LINCOLN, Neb. — The technology that connects beginning hunters with mentors on Powderhook’s ground-breaking app also allows companies to promote their own brands while participating in one of the biggest hunter-recruitment initiatives in the country.
More than 1,300 industry professionals, representing dozens of brands and public agencies, have become Digital Mentors on Powderhook, using the technology’s PRO tools to offer resources for hunters of all experience levels while also promoting their own products, brands, and services.
Powderhook, a free app available on the App Store or Google Play, empowers brands to use their influencers, volunteers, employees, or pro staff in a new way as part of a digital mentoring program that builds relationships with new participants by helping them learn and succeed in the outdoors. According to Powderhook CEO Eric Dinger, the approach seeks to do something no other platform can do.
“We offer brands the ability to help their customer at the local, one-to-one level,” says Dinger, a digital marketing expert with over 15 years’ experience. “The key to building a great brand is offering perceived value to your audience. Helping a potential customer catch a fish or find a new spot to deer hunt is a tremendous way to unlock the knowledge held by your pro staff, employees, or volunteers, and a great way to introduce your brand to potential new customers.
Declining participation is a problem we all share, and I believe scalable solutions like Powderhook are the kind of program all companies, agencies, and NGOs can use to do their part in solving that problem while growing their sales numbers.”
Dozens of leading brands are building mentoring programs using Powderhook’s PRO tools. Iowa Department of Natural Resources was among the first to leverage the reach and scale of the digital platform to connect with new customers and to develop tools that enable frequent and productive interaction.
“Only 30 percent of our Hunter Education graduates purchased a hunting license in the two years after they received their certification,” says Megan Wisecup, Iowa DNR’s Outreach Coordinator. “That percentage needs to go up—by a lot—so we designed a digital mentoring program through Powderhook to seamlessly bookend Hunter Education by offering all participants a next step in the form of a Digital Mentor.”
Wisecup notes that the Iowa DNR has a long history of mentored hunting, but existing programs have historically struggled to reach the numbers required to impact overall participation.
“Today’s students are digital natives,” she says, “which plays right into using a mobile app for finding a mentor.”
Today, Iowa DNR has 27 Digital Mentors enrolled in the trial phase of their program, all of whom are certified Hunter Education instructors. Each of their active members has more than five mentees, nearly double the national average on Powderhook.
“We’ve been highly involved in working with Powderhook to make digital mentoring a viable solution for hunters within the unique constraints of a state agency,” says Wisecup. “To my knowledge, this has never been done before. It’s essential the tool is both safe and effective in order for us to put the Iowa DNR name behind it. We’ve made it through the initial phase of building the program and working out the kinks, and because of Powderhook’s tracking tools we know we’re able to consistently put next steps and mentors in front of our hunter ed graduates. In turn, we’re optimistic the program will result in continued participation and license purchases, both of which are critical for agencies as well as wildlife conservation in general.”
While a state agency’s motivation may be to sell more licenses, the reason a brand creates a digital mentoring program is generally to sell more products to new customers. For Bear Archery, the prospect of using brand ambassadors as Digital Mentors on Powderhook’s platform was a perfect fit from a business perspective.
Jack Borcherding, Bear Archery’s marketing manager, says Powderhook’s mission
aligns perfectly with that of the legendary archery brand, but proving that investing in mentoring was good for their bottom line was a first requirement.
“Since our founding by Fred Bear, our company has looked for ways to put our name and products behind initiatives that are good for the future of hunting,” says Borcherding. “But we also have to sell archery equipment in order to continue to build on that legacy. Powderhook’s system of rewarding mentors with advertising gives us clear visibility into the effectiveness of our mentoring program as a marketing tool. As a marketing manager, I can track the effectiveness of my pro staff to help people get started as hunters on Powderhook, and I know exactly what we’re getting in exchange for making the effort we’ve made. As Powderhook grows, I’m excited to see how our brand can impact hunting participation numbers and our own sales numbers via the platform.”
According to Dinger, the success of a cooperative initiative like Powderhook hinges on a few key factors.
“We have to prove that growing the user base of Powderhook helps our partner brands grow their businesses, and we need to be able to prove we’re collectively growing the overall number of hunters. Brand-driven digital mentoring programs are part of the answer our industry needs because we can measure the efficacy of the program for both the participant and the brand. And, while our program has nearly tripled in size in 2018, 1,300 mentors is a long way from the 100,000 we need in order to turn around the trend in hunting participation.”
To become a Digital Mentor, or to start your own branded digital mentoring program via Powderhook PRO, visit www.powderhook.com.