hunt the field your interested in. We stopped at the closest house to the field and the farmer we spoke to, did indeed own the field. So here is a tip for you. In most cases, the land owners are happy to have you hunt there. But always ask permission. Don’t give other hunters a bad name by not taking the time and respect to do this. Most of the time, the farmers wanted to talk to us, know where we were from and in general carry on a conversation with us and see how we were doing, what we saw and even offer us suggestions on who to ask and where to find them. They were all very nice and extremely accommodating. The geese are so abundant in some places that the farmers lose crops and money because of the thousands of geese that can ravage a field. Always ask permission and thank the land owner and always without exception, leave the field cleaner than you found it.” – from Canada is a Wild Goose Chase

14 | Tom Sorenson – Base Camp Legends

“I’m sure the industry in its infancy has gotten a little carried away with looks and fashions, but hopefully it will start leaning a little more to practicallity, usefulness, and comfort in the field wither its in the desert or in the mountains of Alaska. There’s a lot of ladies out there that are serious hunters and they do deserve a little more attention when it comes to their clothing needs. Seriously, I’m hoping some clothing manufacturer is able to make me apologize for this because then I’ll know we have arrived already.” – from Fashions in the Wild

15 | Quail Forever – Quail Forever

“If holding quail on your property and increasing winter survival rates is a main goal, creating food and cover within a short distance of each other should be a priority for any landowner. In the northern part of their range, quail often respond to harsh winter conditions by moving very little – trying to wait it out until better weather arrives.” – from Feed Your Next Habitat Project, Not the Quail

16 | Mike ‘Hawk’ Huston – High Country Archery

“I rode over the ridge with great expectations… before me stood the Rocky mountains, stretching toward the far horizon.. I was home!” – from Twitter

17 | Brent Traylor – Texas Sportsman’s Roadshow

“Now you didn’t hear this from me but some of the best bass fishing around is on golf course ponds. The great thing about pond fishing is you can catch fish on just about anything you throw. I usually start with a small spinner bait with one willow leaf blade and one Colorado blade and fan cast along the banks, varying my retrieve from fairly quick to a very “slow roll”. A great way to cover water and locate fish.” – from Commando Pond Fishing

18 | Brent Martell –Martell’s Outdoor Adventures

“FYI, [I have] been testing out a Konus spotting scope. 25x75x75. This scope for the money rocks. Barska 20x60x60 test=ok for price point.” – from Twitter

19 | Bob Humphrey – Peterson’s Bowhunting

“Mature bucks, meanwhile, are biding their time. They’ve been through four ruts and have learned not to waste valuable energy until the odds of being rewarded are in their favor. Then, they kick it into high gear. This behavior carries over into the post-rut. Finding a sudden shortage of receptive does, the older bucks seem to redouble their efforts, wandering farther and wider from security.” – from Is Post-Rut The Best Time To Bag A Big Buck?

20 | JoAnna Zurinsky – My Bullet Points

“Be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.” – from Twitter

21 | Tanner Feyereisen – Blaze Orange Marketing

“Working on my Mt. Lion/Cougar hunting site. i can only imagine the accidental traffic that site will get.” – from Twitter

22 | Scott Bestul – Whitetail 365

“I agree with purists who feel that a crossbow is not a bow. However, their effective range (40 yards and under, on average) and how they kill (by causing massive hemorrhaging to an animal) are virtually identical. So why create a special season for them?” – from On Crossbows During the Regular Bow Season

23 | Kimberly Hiss – FS Huntress

“This country has a great history of women hunters, and every time we step into the woods as responsible sportsmen who value habitat conservation, healthy game meat and the importance of passing it on, we do our part to advance that tradition. Good luck and good hunting.” – from Parting Words

24 | Kevin Popo – World Champion Goose Caller

“My first call is a loud single note. At a distance, you don’t hear a good clear honk; you just hear a rhythm, a sound that gets your attention. That’s all I’m trying to do with geese at first—get their attention.” – from Champion Tips

