Summer Market Sign

Barriers Preventing Market Research for Outdoor Retailers

Despite the importance of market research, some small or medium sized businesses don’t collect primary research; in the outdoor industry, this seems to be particularly true. Large outdoor retailers such as Patagonia, North Face, Arc'teryx, and REI all perform their own market research studies, but many medium-sized brands fail to take advantage of consumer behavior research. This is a shame because market research is a simple way to develop the insights necessary to make a company truly successful.

So if market research is so important for outdoor retail companies, why do so many medium-sized outdoor retailers fail to conduct their own market research? Based on our experience, there are a few things that commonly prevent companies from conducting their own research. We’ve listed these barriers below, and we make a few suggestions for how companies can overcome these common obstacles:

The “I Know My Industry” Mindset

Outdoor retail companies are largely founded and managed by individuals that love their industry. This is fantastic because a love of the outdoors (something we personally possess) has driven the start-up of many great out-door retail businesses. That being said, when people build a business surrounding something they love, they start to assume they know exactly what that industry needs. Runners assume they know what type of shoe other runners needs, climbers assume other mountaineers climb like they do, etc.

While being personally invested in the products your company develops can lead to great innovations, it can also generate great biases in the products your company produces. Market research allows business owners to take a step back and evaluate the thoughts/feelings/opinions of their customers from a different perspective. In the case of outdoor retail, it allows companies to develop the products people truly want, rather than assuming they know what other outdoorsy individuals might need.

 

Lack of Understanding/Technical Skill

People naturally veer away from things that they don’t understand. If you work in outdoor retail, you probably love the outdoors and know a lot about being in the wilderness; further, if you’re a business owner, you likely know a lot about managing businesses. That being said, you probably don’t know much about how to conduct primary research. Therefore, market research is a trip outside the comfort zone for many small/medium business owners.

This does not mean that market research isn’t useful for outdoor retail businesses. Quite the contrary, we argue that market research is an important tool for growing your businesses from a small/medium size into a fortune 500 giant. The fundamental issue is that medium-sized businesses shy away from doing things that seem unfamiliar to them. Conducting research is its own set of skills and knowledge that often times takes many years to develop. Considering the importance of market research in the business world, unfamiliarity with a concept should not prevent market research from occurring.

For businesses that don’t have the technical expertise or personnel to conduct market research the solution is simple, hire a market research firm to do the work for you. That fundamental truth leads us to the last barrier that prevents companies from conducting market research projects: project costs.

 

Money

The cost associated with conducting market research sometimes feels difficult to overcome, but most businesses owners don’t consider the opportunity that’s afforded by conducting “expensive” research (which sometimes costs as little as 5-10k). While market research might feel pricey at the time it’s conducted, it’s important that business owners remember research is a long-term investment that more than pays itself back over time. Businesses commonly spend tens of thousands of dollars developing ineffective products, or they waste money on marketing campaigns directed at the wrong demographics. Market research keeps companies from making costly blunders, helps interpret company images, and contributes to designing products that people actually want.

Admittedly, massive market research companies can be too expensive for small or medium-sized businesses. For smaller businesses that have a limited research budget, we recommend that you seek out a small or medium-sized research firm.

 

The Real Cost

Above, we’ve highlighted three things that commonly prevent small and medium-sized businesses from conducting market research, especially businesses involved in the outdoor retail industry. Business owners commonly feel that they know everything about their industry, and therefore they do not feel the need to conduct market research; we’ve argued that this perception is false because assuming you know everything about your industry creates biases and prevents you from connecting to lucrative demographics that might be interested in your business. Further, many business owners shy away from conducting market research because they simply don’t understand it; this doesn’t mean that business owners should prevent themselves from harnessing all the benefits of market research, they just need to consider contracting individuals that have that expertise. Finally, some outdoor retail businesses feel that research is not worth the monetary investment; never forget that consumer behavior research has the potential to save companies immensely more money than it costs.

In short, if you run a small or medium-sized business that does not currently engage in market research, you’re not taking full advantage of all the tools available to help grow your business.


