By Laura Burgess, Founder and President, LBM
Kids are back in school. The nights are getting cooler and its dark a little earlier. While some of us are pondering the upcoming autumn and winter seasons filled with family, fleece wear and hot chocolate, there are many of us packed into small conference rooms figuring out what new products we need to deliver to our customers in 2018. And this year, there is a lot of head scratching and nervous twitching. It’s been a tough summer, let’s face it. For the first time in years, our customers went on vacation. The nerve of them! Spending their money on spouses, kids, fixing up the house, hitting the beach or the woods, and not lifting a single finger to open that wallet and help out all of us in the firearms industry. The nerve.
So, what will 2018 bring? How do we get customers back in stores and on the ranges? Here are LBM’s suggestions:
First, have a truly, significantly new product, and back it up with quality design and manufacturing. Take Trailblazer Firearms, for instance; seven years for the compact, foldable, .22LR single-action, single-shot to evolve into its final form. Seven years. Most of us don’t have seven minutes of patience. But the LifeCard is a great example of how putting thought behind design results in a product that performs just as it says it does and is unique enough, that no matter how many guns a person owns, their collection won’t be complete without this little number. Lesson: If you rush a product to market, you risk the chance of your customers rushing to get AWAY from it.
Second, if your brand is as strong as the Tetons, you can count on your loyal fans to continue to advocate for you and often with some truly amazing passion. That’s the result IWI US gets from its fans. More keyboards have been ruined by gun enthusiasts drooling over images of the up and coming new weapon systems on their computers. And it’s about to happen again, with IWI US bringing in new models including a “rumored” TAVOR 7. Maybe you should start saving that Starbuck’s money again instead of having your morning Joe. Lesson: Reputation is the keystone in building customer loyalty. Honor your products and the customers will honor you.
How do these two company examples get the complacent customer out of the hammock? Well, innovation, quality and a record and reputation for excellence. But more than that, these companies, new and well-established, are using a variety of marketing tools to communicate. And it is what they are communicating that is as important as the product they make. The stories behind the making of the LifeCard and the history behind the weapons of IWI make for compelling content that relates directly and personally to their customers. Don’t sell to your customers, bring them inside, and tell them a story.
About Laura Burgess:
Laura graduated from Pennslyvania State University, State College Campus, with a B.A. major in advertising and a minor in journalism. She completed her MBA from the Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire in 2003. Laura has worked in the firearms industry since the early ’90s starting as a warehouse temp and rising to the Director of Public Relations and Corporate Communications for a major firearms manufacturer before founding Laura Burgess Marketing in 2003.