Thank you for stopping by the Outdoor Business Network SHOT Show booth and requesting more information from our company. The show was a huge success for us, and we are looking forward to another great year serving the shooting sports industry. Hopefully you had a chance to speak with one of our representatives or partners to get a taste of what Outdoor Business Network can do for you and your company.
2015 SHOT Show booth # 2033 – Outdoor Business Network
We will be following up with each and every person we met at the show, however please understand this will take some time. We have a low pressure sales approach, so we won’t be bugging you with lots of follow up phone calls. If you are ready to go and want to get started on your e-commerce website or marketing right away, don’t hesitate to drop us an email or phone call.
We look forward to serving you in the future. Please stay tuned as we will be updating you with more information regarding our products and services shortly.
The team at OBN has made a concerted effort to contact each of our clients individually. Much like ourselves, we find our customers are busy running the day to day tasks. The reason for these courtesy calls is just that. Our first goal is to be sure you have all of your questions answered and possible assist you with any tasks that you have been meaning to get to. The second and possibly larger reason for us calling on you all is that we very much want to be sure that you are all aware of our marketing capabilities. From some simple Online Marketing Campaign to full on marketing management, the power of a well structured can drastically change the livelihood of your business.
If you have read any of my past Blogs you will know that OBN believes in the power of marketing. We can custom tailor your marketing solution to meet your budget. The process is really quite painless and the rewards that can be reaped are well worth the effort. While we will continue to reach out to all of you I urge you to get in touch with us too. There is no task to small to help you with and the knowledge that we have to share with you can literally be the difference in making or breaking your business.
As always call us at: 1-800-699-0820 ext 814 for sales/marketing and ext 2 for support.
Every company needs an effective logo to represent their branding and provide consumers an easily recognizable graphic representation of the company and it’s core values. Logo’s can become the public face of a business and in examples of extremely effective logo design, can even replace the brand name as the most ubiquitous aspect of a company (see the Nike “Swoosh” or McDonald’s “Golden Arches”). Creating and implementing an effective logo is an essential step in the evolution of any successful retailer.
What is the purpose of a logo?
Logos are an aspect of a company’s branding, they’re used as the graphical representation of a company’s values and goals. Logos are used to identify a particular entity in a sea of competitors, and help to inspire loyalty, trust and admiration among consumers. An effective logo design will help to convey not only what a company does, but what it stands for. Although logos are not generally created to be a salable commodity, it’s not unheard for a great logo to become just that (again, see the Nike “Swoosh”).
What elements make up a good logo?
Generally it’s accepted that there are 5 basic principles that every logo should encompass:
Simple: Often logos need to communicate both effectively and quickly. Logos need to be as easily recognized by someone speeding by a billboard at 70mph, as they would be by someone watching a 30 second commercial on tv. The key to speedy recognition is simplicity of design; the fewer elements, the easier it is for the viewer to distinguish what he or she is looking at.
Memorable: Of equal importance to the logo being recognized, is the logo’s ability to leave a lasting impression on the viewer. The goal of an effective logo is to create a relationship between a symbol and what it symbolizes, to accomplish this task it must be easily remembered. An effective logo will be easily remembered so that the consumer can easily recognize the symbol of a company and what that company stands for.
Timelessness: In order for a logo to remain memorable it also must remain unchanged. Logos need to be created in such away that allows them to remain relevant even with changes in design aesthetics and popular preferences. Updates are appropriate from time to time, but the general feel of a logo should be created in such a way as to allow for changes in taste without compromising the logos integrity.
Versatile: Logos need to be able to function across a variety of different media and applications. For instance an ideal logo would look good on a website header, plastered on a billboard, or stitched into a company t-shirt. An effective logo should look as good in black and white as it does in color. Ideally logos should be created in vector graphics format. Vector graphics scale to any size and can be enlarged or shrunk to fit any application without a loss of quality.
Appropriate: The effective logo needs to take into account the audience it is hoping to capture and be appropriately designed with the intended viewers in mind. This isn’t to say that every logo for a gun store needs to have a firearm in the design, however if you’re intended audience is the recreational hunter you may want to include camouflage or a deer, where as a company going after tactical sales may want to include carbon fiber or soldier silhouette in the design.
What does good logo design cost?
