On Friday night, Powderhook was awarded the 2017 SHIFT Award for Technology. It’s exciting to be recognized, and knowing what our team has gone through to deliver said technology, I think this award is something to be proud of.
SHIFT is a festival (conference) filled with conservation-minded thinkers and doers. While attending, I learned a lot, and I thought I’d use this opportunity to share some of the more prescient tidbits with you.
The outdoor industry has what appears to be two completely separate “sides.” To put it bluntly, there seems to be the politically progressive version of conservation, led by brands like Patagonia and organizations like the Sierra Club, and the politically conservative version of conservation, led by brands like Bass Pro Shops and organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation. If my observation is true, I can’t even begin to describe to you how big of a waste this is. The SHIFT Festival was dominated by progressive-leaning people and organizations. That they chose Powderhook as an honoree tells me there is at least some appetite to work together more closely.
The two sides use almost the same language and want many of the same things. Common ground topics include our love of public land, our desire for healthy ecosystems, our need for clean air and water, and our enjoyment of and desire to conserve wild places for wild animals. Political hot-button topics such as climate change, global warming, herd management (population control), and guns rights divide us in avoidable ways. Can’t we stop focusing on these big political issues and start talking more about the stuff we can individually do something about? Conservation’s message is most compelling when it affects the places people recreate. Let’s start bridging the gap by focusing on local parks, green spaces, access programs, habitat projects, and experience-driven events.
Progressive-leaning conservationists need to consider helping create an excise tax on the gear they use, like the conservative-leaning organizations helped create in the Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson Acts. They need to find ways to fund local work without having to win ballot initiatives, and without relying on massive donors. And, they need to consider hunting and fishing access foundational to their view of a successful conservation project.
Conservative-leaning conservation groups need to learn from progressive-leaning groups in how they include new people and ideas, value change, attract stakeholders in urban areas, and strategically diversify their constituencies. And, boy, could we learn how to tell our story from these groups. The new economy is about gaining and keeping people’s attention – to do that we need to connect with people on a more emotional, less “science-and-numbers-driven” story arc.
The above slide was taken from a SHIFT keynote given by Jon Jarvis, former Director of the National Park Service. His presentation was entitled, “A Unified Vision for Conservation.” Mr. Jarvis has started an institute to teach his vision at the University of California at Berkeley. Do you notice what’s missing? I did, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. Organizations and professionals from the fish and wildlife community, along with recreational users (hunters/anglers/hikers/climbers/campers, etc.) have a massive influence on conservation, yet they were nowhere to be found in this presentation. He called their absence, “an oversight.” Maybe that’s what it was, but this slide clearly says to me that conservative-leaning conservation organizations badly need to exit their echo chamber and get busy building bridges.
I was the new guy… the one in the orange hat. For the first time in awhile, I knew almost no one walking into a conference the size of SHIFT.
SHIFT is an annual gathering of conservation-minded leaders from around the country. They gather in Jackson, Wyoming each year to tackle tough issues. In ways I’ve never been part of before in the outdoor industry, they work to build bridges across political and ideological lines – though it helps that the topic of this year’s SHIFT was Preserving our Public Lands, an issue that unites nearly every conservationist.
There are around 350 people here, and on the surface, you could draw the conclusion that many are “anti-hunting” or at a minimum, “hunting agnostic.” But, time and time again we’ve had great conversations about the role hunting plays in conservation. We’ve discussed what it really means to be a hunter, we’ve spoken about the threats a declining hunting population poses to the source of many of their budgets. I’ve explained the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation at least a dozen times to people who make their living in conservation. Almost every conservation has been concluded with positive takeaways.
There is very little camo here, and perhaps because of that, some really cool things happened. Here are some examples.
Upon my arrival, I sat with two women from Boulder, Colorado who described themselves as “not-anti-hunting, but definitely not hunters.” They asked questions. “Does the NRA represent all hunters? Do hunters realize the image they’re portraying to people like us when they brag about the size of the deer they shoot? I hear hunters care about conservation, but I totally don’t get how that can be true.”
Later on the first day, I was at a table discussion with a woman whom I think would consider herself “anti-hunting.” She voluntarily takes Hispanic families in the Pacific Northwest on outdoor adventures. And, she recently took a job with the Sierra Club. I came away thinking she was brilliant. She articulately shared her concerns, and we concluded that her perceptions of hunting and her concerns about hunting aren’t incorrect, but that perhaps they fall short of the whole story. Like nearly everyone I spoke with this week, I found her open-minded and willing to have a real conversation. I didn’t get the impression she’d ever personally become a hunter, but I absolutely believe she thinks of hunting differently than she did when she arrived in Jackson.
