For brands doing business in the outdoor space, the opportunities to excel in today’s market abound. In fact, according to the 2023 Outdoor Participation Trends Report from the Outdoor Industry Association:
- An estimated 168.1 million Americans — or 55% of the U.S. population age 6 and older — participated in outdoor recreational activities in 2022. This marks an all-time record number of participants, as well as a 2.3% increase over the preceding year.
- Participant numbers grew in 80% of outdoor activity categories in 2022, including in categories large (such as fishing and camping) and small (such as skateboarding and sport climbing).
- The participant base for outdoor activities is growing more diverse.
7 must-have marketing strategies for outdoor brands
But of course, big opportunities can also bring big competition. And for an outdoor brand to find success in today’s often-crowded marketplace, its outdoor marketing game needs to be strong.
So, to help your outdoor brand reach its full potential in the marketplace, TBA Outdoors has put together the following list of seven outdoor brand marketing strategies that are critical for brands big and small to employ. To ensure that your marketing efforts are covering all the most important bases, make sure your outdoor brand is leveraging all of these success-focused strategies:
1. Establish an unmistakable identity
Having a distinct brand identity will help your business stand apart from the competition — and better resonate with your target consumers. If you haven’t already, put some serious thought into all the elements of your branding, and ensure that they all reflect who you are as a company. Assets to create or review here include your logo, vision statement, mission statement, personality, voice, tone, color palette, font styles and imagery preferences, all of which should be a fit for your brand, what it does and what it stands for. And because the brand and its vision can change over time, it’s a good idea to review all of these assets from time to time to ensure they’re still a fit … and to consider a rebrand if they’re not.
2. Target the right audience
No marketing strategy is a one-size-fits-all endeavor. For your outdoor brand’s marketing efforts to be their most effective, you must understand your target audience, know what drives it, know how/where to reach it and know how to motivate it to take the action(s) you’re seeking. Do the legwork and research needed to gain a strong and thorough understanding of your target consumers, their pain points and needs, their buying behaviors, their media preferences, where they spend their time online, etc. Some of the research-oriented activities and tools that could be a big help here include creating buyer personas, performing audience analysis, putting together and working with focus groups, performing product/service viability testing, performing conjoint analysis, performing ethnographic research, and diving into other forms of market research.
3. … and create engaging content that connects with it
No matter your niche in the outdoor industry, you’re sure to have a target audience that’s passionate about its outdoor pursuits. And between covering topics related to those pursuits (and how to get better at/get more enjoyment out of them) and discussing your brand’s offerings and how to correctly use them, you should already have a deep well of topics to pull from to catch your audience’s interest. Beyond those subject areas, when seeking to provide your audience with valuable, engaging content its members will be eager to consume (and hopefully even share), you can also share your brand’s industry-related insights. You can let your audience know more about your brand and the people who make it tick, and tell the stories of the people who use your products and service, just to name a few ideas. Whatever topics you choose to cover, strive to turn them into compelling written content, videos and imagery, make sure it’s all created specifically to connect with your target audience — and share it across all your brand’s marketing and social channels.
4. Embrace authenticity
Here at TBA Outdoors, we’ve preached about the importance of authenticity for outdoor brands before, but it’s worth repeating. Outdoor enthusiasts are a pretty astute and discerning bunch, and most can tell pretty quickly when a person (or a brand) isn’t being genuine with them. By striving to be true to itself and its values when communicating with consumers, and by being transparent about its products, practices and beliefs, your brand can build trust and credibility with its target audience. In doing so, it can greatly increase prospects’ odds of conversion and, even better, brand loyalty.
5. Employ multi-channel messaging
Outdoor brands face a particular challenge in the digital-focused modern marketing world, as their target audiences are often the types of people who like to disconnect. Digital marketing is still often a big key to success. That is especially the case if your brand can connect with its target consumers where they spend their time (even if that time is limited). It’s often important for outdoor brands to leverage a range of marketing channels to zero in on the right marketing mix. To get more exposure out in the real world, in-store experiences, product launches and special events can often be particularly helpful tools for outdoor brands looking to reach consumers who might not spend a lot of their time online.
6. … and leverage the right influencers
In the outdoor industry, a handful of personalities and professionals can carry a lot of weight among the outdoor enthusiasts who follow them — and this can present big opportunities for the brands that work with them. By partnering with an influencer whose following is a match for your brand or campaign’s target audience, your brand can tap into the trust that consumers have already placed in the influencer. And especially if the influencer is considered an authority within a market niche (let’s say a microinfluencer among flyfishing enthusiasts in a specific region of the U.S., for example), the rates for partnering with him or her to promote your brand can be especially reasonable. For more guidance on how your outdoor brand can leverage influencer marketing to build more consumer connections, check out our “Utilizing Influencers in Your Marketing Plan” and “How to Pick (and Keep) the Right Influencers to Boost Your Brand’s Business” blog articles.
7. Let the data lead your decision-making
Whatever marketing avenues and channels you employ to get the word out about your brand and its offerings and to forge stronger connections with consumers, it’s critical to leverage analytics and the data it can provide to guide your marketing decisions and to optimize your marketing tactics. Analytics-derived data can help you determine what’s working for your brand so you can devote more of your marketing budget to pursuing these tactics — as well as what’s not working so you can make the adjustments needed to improve performance or abandon ineffective tactics altogether. Data can provide invaluable insights that can help your outdoor brand grow and thrive — but only if it’s harnessed and put to work in the right ways.
Looking for expert help to boost the effectiveness of any (or all) of your outdoor brand’s marketing efforts? As part of a fully integrated marketing firm, the outdoors-obsessed marketing pros at TBA Outdoors can cover the full spectrum of your brand’s marketing needs … all in one place. Whether you’re looking for help in areas ranging from branding strategy and research to analytics, creative, social media, e-commerce, public relations, video production and more, we can deliver it.
To explore how we can help your outdoor brand amplify the effectiveness of its marketing campaigns and lots more, reach out to our team of marketing pros today.