The cost of logo design can vary greatly depending on the needs of client. How many logo concepts need to be presented? How many rounds of revisions are included in the design quote? What type of finished files are required, .pdf, .eps, .png, .jpg? Large companies have spent millions of dollars on logo design and implementation. OBN offers logo design packages starting at $499 that include multiple design concepts, one round of revisions, and final image outputs in several formats including scalable vector graphics.
Customer phone calls are important to any e-commerce or brick and mortar business. Want to learn some tips, tricks, and best practices to make your customer phone calls more effective? Let’s take a look at how to handle sales related phone calls in the first part of my two part series on customer service.
Part 1: Handling Sales Related Customer Calls
Seeing an Opportunity
This process is very similar to interacting with a customer in your brick and mortar retail store or even at a gun show. In the e-commerce world helping customers over the phone is not only necessary, but also a great opportunity to help and connect with customers. A person calling your phone line is probably looking to make a purchase, but before we begin, we need to lay down some ground rules for customer call.
Establish a Greeting
First greet each customer in a professional manner. A simple way to do this is to say, “Hello, (your business name), this is (your name), how can I help you?”
This will put the customer at ease, it ensures they have gotten to the right place and are talking with a real person. You now need to let the customer talk and tell you what they are looking for.
Asking the Right Questions
So let’s say for the sake of this post that, you own a gun store and a customer has called you. You greet politely them as usual and the customer then asks you, “What gauge shotgun do your recommend for skeet shooting?” This isn’t a waste of your day, it’s a buying signal.
Once they have said what they are looking for repeat it back to them and ask another probing question. This shows that you are listening and trying to help them. Try to ask questions that will give you insight into the customer’s needs. Avoid questions that make the customer unsure or intimidated. If you ask the right questions you should be able to get a very clear sense of your customer’s wants and needs.
Establishing a Budget
Next, you need a budget. Ask them, “How much are you looking to spend?”
Be prepared for two types of answers. You are either going to hear a number or they are going to ask you to make a recommendation.
• A number is easy. From there you would talk about products that are at or around their target range. Don’t be afraid to recommend something that isn’t exactly at their number. If they don’t need to spend as much or if they may need to spend a little more to accomplish their goal, tell them, and make your honest recommendation. They will be much happier with something costing 10-20% more or less than the number they mentioned if it is the right product for them.
• Recommending a price range is more difficult, but it’s nothing to be intimidated by. Simply think about it this way; recommend a specific product that you would want to purchase given two conditions:
• You are looking to get a high quality item that will last a long time
• You are looking to invest a decent amount of time and energy using the product you buy. If possible recommend something that you have had some personal experience with.
Benefits are Key to Any Sale
Once you have established a budget and recommended a product you need to start listing benefits and explain why you are making that recommendation. A benefit is the positive effect on your customer of a certain feature. For example a feature of a rifle may be a picatinny rail. The benefit to a picatinny rail is that they can easily attach any accessory that they may want often without using tools, so they won’t need to get a screwdriver out to add a tactical light on to their gun.
Keep talking about benefits and be sure to put the product where the customer can see it. An effective way to do this is to direct the customer to the product on your e-commerce website or to email them a link.
When you have both chosen a product and outlined some benefits it is now time to listen to the customer’s concerns and talk with them about their objections. Be sure to answer all of their questions as professionally as possible and find them the right information if you have to. It is important to re-establish that this is the right product for the customer when dealing with objections. Then keep talking about benefits.
What if The Customer Doesn’t Like What You Recommend?
If the customer doesn’t like what you have picked out for them don’t argue. The response to that is, “Ok, no problem let’s find you something else.”
Then move on. The important part here is to make a sale NOT make your point or try to change the customer’s mentality.
Closing the Sale
Once the customer is seeing the benefits and how they can work for them ask for the sale by inquiring, “Is this something I can ship out to you today?” or in the case of firearms, “what FFL will I be sending this gun to?” If the customer really likes the product it is worth trying an assumptive add-on close. In this case, a good way to do this would be to say, “how about some extra choke tubes to go with your new shotgun?”
Odds are these questions will lead your customer in the right direction without being forceful. Once you do make the sale reinforce that the customer has made a good decision and that they will be happy with their new product.
If you do have to end the call before the sale is made remember to follow up with the customer. Ask for permission to send him some information about the products he is looking for. You can easily email the customer links to products on your site with a personal note recommending certain items.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation has created a great video talking about in person customer interactions. A lot of it applies over the phone and it is worth spending time to watch. Taking these steps on the phone and in person will leave your customers happier and put more money in your pocket.
