|Welcome to NSSF’s SHOT Show column, “Working the Show.” Designed to help retailers and range owners of all sizes realize the most from their time and money spent in Las Vegas every year at SHOT Show, “Working the Show” examines how these retailers, along with manufacturers and media members, are maintaining contacts, responding to trends, changing their marketing based on their purchases and other follow-up tactics. Of course, a critical part of every plan while visiting SHOT Show should be to stop by the NSSF booth and learn more about your benefits and meet the NSSF team. We look forward to your visit!
—John McNamara, NSSF Senior Director, Retailer Services
Centennial Gun Club is a membership-based firearms store, shooting range and training facility located in the suburb of Centennial, Colorado, south of Denver. Since 2012, this facility has offered a complete “Equip-Prepare-Practice” experience that combines an exceptional firearms dealer with a state-of-the-art firing range and outstanding firearms training.
“We believe that having the right equipment, receiving outstanding training and practicing on the range on a regular basis are the keys to skills-at-arms,” says Centennial’s CEO and General Manager, Richard Abramson. “Centennial Gun Club brings all these elements together in one location. Our training programs help us to segment customers as we ask them to select a training track that meets their interests: safety, marksmanship, competition, personal defense, etc. We market products and services to them based on these interests.”
Though membership-based and boasting about 5,600 members, the facility is also open to the public. It is staffed by 52 employees Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Sundays 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The nearly 5,000-square-foot retail space is stocked with approximately 1,500 new and 300 used handguns, shotguns and rifles (primarily MSRs) for target shooting and defensive use, as well as their complementary accessories. The shooting facility maintains 44 lanes, there are four training classrooms and four on-staff gunsmiths.
SHOT Show’s Information Propels the Year
Each year at SHOT Show, the Centennial team attends SHOT Show University. In the last two years staff has also attended the new Executive Management Seminar. Of both, Abramson says they glean useful information that they implement immediately after the show.
“Information on products is shared with our staff upon return from SHOT Show,” he explains, adding that if they see interesting new products at SHOT, they will take photos or video for later posting on their social media sites, provided the products will be available in the store in the near future.
Centennial does not necessarily place a lot of orders at SHOT Show, but Abramson says they will take advantage of show specials that give them the best opportunities to boost margins or bring interesting new products to their store.
“In addition to the retail products, we spend time with the range equipment manufacturers to find new innovation that will bring more shooters into our range. This includes new types of target systems that make the shooting experience more fun and bring additional revenue to our business. We also look for new training tools to use in our instruction,” he says.
At SHOT, Abramson asks manufacturers to provide looping video that can be used on Centennial’s digital in-store signage, social media, e-blasts and website.
“When new items arrive at the store, we take a photo or video and post it on social media with a product introduction,” says Abramson, adding that they move out old inventory post-show by marking down prices.
Another one of Abramson’s objectives at SHOT is to get commitments for vendor weekends and support for Centennial’s large annual community event, their Firearms Festival. The festival attracts nearly 5,000 guests who enjoy everything from live entertainment and prizes, games, food trucks, vendors, sales, pro shooter appearances and swag to meeting special guests such as two of the heroes of Benghazi, John “Tig” Tiegen and Mark “Oz” Geist.
Post-Show Marketing That Works
For the majority of its marketing communications after SHOT Show is over and new product intros have been decided on for the year, Centennial relies on email, Instagram and Facebook, though the gun club created a unique closed group within Facebook to communicate more freely with its customers. To join the closed group, Facebook users must request permission to join and be accepted.
“Facebook is so discriminatory against the firearms industry, about the only way you can get a message out on Facebook is by the group,” Abramson explains about why they created the group. Though there is organic growth to the group, Abramson says Centennial Gun Club pushes joining its range membership through email messages and in-store displays. “It’s getting close to 5,000 users right now,” he says of the Facebook closed group.
“We’re an active membership-based organization,” he added, “so I think we probably have a bit more of a personal relationship with our customers than those ranges that aren’t membership-based,” Abramson says, also explaining how Centennial uses everything from in-store suggestion boxes to email feedback as listening posts for what customers want.
One of its regular social media campaigns is Centennial’s clever “Gun of the Month” program in which a specific model is offered at special pricing or packaged with various accessories, a rental model is free that month and there is a drawing for a free firearm.
“We do contests and drawings through our social media and use Infusionsoft to create sales funnels,” says Abramson. “We pick up all of our drawing entries through a text campaign, so we pick up a lot of new folks’ contact info just from them entering the drawing. It’s just a really successful program for us.”
About the Author
Warren Berg is a 25-year veteran of the shooting, hunting and outdoors industry. He has penned hundreds of articles under many names for such storied publications as American Rifleman and Field & Stream. He has produced award-winning television programs on personal-defense and has hunted extensively in North America, Europe and Africa.