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Posted By FFL Dealer Network on 07/30/2018 in FFL Business

Online Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan



Online Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan

Business moves at the speed of online these days. An FFL business plan must include this. Blogs, video, websites and social media are all part of the mix. The top 100 gun-related Internet outlets as ranked by viewers include social media and websites. Here is a look at these outlets and what it takes to start one. 

Blog 

Write about guns in a blog. In a blog, an FFL holder can discuss anything. Write about new shipments, sales, specials, unusual finds, favorite firearms, top 10 lists, ammo, gunsmithing, routine maintenance, gun laws and so much more. The list is almost endless. Firearms marketing was never easier. 

WPBeginner has a list of the top 10 blog sites.The list leaves out two major blog locations LinkedIn and Facebook, which are discussed in more detail below. 

Several of the WPBeginner sites are completely free. Blogger, also known as BlogSpot, is free and runs ads. Bloggers there can be “affiliates” and earn money from the advertising appearing on each blog page. Facebook and LinkedIn are free, with a paid upgrade available at LinkedIn. 

Several of the blog sites do not charge, but require a hosted website. Website costs start at $30 a year for the simplest layout and go up as features are added. 

Weebly starts at $8 a month and can go as high as $50. 

The key to a successful blog is to write often. “Traffic – even for a fledgling blog like mine, there has been no doubt that generating content breeds more traffic,” says Donna Moritz, an expert in online marketing and communications. “Most noticeably has been an increase in traffic on my blog. Unique Visitors and Page views for the two weeks of January have doubled compared to the whole of December, so I am on track for a 4x traffic increase in one month from blogging regularly."

More readers mean more opportunities to make a sale. 

Sponsor a blog, although this does cost money.

The idea of writing scares some people. So, hire an expert writer. The Baker Brothers are expert writers on firearms and the gun industry. They can also help build websites for FFL holders. Ben has an FFL. 



Video 

Video is a great way to promote gun sales. Knowing how to shoot, edit and upload video makes this promotion cheap. 

Eric and Chad of Moss Pawn and Gun in north Georgia launched a YouTube Channel that has nearly 2 million subscribers. They rarely talk about what the shop is doing, instead focusing on guns, the popular “gun gripes” segment and shooting interesting firearms at the range. The NRA has a top 8 list of the most popular gun channels. 

YouTube has recently taken a strong anti-gun stand. As a result, some gun channels simply quit. Others were forced to change their content. As of right now, no other website offers the sheer volume of viewers that YouTube brings. 

The FFL holder's business website can host the videos. Videos are an excellent way to show new inventory. 

Facebook and LinkedIn also have video capabilities. Facebook allows users to live stream video

Sponsor a video. Contact the video maker and offer to send a firearm for test, evaluation and review. Buds Guns, link below, often sends guns to hickok 45 for shooting. The guns are then sold through the shop, sometime for more than retail because it was featured in a video. 

Social Media 

It is time to get on social media. "If you aren't using social media as a small business owner, you are missing out on valuable customers and inexpensive marketing. With about 70 percent of Americans using social media, your social media marketing campaigns have the potential to reach a lot of people,” says Business News Daily

Facebook is the 1,000-pound gorilla on the block. It is not the only social media outlet. A brief list of 60 social media outlets only hits the top ones. The true count is into the hundreds. 

Get Facebook for a business, even a home-based FFL. Despite the Internet giant’s gun control policies, it remains the dominant source for firearms talk. An FFL holder has permissions on Facebook that non-license holders do not. 

LinkedIn is a social media destination for business. An FFL holder needs to run a business. Use the power of LinkedIn to make connections to other FFL holders and people looking to buy firearms. 

Other social media websites pop up from time to time, but none have managed to gain significant traction yet. Here is a list of the top 20 social media outlets. 

Weibo is in China, so mark that off. 

Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit have very loose policies regarding firearms. Reddit can be difficult for an Internet newbie to manage. The other vary in their approach to firearms. 

Websites 

Websites offer the ability to do many things while giving the FFL holder control over it. Websites can be as simple as a page that directs people to visit the store or to a Facebook page and not much else. Websites can be as complicated as a live chat with sales representatives and a rolling inventory. 

More elaborate websites will cost more to operate and maintain. Simple websites that redirect people should run no more than $35 a year once the initial website construction is done. 

With a website a business can: 

  • Display inventory. Inventory does need to be updated regularly. Eric at Ammo Man updates the website twice a day usually. Pictures are good, but not necessary unless it is a high-dollar item or something unusual. 
  • Have online sales. Any time a firearm crosses a state line as a sale, it must go to another FFL holder. That goes both ways. One FFL sends, the other receives. On another day the transaction might be reversed. 
  • Post blogs. 
  • Post videos. 
  • Announce sales and special offers. 
  • Interact with customers with chat or replies to blog and video posts. 



Auction Houses

 Auction houses are in the business of firearms marketing. Piggyback on their success. Promote a business and make money by accepting firearms sold in the online sale. 

A person buys a gun in the auction. Since the buyer lives in one state and the seller in another, the transfer has to through FFL holders. The auction companies have a free listing for FFL holders willing to accept the gun transfer. The top auction houses are: 

Pictures

Pictures work. A gun store, especially in rural regions, needs a trophy board. Encourage customers to take pictures of their trophies and then post it on a wall at the business. These pictures attract attention and make other people want to show off. 

Email

A business should collect customers’ emails. This is a vital part of firearms marketing and any other kind of business. The customer already wants to do business. A periodic email announcing new inventory, a special gun or a sale is a friendly reminder to “come on down!” 

Limit emails to no more than once a week. Once a month may be enough, provided emails also remind customers of the opening day of the various hunting seasons. Make sure emails have a signature line that includes a link to a blog and the gun business. 

Spokesman

Stand up and be a spokesman for the industry. Gun owners are tired of seeing things like “assault revolver.” The original story is edited to correct the mistake. But just as every journalism professor everywhere says, “once it is out there, it’s out there.” 

FFL holders can do something about it. Call the local media outlets and offer to be a firearm expert and consultant for stories that involve guns. Talk with the crime beat reporters. This is a step must be repeated regularly as reporters come and go. 

When a story that discusses guns comes out and has incorrect information, call the editor and the reporter who did the story. Do not get mad, calmly explain the error and offer to assist on future stories so similar errors will not occur.




  1. How to Get an FFL
  2. FFL Application Process and Procedures
  3. Your FFL Transfer Fee
  4. Gun Wholesalers for FFL Dealers
  5. What Can You Do With an FFL?
  6. The FFL eZ Check System
  7. The NFA and Owning NFA Items
  8. Offline Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan
  9. Online Firearms Marketing and Your FFL Business Plan
  10. Pawn Shops and the Type 02 FFL
  11. FFL Responsibilities and Regulations
  12. BATF Will Approve Home Based FFLs
  13. Customer Service in Your FFL Business

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