By 2014 every business should have at least a website capable of informing customers what you have to offer, the time your store is open for business, and some contact information in case they needed to call. For retail stores, not having a fully functioning eCommerce website could be limiting the amount potential growth your company has. Think about it, in today’s world, when someone is looking for a retailer they go online and search for it. Unfortunately, the yellow pages are now considered to be practically stone aged but there is something you can do as a retailer to keep up with the times. Let us go through 10 reasons why your company needs to be on the web by 2014!
1. Promoting the Presence of your Brick-n-Mortar Store
Finding your store isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and can become quite frustrating. Having an online store you’re able to publish a virtual map on your website which can show directions and easy identifiable landmarks for customers to print out.
In case you’re business grows too large for your current store front, you may move to a large facility. Doing this you will be waiting on the phone company to come out and set up your connection, since a website is flexible you will be able to inform customers where you’re new shop.
2. Expanding the Market
The internet has allowed companies to offer their products to people all over the world, virtually in any country as long as they have internet service. This is huge for companies, being able to expand their businesses reach. On a smaller scale level, this helps small businesses become more competitive, you may not get that customer 1000 miles away, but you have the potential to grab that customer that may think it’s just a little far to drive to your store front.
This is great for businesses, never having to close down ever again, make employees work endless hours! Ha! No, having a fully functioning website will allow you to step away from the shop on holidays and special occasions knowing that customers can still buy your product online. Having a website means your company will be able to stay open every hour of every day.
4. Advertising Goes Further
The internet is vastly different from print and media advertising. Print and media advertising can become quite costly not to mention frustrating, while having an online store companies can advertise online to customers for less while achieving more! With the technology today you are able to track each ads performance on a day to day basis.
5. Growth Opportunity
Having a website is a great place to refer potential investors and customers to, showing them what your company is about, what is stands for while having proof of what it has achieved and the potential is has to achieve in the future!
6. Standardize the Sales
Having the ability to study your website and looking at what sales approached worked and which have not. Studying this and taking notes will allow you to create the sale proof pitch using it on every customer to increase the amount of sales.
7. Adding Value and Satisfaction to the Customer
Your company website can add an invisible value to help your customers and visitors remember you better by adding general knowledge, advice, and featuring some tips. All of these things can not only improve the chance of your customers returning to your website but also help them remember what they’ve seen and read.
A website provides the opportunity to inform potential customers what your company is and why they can trust you and your products. Many people use the internet to reference ratings and reviews on products prior to purchasing a product. This also allows a free marketing tool, where no longer do you have to spread the positive word but your customers do some of the marketing for you by showing off where and how they got their newest product.
9. Two-way Communicative Marketing
When a customer needs quick feedback on a product, they can easily refer to a website to find what they are looking for. Having a website that provides the feedback of prior customers can ensure the newer customers that they are receiving what they are paying for. They can also give your company the feedback on your products and the marketing approach you may have took on that page.
10. Cheap Research
Having a website provides your business with the opportunity to show features, and new products. But can also provide some market research to determine just how well your business sizes up to the next by adding visitor polls, online surveys, and using your web statistics.
This isn’t the Stone Age, store to store business may not be enough anymore. Make sure your business doesn’t suffer from the lack of knowledge available at hand. Take advantage of everything the web has to offer. Analyze the data and monitor your progress, to ensure the survival of your business. Don’t get left behind!
Tip of the Post
“Not having a functioning website only limits your company’s success” – Korey P.
Today one of the challenges we face is just as the internet is an amazing avenue to market your website, products and even yourself it is equally an amazing way for disgruntled users to tarnish your otherwise good name. The internet has given a voice to everyone. Good bad or indifferent people of all walks of life speak their minds freely in every conceivable way on the internet. They also tend to be braver and more disrespectful as they can use the anonymity of the internet to hide behind. So with that said if you work in an online environment long enough you are going to upset someone enough where they will feel it necessary to berate you beyond reproach. I know for a fact most of these people would never act this way or even say anything at all however that isn’t what we are dealing with here.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that you did in fact make an honest mistake and messed up a customer’s order. Maybe you shipped it late or you sent the wrong item. This customer decides that this is the end of the world blasts you on the popular forum or facebook page. If it was in fact your fault, admit it. Respond politely, honesty and with dignity. Accept responsibility for the mistake. Your customer absolutely doesn’t want to hear nor do they care that the UPS or FEDEX guy didn’t show up on time. The only thing they know is they ordered a particular item and you failed to deliver it. So own up and apologize publicly. You would be amazed at what a simple apology can do to calm an irate customer. Now let us say this doesn’t calm them down. Publically offer to make it right. Perhaps offer a coupon code for them to use on their next purchase. What is important here above all else is to take the high road and maintain integrity. Do not under any circumstances lose your cool and retaliate. Continue to offer to help the customer and anyone else reading the post will quickly see who is trying to fix the situation and who is simply there to stir up trouble.