25 | Ben G. – Ben G. Outdoors

“[On Gorilla Silverback Magnum HX Tree stand] I got up in the tree and sat down and just about feel asleep when I heard a noise. I stood up and the Velcro stuck to my hunting suit making an extremely loud sound. If there was a deer it would have been gone in an instant. I can say I don’t like the Velcro on the seat I wish they would have used buttons, or magnets. With a little adjustment and making sure to unstick my hunting suit from the Velcro before standing I was able to sit and stand without much noise.” – from My New Gorilla Silverback Magnum HX Tree stand (A review of)

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

Inspirational Hunting Blogger Insights, Quotes, and Musings Part 1

What to read next on the Web

25 Tips from 25 PR Experts

Image courtesy of ktylerconk

Dry Creek Goose Camp | Business Strategy

“It’s basically just me putting hunters on the birds. And people are satisfied with that.” Rick of Dry Creek Goose Camp

Dry Creek Goose Camp Hunting

Dry Creek Goose Camp

Rick Ruzzamenti (@RickyBuck) of Dry Creek Goose Camp approached me in the Summer of 2009 about doing some research for his business.

I put together a Personalized Marketing Report that included research on competition, outdoor networks, directory listings, advertising, and some thoughts on how Rick could utilize video to grow connections on his Website while building bookings for hunts.

Rick said the research in the report served as a guide for his business and Web strategies in 2009. He says that he still references the report for guidance today.

I spoke with Rick recently and he was very pleased with the 2009 season at Dry Creek Goose Camp. He has posted videos from the 2009 hunt on his site – Dry Creek Duck and Geese Hunting Videos 2009. These videos are great for showing potential clients the success they could be having at Dry Creek.

Rick said that his business model allows him to price lower than surrounding competition in Canada as he operates the camp on his own. He does a majority of the work by scouting fields and putting his client hunters in the right areas with the highest potential for seeing waterfowl and getting shot opportunities.

The hunters that come to Dry Creek are often seasoned hunters and like the freedom Rick provides them to hunt. They find more satisfaction with their hunt this way.

Rick also takes new hunters up to the camp. He said that first time hunters seem to love the wide open spaces up in Canada and always go away with a smile on their face and a head full of memories.

For more information on booking hunts with Dry Creek Goose camp – Hunt Dry Creek Duck and Goose Camp.

Rick didn’t get any business via hunting directories in 2009, but he’s hopeful that his growing online stature and great referral and repeat business will grow his client base in 2010. He’s also confident in sticking with his directory and advertising partners for the foreseeable future as they work to get conversions for Dry Creek.

Rick’s Business Buddies

Rick wanted to thank a number of people who helped make Dry Creek Goose Camp a success in 2009:

Simon’s Taxidermy

They have done taxidermy services with Rick for years and the work is done with quality and on time.

WindWhacker Decoys

These decoys allowed Rick and his client hunters to bring in some top waterfowl for harvest this season.

Kevin Gross – Hunting with the Pros

Kevin brought his great reputation and popular show to Dry Creek and had a successful hunt.

Tim Grounds – Championship Calls

Tim came up with Kevin Gross and together the two were able to harvest some great honkers. Tim is one of the best goose callers in the world.

A Great Buck for RickyBuck

Rick also wanted to thank Robert Hoague of Bowhunting.net for taking him on a great hunt in Ohio in the fall.

Read the story of the hunt – Twitter’s Rickybuck Brings In An Ohio Buck

A Successful Partnership

By many measures, it was a successful year for Rick and for Dry Creek Goose Camp.

I wish Rick the best of luck in 2010 and look forward to a continuing business relationship.

For more information on Rick and Dry Creek Goose Camp –Duck and Goose Hunting in Alberta, Canada

For more information on Marketing Reports and other HBM Services – Hunting Business Marketing Services

2010 | The New Normal Hunting Economy

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

Gears

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

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

Upper-Income Spending Reverts to New Normal

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

Consumer Spending by Income 2008-2009

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

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

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

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

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

The New Normal Hunting Economy

The current state of the US economy has two realities:

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

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

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

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

5 Things You Can Do in 2010

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

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

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

1| Reassess Costs

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

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

2| Analyze Existing Customers

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

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

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

What will best serve your most passionate customers?

