It’s Not All About the Trophies… Relax and Enjoy the Journey!

As you might already know, I do a lot in the outdoor industry. In my work in this realm, I notice so many hunters and fishermen who get caught up in the “trophy experience” and lose sight of what brought them to the outdoors in the first place. This is an easy trap to fall in to and I have even been there before myself. Its hard not to desire the trophy bucks and bulls or the giant bass and catfish, just to name a few love affairs. I’m not saying we should not strive after these things at all but, instead, that is shouldn’t be our entire focus.

I am proud to say I shot one of the biggest deer of my life this season but that is not why I hunt. Last December and this past January I helped land 45 pound catfish while fishing Lake Conroe but that is not why I fish. I just love the outdoors. Most of us entered into our outdoor pursuits strictly for the love of the outdoors without getting caught in all the hype of hunting and fishing for the biggest and the best. We can’t send the message to our youth that hunting and fishing for the monsters of the field and water is the sole reason as to why we do what we do. They have to have the same appreciation of the outdoors as we do as adults for our industry to survive. They have to feel what we feel as outdoorsmen for them to grow and prosper in this heritage. Many outdoorsmen, young and old alike, are concerned with the decline of youth entering the outdoor sports. If we make the biggest and best fish and game the only thing that is important and lose sight of loving the outdoors first, we might indeed have a problem. So many people in our industry talk about taking kids fishing or hunting but we all have to embrace this ourselves for it to really leave a mark on our future outdoorsmen and women.

Remember the rush of the first time you were in front of wild game while you remained undetected? I especially get an adrenaline boost from bowhunting 20 yards or less away from Whitetail deer. Remember the feeling of setting the hook on and reeling in your first fish? Some may laugh but I still enjoy fishing for bluegill, usually with my son, these days. The action is fast and fun! We sometimes quickly forget these kinds of experiences in the name of going after something bigger and better. My point is that we should enjoy the journey and take in all that the outdoors has to offer. Step back and relax in the outdoors. Take it all in and don’t get caught up in the trophy hype. That’s not what it’s all about. It’s God’s country after all and there is so much to appreciate about it. A trophy is in the eye of the beholder after all. We should enjoy this journey into the outdoors and celebrate every part of it and let those around us, outdoorsmen and women or not, experience our passion as well.

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Rained Out…But Never Giving Up

My annual gun hunt to Brady, Texas (located in West Central Texas) was scheduled for this weekend but was cancelled due to rain. This was a frustrating set of circumstances as my heart was set on this trip and I had been planning for it for months.

This cancellation reminded me of my resolve to never to give up, no matter what the weather turns out to be or anything else that comes my way. Hunting, fishing, or any outdoor pursuit can be frustrating at times. If you have been participating in the outdoors for long, you will no doubt have had setbacks or missed opportunities. We all have. The most important reminder, regardless of the circumstances, is to never give up hope. As long as you wake up on this side of the ground, it’s a good day.

I still wanted to hunt this weekend so I went out to a hunting ranch I work with for a hog hunt with one of my World War II military surplus rifles. The weather was awful and the hogs stayed bedded up all evening. It was one of the worst weather days I have had in the field in a long time but I endured it. Later that evening, after sunset, I was caught out in one on the worst thunderstorms I have experienced in years before my guide could come pick myself and the other hunters up from the field. I had a rain suit on and took shelter in my ground blind but even then I still got wet. It didn’t matter, I still kept a positive attitude. I knew I would have another chance to come back and hunt again so all was not lost.

There are a few things I am reminded of when I have a rough experience. Consider that a billion or so people slept on a dirt floor last night. Over 80% of the world will never use a cell phone. Our problems aren’t all that bad in comparison. Regardless of what comes my way with work, family, friends, or other aspects of my life, I always try to live in gratitude for all that I have, all that I have had, and all that I will have in the future. I believe that living a life of gratitude for the blessings we all have is crucial to success in any pursuit and this is especially true in the outdoors. No matter what happens to you, there is always something you can find to be grateful for around you and there is no reason to play the victim to your circumstances. I subscribe to the belief that we are made stronger by our adversities if we learn to fight through them and keep moving forward, learning along the way.

An idea I use to help me stay in this state of always giving thanks to our Creator is to place reminders around me of all that I have to be thankful for in the past, present, and future. These are usually photos, messages from loved ones, notes from my customers, and other keepsakes. In this season of thanksgiving, I am reminded that we should be thankful all year long for the blessings we have, not on just one holiday.