Another solution is heading it off before it ever happens. If you know you did something wrong, such as you discovered you sent the wrong part to the customer because you attached the wrong shipping label to a package, call them first. Do not wait for the customer to be surprised. If you call them before they notice it shows you are on top of your game as a company and it will also give you the opportunity to control the flow of information. You can apologize for the mix up before the customer even has time to get mad about it. More often than not this will solve the problem assuming you have the correct part on the way.
Once again I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to maintaining a high level of composure. Trust me when I say you will be tested like never before. People will say horrible things, make threats and demand ridiculous actions from you. Simply apologize and offer reasonable solutions. Never argue as it will only escalate the situation and make you look unsympathetic. Again if they are acting like a crazed person on the internet it will quickly become evident. If you have a particularly tricky situation give us a call and we will do our very best to help you smooth over a bad situation.
Folks I simply had to touch on this. The past few months the number one bit of feedback (complaints) is that the distributors have no product for them to sell. I ask. What products are you specifically referring to? The overwhelming response is firearms, ammo & magazines. Every customer I talk to repeat this to me over and over. Now I am no fool and understand all too well what is happening right now in our industry. I also understand that there is a definite shortage if you will on those for mentioned products. Here is the major news flash many retailers are missing. THOSE ARE NOT THE ONLY ITEMS THE DISTRIBUTORS CARRY FOR YOU TO SELL!!! The major distributors carry and currently stock tens of thousands of items for the outdoor sports and shooting industries. I know it isn’t the fun stuff like a Sig Equinox or a box of PMags but it is a bunch of stuff consumers want and need. Many of these items are consumables that will be re-ordered from time to time. As a retailer it is your job to show case all these other products. Let’s take for an example a lot of guns have been bought out there and no doubt a bunch where first time gun owners. These people will need all the usual cleaning accessories, targets, hearing protection, gun oils & lubes, bi-pods, shooting rests, belts, holsters etc. The veteran gun owners will need, sights, tools, parts, spacers, grips, just to name a few. The simple fact is there are way more items to sell than to not sell. I have customers who have truly embraced this mindset and have learned with our help to market and sell a ton of these “forgotten” products. These customers have shown growth in a time when others are stuck wallowing in mediocrity. To survive and do well in any industry you must adapt and overcome with the changing times. As always contact our sales department to learn more. 1-800-699-0820 ext. 1
The following states honor a valid Iowa Permit To Carry firearms license: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
E-commerce and fraud go hand in hand. There are dishonest people out there trying to beat the system or even going as far as aiding terrorist groups abroad. This blog will cover some “red flags” to watch for when processing your orders on your e-commerce website. I will go over the things that we look for as warnings that something may be amiss. I know it’s exciting to get a stack of orders in on your site but you need to be vigilant at this time and carefully screen them. If you ship out a fraudulent order or have it drop shipped from your distributor there is most likely no turning back and it will only be a matter of time before the true card holder charges back the order. You will be left with no product and having to refund the money and will still get billed by your distributor. That is bad and can be a killer for a small business. Here are some things to look for below that could be considered suspect. This list is by no means all inclusive but it will serve as a good guide. If you are unsure about an order call Outdoor Business Network and/or call your merchant service provider. We will be more than happy to help you research the questioned order.
1) Check Shipping, Billing and Customer addresses.
If you see the discrepancies in addresses call your customer to verify ALL information you have received. I would even go as far as casually asking them perhaps what kind of a firearm they are using a particular item they ordered on. If you are worried about the customer being annoyed they won’t be. Treat it as you are simply looking out for their best interest. They will thank you for this. By doing this and verifying they are who they say they are you will also be building customer loyalty and they will be far more likely to repeat business with you down the road.
2) Let Google & Google maps be your friend.
