We have all heard the term “Pro Staff” used around the outdoor industry. You may have mixed emotions about what it is, and/or how it works.
There are a variety of terms used when it comes to describing a representative of a brand, hunting-related or otherwise. The more common terms are; Pro Staff, Field Staff, Brand Ambassador, and Field Rep, just to name a few. A common misconception is people think the “pro” stands for professional when what it really means is “PROMOTIONAL”. The purpose of a Pro Staff position is that you are there to help promote a brand that you yourself are actually passionate about. You’re so passionate about this brand that you want to bring in more people and introduce them to whatever company you are repping. It’s not a “job, in the traditional sense, instead, you are usually compensated with discounts, free merchandise, expo access, etc. That being said, like with any job, you have to perform or you will not have that job for very long.
If you are looking to get on with a company in the hunting/outdoor industry, here are a few tips that’ll help you land that coveted Pro Staff position.
1: Be Aggressive.
This does not mean you have to fight somebody to get the job. You need to be aggressive with your first impressions. Whoever is reviewing your application has no idea who you are. You need to make sure you are going to stand out in the crowd ahead of everybody else that is jockeying for the same Pro Staff position. When you fill out the information about yourself, be unique, let them know why you are the best choice. Do not answer a question with a one-word answer. If you do not take the time to explain yourself, why should they take the time to read it? Be aggressive, but be honest. You do not want to be caught in a lie. If you say you hunt every type of waterfowl known to man, but only produce pictures on your social media of coots and mergansers, it’s not going to end well.
2: Put In The Work.
Be willing to put in a lot of work before you expect anything in return. These businesses have put out tons of hours and money to get to where they are today. You cannot expect them to start handing out free stuff just because you say you are going to do something for them. Buy their products, or use their services. Better yet, buy and use their products before you even apply for the Pro Staff position. The best way to promote anything is to actually know what you are talking about. Show that you can do the work to bring in new customers, and you will be rewarded for your efforts.
For example, at Ackley Outdoors, I issue a unique discount code to all of my Field Staff to share with everybody. Every time that code is used to purchase anything on my website, I know exactly who brought that new customer in and what they purchased. It helps me keep track of performance, and most importantly, it lets me know who is truly driving brand awareness and doing what they said they would. Give input on what you are running into out there. If people are telling you that they would like to see a certain product, then relay that message. If you personally have an idea for something that would be a great addition, then be creative with how you present your ideas.
3: Do Your Research.
If you are going to be effective in your position, you need to know everything there is to know about the products. Ask questions, look up information. An effective staffer needs to know everything about that product, so if someone asks a question you can reply quickly. Product knowledge, and believing in what you are talking about, are some of the most important points. Once again, it’s always a good idea to be a customer before asking to be a Pro Staff member.
4: Be Polite and Be Humble
You just landed your first Pro Staff opportunity, congrats! Now, how you carry yourself will reflect directly on the company you represent. Social media is the biggest advertising platform for the vast majority of both established as well as up and coming businesses. You will always run into people that disagree with you. When this does happen (and it will), you should kill them with kindness. Don’t get into a keyboard warrior battle with them. Have a civil conversation, and respect their opinion. When you announce that you are representing a company, be humble. Being cocky is going to be one of the quickest ways to lose your position. Remember, as a Pro Staffer, you ARE the face of the company.
5: Promote, Promote, Promote
Once you know the products like the back of your hand, let people know about it. Give some examples of how it has worked for you, and show it to everybody you can. Almost every company has a website showcasing their products, let people know about it. You want to drive as many potential customers to that website as possible. Making a post online saying “check this out” with a web address isn’t going to cut it. Be creative, and get excited. As I mentioned before, all of my Ackley Outdoors Field Staffers have their own unique discount code for sharing. I would recommend posting that code at least once a week and sharing every post that the company/brand makes. If people see a random post every other week they will forget about it as soon as they scroll past it. If they see something about that company every day, they will remember it and are more likely to see what it’s all about. The squeaky wheel always gets the grease.
6: Start Small.
Having no experience under your belt, and trying to apply with a well-established company will get you nowhere. For example, if you want to work for Realtree or Mossy Oak you’re probably not going to get that shot if you only have one year of hunting experience under your belt, and you have $500 worth of second-hand Walmart brand camo. Set your expectations accordingly. Get your feet wet with a small company that is new to the market. If you can help grow that company, you will be able to prove your worth to the bigger companies. Personally, I would rather stay with the one that gave me my first opportunity, and continue to help them grow. Over time that has a better chance of becoming a paid position, and you have the self-gratification that you helped make that brand into whatever it turns into.
7: Be Desirable.
Make sure your grammar and spelling are on par. Posting a lot of content on social media is a great start. Have a good sense of humor, and being a “people person” doesn’t hurt either. The more you put yourself out there for others to see, the more followers you will have. When you have people following you on social media, they want to see more content from you. They believe in what you are trying to accomplish, and in turn will listen to you when you talk about a new product that is out on the market.
I hope that this helps answer some questions, and helps you land that new Pro Staff position you are going after. Find the one that is going to be the best fit for you and work harder than the next person. I am always taking applications for Field Staff at ackleyoutdoors.com. If you can prove to me that you are what I am looking for, you will have great opportunities ahead of you in the hunting industry. Good luck!