Understanding Pro Programs for Outdoor Gear Brands
Pro programs offer exclusive benefits, strategic partnerships, and incredible growth opportunities for your outdoor gear brand — and starting one is easier than you think. However, as with other customer loyalty programs, pro programs come in a variety of forms.
Understanding pro programs and how they function will boost your chances of running a successful one. Beyond mere discounts, pro programs are about creating a community, forging connections, and propelling your brand forward in the competitive outdoor gear market.
Here’s everything you should know about pro programs for outdoor gear and how to strategically leverage them to best promote your brand.
Understanding Pro Programs
Pro programs have multiple names, including:
- Pro deal programs
- Pro purchase programs
- Outdoor professionals programs
- Outdoor pro discounts
- Industry professional programs
- Outdoor industry programs
The list goes on and on, so when you see a special discount program that involves a combination of these words, they’re likely talking about pro programs.
Typically, pro programs are rewards programs that sports and outdoor gear manufacturers offer to industry professionals and employees. The idea is that, by providing exclusive offers like gear discounts to expert skiers, mountain guides, and store employees, you’ll build brand visibility and garner great reviews and testimonials.
When everyday people see both professional snowboarders and their checkout cashier at REI rocking the same branded gear, they’ll begin to assume that it’s an industry standard and that they should be buying it too.
When your pro program works, it works! However, making them work is easier said than done.
How Pro Programs Are Supposed to Work
Pro programs are designed to enhance the outdoor experience for both the brand and the consumer. It’s a win-win scenario that fosters a sense of belonging and appreciation. Gear brands with successful pro programs can become household names, like Patagonia, The North Face, and Arc’teryx.
Here are four cornerstones of their success.
1. They Offer Exclusive Benefits Tailored to Outdoor Professionals
Understanding pro programs requires you to understand your program members. For example, Patagonia’s pro program is exclusively for qualifying “outdoor professionals, environmental grant recipients, and outdoor industry partners.”
Industry professionals aren’t always rich, and odds are that the full-time cashier at REI isn’t making six figures. You’ve got to offer pricing discounts that make it advantageous for your target audience to grab their credit cards.
In addition to dynamic pricing, you should offer them other perks — like early access to new product releases, extended warranties, and opportunities to earn loyalty points by making repeat purchases, making customer referrals, and following the brand on social media.
2. They Empower Outdoor Adventures
Imagine a future when your pro program elevates your brand and helps provide unforgettable outdoor experiences, like fly fishing with your son or biking around a beautiful city.
When you focus on the outcomes you want your consumers to experience, you can derive a marketing strategy around your pro program that’ll help get you there. One way to do this is to get to know who your customers are and what they want.
What are they looking for in a pro program? Do they want discounted pricing, early access to products, or unique experiences? The benefits of your pro programs need to add value for your target audience. For extra credit, try to go above and beyond their expectations!
3. They Form Strategic Partnerships
Establishing partnerships with outdoor professionals through pro programs opens doors to collaborative opportunities, like special events and co-branded products.
If your brand is geared toward first responders in search and rescue situations, imagine teaming up with these professionals by holding an event highlighting the awesome work they do while sporting your gear. The event gives them visibility when they’re looking to recruit or get more funding, while they have the opportunity to become advocates for your brand. It’s a win-win!
4. They Create a Community Beyond Discounts
Pro programs can create a community of like-minded people, strengthening brand identity and fostering a sense of belonging among outdoor enthusiasts. The brands that get it right understand that these relationships go beyond financial transactions — they form symbiotic relationships rooted in their shared passion for outdoor adventures.
When you have authentic relationships with your consumers, the camaraderie you forge within these programs creates a network of loyal advocates who are inspired to propel your brand forward.
5. They Have a Feedback Loop For Continuous Improvement
No product or promotion is perfect. There are always improvements that can be made, and the best people to get advice from are your customers.
By engaging with program members, you’ll get real-time insights that will help you shape product development and improvements, and remain agile and responsive to the ever-changing needs of the outdoor market.
Understanding Pro Programs: The Benefits of Their Deals
Here are the main pros associated with pro programs:
- Brand loyalty: We touched on this already, but it’s worth repeating. Pro programs cultivate a loyal customer base by providing exclusive discounts and perks, and creating a sense of community among outdoor enthusiasts.
- Brand exposure: Partnerships and collaborations with outdoor pros and influencers can amplify your brand’s visibility and help you reach a broader audience.
- Word-of-mouth marketing: Word-of-mouth marketing is the best form of marketing there is. When professionals endorse your brand or when a potential customer’s loved ones talk about how awesome a product is, they’re far more likely to buy it.
- Sales boost: Exclusive discounts offered through pro programs can drive sales, especially among outdoor pros and enthusiasts who are likely to make frequent purchases.
- Data insights: Pro programs provide you with valuable customer data, which allows you to create more targeted marketing and product development strategies.
Pitfalls to Avoid
Understanding pro programs requires you to know how and why they work. However, you should also learn why some pro programs don’t work.
When structuring your pro program, here’s what you should be mindful of:
- Too much inclusivity: Pro programs are meant for outdoor and industry professionals. If you offer the same discount to everyone, you’re diluting the elite nature of your program. Instead, offer different programs: one for outdoor and industry professionals and another for everyone else.
- Strain on retail relationships: Pro programs often bypass traditional retail channels, which can hurt brick-and-mortar stores. This can potentially impact the availability and accessibility of outdoor gear for consumers who want to shop in physical stores.
- Quality concerns: To meet demand and offer attractive discounts, some brands may compromise the quality of the products they offer. Brands may even produce a separate line of goods exclusively for these programs that aren’t as durable and fail to meet consumer expectations. This can be incredibly damaging to your brand’s reputation.
Set Up Your Pro Program With OrbitApps
Pro programs are designed to offer exclusive rewards for outdoor and industry professionals. When done well, they create a symbiotic relationship between your brand and consumers, which leads to incredible collaborative opportunities, increased brand loyalty, and unforgettable outdoor experiences.
However, there’s no exact science when creating the perfect pro program. It’s all about striking that balance between a product or product line for the right target audience with the right offer.
At OrbitApps, we’re here to help you find that balance with Alliance Pro. With Alliance Pro, you can oversee all of your pro programs in one place, allowing you to manage member applications, discounts, member groups, program renewal reminders, and more!
Want to learn about how Alliance Pro can help you optimize your pro program? Contact us today!
Let’s keep in touch!