Business Blog



Traditional marketing is a proven way to build businesses, but it requires serious investment. This is a major hurdle for small businesses, and that’s why so many upstarts have turned to social media for their marketing efforts. Building and maintaining social pages is relatively inexpensive and can be operated successfully by individuals with little or no training in successful marketing tactics.


That’s not to say it’s easy. Just as each brand is different, so is each social media platform. That’s why it is critical to define clear goals and expectations when embarking on any social effort for your business.


1. Build Your Bench.

It doesn’t matter if you’re coaching a football team or in the business of selling camo truck accessories: If you don’t have the right players on your team, you’ll be hard pressed to find success flying solo. If you surf around on any good social media site in the outdoors industry, you’ll find the hardest working, most impassioned members of their respective organizations typically run these pages. They could be long-time employees who were tabbed as the “social media guy or gal” based off the company’s reluctance to hire new help, or they could be young go-getters who are hungry to carve their own niche in the industry. Regardless of who they are, they typically share one thing in common: They truly believe in the company’s purpose and mission.


Your social media bench can consist of your employees, agency hires or freelancers. Whichever route you choose (a mix can be quite effective) be sure that you’ve got some kind of bench in which to draw upon and cross-train them in every platform you use.


2. Unify Your Approach.

If you view your social media platforms as individual silos, you will find it much more difficult to convey a consistent message to your customers. Does this mean one person has to man the entire ship? No. But it does mean that all the players need to be on the same page. It goes beyond the classic “control the message” protocol. Have semi-monthly meetings with your social team to discuss trends and strategies and write it down for everyone to reference. Keep a flow chart if you have to, but make sure everyone is clear on their roles and responsibilities.

This month’s messaging might be centered on archery and bowhunting; next month’s might be about building excitement about hunting the whitetail rut; the month after that might be about Christmas gift lists, etc. Once you have the themes loosely outlined, your team can put on their thinking caps (in Realtree Xtra, of course LOL) and devise a plan on how to deliver a cohesive message to their channels.


3. Define Your Audience.

This might be the most difficult aspect of building robust social platforms in the outdoors industry because social media has completely juggled what we thought we knew about our audiences. For years, many in the outdoors industry centered almost solely on their core audience (think upper 15 percent of a customer base). It was a sound approach because it was easy to hit that bell almost every time. With social media, your melting pot becomes 100 times larger. You’re reaching people who you might have never thought would buy your product or service, and you’re now interacting with them daily. For example, you might have spent years preaching to the 3 million avid bowhunters in North America. With robust social pages, you’re now literally exposed to 15 million more potential customers. That’s a good problem have, but you need to learn the nuances that make these people tick. You’ll learn in a short time that your message needs to be broadened to take your business to higher levels.


4.  Interact with Your Audience.

It’s called “social” media for a reason! You have to (repeat have to) interact with these folks, and that requires old-fashioned hard work. There are no regular business hours when it comes to social media. Someone has to be minding the store at all hours of the day every day for you to build successful platforms. You don’t have to obsess over it. You just need to show consistency and, above all, genuine care for your customers.


5. Absorb All Feedback.

Bring your thick-skin suit and don’t sweat the small stuff. There is no filter when it comes to social media, and some fans can be downright rude at times. You will need to ban some belligerents and watch out for spammers. For business, this is about learning more about your potential customers. Remove yourself from getting hurt feelings and play psychiatrist at times. What are people trying to say about your business, product or service?


6. Evolve with Your Followers.

One of the best ways to hone your message is to realize that your demographic isn’t usually tucked into the typical 6- to 8-year age brackets we were taught to target in college marketing 101. Your message not only needs to be spread out to hit all demographics, it must evolve with each group. If you’re in the archery business, this means targeting people who’ve never shot a bow in their life to guys who have hunted the world and arrowed numerous big-game animals. With the beginners, you’re going to want to target your message on tangible results (gear, tactics, etc). On the other hand, with veterans, you should be re-emphasizing lifestyle attributes and adventure.


7.  Adjust Your Approach.

If all this seems a bit exhausting, well, it kind of is. Because at the end of the day, you might learn that a 6-month campaign taught you to blow it all up and start over. OK, that’s a bit dramatic, but you probably get the point. Let’s put it this way: If you follow the first six steps, you’ll be in a much greater position to more precisely identify which unified message will not only build your social media presence, it will build your business.


Editor’s Note: Does your business need a boost in its social media efforts? Read this earlier post from Adam Preston for a quick check-up. Want more? Our Business Blog’s Outdoor Market and Research section is here to help Realtree partners grow their businesses.