Best practices for elevating awareness of the option to go hunting and fishing, all the benefits these outdoor activities offer, and the easiest target groups to focus your R3 efforts.
Events and Programs
Events are a great tool that can contribute to R3 efforts when set up properly. Professionals may adjust events to make them even more effective for accomplishing R3 goals. While not all events hosted by an organization may be dedicated to creating hunters/anglers/shooters, certain aspects of events may aid in R3 efforts.
Types of Events or Programs
Examples of R3 events and programs may include:
- Give it a Shot Class – a shooting event for those who don’t already hunt, but may learn to shoot using any weapon and learn the basics of the shooting discipline.
- School learn-to-shoot or fish programs (National Archery in the Schools Program, Scholastic Clay Target Program, etc.).
- Learn to fish programs – family-focused events where the entire family develops skills to fish.
- Learn to hunt programs – half-day to multi-day workshops designed to teach individuals skills to learn to hunt.
- Game or fish cooking demonstrations.
- Large events, expo, or trade shows where individuals may first learn about outdoor activities.
- Hands-on programs targeted to teach collegiate audiences to learn to hunt, fish, and/or target shoot.
R3 best practices for events may include:
- Establishing goals and objectives when designing the event and including evaluation of goals to measure accomplishments.
- Including registration through a system that assigns a trackable customer number to relate to license sales.
- Making interactive displays for events to collect customer information.
- Hosting events at state parks or other public and diverse places to engage larger audiences.
- Collecting email addresses and phone numbers for all who attend.
- Building pathways for shooting sports programs to continue target shooting or hunting.
- Surveying attendees to gather event feedback.
- Leveraging resources to benefit R3 efforts, for example using giveaways (trinkets, doodads, pencils, stickers, keychains) to incentivize optional registration.
- Following up with participants after the event and communicating to keep people engaged. Even if it is sharing partner events, you are still keeping them participating!
- Promoting social support for new participants by making them family-friendly and inclusive of mentors so people aren’t alone in their learning pursuits.
- Ensuring the target audience shows up for specific programs by marketing to people who are likely to want to participate and don’t currently participate.
Branding efforts help to ensure participants know whom to connect with after the events or programs. A simple question to answer: “When you have these events, do you look like your agency?” Branding is important because not only does it make a memorable impression on consumers, but it allows the public to know what to expect from your agency. There are many elements leveraged to convey your brand including logo, customer service, promotional merchandise, reputation, social media, uniforms, signage, and more. Consider your brand as the DNA of the organization and as such, it should be woven consistently into everything the organization. Best practices around branding include:
- Having branding guidelines and keeping logos simplistic (not every program needs a separate logo from the agency as this creates confusion of the brand identity among customers and the public.)
- Wearing uniforms/wardrobe that identifies your organization.
- Having an elevator speech about your organization so that you can tell someone about the mission statement in a short, understandable, and relatable way.
- Making sure all communications to customers are branded with email signatures and mass communication efforts, such as social media, website, signage, printed materials, and even in the manner in which your organization answers a phone, convey the branding you wish for your organization.
- Using imagery that doesn’t offend potential customers (no blood in photos, or using too many grip and grins).
Organizations need tools to follow up and leverage information collected from customers or potential customers. Organizations must have established communication practices to follow up after events and have opt-in content for people to subscribe to. These communication tools should highlight hunting/fishing/shooting participation and how people can get involved in these activities.
Ideal Formats for follow up communication include:
- Email, text, etc.,
- Social media,
- Magazines/organization-owned media,
- Calendar of messaging (see appendix for examples).
Best practices for these channels include:
- Putting buttons/links/websites in every communication you send out for people to purchase a license or at least include information about how to get a license.
- Having a plan (media or outreach plan for a year) to share hunting, angling, outreach, shooting sports, and other information with customers.
- Identifying which target audience you want to reach and the right channels selected to do so.
It is important to recruit new audiences from places that are not likely to include current hunters/anglers/shooters and of whom would not have organically gotten involved (through traditional methods), and finally, who likely would be interested in learning to become hunters/anglers/shooters. It is best to identify target audiences from current research to find the correct channels to communicate with them, and it is easy to use current data sources to identify which audience segments make up the biggest volume and/or fastest growth segment for your organization.
Recommended Locations might inlcude:
- Schools, colleges, and universities.
- USA Archery Clubs, USA Shooting Clubs, Scouts, 4-H clubs, or other outdoor-focused groups.
- Local Park and Recreation Departments.
- Shooting ranges or shooting programs.
- Farmer’s markets or local-food-focused markets to find food-motivated people.
- State parks.
- Other outdoor recreation events might include mountain bikers, hikers, and other outdoor recreationists.
