There's no doubt that marketing has changed; consumers have changed, how we reach people has changed, buying habits have changed, priorities have changed. As millennials continue to drive the outdoor industry many brands seem to be playing catch-up with their marketing strategies. The biggest piece of advice we can give you is to quit selling products and start sharing stories. Share your brand values, share ideas, share tips, share adventures. Be human, be authentic, be something that people relate to. A great avenue for this authenticity is an adventure blog where you can share amazing experiences that people can have through the use of your products. Isn't that what the outdoor industry is all about? We all aspire for that connection, that adrenaline rush, that moment of awe that we get from nature. Isn't that far more inspiring than the technical specifications of a mountain bike? Here are a few examples of companies that have taken storytelling to heart.
MSR - Summit Register
If you've spent any time in the camping section of a Cabela's or REI you are sure to have seen some MSR products. They manufacture water filters, backpacking stoves, tents, snowshoes and more. Their gear is highly technical and designed for people looking to get into the backcountry. Their blog, titled the Summit Register, is organized into six categories; technology, trip reports, recipes, culture, science and global health. These categories are a great representation of the values of MSR and what makes their company different. The blog is a mixture of tips, gear profiles and adventures to far off places. They've done a great job of creating content for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. Their posts not only educate, but inspire people to plan their next adventure and thoughtfully present them with product information. It's very well done and definitely worth a read.
Mountain Hardwear - Stories from the Tribe
Mountain Hardwear has taken their blog to another level. It's filled with a mix of photo features, videos, and stories from athletes, ambassadors and adventurers. They cover topics from mountaineering to camping to rocking climbing. The layout and design of their blog is reminiscent of an online magazine that grabs your attention with large photos intermixed with written text. They've even managed to include links to products within some of the photo features. The thing that stands out to me about this blog is the range of activities and ability levels that are represented. The blog does a great job of showing the versatility of Mountain Hardwear's products while connecting with consumers through text, photos and videos.
Mystery Ranch is a smaller known company located right here in Bozeman, MT, specializing in packs. It was founded by an industry icon, Dana Gleason, who has been a leader in backpack design for years. Though a smaller company than our first two examples, they have done a great job of storytelling with their blog. They've utilized backpackers, climbers and hunters to share their stories of adventure and showcase how their products played a part in the story. Again, the blog posts are a mix of images and text to present the experience and build the Mystery Ranch brand. Mystery Ranch products play an integral part of each of these stories so it's easy for consumers to make the connection between their potential excursions and the benefits of Mystery Ranch products.
Creating the Content
In each of these examples, the content is mostly produced by an athlete or ambassador who is out in the backcountry, sharing their adventure. Does your company have some of these individuals they could lean on for this type of content? Maybe this person is an employee, maybe it is a friend of the company, or maybe you need to search out an individual with the passion, experience and skill set to help. In that case, how do you compensate this person? That will vary from ambassador to ambassador and from project to project. It may be a financial compensation or it may be gear. That is something you will have to negotiate. The goal for this exchange of content ultimately is a piece or pieces of content that help tell the story of your brand in exchange for something of value. The potential benefit to your brand is huge and can go a long way in helping connect with consumers.
Incorporating an adventure blog into your digital marketing strategy not only provides content on your website for users to engage with, but it also provides you valuable content to distribute on social media. Your blog strategy will tie right in with your social strategy and help you distribute your brand more effectively. I believe that to provide value on social media you need to have some great content behind it. An adventure blog is just that, and if done consistently, will pay dividends for years to come.