Success at Outdoor Retailer

5 Tips To Generate Leads At Outdoor Retailer

Tradeshows are not an inexpensive pursuit nor are they a guaranteed success. Outdoor Retailer is no exception. The value gained from attending and exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer is immense, but companies must consider their strategy to truly take advantage of that value. Just purchasing a ticket to walk the floor of most shows can cost several hundred dollars or more. Hosting a booth to market your brand is even more expensive. That does not even factor in the time commitment of your staff, strategy, design, and marketing collateral needed to have a competitive presence at most shows. Once those items are examined, the costs add up to be quite substantial. However, if a company maps out a strategy, then the benefits can be immeasurable.

Considering those costs, how can you succeed despite the high cost of entry? 

Trade show veterans can quickly provide you some info on lessons they learned the hard way. We have taken this into account and had a few tips below on how to get the most for your trade show marketing dollars:

  1. Establish your plans well in advance. A month before the show is not enough time to start planning. In fact, three months is not long enough. Successful marketers start planning at least six months before a show start, and many take a year or more.
  1. Set goals for all of the shows in your trade show schedule. All of your marketing efforts should tie back to the overall strategic plans of the organization and trade shows should align with individual campaigns that carry the marketing strategy forward. With that in mind, your trade show goals should match up with the goals of the campaign into which the show fits. Trade show marketing goals can include:
  • New leads and direct sales
  • Increasing traffic to your site - driving website traffic is always a good idea because it can also create new leads
  • Building your social media following - social goals seem a little passive to many old-school salespeople, but consider that most new sales require three to five touch points with a future customer before gaining commitment
  • Expanding your email list - while many prospects may not be ready to buy now, they may be interested in keeping in touch to learn more about your product/service over time. The buying process is cyclical so keeping in touch is critical

Once you have established your goal for this show, you should identify metrics that allow analysis of progress, success, and failures at a given show.

  1. Stand out. How can you reflect the culture of your company at your show? Regardless of how automated and digital our world has become, people still buy from people. Future customers are interested in learning more about you and your company as well as what it is like to do business with you. Your booth presents an opportunity to reflect the individual traits that make your organization unique.

The tradeshow floor can become quite monotonous as one booth blends into another because people follow the same formula for materials, design, and displays. Create something that stands out. You spent years developing your product or service in a way that your value proposition is different from any other business, your first impression on your new customers should be a reflection of that effort. While the extra effort may cost more, this added expense can be the difference between whether or not a new key account bothers to stop to meet you.

  • Consider your booth - can you create something different than everyone else? How can this further the goal you set for this show?
  • Dress for success - how will you and your team dress? How does this reflect you as an organization and your culture?
  • Collateral - what are your signs and other materials going to do to further your goal? More on this later.
  1. Create a single call-to-action. Assuming you have set your goal and created metrics, you should establish the pathway that a future customer will take to reach your goal. This call-to-action will become part of every facet of your trade show strategy, allowing a customer to move quickly from being a total stranger into your sales pipeline.

While designing your booth, materials, landing page, and analytics, you should consider this call-to-action (CTA) as being the keystone to all of your efforts. A CTA should inspire a visitor to commit to an action of some type and can include:

  • Subscribe to our newsletter
  • Register for a webinar
  • Sign up for a product demo

A CTA will direct your visitors to a landing page, a web page that is specifically designed to provide targeted information to visitors in exchange for the offer for which they initially registered. In turn, your CTA will lead to increased conversions and more qualified leads.

Only gathering business cards a tradeshow, which is what many salespeople do, is squandering the valuable resources required to get the company to the show. While that lead may have seemed very qualified and excited about your business at the time of the show, that excitement dissipates as time passes between the show and your sales team’s follow-up. However, if your CTA draws that visitor back to your website, then they are more likely to move all the way from stranger to lead and on to becoming a customer because of the excitement generated by your offer. 

  1. Create a landing page for each show you attend. Mentioned above, the CTA will drive traffic to a dedicated landing page that furthers your overall goal. Prospective customers will provide their email address in exchange for a valuable piece of content such as a video series, ebook, white paper, or product demo. The page itself and the content offer should be tied back to your trade show presence. By creating a landing page that you only send trade show attendees to, you can measure the success of your trade show presence by the response generated by your CTA and landing page.

Finally, have a particular, detailed process for how the content will be delivered to leads and the process for follow-up. How will leads be scored and qualified in your system? How will you keep track of the follow-up process? What are your next steps to further your goal and move prospects down the buyer’s journey? These questions must be considered in depth before launching your campaign.