We use these tools all the time when something seems fishy. We search addresses for a multitude of reasons. One thing happening in the fraud world is items are purchased from a legitimate card unbeknownst to the actual card holder. The Customer and Billing address usually match but the shipping address is different. On several occasions we have found that by searching the shipping address we find that it is some form of mail forwarding service. These “services” many times are involved in terrorist activity overseas. If this scenario arises I advise to not ship that order at all.
3) Expedited or Overnight Shipping.
Yes that is correct. The bad guys have figured that they have a limited window of opportunity to use someone’s ill gotten credit card info before they or the bank figure out what is happening. So with time being a factor they want these things shipped out as soon as possible. If you see the faster shipping charges being used call your customer.
4) Larger than average orders.
If your average order is consistent between $100-$150 and then all of a sudden you get a string of orders for significantly higher amounts that could mean you are being targeted.
5) Orders for several similar or identical items.
In the shooting industry by far the most sought after products when it comes to credit card fraud are scopes and holographic optics. I would call and check on every single one of these. These are definitely the hot product and they definitely do end up in the hands of some very bad people. So when you see orders for a scope and definitely when you see orders for multiple scope/optic type items you will again want to contact your customer.
6) International shipping addresses.
A large number of fraudulent transactions are shipped to international address. As far as the shooting industries being concerned I would almost avoid that all together as many items, such as scopes, are prohibited from being sent out of the country without the proper exporting paperwork. If you are going to get into international shipments be sure to do a ton of research to protect yourself as much as possible.
7) Payments with similar card account numbers.
Many bad card numbers are created through various types of software. These numbers are often similar.
8) Multiple orders shipped to the same address.
If a several different cards are used to ship product to a given address especially in a short period of time this may also be an indicator of fraudulent activity. Again the crooks have a limited time frame to work with so they order as much as they can with as many cards as they can in a short period of time.
9) Multiple shipping addresses.
When a particular card is used to ship to several addresses that may also be cause for alarm.
As far as prevention is concerned you can also do the following things listed
1) Educate yourself and your staff
Many of these things are simple to avoid if the whole team is simply on the same page. As a business owner learn about this stuff and pass that knowledge on to your staff. The time and effort spent will be well worth it.
2) Use a reputable merchant services
Good merchant service providers often have many security tools built into your account. Use them! If you are unsure of who is a quality company to work with OBN is happy to make a recommendation as we work with several trusted entities.
3) Use the card security codes
Card Security Codes help verify that the customer is in a physical possession of a valid card during a card-not-present transaction.
4) Use Address Verification System
This will verify the billing address for the card.
5) Call the payment gateway
When in doubt, you can call the payment gateway and verify everything on the card is on the up-and-up. You can verify the card holders name, address and funds. You pay for a service, make sure you are taking full advantage of it.
Nothing makes us happier than seeing traffic and sales come through your site; just as nothing pains us more than seeing fraudulent orders come through. We want to see you succeed in your business plan. It would be easy to change your website to process orders automatically but that would do nothing to stop fraud and be detrimental to the long term viability of your business. Profitability is the objective but nothing short of due diligence will help you accomplish that goal.
Get your business ready for Father’s Day spending.
With over 70 million dads in America, there are plenty of reasons to boost your site this Father’s Day and offer promotions that your customers won’t be able to resist. It is projected this year that more families will be spending money on Father’s Day as it has taken a hit these past few years during the economic recession. For those of you who are not the best at creating specials or haven’t given thought to a sales campaign for this Father’s Day, here are five fun ways to get your customer’s involved this Father’s Day:
Have people upload pictures of themselves with their dads to your Facebook or Twitter page to get a discount at your online store. Customers will be interacting with your social media pages and shopping your retail site.
Bundle a few different packages on your eCommerce site to make shopping easy. Give a discount when customers buy the bundle and give them great, fun names. You could have one with a firearm, ammo and a holster and call it the “For When your Daughter Starts Dating” package.
Do a free giveaway with a gift card purchase. Find an item that is overstocked and use it as a purchase with purchase when anyone gets a gift card for dad. More importantly, most of the time people will find something more expensive than their gift card and your sales will be even higher.
Create a new look for the special, giving customers a fresh outlook on your site. This can be done by uploading new pictures to your homepage or creating a new banner. Through image association, you can train your customers to know when there is a sale and build a sense of urgency – they need to buy now because there is a sale.
Pair up with another local business, maybe a restaurant or a movie theater, and build a package that could be “Dad’s Night Out.” This is something that sites like Groupon and Living Social will be doing, so you can get ahead of the curve by doing a local event or even partnering with a similar website.