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What I'd Do
If I Had Your Resort’s Brand, I’d ‘Ski for Sarah, Board for Burke’

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“I haven’t done a ‘what I’d do Wednesday’ post for a while, but this seemed like the perfect time to pick it up again, at least for this week.”

One of my favorite aspects of marketing is the dynamics of a brand. Not just what it takes to perform “branding” but what you can do once you’ve achieved it. I’ve always been impressed with companies that use their name, and the way their customers associate with it, to do good. Rather than doing so to build up their brand, they do it because it is part of their brand. They do it because of who they are.

I’ve also come to realize, however, that a brand is built by many people, not just your marketing team. It’s built by your guests, it’s built by the industry as a whole, it’s built by professional athletes who bring the highest level of a beautiful sport to the masses.

Sarah’s Accident Yesterday
Sarah Burke is one of those professionals. She’s a skier. A crazy good skier. Sarah’s won more X-Games medals than I’ve won games of rock-paper-scissors. She’s a skier that, like many other professional athletes, has inspired many young girls (and guys) to take up the sport and/or spend a few extra nights at the local hill learning that next trick on their list. I guarantee some of these inspired skiers are pass holders at your mountain.

Sarah pushes the limits of the sport and we, in the industry, reap the benefits of her risky lifestyle from the skiers she inspires.

Yesterday, however, Sarah crashed at a sponsor’s pipe event in Park City and now is in serious condition at a Salt Lake City hospital. Early details:…).
Today, we may know more, but at the time I started writing this (late Tuesday afternoon), details are sparse. Somehow, this not knowing actually makes it worse.

So, what would I do?

Ski for Sarah, Board for Burke
When things like this happen, I think we all have a natural desire to do something to help. And, as tragedies go, there are typically lots of needs that arise. Sometimes it seems all we can do is hope and pray. But maybe there’s more. if I were you, I’d use my brand, and the reach it provides, to give back to Sarah as soon as possible. I’d organize an event called something like “Ski for Sarah, Board for Burke”. I’d make t-shirts, sell special passes, take donations, etc. and put all the proceeds in a fund that Sarah and her family can choose what to do with (hospital expenses, ski clinics, scholarship funds, etc.). Heck, I’d even call a couple neighboring mountains and see if they wanted to multiply the effort.

With hundreds of her fans on the hill for the event, I’d get cameras in each lift line giving skiers and boarders a few seconds to express their admiration, share how she’s influenced them, and wish her speedy recovery. I’d post this online where even more people can comment and add their voices and support. Most of all, I’d make sure Sarah gets a chance to see it. Recovery is tough.

A Warning
Sometimes, events like this become more about making the brand look good than actually doing good. Avoid that like the plague. Do this for Sarah, or the local high school kid injured in an accident, or a patroller’s wife who has cancer, or whoever deserves it, but don’t do it for your brand. Be sincere and do it because you have that brand already and you have the resources that can help.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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