Your outdoor industry business is on the cusp of a new adventure, and that’s adventure industry marketing! You’re passionate about helping your target audience experience heart-pumping activities, reach the tops of the highest peaks, and make memories in the great outdoors that they’ll cherish forever. With the right digital strategies for outdoor brands, you can do just that.
But what goes into effective marketing for outdoor adventure companies? Businesses like yours face unique challenges when it comes to establishing a brand identity and increasing revenue, all while maintaining a good reputation in the public’s eye. Read on for a deep dive into boosting brand presence in the outdoor sector with the latest adventure-focused digital strategies!
The Adventure of Digital Marketing in the Outdoor World
Think of digital marketing for your outdoor brand as an adventure to reach new territory, rather than something you “have to do” to grow. There are far more opportunities to experiment with marketing within the outdoors industry than many other industries, so in a way, it can be as adventurous as you’re willing to make it!
Despite the exciting nature of adventure industry marketing, there are a few general hurdles you must understand and overcome to reach success. Here’s a breakdown of a few of them:
- Seasonality: The seasons have a massive impact on outdoor industry marketing. Is your product or service only relevant during the warmer months? Is there a busy season to prepare for? Should you take hunting seasons into account? You must ask yourself questions like these if you’re going to make the right marketing decisions.
- Competing with established brands: There are several big names in the outdoor and adventure industry, and you may be competing with some of them.
- Determining which marketing channels to use: You’ll need to spend your money and efforts on the right marketing channels for the biggest return on your investment (ROI).
- Budgeting: Speaking of money, your budget will play a significant role in knowing how aggressively you can market your business. At the end of the day, you’ll need to invest in your company’s marketing.
- Knowing your audience: Without knowing who your audience is, it is impossible to market effectively — or know if there’s even a demand for your product or service, for that matter.
With the right approach, you can answer these initial questions and get started on your digital marketing adventure!
Crafting a Marketing Trail for Adventure Brands
Marketing is like going on a hike — it’s one step at a time until you reach your destination. Here are the steps you need to take to achieve effective marketing for your outdoor adventure company.
1. Know Your Audience
Marketing is difficult without knowing who you’re marketing to. Your goal should be to create a fictional ideal customer (or several) who represents your target audience and ideal buyers. Look for answers to these questions:
- What age bracket do most of your target audience fall into?
- Are they predominantly male, female, or an even mix?
- What problems are they looking for your product or service to solve?
- What are they passionate about?
- What are some of their moral, ethical, and environmental values?
- What is their socioeconomic status?
You may already know the answers to some of these. Start drafting what your ideal customer looks like, and then you can move on to the next step.
2. Develop a Strategy
To experience the greatest return on your financial and time investment, you must develop a robust adventure-focused digital strategy for all your marketing efforts. Use any data you’ve already gathered to inform your decision making, which will most likely include decisions on how to move forward with the next steps on this list. This is also a good time to set realistic goals for yourself, which you can use as mile-markers on your company’s marketing adventure.
3. Optimize Your Website
If a solid digital marketing strategy is the foundation of your marketing efforts, then a fully optimized website is like the cornerstone that holds everything together. Optimization refers to the following:
- Easy site navigation
- Functionality on desktop as well as mobile devices
- All internal links working
- Color, font, and graphic choices in-line with your branding
- High-quality pictures and videos
- Quick loading times
- Links to your social media pages
Having a professional look over your website is a great way to see what areas of the site need improvement and which are already fully optimized.
4. Set Up Your Google Business Profile
An easy way for more customers to find you on Google and know how to take their next step is to ensure you have a complete Google Business Profile (GBP) set up. Your GBP will include your location (if applicable), contact information, links to your website, and more. This is also where people can find reviews for your business, which is extremely important. More on that later.
5. Get Your Branding Right
Strong, cohesive branding is crucial for any business wanting to stand out from the competition, especially in the outdoor industry. You want your branding to be immediately recognizable, while also aligning with itself across all platforms (your website, social media channels, ads, etc.).
6. Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is the process that allows your website to rank higher on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) when users search for relevant keywords. For instance, if your business makes high-quality hiking backpacks, you’ll want to show up near the top of the results list when someone searches for hiking backpacks. But to rank that highly, you need to prove to Google that your website is truly an answer to the user’s search. For that, you need authoritative, verified content related to hiking backpacks.
7. Generate Professional Content
This leads directly into the next point — creating professional, high-quality content for boosting your brand presence in the outdoor sector. Here are the main three types of content you need for success:
- Written content: When it comes to your target audience educating themselves on your products, the written word is still a powerful asset. This can include blog posts, user guides, social media posts, and more.
- Picture content: High-quality pictures are essential for looking professional and standing out from your competitors. Whether on your website, on an advertisement, or on your social media channels, you want people to enjoy looking at your pictures. They should clearly display the product or service you offer.
- Video content: In today’s digital world, video has become king. Short-form content like TikToks as well as educational and entertaining longform YouTube videos can help people learn more about your brand, products, and services, bringing them one step closer to a sale.