How do you acquire more passionate customers in 2010?

3| Improve Customers-Business Connection

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

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

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

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

4| Improve Your Weaknesses/Improve Your Strengths

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

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

5| Expand

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

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

Where are areas that you can expand?

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

What have you been doing to prepare for 2010?

What to read next on Hunting Business Marketing

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

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

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

What to read next on the Web

Top 5 Reasons for Ongoing SEO Services

70 Usable Stats From The 2009 State Of The Blogosphere

Breaking Rules – Website Design

Image courtesy of ralphbijker

50 Best Hunting Website Designs

A common theme in the hunting industry…

Danner Boots

I wanted to search for 50 of what I considered to be the most well designed hunting Websites. What I found is that hunting business owners and managers like dark graphics and backgrounds. There is a lot of reverse type (light text on dark background).

Some of the sites I liked the most put their product images front and center. I loved how companies actually showed their products – from many angles too – rather than highlighting text. Descriptive copy definitely has its place, but I seemed to find the ones with expert design and imagery the most intriguing.

Summary

What’s Popular

  • Dark Backgrounds
  • Reverse Font
  • Big Images

Good Elements

  • Big Images
  • 3D Look
  • Light Backgrounds (Danner is my favorite)

Let’s take a closer look at the 50 best hunting Websites

Bowhunting.com

Visit the site – Bowhunting.com

Bowhunting

New Archery Products

Visit the site – New Archery Products

New Archery Products

Mathews Inc.

Visit the site – Mathews Inc.

