They have been ever since the election.
Now, after hearing the flurry of excuses as to why revenues are down, inventories are up, and, overall, the market is "normal" (not "bad"like many are saying), we are being rushed into the holiday season with many companies not having a plan to make this year BETTER than last year.
Every year, there is a mad dash of consumerism surrounding the Thanksgiving Holiday and “Black Friday,” – the most infamous shopping day of the year.
This single event has led to people lining up outside of stores for DAYS in advance- braving all kinds of weather, sustenance and bathroom challenges to save a few dollars.
That’s a rather “dedicated” shopper, don’t you think?
The big question is, though, "Are they lining up like that to BUY what YOU'RE SELLING?
To paraphrase one movie, "Yes, Virginia. People are still buying guns and gun accessories."
Now, that single shopping day has expanded into a time period of WEEKS up to and even after the Friday after Thanksgiving.
After the success of “Cyber Monday” deals by online retailers that for a long time were left out of the Black Friday celebration, there is a new shopping day- “Small Business Saturday.”
The thought is that "If consumers commit to ‘Shopping Small,' we can provide Main Street with an important boost at a time when they need it most.”
That sounds great, but also raises the real question:
How do owners of local and smaller businesses get consumers to make such a commitment?
…Because the responsibility lies firmly with the business owner and not the consumer.
It is the owner of the business who must give a compelling reason for consumers to patronize his or her establishment instead of one of the big chains or large competitors, and not just ask for some blind “commitment” from consumers who would somehow willingly hand over their money in exchange for inferior value.
Yes, some people may — for a short time — decide to accept inferior value in return for a warm and fuzzy feeling that they are “supporting their local businesses.” But is that really how we think we can spur a recovery of the firearm business—by suggesting that consumers accept less value and smaller business owners lazily continuing to provide it, choosing to place their fate in the hands of charitable shoppers instead of actually working to provide a superior product or service and earning people's business and loyalty?
Even if such a strategy could work, it would likely be a very short-term solution at best.
In my experience, people enjoy making charitable donations when we choose to do so — but we also like to be smart consumers when we choose to shop. Today’s business climate CLEARLY favors the large and well-established businesses- and not just for GUNS. Every area of our business- apparel, optics, accessories, and every crossover market has the SAME CHALLENGES.
In order to attract the shopping dollars of our fellow firearm enthusiasts, smaller, independent companies — and, in fact, all small-business owners — need to do their very best to provide as much value as possible and to differentiate themselves among many, many competitors.
Smart business people know this as creating a "unique selling proposition" — carving out a place of one's own in a crowded market, providing a reason for existence instead of being “just another ______________” and expecting people to buy from us for reasons ranging from “we’ve been in business for “X” # of years to, “We are a referral and “word-of-mouth” business...” to even blaming a “down economy” for their lack of business.
You see, SMART MARKETERS will always rise to the top REGARDLESS of the marketplace.
|Ace and TMM work with some of the biggest names in the industry|
Years ago, when the gun business was booming, more and more “me, too” businesses sprung up like weeds all across the country — and many smaller business owners also found themselves thriving without having to do very much smart marketing at all, and without providing any unique value to an ever-expanding, free-spending, and, at the time- very “forgiving” marketplace.
It was rather simple… Sell AR platforms, AK platforms, High Capacity handgun platforms, and/or ammunition for such and make a LOT of money.
Sorry- Those days are now GONE, likely not to return barring another 2nd Amendment crisis.
Today's outdoor industry consumer is much more demanding and much more careful where he or she spends their ever-shrinking disposable dollars. As business owners, we need to keep in mind at all times that by far the No. 1 thing on every consumer's mind — especially in today's gun economy — is their favorite radio station: WII-FM (“What's in it for me?”).
There are many, many ways for firearm and outdoor business owners to earn consumers' hard-earned dollars. Some of the most powerful questions a business owner can ask are:
“What are my competitors doing RIGHT that I can use to attract more and better customers to my business?” and “What AREN’T my competitors doing that I can or am in a unique position to offer to encourage my prospective customers to buy from ME?”
Maybe you have a special “club” for your customers that have large perceived values that don’t cost you anything- like free range time once a week for 6 or 8 weeks at a gun or bow store. Perhaps you can “stack value” with low-cost but high-perceived value to your clientele. Partnering up with your “complimentary” vendors and businesses can help.
Some great examples of this:
Weatherby Rifles with a Leupold Scope for less than the cost of both
Savage rifles with Weaver scopes- for the same reason.
“Package” Bow deals- Bow, sight, stabilizer, quiver, and a dozen arrows.
“Free” upgrades on an AR-15.
Finally, you need to continue the conversation with your customer, offering VALUE WITHOUT EXPECTATION.
|Taylor Made Media gives their clients a documented increase in sales|
Making a serious effort to come up with answers to this question, and starting from the point of “What does the consumer really want that I can provide better than a large competitor?” will be key to the business's success, and along with it our industry’s continued expansion.
By "fencing your herd"with quality content marketing and communication, you will also ensure that your hard-won customers won't be shopping somewhere else this holiday and EVERY holiday season!
Now isn't THAT worth working hard for, instead of just “hoping people start buying what we’re selling” and shifting the responsibility for our business's success to the consumers (or anyone else)?
As always, let me know if I can help.