Good Imagery and Proper Creative
To increase awareness of hunting, target shooting, and other outdoor recreation activities, organizations need the right images in order to make sure people can see themselves as a hunter/angler/shooter. It is often a challenge to have the right photos to create the proper content, and it poses the question: “How does an organization get the right photos?” Here are some ideas:
- Pay someone to take specific pictures.
- Partner with brands to use their imagery.
- Use other resources like RBFF photo library, National R3 Clearinghouse, the ATA video and photo assets, and the IHEA Hunter Connect content.
- Hold photo contests with parameters to crowdsource high-quality photos.
- Purchase online stock photo imagery. (This may not be as authentic or preferable for your organization, but can help in a pinch or serve as a starting point.)
- Identify organization personnel that likes to take photos and give them a wish list of pictures to capture as they go.
- Provide guidelines for good photos ( such as the resources below).
Invest in Paid Marketing
There are many levels of investment an organization may make in increasing awareness, acceptance, and consideration of hunting/fishing/shooting. Organizations should focus on their current constituents as well as those who could become constituents in the future. In regards to R3, organizations might focus on likeminded, current constituents, target shooters, and outdoorsy people.
Best Practices for Investing in Paid Marketing include:
- Identifying opportunities your organization may invest in marketing and then work with a professional marketing firm in order to develop the right strategy.
- Finding financial resources to allow an organization to invest at least $25,000 in a year, and then use in-house communications personnel to place ads on social media and other digital, measureable channels.
- Using measureable strategies in order to prove ad effectiveness.
- Evaluating the marketing efforts and hone the strategies over time while paying attention to return on ad spend (ROAS), impressions, return on investment (ROI), and conversions.
Proven Strategies include:
- Placing digital ads targeted to target audiences and lapsed customers.
- Geofencing digital ads around key geographic areas.
- Sending email/text campaigns to lapsed customers.
- Placing social media ads targeted to lookalike audiences of your organization and other organization pages like state parks for state fish and wildlife agencies.
- Placing YouTube pre-roll ads to increase awareness.
- Retargeting people who have abandoned your sales site.
- Placing Amazon ads for people looking for outdoor equipment.
- Boosting events on Facebook/social media to targeted audiences.
- Improving the customer experience on your e-commerce site, and ensuring your landing page content is relevant and engaging to your target audience.
- Developing an appropriate call-to-action and providing resources to drive people to action.
Having goals for a number of new recruits in a year, a number of people retained, a number of people reactivated and the overall goals for a number of licenses sold in a year are key to evaluating the success of an organization’s efforts to increase awareness of outdoor recreation activities. With those goals in mind, an organization may use select the appropriate resources and investments to accomplish their marketing and overall R3 goals.
Example Benchmarks include:
- Fishing churn less than 50%.
- Hunting churn less than 50%.
- Selling licenses to 700,000 people in 2020.
- Selling 20% of all licenses to first-time customers in one year.
- Producing $2.5 million in license revenue with a $250,000 marketing budget.
- Increasing awareness of x opportunity by x% measured through a survey.
- Increasing purchases of hunting/fishing/target shooting equipment by participants.
- Reactivating x people each year and decreasing average lapsed time per customer.
- Increasing subscribers for agency communications.
- Increasing amount of events that are focused on R3 and reaching new audiences through new channels each year.
Resource Appendix – Supporting Content
- RBFF Photo library
- Photo shot list example – Project Mountain Top https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kkHvn_hLlptChewJbMQB-9p4CqWrC_LC/view
- Photo contest examples-
- Pheasants forever – https://pheasantsforever.org/BlogLanding/Blogs/Pheasants-Forever/Habitat-How-To-Party-in-the-Food-Plot.aspx?feed=articles
- Social media contest http://outdoornebraska.gov/takeemfishing/
- OK magazine contest https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/outdoor-oklahoma/rps
- # campaign examples on social for diversity https://www.takemefishing.org/corporate/resource-center/research/hispanic-market-research/
- OR photo contests – https://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/2020/06_June/060220.asp
- Example emails used for follow up for events and customer tracking
- Branding documents
- Montana – http://fwp.mt.gov/brandlibrary
- Event examples for fishing/hunting/shooting:
- Target audiences information –
- Marketing evaluation metrics – what you should pay attention to and what to ignore
- Messages to use/not to use –
- Trapping matters – https://www.fishwildlife.org/application/files/4015/2183/4400/Trapping-Matters-Brochures__updated_for_2017.pdf
- Words matter study – https://www.diversegreen.org/beyond-diversity/
- ATA video/photo assets.
- IHEA’s new Hunters Connect for millennial/GenX video series.
- Geofencing digital ads examples of places to target
- Online club, coach and event locators with zipcode search (USA Archery, etc.)