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September 24, 2018

Leading Industry Marketers Unite at 2018 CMO Summit


The second annual National Shooting Sports Foundation® (NSSF®) CMO Summit attracted more than 200 firearms industry marketing leaders from across the country to Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Sept. 18-19. The highly regarded event left attendees with valuable insight and solutions to common challenges every firearms industry marketing professional faces in today’s digital environment.

The 2018 CMO Summit offered valuable industry-specific topics every marketer should be aware of in today’s competitive and challenging marketing world. Leading marketing executives got the unique opportunity to hear from experts in digital and influencer marketing, discuss current issues and trends, harness the power of data, maximize the opportunities presented by social media, recognize the potential impacts of AI and identify key indicators taken from industry research.

When compared to the first-ever CMO Summit last year, the 2018 CMO Summit had a 61% increase in attendance and the new research track — at the end of the general session — had more than 50 attendees join. NSSF thanks all attendees, as well as the event’s sponsors Freeman, American Towns Media, Brothers & Company, The Venetian and The Palazzo – Las Vegas, Public Affairs Company and Southwick Associates for making the second annual CMO Summit a success.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome of the second annual CMO Summit,” said Chris Dolnack, NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “If there’s one key message every attendee could take away, I think it would be the fact that the future is today and this state of constant change and disruption are something every company needs to embrace as an opportunity rather than a challenge, in order to succeed.”

The CMO Summit agenda kicked off with a welcome from NSSF Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Chris Dolnack followed by Jon Gordon and his exhilarating session “The Power of Positive Leadership.”

Attendees then joined a conversation with with some of our industry’s top media companies as they offered a look at the state of outdoor media and where we are headed. Moderated by Bill Dunn, NSSF Managing Director, Marketing Communications, panelists included Jeff Siegel, Media Lodge; Mike Carney, Outdoor Sportsman Group; Derek Evjenth, Carbon Media; Greg Gatto, Bonnier Corp.; Paula Iwanski, FMG Publications; Derrick Nawrocki, Grand View Outdoors.

Returning to the NSSF stage after a hit appearance at NSSF’s Industry Summit in June, Jack Uldrich once again brought a big “a-ha” moment to firearms industry professionals at the CMO Summit. “AHA” is an acronym that stands for Awareness, Humility and Action. Boiled down to its simplest form, it means that for future success, you must strive to enhance your awareness of changes on the horizon, have enough humility to acknowledge that what served your business well in the past might not be sufficient tomorrow and be willing to take action in the face of less-than-perfect information.

Following Uldrich was a panel session about the “The Future of Retail” being digital. This panel of industry experts discussed ideal ways to maximize online sales while leveraging partnerships with traditional sales channels and improving the customer experience. Panelists in this session included Steve Verska, Gunbroker; Rex McClanahan, Owner, Bud’s Gunshop; Chad Seaverns, Chief Operating Officer, GearFire; Scott Ohsman, Partner, BuyBox Experts; and the session was moderated by NSSF Managing Director, Member Services, Mike Vrooman.

Before attendees headed to lunch to network among each other, Freeman’s Senior Vice President of Strategy and Data Haluk Kulin offered insight on how marketers can best calculate the value of events and sponsorships.

After lunch, Bill Dunn took the stage once again to announce NSSF’s newest initiative, the +ONE Movement. This new initiative has a big emphasis on mentorship and allows sportsmen and women to get recognized for introducing one newbie to the shooting sports and/or hunting. You can expect more details on this initiative soon, as it’s big launch at the start of 2019.

Finishing off day one, Facebook’s Chuck Rossi, who works with the company’s Policy and Operations teams provided valuable insight on the leading social media platform to an engaged audience. This has been one of the industry’s biggest challenges in the past decade, and professionals are constantly seeking answers for what often seems like the suppression of free speech and lawful commerce online.

Day two of the CMO Summit kicked off with Beth Gregg, CEO and Co-Founder of ShopperBridge, Inc., who shared how the rise of smartphones has created a new way to identify intent and support with geofencing.

Moderated by NSSF’s Chris Dolnack, panelists Timothy Joseph, VP of Brand Marketing, Benelli USA; Rob Werkmeister, VP of Marketing, Sturm, Ruger & Co.; and Matt Campbell, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Winchester/ Browning Ammunition discussed top of mind issues for industry marketers — digital disruption, the pivot to video, digital discrimination, influencer marketing, revenue growth, consumer activation, customer experience, big data and much more.

The final session of the CMO Summit took a look into what most people would think is the future, but is actually the present. John McElligott, CEO of York Exponential and President of The Fortress Initiative, covered emerging topics in technology with a focus on Robotics, AI and other Exponential Technology, which left the audience speechless as attendees pondered on the unique and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities hiding in emerging technologies and philosophies.

After McElligott’s presentation, over 50 attendees joined the add-on research track which provided sessions related to multi-generational research on industry consumers, customer engagement and AI/Chatbots and identifying consumer needs through research.

View photos from the event and visit the CMO Summit website to get more details about the event.