Despite a commitment to equal rights, we live in a world full of sexism, pay inequality and a whole other run of things that alienate women. Believe it or not, there are plenty of Neanderthals walking amongst us today that still believe men are superior over women in many ways.
This same group of Neanderthals (as we like to refer to them) have been sitting back waiting for their methods of recruitment and retention to work for far too long. Times have changed and hunting isn’t going to sell itself in an ever-changing culture. We are often hesitant to say this, but when it comes to non-traditional demographics, in reality what needs to be done is to break the current culture and rebuild it in a manner which is acceptable to the mainstream.
To truly realize effective R3, we want to create a new narrative. One that normalizes women in the outdoors. Not one built on the “good ole boys” taking a girl out to hunt. Not a community that finds itself answering the lack of women’s gear with women’s-only gear that’s far too expensive and doesn’t perform nearly as well. We need an equal playing field where both women and men are respected for their skill level and encouraged in a positive environment.
Sure, it’s great to see all sorts of women-dominated platforms. Who wouldn’t want to see and hear the Eva Shockeys of the world after decades of listening to a bunch of men disregard or not even consider that a woman may be a better hunter than they are? But we need more than just women-dominated platforms.
Creating a new era of juggernauts of a different sex isn’t going to solve anything. The real need in R3 is to make women just as common as any man in the hunting community. Quite literally we need to remove gender from the hunting culture all together.
At Northwoods Collective we have found great success in effective R3 marketing and the strategy of our lifestyle brands/platforms does just that. We show women in authoritative narratives (as well as men). We also show men in novice rolls (as well as women) to help empower people to not feel ashamed of their learning level or feel as though they are in competition with others.
The subtlest of changes in content creation — like using cover photos of women hunting in articles written by men, or the opposite — we often use images of males hunting in articles written by females. We put a lot of effort into dissecting the whys and hows of what content works, and we find that male-dominated audiences accept the content as fact more readily. It is a horrible reality, but nonetheless it’s real life. With a long term approach we are striving to normalize women in the outdoors, an achievable goal which will result in incalculable benefits to both demographics, inspire new generations of young women and create a measurable, lasting hunting legacy at every level.
The strategy of essentially eliminating gender has earned us a 21 percent female following on our Project Upland platform. We achieved this following because, as simple as it sounds, we take women as seriously as men. More bluntly, we do not care at all about your gender. We care about your ability to write accurately and more importantly, the ability to inspire others to feel empowered in their journey through the outdoors.
Why does this matter?
The truth is if you are not putting effort into normalizing women within the hunting culture, you are now alienating your own brand or agency. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) women are the fastest growing segment of hunters in the United States. In 2001, 10 percent of the hunters in the United States were women. In 2013, that number went up to 19 percent! An 85 percent increase in one demographic, or more accurately an audience of 3.3 million hunters.