A man who works for the Wilderness Society went out of his way on a couple occasions to seek out a conversation with me. He was eager to tell me the Wilderness Society is absolutely inclusive of hunters. Though he doesn’t hunt, he wanted me to know that he feels his organization does important work that hunters don’t know about or give them credit for.
I heard an elk hunting story – a real, not-everything-goes-as-planned, pull-no-punches hunting story from a woman leading a new woman’s hunting organization from the National Wildlife Federation, called Artemis. It brought me to tears because I could relate, and it made me so happy SHIFT included her story in their event. For some of the over 150+ people in the room, I imagined it to be one of the first authentic hunting stories they’d ever listened to. There was some uneasiness as Iooked around, but as the storyteller said, “to a fault, we hunters tend to hide the feeling in our stories.”
I learned that diversity in the outdoor industry is actually a thing. There were brown people here – hunters, campers, hikers, climbers, bikers, and leaders. It was so refreshing to hear their perspective and to enter thoughtful conversations on hard topics with them. A woman from Japan taught us a Japanese gesture of reverence before a meal. It’s pronounced, “Ita-daki-mas” and there are no direct English translations, though it loosely translates to “I’m taking, and I don’t take it for granted.” As she described the word in English she perfectly narrated the way many hunters feel after they shoot a big game animal.
My notes from the conference are as follows:
If we want to grow hunting, people participating in other forms of outdoor recreation are a great place to start. But, they often don’t think about it the way a traditional hunter might.
We need to invite people who think differently to attend our hunting industry conferences. There are hundreds of them here. REI has 16 million members… just saying.
Individuals inviting people is the only way we’ll create new hunters at scale.
A yoga instructor told me hunting was just like yoga for her – meditation and relaxation. Haven’t heard that before…
The Emerging Leaders program at SHIFT is something many other organizations and conferences need to think about replicating. They added a lot of energy, good ideas, and unique perspectives.
On appealing to urban residents
Make them aware they own 640 million acres of public land
You gotta invite the family unit
Treat urban access, likes parks and ponds like it’s part of nature
Hunting dogs are a tremendous tool for appealing to urban youth.
Inviting a young person from an urban family to do something once is a waste of money unless you invite their family or someone else who can help them go again
Local protein has near-universal appeal
You can’t say you want people of color involved, you have to go to where they’re at with opportunities designed around their lives
All 4th-graders in the US Public School System got a free public lands and parks access pass – but I’ve never heard anyone talk about it – this is a great place to start a conversation with the family
Many Latino people love the outdoors, but they’re scared to death of the government. Making them enter their social security number to get a license all but prevents them from doing it – a cultural truth for Latino people. Begs the question, why do we need a social security number to get a fishing/hunting license?
Food sovereignty is a term I hadn’t heard before – and one that means a lot to lower-income urban residents. It’s the root of things like community gardens – and could be the basis for recruiting more hunters from urban areas
On bridging the gap between left and right-leaning conservation organizations
Avoid trigger words/phrases like global warming, herd management, long-range shooting, etc.
We need to invite people who don’t look and think like us to our conferences.
Focus on what makes us similar – love of public lands, clean air and water, wild animals, wild places and most certainly FOOD
Ask more questions than you make statements
Hunters need to know that what they put on social media informs the opinion of people who don’t hunt and/or don’t like hunting – be thoughtful about what and how you share
Many environmentalists I spoke with talked about their respect for how well hunters know the animals they pursue and the land on which they hunt – What do we hunters respect about environmentalists?
Many are really tuned into the political issues.
Many use emotion in their stories I seldom hear from hunters.
Many are intentional about inclusion and diversity.
It’s never been more clear that now is the time to act. The hunter numbers are in, and they’re not good. Preliminary findings of U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation indicate a 5-year fall-off of over 2 million hunters. Since 1980, hunter numbers have fallen from nearly 18 million to the current count of 10.5 million. The preliminary findings are summarized well here. The future of conservation in this country relies heavily on our collective ability to reverse a devastating trend in hunter participation.
CABELA’S PARTNERS WITH POWDERHOOK ON INNOVATIVE RETAIL EXPERIENCE
When nerds and retailers come together, customers win.
Two Nebraska-based outdoor companies have come together on an innovative in-store experience coined “Digital Trailheads,” a new tool designed to help customers find local resources and experience the outdoors like never before. Digital Trailheads feature intense 360-degree “virtual reality” content showcasing Cabela’s Ambassadors pushing products to their limit, along with maps and local resources designed to help customers find places to go. The project will be unveiled at the grand opening of Cabela’s El Paso, TX, and Albuquerque, NM store locations in mid-September.
Powderhook PRO users can now implement the Powderhook Event API, a first of its kind, nationwide, outdoor event dataset.
