December 2013 Q&A — 10 December 2013

Q&A: Promotions to Attract New Customers and Members

Q. What has been your most effective promotion to attract new customers and members?

Brandy Liss, The Arms Room, League City, Texas

A. The Arms Room is always looking at innovative ways to generate new business.   There are a lot of options when it comes to advertising and marketing, some of which are very costly.  We have learned how to do some fine-tuned events and promotions on a very limited budget with a large return.

Our biggest promotion and most successful has been our annual fundraiser, “Aim for a Cure.”  By calling on the assistance of other local businesses in the community for support and sponsorships, we help offset some of the costs associated with the event.  Manufacturers get involved to provide demonstrations and assist with getting people excited about the products and services that we provide.  The event gets a lot of recognition; it is for a great cause, and we see tons of new faces through the door.

In addition to our large annual fundraiser, we host several promotions on a smaller scale. For example, we host a ladies-only event and a First Shots event for both youth and adult shooters.

Our ladies-only event is a vendor event. We charge vendors to participate, and that revenue is used to offset cost associated with hosting the event. The advertising that the vendors do is priceless, yet is no additional cost to us.  The Arms Room had more than 300 women come through in a span of three hours during the 2012 “Divas on the Prowl.”

You can never go wrong by teaming up with NSSF and offering the First Shots program.  We are in our second year and getting prepared for our third year of offering First Shots.  We promote five First Shots programs a year, two of which are focused on youth and the others are for our first-time shooters.  The event is free to those wanting to attend, and the NSSF has a great co-op program to help with the cost of advertising.

The Arms Room is focused on promoting safety and training consistently throughout all of our advertising and marketing, as well as on promoting the shooting sports.   Sending a consistent message is key to generating new business and to keeping the established business coming back.

Holden Kriss, Indian River County Shooting Range, Sebastian, Fla.

A. I decided to hold a shooting range staff meeting to open discussion and establish the answer to this question. With much thought I can sum it up our collective conclusion on our most effective promotion in one word: Courtesy. It seems everyone comes to our shooting range because we are very helpful and courteous. Be it at the point of sales, at the shootings ranges or through our community promotions, courtesy has become our forte. It’s great to learn that from phone calls to face to face contact our courtesy is returning dividends in promoting our shooting range. If you start with polite, friendly, nonaggressive, courteous people, you will never need a “customer service/how to promote the shooting range class” for your staff!

Now I will add an actual promotional activity that is very effective in bringing in new customers for us. We have about 35-plus firearms and archery instructors bringing shooters to our ranges for range training. We have provided a display area in the range office where we allow instructors to place their business cards to promote their business. These instructors are allowed on the ranges for free as long as they are teaching students and their students purchase a daily range pass for the day. Allowing this practice brings the shooting range several hundred more shooters a month. The big plus is these new shooters then become our customers after they learn to shoot and continue to use our ranges.

Glenn Rotkovich, Lead Valley Range, Deer Trail, Colo.

A. We have found that a way to promote our range is through some unique events that other ranges cannot do or may not be willing to do. Most ranges have registered shoots with IDPD, SASS, ATA or other major shooting organizations, which brings people to their range.  However, most of these people already belong to a range where they can practice. This is where the unique event comes in to play. It needs to be something that is fun and in which any person can participate no matter what their skill level, beginner or expert. There needs to be the chance to win a trophy of some kind without a fear of failure.

We run three of these types of events each year with each pointed at a different demographic. Our most effective event is without a doubt our Post Halloween Pumpkin Shoot.  We hold it on the first Sunday after Halloween. This year was our seventh and the most successful yet.  This event is a two-person team event with pistols 9mm or larger, iron sites only. Each team member must shoot a minimum of six rounds alternating with their partner with a maximum of 10 rounds each.  As pumpkins are gourds, they do not explode.

So you ask, “What is the fun part?”  Best face wins!  One of the changes we have made over the years was to add some fun awards so more people can win something, and I could not believe how well they were accepted.  Some of the awards were Near Miss, Total Destruction, Three Eyed, Cyclopes and Wrong Side Face, among many others.

These type of events generate interest in all levels of shooters who just want to do something fun and different, with a huge percentage of them not members of any range.  We had police officers, couples, fathers and sons, brothers and sisters and all kinds of shooters who just wanted to have fun and be part of something different.  These types of events also make you an important part of the community as you become an aspect of the area’s family entertainment.

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