Visit the Shopping site – Shop Mathews

Mathews

Native Hunt

Visit the site – Native Hunt

Native Hunt

My Outdoor TV

Visit the site – My Outdoor TV

My Outdoor TV

Buffalo County Outfitters

Visit the site – Buffalo County Outfitters

Buffalo County Outfitters

Trophy Ridge

Visit the site – Trophy Ridge

Trophy Ridge

Bear Archery

Visit the site – Bear Archery Products

Bear Archery

LL Bean

Visit the site – LL Bean

LL Bean

Lone Wolf Stands

Visit the site – Lone Wolf Stands

Lone Wolf

Buck Knives

Visit the site – Buck Knives

Buck Knives

Field & Stream Brand

Visit the site – Field and Stream Brand

Field and Stream Brand

Robinson Outdoors

Visit the site – Robinson Outdoors

Scentblocker

Heartland Lodge Hunting

Visit the site – Heartland Lodge Hunting

Heartland Lodge

Base Camp Legends

Visit the site – Base Camp Legends

Base Camp Legends

Addicted to Hunting

Visit the site – Addicted to Hunting

Addicted to Hunting

Elk Creek Outfitting

Visit the site – Elk Creek Outfitting

Elk Creek Outfitting

Danner

Visit the site – Danner Boots

Danner

Orvis

Visit the site – Orvis

Orvis

Stormy Kromer

Visit the site – Stormy Kromer

Stormy Kromer

Beman

Visit the site – Beman

Beman

Gander Mountain

Visit the site – Gander Mountain

Gander Mountain

Remington

Visit the site – Remington Gunmaker

Remington

Winchester

Visit the site – Winchester Ammunition

Winchester

Hornady

Visit the site – Hornady Ammunition

Hornady

Leupold

Visit the site – Leupold Optics

Leupold

Federal Ammunition

Visit the site – Federal Ammunition

Federal Ammo

Beretta USA

Visit the site – Beretta USA

Beretta

Easton Archery

Visit the site – Easton Archery

Easton

Carbon Express

Visit the site – Carbon Express

Carbon Express

Rivers Edge Treestands

Visit the site – Rivers Edge Treestands

Rivers Edge

Stealth Cam

Visit the site – Stealth Cam Digital Scouting Camera

Stealth Cam

Cuddeback

Visit the site – Cuddeback Digital Scouting Cameras

Cuddeback

ScentLok

Visit the site – ScentLok

ScentLok

Duck Commander

Visit the site – Duck Commander

Duck Commander

Under Armour

Visit the site – Under Armour – Athletes Hunt

Under Armour Athletes Hunt

Rich-N-Tone Calls

Visit the site – RNT Calls

Rich N Tone Calls

Surefire

Visit the site – Surefire

Surefire

The American Outdoorsman

Visit the site – The American Outdoorsman

American Outdoorsman

Versus Country

Visit the site – Versus Country

Versus

Peterson’s Hunting

Visit the site – Peterson’s Hunting

Peterson's Hunting

Field & Stream

Visit the site – Field & Stream

Field and Stream

High Adventure Ranch

Visit the site – High Adventure Ranch

High Adventure Ranch

Outdoor Life

Visit the site – Outdoor Life

Outdoor Life

Muskoka Outdoors

Visit the site – Muskoka Outdoors

Muskoka Outdoors

Tink’s

Visit the site – Tink’s Buck Lures

Tink's

Leatherman

Visit the site – Leatherman Multi-tools

Leatherman

Rocky

Visit the site – Rocky Shoes and Boots

Rocky Boots

Bushnell

Visit the site – Bushnell

Bushnell

Michael Waddell

Visit the site – Michael Waddell

Michael Waddell

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Successful Business Highlight – Smashing Magazine

Smashing Magazine – Blogging and Link Building Masterminds

Smashing Glass

image credit: AMagill

The folks at Smashing Magazine have the blogging game figured out. They write blog posts that are extremely valuable for their readers, audience, and customers. The posts include tips, tools, and examples that help their readers to become more knowledgeable with the craft of design.

And the best part of Smashing Magazine is that they link to other great individuals and companies.

It’s not only a great way to provide value for an audience, it’s a great way to gain attention and a few links to your site (SEO Gold).

The value in having a blog for your business is providing valuable information for you customer so you can connect and establish a strong and long-term business/customer relationship. Customers today look for companies they can trust for quality products. A blog is a way to build the trust necessary for future success on the Web.

Highlighting the success of other companies and bloggers is a strategy you can use to grow your blog’s status and impact while building relationships with bloggers, other business leaders on the Web, and most importantly your customers (this relationship leads to sales and profit).

Let’s take a closer look at the success of Smashing Magazine and a few ways you can use their success as an example when building your blog for your hunting business…

Smashing Magazine Company Brief

Smashing Magazine Logo

About Smashing Magazine

Founded in September 2006, Smashing Magazine delivers useful and innovative information to Web designers and developers. Our aim is to inform our readers about the latest trends and techniques in Web development. We try to convince you not with the quantity but with the quality of the information we present. We hope that makes us different. Smashing Magazine is, and always has been, independent.

Why I Love Smashing Magazine’s Blog Posts

I posted on Twitter one of the things I’ve learned about blogging.

Highlighting the Success of Others on Twitter

Shortly after posting my thought on Twitter, I realized that Smashing Magazine was doing a perfect job of writing articles on their blog that not only highlight the success of others, but also provide extremely valuable content for designers and Web developers.

If you have a blog for your hunting business, highlighting the success of others is a great way to provide value for your readers.

You might be asking, “Why is it advantageous to write about others? I thought it was important to highlight the success of my own business?”

While it’s important to write about the success of your own business, here are a few benefits to writing about the success of others:

1| Examples provide value for your readers, customers, and audience

2| Valuable connections with businesses and bloggers

3| Link building strategy

Valuable Examples for Readers

Writing about the success of other bloggers and companies, even in related fields, provides valuable examples of success for your readers to learn from and emulate in their own lives.

For example, if you have an outfitting business you could write an article/blog post about how the Bowhunting Blog provides the best expert hunting product reviews that include photos, objective discussion, and how-to information. You could go on to write about how one of their articles helped you with your outfitting business (if that’s actually the case).

