Between The Berms: Turn Up The Volume
So, we're in a bit of a downturn in terms of gun sales.
It's summer, the usual slow period for gun sales, and we're coming off an off-the-charts sales cycle that has left some companies feeling hungover. In fact, the most frequent topic to come up in industry discussions is the issue of sales.
Tuesday afternoon I spoke to a good friend at one company who asked me what I was hearing. What I'm hearing is what most people are hearing. A whole lot of trepidation followed by a whole lot of "what do you see happening?"
For the larger companies, the ones that have been around and whose leadership has been around, the cyclical nature of firearms industry sales is nothing new. These people know what to expect and have a sense of how to react to the situation.
The best among them chose a course through the recent sales shockwave that kept them living within their means. These companies won't see layoffs beyond the usual staff adjustments and normal attrition.
That's good news if you're an employee at one of these companies. If you're not at one of those companies, I have some bad news for you.
Those that did not take the long view will find themselves under greater and greater pressure as they stumble through the downturn. And while it might not be good for their companies and their employees, it could reap rewards for consumers in the form of lower prices, aggressive rebates and attractive special offers.
With a saturated distribution channel companies will be forced to compete more aggressively for limited customer dollars. And in order to sell in this buyer's market they will have to focus more on marketing.
Traditionally, the first area to suffer when companies cut back is the marketing department. Ads are pulled from upcoming magazines. Trade show staff is reduced. Sponsorship opportunities are passed by. And in some cases, department personnel is reduced.
In its wake a general climate of austerity emerges when what is really needed is a status quo, or even an increase, in marketing spend. Instead of holding back and riding out the storm, companies should turn to their marketing team and unleash their creativity.
This of course assumes that the people hired to do the marketing are - what's the word? oh yeah - creative. It also assumes that the people in charge at the company can relinquish enough control to let them be creative.
Not every CEO understands what marketing does beyond spending lots of money, which explains why they are quick to cut back. Those that do understand the important role their marketing team plays, now's the time to tell them "do your thing boys and girls."
All that time brand building, all that money spent on customer acquisition and a customer database, and all that social media "engagement" now needs to come into play.
Sitting in a meeting with one of the sharpest marketing people in the industry, the head of a growing organization was told they needed to be "loud." Being loud is a very simplified way of looking at it but it is very, very accurate.
And it's what is called for now, during the slow sales period of the annual firearms sales cycle. In short, it's time to turn up the volume.
If you're sitting in the marketing department wondering how to do that, well, I'd suggest starting with one of those cardboard bankers boxes. You're going to need that to clean out your desk.
For the rest of you that get it, have at it. Now is your time.
- Paul Erhardt, Editor, the Outdoor Wire Digital Network
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