Our sports have their own lingo and acronyms — strike rate, daisy chain, 12 wt., dry bag, SUP, PFD. Anglers and paddlers throw these buzzwords around when they’re talking with friends about their big catch or latest adventures on the water.

Is your brand using the right language, in the right context, to connect with these avid sportsmen and women?

How to Convey Authenticity in the Fishing and Paddlesports Industries

To build a loyal following for your outdoor brand, authenticity and trust are critical components of your communications mix — and the language and tone you use are key ingredients. Enthusiasts are looking for brands they can relate to and rely on.

We often see companies miss the boat with their communications when they try to break into niche product categories without fully understanding the terminology and tone of their users, or they build great products but don’t have an in-house team or external marketing partner in place that knows the audience and speaks their lingo.

The result? Lackluster web and print content that doesn’t effectively paint a picture of what it’s like to actually paddle that kayak or cast that fly rod. Without “insider” language, marketing communication becomes generic, unfocused and boring. It loses credibility and authenticity.

Listen to Your Audience & Learn their Language

How do you know what people are saying? Social media is an obvious place to eavesdrop on your audience. And you should be reading publications dedicated to your sports — you’ll know that fly fishermen speak in a slightly different language than, say, offshore anglers, and there are magazines (both online and print) dedicated to each of those pursuits.

In addition, there’s probably no better place to pick up on language than at consumer fishing/boating/paddlesports shows and other events where large industry segments and enthusiasts gather. Through networking and conversation, it’s natural to pick up on the subtleties of language.

Your Audience Expects Consistency

Your brand’s voice and language should be consistent across all channels, from brochures to social media to sales conversations. No matter what your customers see or read or hear, they should get that same tone. If you’re sending different messages with different words in different ways — using formal, technical terminology on your website, for example, and friendly buzzwords in social media — your conflicting persona confuses people. In the worst-case scenario, you look and feel unprofessional, and even though this is a laid-back business, users are pouring lots of money into their passion, so what they see from your brand must be polished enough to inspire confidence.

How do you know if your brand is speaking consistently across all your marketing channels? One of the first things we do in working with a new client is a brand audit — we want to see all their communications on the table together. Every single element needs to complement each other.

How to Tailor Your Messaging to Experience Levels

How can you speak to hardcore enthusiasts without “dumbing down” your language, and how do you speak to newbies without talking over their heads?

Your approach might be slightly different from product to product, but we advocate speaking to both groups through your website — which is the core of your marketing ecosystem. Most of your web content should be directed to enthusiasts (those who participate regularly), and this messaging can help to inspire newbies to become more involved, even though there’s a learning curve.

We’re fans of using supplemental information like blogs, videos and customer stories designed to teach newbies how to be better anglers or paddlers. By speaking to enthusiasts in their language you help to solidify authenticity, and by helping those new to sport learn the ropes you become more approachable and build a stronger bond overall. It’s a win when a brand we work with becomes a valuable resource to the community that customers and prospects regularly look to for learning and inspiration.

The language you use — how you tell your story, the terminology you use to describe your products, the enthusiasm you convey when you talk about your participation in the sport — creates a deeper connection between your brand and your audience. At the end of the day, you’re selling not just a product but an experience. People read your messaging, see your imagery and envision themselves as part of the story.

Drawing them in with powerful language creates an “I wish that was me” feeling that prompts them to go out and live it — in your boat, using your gear, loving your brand.


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