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By utilizing these steps as a guide and adapting the advice to your particular organization, you are certain to have trade show success. Please get in touch if you have specific questions on how to establish a strategy to make the most of your shows.

Ready to get more out of your marketing? Check out our Video Marketing Roadmap - the proven methodology to use video to generate leads and drive sales -


ig Cottonwood Canyon Salt Lake City

A climbing guide to the Summer Outdoor Retailer Show

Heading to the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this August? Whether you are a first timer who is new to the show or a veteran who has heard too many clever names for the color blue delivered by a guy in a short-sleeved, plaid shirt, you already know that there is a lot more to the OR show than just wandering the floor. There is also an incredible combination of beauty, access, and quality that makes Salt Lake City one of the best cities for climbing in the U.S.

Crags for cool climbing in little cottonwood salt lake city, Utah while at Outdoor Retailer Trade ShowGetting the most out of your trip while at OR takes some strategizing. If you don’t know where to go, and when, you’ll be missing your 10 am show meetings and still not get any climbing done. Here is our approach and the information that you need to know to get a few pitches in each day, while still having a productive experience on the show floor.

BEFORE THE SHOW

If you can, come in a day or even two early. Giving yourself the time to unwind with some climbing while pre-planning for show meetings can pay off. Showing up at the Salt Palace relaxed and in a good state of mind because you got some time in the vertical is an excellent way to do this. It will also allow you to experience some areas that would be much harder to get to once the show starts. Our suggestion; Cecret Lake at Alta to beat the heat and have a unique alpine cragging experience.

DURING THE SHOW

This is your opportunity to embrace something unique to Salt Lake City, the Dawn Patrol. The idea is often credited to the late Alex Lowe and is deeply ingrained in the fabric of the local outdoor culture. You’ll have to give up a few of the post-show cocktails the night before, and get a 4:30 am start to the day. For the willing, it can be the most rewarding of outdoor experiences. It will feel like cheating when you show up to your 9 am meeting at the show, on time, and having already put away a classic line. Our suggestion; a quick, multi-pitch outing on Steort’s Ridge, or Outside Corner in Big Cottonwood Canyon for a morning you won’t forget.

AFTER THE SHOW

Digesting everything you’ve seen and talked about at OR is going to take a bit. Scheduling yourself a free day after the show helps you organize your thoughts before heading back to a bustling storefront, and an email account bursting at the seams. Leave the show on the last day, jump in the rental car, and drive 2-3 hours to sample some truly unique climbing areas. Our suggestions; City of Rocks National Preserve in Idaho or Maple Canyon, Utah both offer unique climbing experiences in extraordinary settings.


outdoor retailer video marketing

Outdoor Retailer: Video Marketing

You don’t have to look very hard these days to find marketing professionals and academics puzzling over the millennial consumer market. According to Outside magazine, outdoor retailers are especially struggling to get a foothold on the millennial money mountain. As Outside and most current wisdom suggest inbound and video marketing is the way to go when it comes to reaching prospective outdoor recreation customers, under the age of 35.Read more


Don't Lose Touch! How to Follow Up With Convention and Trade Show Leads

7 Tips To Follow Up With Convention and Trade Show Leads

So you and your team committed the time and financial resources to prepare and attend a convention or tradeshow. You met many interesting prospects that are a perfect fit for your product or service.  If you have done this before, then you know how important it is to remember every detail of that conversation to personalize your follow-up.  Unfortunately, this is something that many salespeople ignore or put off until the details have faded from memory. It is those details that allow a salesperson to personalize the subsequent exchanges following the show. Don’t you just hate those cold post-event emails with no personalized context? Read on for a few tips on how to follow up with leads.

Don't Lose Touch! How to Follow Up With Convention and Trade Show Leads

BE ORGANIZED

Gathering business cards is better than nothing, but it may not be enough of a trigger to remind you of who a future customer is and why you want to follow up with them. Before the trade show, create a Twitter list for the event, and add all of your new contacts to the list by following their Twitter account. Search for hashtags related to the show and follow people you may not have met, but would like to. Also, take pictures of the people you meet at the show (with their permission, of course) when the opportunity allows. Later, you can add the photo to your CRM, and it will help you remember who they are and what you talked about.  

