It’s a component as unique to archery as a nock on a string. But how a manufacturer, rep group or archery retailer handles its pro shooting or hunting staff can make an enormous difference in whether it’s an asset or liability to a business.
Among the wide and diverse array of products that comprise today’s selection of sporting goods, there’s really nothing that compares to the important role a shooting or hunting staff member plays in the bow-and-arrow business. The pro-staffer has been an integral element in the bow business as long as most of us can recall, and depending on how good your memory is, there are probably some you’d rather forget than remember.
When it comes to creating and managing a pro staff, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula and no instruction manual containing the keys to success. The size of one’s company and its overall marketing plan tends to be the primary consideration in determining qualities and traits one looks for in a field staff, most notably in its overall numbers, duties and compensation.
Some bow manufacturers tend to stack their staff heavy with pros (aka professionals), either leaning toward consistently competitive (winning) shooters or high-profile celebrity bowhunters-or sometimes both. Other companies utilize their pro staff differently, opting for reliable corporate representation in the field rather than recognizable names and co-sponsored pickup trucks with flashy custom paintjobs.
Wherever a company chooses to focus its pro staff, there are basic requirements and parameters that are wise to consider before the ink goes on the contract.
First and foremost: Is a prospective pro staffer someone you want representing your company in the field-sometimes without supervision?
“As a small, high-end bow manufacturer, we have a ‘promotional staff’ and not professional shooters,” Maggie Armstrong, Director of Communication for Elite Archery, told The Archery Wire. “They’re our foot soldiers on the ground, interacting with dealers and consumers at trade shows and other events.”
Asked what she looks for in a potential pro staff member, Armstrong said shooting and hunting prowess is secondary when compared to brand loyalty and attitude.
“We want them to really love the product they use and to tell others about it,” she said, adding that “confidence, and not arrogance,” was a preferred personality trait.
Indeed, most industry veterans understand how a company’s reputation can be easily tarnished by poor representation in the field, and why the selection of each pro staff member is critical.
“The pro staff is an extension of your company-an extension of your brand-and that’s why choosing the right individuals is so important,” said Jack Bowman, president of Bear Archery. “They can have a huge influence and impact on a local archery and bowhunting community.”
But beyond spreading the corporate message and maintaining the company image while showing product at consumer events and at retail promotions, a pro staff member has negligible value to a company unless he or she contributes to the bottom line by helping sell more bow and arrows.
“We’re in business to make money, and the purpose of the pro staff is to help sell bows,” said Elite Archery’s Armstrong. “Just as much as they need us, we need them as well. They’re part of the company.”
– J.R. Absher
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