R3 (recruitment, retention, and reactivation) has become a hot topic in the outdoor industry. And while events play a significant role in the adoption sequence, it’s not often that outdoor events are visible in places new people think to look. According to Powderhook CEO, Eric Dinger, the Events API is a step toward solving this problem. “Fundraising banquets, family fishing nights, and countless other types of events are great ways to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters, anglers, and recreational shooters. But in order for events to reach their potential as an R3 tool, we have to get outdoor events into the mix of other things people can do with their time. Through this API the outdoor industry is now able to list their events alongside things like concerts, plays, sports tournaments, and other options. And, because of its open architecture, any brand, fish and wildlife agency, or organization can begin promoting all the events in their area, rather than just their own.”
In total, over 9,000 hunting, shooting, fishing, and conservation events are accessible via the API. Event hosts include major NGOs, such as Ducks Unlimited and National Wild Turkey Federation, state agencies, and businesses. New events are added every day via integrations with our partners, scrapers, and APIs. Once the API is implemented, no additional development time or support resources are required to keep it up-to-date.
There are many uses for the Powderhook API:
Web developers can implement a calendar containing events from hundreds of sources.
State agencies can map all the events happening in their state as part of their R3 effort.
Businesses can create a calendar of events happening near their location(s).
Non-government organizations can aid their members in finding other things to do in their local area.
When you feel like banging your head against a tree because you clucked one time too many, and that incorrigible Eastern gobbler worm-holed to a different part of the universe, it is during this time when you realized God created Rios just for us.
Expecting to spend some time in his treestand, this hunter was surprised to see a black bear had already claimed his stand for the day.
This video shows you can’t predict how wild animals are going to act and that you may have to adjust your hunt because you are in their habitat. This black bear got a lecture on what his role is supposed to be in the woods.
Watch this video as the hunter tries to reason with the bear that took over his treestand.
Spring is the time of year we turkey hunting fanatics look forward to most. We make sure we have our tags in hand long before opening day, we practice our calls so we can sound like the reigning Grand National Champion, and we might even do a bit of preseason scouting.
But in preparing for our favorite day of the year, there are some things we often forget to consider. Here are a few tips that will help make your turkey season more successful, or at least more enjoyable.
For most businesses, acquiring a new customer costs many times what it costs to keep an existing customer. For an agency or organization selling to your existing customers is a must. An email list is one of the cheapest and most efficient marketing tools at your disposal to keep your customers coming back. Here are 6 simple tactics you can use to keep your license, membership, or product buyers coming back for years to come.
1. Remind buyers to purchase again before their license or membership expires. If you can, offer a small incentive to get them to renew before they lapse. If a customer bought fishing gear at your store last year around this time, send them an offer to get them back to buy their gear again this year.
2. Contact the individual 10 days before their birthday with a reminder their friends or family can buy them a gift card for their birthday. Most marketers nail Black Friday. For that reason, Black Friday promotions fall amidst tremendous noise. Try treating the 10 days before a customer’s birthday like you would Black Friday.
3. Alert previous buyers of specific licenses or tags of season open dates and draw deadlines. We’ve all missed out on a hunting season because we missed the draw. As brands, we’re all in the business of getting people outdoors more often, and having better days once they’re out. Let your customers know when the seasons are open, and ask them to come stock up.
4. Cross-promote licenses without a draw to winners of tag drawings, or buyers of one product with a different product used for the same pursuit. My friends and I take a pheasant hunting trip to South Dakota every year. We all buy a waterfowl permit, too, as long as someone remembers the application period is in June. When my Dad and I went elk hunting last fall, the person who sold us our tag at Walmart asked us if we wanted bear tags as well. That little question sold Colorado and Walmart $750 worth of additional licenses.
5. Hit up your out-of-state buyers with an invite back to your state. Consider appending the invite to the end of the survey you might be sending them. Remember to consider how far in advance a person must plan in order to account for tags, accommodations, and general logistics.
6. Remember, your buyer or member is the most important relationship to your business. Their lifetime value is likely many times what the individual spends per transaction. Tell them you appreciate them with a thank you letter. Remind them their purchase funds the important work you do in your local area.
Does your business, agency, or organization use another email tactic? Please share additional ideas in the comments.
By now you’ve probably heard that Donald Trump Jr. enjoys hunting and fishing. But, to hear him speak so eloquently of our traditions, of our way of life, is a thing to behold. This video is an excerpt of his keynote at the 2016 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo.
Said Trump Jr., “I know the benefits I got from being in the woods, in the duck blind, in the deer stand at 5 in the morning. It kept me out of so much trouble I would have gotten into in my life. I want to make sure that lifestyle, those great American traditions, are there for my kids.”
No matter who you voted for, Trump Jr.’s message hits home for the sportsman. Let’s hope his influence can be felt in policy decisions throughout our government in years to come.