Moderator: Lance Cherry, New Mexico Department of Fish and Game
Summary by Julie Ellsworth Byelich, Michigan DNR
A central theme of the 2019 ACI Conference was building relationships: with consumers, conservation partners, government partners, the media and each other.
During a breakout session the first and third days of the conference, Lance Cherry from New Mexico Department of Fish and Game led a discussion about the relationship between marketing and building relationships.
How to Justify Having a Marketing Budget and How to Work with What You Have
Not all states have a robust budget and staff for marketing within their natural resource agencies. Mr. Cherry led a discussion on ways to advocate for spending more resources on marketing. He advised we should be using data to show that decreasing hunting and fishing participation is hurting funding and make the argument that marketing can help increase this participation. The group then discussed ways to use free tools and existing staff to maximize the efficiency of whatever marketing budget they must work with.
A Creative Approach
New Mexico used a creative approach to maximize their marketing and outreach efforts to increase hunter and angler participation, using free tools and existing staff. They focused on four main ideas:
- Created a customer ID# for each person purchasing a license online and put the data into a customer data management system. They then used this data to make strategic marketing decisions.
- Moved to an all-paperless license system, including paperless kill tags. This was especially helpful to those living in rural areas who did not have access to an in-person license agent.
- Changed their education programs from a classroom setting to out in the field, hands-on, real experiences with classes, clinics and camps targeting youth.
- Basic marketing – focused on social, email, billboards and radio. Inclusion marketing – no targeting – everyone encouraged as one big family.
Reaching Out to and Engaging New Audiences
The following were suggested ways to reach and engage new audiences:
- All visuals – marketing efforts, advertisements, websites should show diversity.
- Go into your communities, into your churches and schools and talk to folks.
- Engage in other existing urban programs and invite those participants to check out your natural resource education programs.
- Get kids interested in volunteering. Reach out to youth groups, local YMCAs, etc. and talk to them and their parents. Diversify your volunteer base to reach new communities.
- Don’t silo your volunteers. Give them many different opportunities to volunteer.
The participants in the breakout session went around the room and discussed ways to transition from traditional communication methods, such as mailed newsletters and postcards, which cost money, to digital. The following ideas were discussed:
- To transition to a digital newsletter, include links in your mailed newsletters encouraging people to sign up for the new e-newsletter.
- Use data and surveys to see how many people are reading your mailing.
- Transition slowly, not all at once.
- Put links on your website to get people to sign up for different newsletters, topics.
- Agencies must find ways to maximize their marketing and outreach resources using the tools they have.
- If you can, advocate for increased funding and staff for marketing, using a data-based approach to show how spending on marketing will yield a high ROI in increased hunting and fishing participation.
- Gather data on your customers, and use that data to make smart marketing decisions.
- Reach out to your communities, youth and parents especially, to engage them in volunteering and hands-on classes.
- Be inclusive and show diversity in your outreach efforts, give people many different ways to participate.
- Going digital with your communications can be a money-saving strategy.