8. Utilize the Power of Social Media
Billions of people are on social media worldwide, so you need to make sure you’re tapping into your target audience who spend time on these channels. Determine which platforms would work best for your niche, and start posting content regularly. Make sure you respond to comments and messages to interact with your audience, as this will help users feel personally engaged with your brand — almost like they know you.
9. Tap Into Email Marketing
Email marketing is still a viable way to convert leads into customers, since you’ll be reaching them in their inbox rather than trying to attract them to come to you. Use email marketing to establish your branding, tell stories related to your products or services, offer discounts, announce special events, and more.
10. Be Willing to Try Something New
What would a marketing adventure be without a little risk? The best outdoor experiences are the ones where you try something new. Maybe you take a new path, and the results aren’t quite worth the detour. Or, perhaps you take the road less traveled, and come to a place you’ve only imagined in your wildest dreams. You won’t know until you try, so be daring and experiment as you progress down the adventure marketing trail!
Adventure-Driven Engagement: Connecting With Outdoor Enthusiasts
A key part of effective marketing for outdoor companies is connecting with adventure enthusiasts. Adventure enthusiasts love experiencing the great outdoors together. Whether it’s engaging in group events or simply connecting with one another online, their love of the outdoors is shared and encouraged amongst each other.
You need to make sure your business is tapping into and becoming a part of that community dynamic. Here are some tips on how to achieve this:
- Join Facebook groups: Many people use Facebook groups to share tips and gear reviews before embarking on their next adventure. Try joining groups that are relevant to your niche, posting content there, and interacting with people in the comments. You can even start your own group, which will give you administrative control over what goes on within it.
- Partner with outdoor and adventure influencers: Influencers are people on social media who have a dedicated following that listens to what they say. Reach out to outdoor and adventure influencers who may be willing to try your product and review it, which will put it in front of a huge, eager audience that you’d be unable to reach so effectively otherwise.
- Partner with your local tourism board: Your local tourism board is a great organization to have on your side, especially if your company offers outdoor and adventure experiences. With their help, you can attract more tourists to your business, helping them have the best adventure possible while visiting your area.
- Time your marketing efforts correctly: Since seasonality is such an important part of adventure industry marketing, you need to make sure you’re timing your marketing efforts correctly. For example, this means advertising your summer products right before summer hits — otherwise, another company might beat you to the punch.
- Get plenty of great reviews: The more positive reviews you have, the more confidence a new lead will feel when considering purchasing your products or services. Ask previous customers using email marketing or social media to leave a positive review on your GBP if they were satisfied with their experience. This will pay dividends when it comes to boosting the positive perception of your outdoor or adventure brand online.
CASE STUDY: THE COMPANY THAT MASTERED MARKETING IN THE ADVENTURE REALM
For a great example of a company that mastered effective marketing for outdoor adventure companies, look no further than Patagonia, who, in 2022, was listed as having the best reputation of any company in the United States.
Today, Patagonia is an instantly recognizable brand in the outdoor adventure apparel niche, but they made some incredibly decisive marketing decisions over the years to claim that status. Here are some of the marketing risks Patagonia has taken over the years that paid off:
- They leaned into anti-consumerism: In a 2011 Black Friday ad in the New York Times saw Patagonia telling consumers not to buy their newest jacket because of the economic impact it took to produce them. This led to an increase in Patagonia sales that holiday season, as consumers were eager to buy from a company that was environmentally conscious.
- They encouraged their customers to repair what they wear: While other apparel brands wanted consumers to buy their latest clothing line, Patagonia encouraged their existing customers to repair the clothing they’d already purchased. They even launched the Worn Wear Wagon in 2015, which was a mobile repair shop that traveled across the country mending clothing and gear for free, while educating consumers on how they could do it themselves. This helped Patagonia tap into the do-it-yourself demographic.
- They told stories: On Patagonia’s website, you’ll find a “Patagonia Films” section where they highlight real-life stories of people around the world who go to great lengths to protect their environment. People love stories and will spend more time engaging with them, and Patagonia’s use of quality video has cemented them as a leader in telling engaging stories that actually impact people’s perception of the world around them.
This list can go on, as Patagonia has gone to great lengths to differentiate themselves from other outdoor apparel brands by taking risks and trying new things in their marketing efforts. This shows that mastering marketing in your own niche is essential for rising to the top of the pack.
PIONEERING THE FUTURE OF ADVENTURE INDUSTRY MARKETING WITH THE COUTTS AGENCY
At The Coutts Agency, we live and breathe the outdoors. It’s where we feel the most at home, and it’s where we like to spend our time when we aren’t helping businesses like yours boost their brand presence in the outdoor sector. If you’re ready to pioneer a new adventure industry marketing path for your business, then we’re ready to come alongside you and turn your vision into a reality.
Fill out the form below, and let’s embark on a journey of successful adventure industry marketing together!