The Brady trip was rescheduled. In a couple of weeks I go on a trip with my Christian brothers from Crosswater Outfitters, a Christian ministry supporting veterans and their families, on a jug fishing trip to Lake Conroe for trophy catfish. All is well. Even if I get rained on again, which happened the entire weekend on last December’s trip to Lake Conroe in 30 degree temperatures, I will still keep a positive attitude and I encourage you to do the same as well. It sure makes life a little more fun when you look at it as a journey, not just a destination. It takes a change in perspective sometimes for us to look at adversity and setbacks as just another road bump along the way. Be who you are, use what you have, and do what matters. Make the best of what you have at the end of each day and live your life to its fullest potential. Life is short. By the time we figure it all out, the moments to enjoy it have already past. Live in the journey…

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Growing Your Business in the Outdoor Industry

Over the years with my company, Warncke Enterprises, I have helped launch many start-up outdoor companies into the outdoor industry and consulted with many who needed help growing their businesses with sales and marketing support. I also combine my resources with different marketing and advertising companies which work exclusively in the outdoor industry.

I have consulted with hunting ranches, fishing and hunting guides, resorts and lodges and well as many product companies. I have learned some of the things that have caused businesses to rise and fall over the years so I thought I would dedicate a blog post to the subject as I know it can be helpful for those entering the marketplace for the first time or those looking to grow their business in the future in this ever changing world.

 Be the Best You Can Be

First of all, it must be said that businesses that start in any type of venture in the outdoor industry are going to have to be among the best and brightest. The outdoor industry is a very competitive place and lower quality products and services get weeded out every day. You have to be on your “A game” if you want to make your business succeed in this realm. After all, we live in what I call the “Golden Age” products and services available to us in this industry. Only the best will survive in the long run. It is imperative that you start with the best product or service you can offer before you even begin marketing and selling it.

 Make Your Business Memorable

As strange as it sounds, some of the companies I have done work for in the gun accessories realm, for instance, don’t even have their name printed or engraved on their products! Branding is simply the process involved in creating a unique impression in the consumer’s mind about your business. Your goal should be to attract and retain loyal customers who will buy from you or use your services again and again.How will people ever know to where to buy from you again if you don’t brand your business to make it memorable for them? Branding is vitally important to any business and a cornerstone of smart business development.

 Have a Well Defined Marketing Budget

This seems like the most simple of advice that should almost go without saying but I run into start-up companies all the time who have dedicated all of their capital to the development and manufacturing of their product or service and have no funds left to promote and market their brand. Sales and marketing of your product or service have to be a paramount part of your business if you want to grow and sustain. I constantly run into companies needing sales and marketing advice who have spent all their time on producing a good product or providing a great service to the consumer. If you can’t sell it or market what you have to new consumers, you won’t be in business for long.

 Have a Good Website Optimized to Sell

It boggles my mind how many start-up businesses I work with that don’t even consider having a website for selling their product or service. Some business owners I consult with have even told me they expect all of their sales to come from return customers or referrals.

Although these are important factors, having a presence online with which people learn more about you and from you is crucial. Regardless of what you are selling, you need a professional website. It doesn’t have to be fancy or flashy but it needs to look good. One of the product companies I recently I helped launched approached me about doing video on their product but had no budget to promote with and expected people to call or email him for purchase details of his rifle mount product. I told him I wouldn’t do a video unless he had a website. I even offered to build it for him and did so. That same company now makes dozens of sales a month simply from people shopping online in the US and internationally. A great deal of his customer base live in England and Australia and would have never found him without a good website that has good SEO (search engine optimization). This business has prospered and has even allowed the owner to retire from his day job and run his outdoor business full time. The internet opens us up to global commerce. Take advantage of it when and where you can.

 

Maximize Social Media Influence

In our current culture, you can’t talk about marketing your business unless you factor in social media exposure. There are so many people active in social media but so many business owners never even consider getting in line to maximize their business opportunities in this realm. Worse than that though, many people new to the world of social media simply join in and start selling away, which is a huge turn off to most of the people who use social media on a regular basis.

If you haven’t done so already, join groups on LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook. Also, you will want to join Twitter and Instagram if you don’t have an account yet. Start following and friending those in your niche and figure out what they are interested in and ways you can help them. What problems do they have that you can help them solve? What makes them tick? Link to all of your social media on your website and welcome your website visitors to connect with you during their visit. Then stay active in your pursuit to grow your sphere of influence. I have networked with some incredible people and made some great relationships in social media and it is not hard to do.

Develop a relationship with the community you are in. Focus on becoming an authority on your product line or service within the outdoor industry. No one likes to be sold to but people love to buy and that is how your approach has to come off for people to take a genuine interest in you and your product or service.