On your outfitting blog, your readers are likely looking for your expertise in the area of hunting in which you specialize. Along with your own product reviews, highlighting quality product reviews from other sources is another great way to provide value for your readers. Quality content is a great way to gain a loyal readership (quality traffic) for your company’s blog.

Valuable Connections

A second benefit of highlighting the success of others are the connections you can make with other players in the hunting industry including business associates, bloggers, and marketers.

When you write and link to other bloggers and sites in the hunting industry, those people will usually receive notice via email or on their site that you are linking to them. People love reading nice things that are said about what they’re working hard to do with their business so it’s likely a friendship and valuable connection can be made from your first contact via your blog.

Link Building Strategy

The third benefit of highlighting the success of others with your hunting blog is that when you show other bloggers and Website owners some love they may just show you some love back – in the form of links to your site (search engines love quality links to your site. It builds your authority).

Smashing Magazine has a ton of quality links from other sites and bloggers.

The search engines like when other quality sites link to your business’s site and blog because it shows that others value you, your business, and your content. It’s social proof that you’re a reputable Website on the Internet and the search engines are more likely to put you at the top of the results page for targeted hunting keywords.

Summary

The secret to writing effective blog posts for your hunting business’s blog is to write about what others in the hunting industry (especially those on the Web) are doing that is amazing, inspiring, effective, and remarkable.

Smashing Magazine does an exceptional job at providing valuable content for their readers both using the knowledge of the writers at Smashing Magazine as well as highlighting the knowledge of others in the Web design and development industry.

Smashing Magazine’s success is proof that they understand the benefits of highlighting the success of others:

1| Examples provide value for your readers, customers, and audience

2| Valuable connections with businesses and bloggers

3| Link building strategy

If you have a blog for your hunting business or are considering a blog for your hunting business, try to use the strategy of highlighting the success of others just as Smashing Magazine does with their articles.

Add Smashing Magazine to your Daily Reading

Smashing Magazine Website

Smashing Magazine RSS

Smashing Magazine Forum

Smashing Magazine Book

Following Smashing Magazine on Twitter: @SmashingMag

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

Focusing on the Most Important Tasks

image credit: 96dpi

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

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

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

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

So how do we decide what is most important?

Let’s take a deeper look…

Understanding Your Business Goals

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

Anyway, back to your business.

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

1| What are your business goals?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2| What do you do best?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Continue Learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary

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

Ask yourself a couple questions:

1| What are your business goals?

2| What do you do best?

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

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

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

Bonus

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

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

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Applying The Power of Less to Your Hunting Business

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Successful People Guide to Success Series

“The best way to learn how to be successful in business is to do what successful business guys do.”

Frank Sinatra Success

image credit: 馨文。Roxy。C’est ma vie

Tom Sorenson (@tsorenson) of Base Camp Legends said this in the comments on this blog and I think it fits perfectly for the Successful People Guide to Success Series.

I’ve always enjoyed analyzing the careers of successful people because I’ve always been curious about what it takes to be successful in life whether it’s in business or any other passion.

It’s also no secret that I’m a big music fan so this series focuses mostly on successful musicians.

Here is what Albert A Rasch (@AlbertRasch) had to say at Blogs of Note – Hunting Business Marketing:

Dayne must be an audiophile. He frequently refers to many musicians and their careers as analogous to Blogging and business. My favorite is The Jon Bon Jovi Guide to Making it Big on the Web. You have to admit, that’s pretty clever!

So here are the posts in the Successful People Guide to Success Series

image credit: Marcin Wichary

Successful People Guide to Success Series

The Michael Jackson Guide to Success

The George Strait Guide to a Lifelong, Fulfilling, and Successful Career

The John Mellencamp Guide to Success in the Hunting Industry

The Jon Bon Jovi Guide to Making it Big on the Web

The Merle Haggard Guide to Everlasting Success

The George Jones Successful Career Guide

Take the Elton John Approach with Your Web Business

Taking the Kevin Costner Approach to Your Hunting Business