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Shooting Industry February 2010 - Page 22

Arms Arms and the woman Lisa Parsons-Wraith Special Events Promote Shooting, Propel Customer Base U sing your creative energy to come up with an event to introduce women to your business is the basis for a successful event. But you can’t stop with a great idea — you have to promote and market your event to the right audience. Gun shop owner John Monson, of Bill’s Gun Shop & Range with two locations near Minneapolis, Minn., has been introducing women to the shooting sports using a unique promotional method to ensure his events are a success. Monson calls his event the “Girls with Guns Gala,” and it is a women-only class, with a social afterwards at the local pizza joint. Monson says he came up with the idea after hosting a First Shots event, which brought in a mixed crowd of new shooters. But, Monson wanted to create his own event focused on women. Thus, the Girls with Guns Gala was born, and Monson says it’s been a tremendous success. Promotion is key to a successful event, Monson says, and his secret weapon has been radio advertising. His operation has a monthly advertising budget of $5,000 to $6,000. Prior to the Girls with Guns Gala event, Monson spends about $4,000 on radio advertising. He cautions, though, The Girls with Guns Gala, a women-only class, introduces ladies to firearms, that it has to be with time to shoot and time to talk about their experience afterwards. Keys To A Successful Event the right kind of radio advertising. “We find a local female radio personality who has a strong following to host the event,” Monson said. “She talks up the Educate And Intrigue Attendees “T he classes are all about education and safety,” Monson said. A typical Girls with Guns Gala begins with socializing with the radio personality, and then moves into an introduction to firearms. Afterwards, the ladies head to the range, where two women are paired up with one instructor. They take turns shooting, and Monson says pairing works well because the women learn a lot from being a range officer for the other person. Finally, the women head over to the pizza parlor for a chance to socialize with the radio personality again, and talk about their experience. “Women like the social aspect of the class and the chance to talk about it afterwards,” Monson said. Keeping the event to a maximum of three hours is key, Monson says. Any longer, and he found sign-ups dropped significantly. There have been positive measurable results from the Girls Women-Only Event Checklist 1. Advertise to your target audience. 2. Invite a local celebrity or media personality to host. 3. Create a link to your store on the host’s Web site. 4. Educate and intrigue your participants. 5. Provide plenty of socializing time. 6. Limit the event to three hours. 7. Provide an incentive to come back to your store. 22 FEBRUARY 2010 with Guns Gala. Each participant leaves the class with a $20 coupon for the shooting range and the majority of those are redeemed, Monson says. His goal to “educate and intrigue” women about the shooting sports, so if they’re coming back, Monson rates the event a success. Post-event, there is also a surge in registration for other classes offered by Bill’s Gun Shop, such as intermediate handgun and self- or home-defense classes. Monson says after the last Gala, 15 of the 50 participants expressed interest in starting a female-only shooting league. “I think everyone should do this,” Monson said. “You can do this and still pay the bills. This is our sixth event of this type — and it works.” He said the events are important because they promote a positive image of the shooting sports — and that alone makes them a success. “The more involved women are, the more they will support the shooting sports, not only for themselves, but for men, as well,” he said. “They are the key to the success of our sport and its future.” Monson is so passionate that he invites any gun dealers who are not his direct competition to call him for advice about creating an event similar to the Girls with Guns Gala. His goal is to promote the shooting sports, and he’s glad to help other gun dealers do the same. “If we can simply convince one more person that guns aren’t evil, then that is a success to me,” Monson said. Contact John Monson, the owner of Bill’s Gun Shop & Range, at (763) 533-9594 or visit Read SI DIGITAL

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