 

Seek to Provide Value First and Sell Second

One valuable piece of advice in this world of social media and elsewhere is to provide value first before you sell. As we talked about in the last section, it is so important to use social media and your website to build an audience but it is also important to first provide value to them. I am blown away by the number of both large and small companies I see selling their brand all over the internet without giving an ounce of value before asking for the sale. Consider making videos, writing articles, recording podcasts, or offering any other forms of digital content on your website at no cost to the consumer. Remember, people like free stuff and are likely to engage with you if you offer something for them to consume at no cost first. You want to build a relationship with your customer base first, then sell.

People won’t buy from people or companies they don’t trust so you have to build that trust and relationship with your future consumer before you ever make a sale. A good example of this kind of value based marketing is a hunting product company

I have done consulting for ever since they launched into the marketplace. The company utilizes written articles on hog hunting, bowfishing, blood tracking wounded game, and other valuable content related to their product on the main page of their website before the consumer ever gets to the sales page. They provide value first and have the sales results to prove that this approach works. Many of the businesses I have worked with have told me that they can’t come up with their own original content.

This is not a problem in today’s world. You can find a writer, podcaster, videographer, or someone else who can help you provide that content in return for getting their work promoted or in trade for a product or service you offer. Network and look for symbiotic relationships that benefit you both.

 Build Your Own Herd

One of the things I learned about from working with Global Outfitters (www.globaloutfitters.com), an outdoor industry marketing company,is how important it is to build your own following and “herd” of consumers who follow you and purchase from you again and again. Building your own herd can mean different things. For one it could mean having an opt-in form on your website to capture email address so you can market to these consumers in the future. You can do this free to start out with using a company like Mail Chip, for example. Add current customers to this list. If you don’t want to write a newsletter to talk about your products or services, hire a writer to help you. I personally do newsletters for a few of my clients and they are glad to be able to outsource that part of the business to me. A mailing list is important because it is a good way to stay in front of your past customers and potential customers when you have a new development in your business or new product to market. Many businesses I work with have solely depended on social media marketing. What if that was to go away one day? How would you communicate with people?   A newsletter is a perfect way to do this.

These are just a few ideas to help you market and grow your business. If you are looking to implement some new sales and marketing strategies into your outdoor industry company, connect with me through my website at www.dustinsprojects.com or through e-mail at dustin@dustin-warncke-tv.com. I am connected with a network of companies which specialize in marketing exclusively in the outdoor industry. Thank you as always for reading my blog!

 

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The Urban Deer Complex Book and Urban/Suburban Bowhunting

There are many books available in eBook format and paperback on deer hunting. I my research in writing my eBook, Urban Bowhunting: The Guide to Hunting Small Properties for Big Game, I came across a book titled, The Urban Deer Complex by A.J. DeRosa. I was intrigued because there are very few books or even articles written in any form about urban and suburban hunting in the mainstream hunting realm. I purchased this book and found it to be a great read as it is jam packed full of tactics and tips in hunting just about any urban or suburban environment.

DeRosa’s book travels in far more directions that I had ever dreamed of when I wrote my book. I learned so much more than I already knew about the mind of a whitetail and the adaptation whitetail deer have made with our urban and suburban areas spilling into what used to be rural areas. I was very impressed with the author’s knowledge and the amount of research that went into making this paperback masterpiece on hunting. If you have ever been interested in getting inside the mind of a whitetail and learn some new scouting and hunting techniques, I would highly recommend this book. I have reached out and connected with AJ DeRosa and hope to do a podcast with him or some other kind of joint project together. We speak the same language. I know that for sure. Although he mainly hunts in the northeast US and I mainly hunt in Texas, we both agree about the changing trends of deer populations and our need to change and adapt with the changes in our hunting terrain to understand the whitetail in its new environment and evolve as hunters. I have been one of the sounding voices for the need for urban hunting in my area for a while but many hunters dare not tread in this area and prefer rural only hunting. This is especially true for gun hunters who have no interest in getting close and personal with their quarry like one has to do in the scenario of urban hunting.  I have proved time after time on video that you can harvest deer, some of them big bucks, in an urban settings. It’s just a matter of finding the right place to hunt and getting landowner permission to be there at times before, during, and after hunting season.

For those who are gun hunters and intimidated by archery, a great tool is a crossbow. Many states already allow crossbow hunting during archery season but even if you have to hunt with one only during gun season you can still have the potential of harvesting more deer if you dare to get in closer range to them. I have converted many “gun only” hunters to enjoy the sport of archery through a crossbow and I love seeing that happen. Crossbows are easy to operate and fun to shoot. As I have said before. don’t call me a bow hunter, a crossbow hunter, or gun hunter, just call me a hunter! We have too much to gain from each other in the hunting community and shouldn’t argue who is better than the other because of the tools with which we choose to hunt. Check out A.J. DeRosa’s book, The Urban Deer Complex. This is an incredible read for the modern whitetail hunter.

aj-derosa-book

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