Try proven tips for marketing outdoor brands and show your power to make camping, hiking, fishing, and more fun and engaging.
We’ve all seen the photo—a man holding a ginormous fish, looking giddy and confident at his once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment. If you’ve sifted through a dating app for a match, there’s a good chance you’ve encountered it. Perhaps you even rolled your eyes.
Outdoor activities, like fishing, go beyond any of the clichés associated with them. Activities in the great outdoors–like hiking, camping, swimming, and even fishing–can offer the perfect photos for your brand to use in creative campaigns.
For outdoor brands, the right marketing imagery can open you up to a broader customer base. It can signify that your products are perfect for an adventure.
So how do you keep outdoor imagery fresh and interesting? We reached out to experts for their insight.
Marketing for Outdoor Brands: Keep It Authentic
When creating a marketing campaign for your outdoor brand, you should take the necessary steps to ensure that you get all the details right. That way, your content comes off as authentic. Matt Barber, the owner of Morgan Rodsmiths (TMR), a custom fly rods company, stresses that in order to nail the details, marketers should hire a consultant.
“For a brand where your actual users are outdoors, I think it’s important to try to get it right. It will lend credibility to that brand,” he says.
Barber says that outdoor brands tend to be drawn to using fishing because it’s “popular and romantic.” However, he cites examples of marketing negligence like photos featuring models with “horrible” casting technique, upside-down reels, and fly rods mistaken for spinning rods. All of this can be avoided if you reach out to models and consultants who understand the equipment and best practices.
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Jimmy Willis, the marketing manager of Angling Trust’s “Get Fishing” campaign, says that marketers should reach out to people in the fishing community for insight.
“I’ve seen stock photos of people going fishing with no line on their reels, holding rods upside down or using cheap, tacky equipment that screams inauthenticity,” he says. “If the photographer went into a fishing shop and explained what they are looking for, ten times out of ten, the staff will be incredibly helpful and show you how to best represent fishing in an authentic and all-inclusive way.”
Keep Things Eco-Friendly
Incorporating fishing in your company’s marketing campaign is also an opportunity to align your brand with environmental values. If your brand has a focus on eco-friendly products, or making donations with a portion of your proceeds, now is the time to show that dedication off.
For example, a photo of someone holding a fish isn’t only trite, it’s also not eco-conscious. Barber says that outdoor brands should take the “Keep Fish Wet” pledge, which is aimed at keeping mortality rates down by instituting a “catch and release” system. If you’re not a brand focused solely on fishing, extend this philosophy to your own offerings. Dedicating marketing language and images to show off low emission travel and leave-no-trace camping are other ways to message your dedication to being environmentally friendly.
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For more insights into how to embrace the sustainability movement in your marketing, read our blog post.
Lean Into Inclusivity
“Try to represent more than just white males wearing your clothes or holding your stuff,” Barber says.
Depicting outdoor sports as something only middle-aged white men enjoy is not only passe, it’s just not aligned with reality. Like for any industry, it’s crucial for your brand to reflect that this outdoor activity is actually diverse and inclusive.
“Thanks to an upward trend facilitated by an increase in outdoor participation during the pandemic, women and minorities make up a fast-growing demographic of anglers,” says Murielle Gaither, the founder and CEO of Venku, an outdoor trip-booking marketplace.
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Gaither encourages outdoor brands to leverage this opportunity to reach a new base of customers by including women and minorities in marketing campaigns. Reach out to influencers and “utilize established communities to start open, friendly conversations aimed at inclusivity.”
Through these discussions, you can gain critical feedback on whether or not your marketing campaign is aptly prioritizing the concerns of disenfranchised groups. To learn more about how to be ethically inclusive in your marketing visuals, download our ebook. It gives insights on how to visualize sustainability and diversity in marketing.
Andy Volanakis, the CEO of Fatsack Outdoors, notes that, in addition to increasing in popularity amongst women, youth fishing is also growing and that many anglers started fishing before they turned 12. In your marketing campaign, you can gesture towards that reality by presenting a family skiing, camping, hiking, or fishing together, rather than depicting the more traditional boy’s trip. This is a chance for your outdoor brand to position itself as family-friendly and imply that with your products, people will be making lasting memories. Just remember to be inclusive when about which families you’re depicting.
Don’t Be Cheesy
Volanakis says that outdoor brands should stop making clichéd, hyperbolic statements in their campaigns that are ultimately unprovable. This also means you should exclude any cheeky uses of outdoor puns and lingo that may initially seem clever. They have been done countless times by countless brands.
This circles back to the issue of authenticity. Gaither says that the outdoors crowd can be “picky and vocal if something isn’t right.” When you use heavy-handed puns in your marketing, you’re gesturing towards inauthenticity or even worse, laziness.
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Willis says that brands should incorporate a variety of individual outdoor activities into their marketing campaigns. Doing a variety of activities is likely to be part of a larger adventure in the great outdoors.
“Loads of people combine fishing with camping, cycling, walking, boating and so on, and to leave angling out is a missed opportunity to encourage people to look at their brand,” he says.
During a time where most people are constantly staring at a screen, you should lean into the idylism of the outdoors. Incorporate the natural aspect of outdoor sports into your campaign. You’ll contextualize whatever your ads portray as activities that can take you to beautiful, peaceful places.
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