FOLLOW-UP

Prepare your new contacts for future connection by telling them that you’ll follow up.  Give them a date and a time of when they can expect a call or an email from you. It could be something as simple as “When I get back to the office, I’ll make sure and get that information to you.” This will make you accountable!

SOCIAL MEDIA

Social media is a great low-pressure platform to nurture your new business relationships slowly. Say you met someone that you would like to stay connected to, but during the conversation you didn’t get a chance to set a time for follow up.  Social media is the most natural medium to keep up with that contact and continue the conversation. Going back to the Twitter list. Hopefully, you’ve already added your contacts. Send out a message saying, “It was so nice meeting you; I can’t wait to continue our conversation on XYZ!” Now they are expecting your follow-up.  

Another good low-pressure platform is LinkedIn. Invite them to connect on LinkedIn, and making sure to send a personalized invitation that includes a reminder of how you met. Also, make sure to interact with their activity on LinkedIn, Twitter and elsewhere. Share their company’s content when possible, and tag them to make them aware (and appreciative).

Facebook, on the other hand, is a bit more personal.  If you are not able to find a contact on LinkedIn or Twitter, send them an email and invite them to connect with you through your personal Facebook profile.  If they have a Facebook business page (most companies do), follow them and engage with their content on there.  Instagram is also a perfect place to nurture a relationship.  Before the event, search for applicable hashtags targeting the show or the industries as well as the businesses that will be at the event.  Follow their account, and make sure to also comment and like their content shared on the platform.  

EMAIL

Send an email a day or two after the conference.  You don’t want to wait too long.  During these events, you meet a lot of people in a short period.  So you want to make sure that your name and company are not forgotten after the show. Remind your contact how you met and mention a key highlight or two from your conversation. If you can think of anything that might help them (a tool, app, blog post, ebook, or even an article on a 3rd party periodical), make sure to pass that along.  You can even ask them about that trip they mentioned or about that school event their child was attending. The more personal you get, the closer the relationship feels. People appreciate it when you show them that you care by remembering details of your conversation.  

CALL

If a contact gave you their phone number, and you mentioned that you would be following up with a call then do it.  They are expecting you to.  If you catch them at a busy time, make sure to schedule another call before you hang up.  Also, don’t follow up first thing on Monday, give you contact some room to breathe after the show.  

IN-PERSON

If you’re in the same geographic area, and your contact is aware that you will be stopping by, visit them and drop off additional information and maybe an invitation for coffee or lunch for another day. Respect their busy schedules, but show some initiative and take advantage of your proximity if you want to connect. They will not forget that you stopped by the office.

FOLLOW-UP SOME MORE

If you tried all the above and you were not able to get a hold of someone, don’t give up that easily.  There are two possibilities:  They are uninterested in continuing the conversation at this time because of a lack of a current need for your product or service, or they are busy and could not find a chance to talk.  Make sure to create a monthly, rhythmic follow up with these contacts and remind them of you and your business.  Eventually, your business will be on their mind whenever they need your services or product.  At this point, your name and your contact info will be easy to reach, and they will turn into a customer when the time is right.


Outdoor-retailer-show

How To Succeed at Outdoor Retailer

Outdoor Retailer: How to be successful?

Exhibiting at a like Outdoor Retailer or even just attending, can be one of the most fun and effective ways to grow your business. But it can also be challenging to connect with new people, form relationships, and then follow up with those people to create real growth in your business.

Trade Shows are often the most expensive line item on your company's marketing budget. Which means that it is vital to ensure you do everything possible to maximize the return on your investment in travel, tickets, promotions and time at a trade show.A properly prepped Outdoor Retailer, as you will see in our Outdoor Retailer Success Series, can massively improve their trade show results with a few simple steps.

Outdoor-retailer-show

Being at a Trade Show with your competitors is an invaluable experience. You can measure your efforts against the competition to capture quality leads or drive traffic to your booth. To get the most out of your marketing expense requires a fully integrated digital to real world strategy. Luckily for you, it is still very uncommon to find exhibitors or attendees who have an effective strategy to maximize their efforts.

Put down your business cards and swag bags, because we are about to leave them in the dust...