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Sir Sam’s simple, not-overthought ski shop partnership.

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Every year since I’ve started SlopeFillers I’ve volunteered some of my time to smaller ski areas. Some have taken me up on the offer in the form of a new website, others some design work on a new initiative, and some have been nothing more than sitting down and chatting for a while.

Last year was one of those “sitting down and chatting” situations.

I’d bought a few things from this ski area, but they’d never sent me a single follow up email, so i offered to help them get their email marketing up and running.

Three Ways
As we chatted, a simple question come up around the fact they’d tried email before:

“So, how exactly do we get more people on our list so we don’t just send to the same people we have in the past?”

This is a big question, of course, but we discussed three ways to think about it.

#1) Customers
The first is to export from their POS and digitize all those hand-written email addresses on rental forms. The reason why is simple: past customer emails are going to generate more revenue than random emails.

#2) Leads
The second was stuff like adding a form to their website or running contests that required an email address to enter. The quality of these lists wouldn’t be as good as a customer list, but there would still be lots of value and revenue to generate with them.

#3) Partnerships
The third idea came in the form on a mental pivot I asked them to make:

“If you think about email as a way to get your message into someone’s inbox who is likely to want to buy something from you, ask yourself two questions: 1, what complimentary companies are already emails to their customers? And, 2, what would we have to do to get into one of those emails?”

As we brainstormed for a few minutes, we came up with a short list:

  • That ski shop in town could do a joint offer for a 2-for-1.
  • That retail brand could do a demo day.
  • The university a few towns over could have a college ski night.

In that simple conversation, I realized something very important: small ski areas can sometimes be intimidated by the idea of partnerships because of the depth and complexity you sometimes see between big resorts and big brands.

A Simple Example
As I’ve gone from “clueless” to “amateur” on the partnership scale, I’ve learned one simple fact: I was overthinking it. Big time. I didn’t need a big brand, I didn’t need complex offers, I just needed another brand like mine and something that would benefit both of us.

Which is why I love Sir Sam’s partnership with Algonquin Outfitters:

First of all, it’s simple. Buy a pair of skis at a local retailer, get a free pass. I can’t imagine there is much overhead behind the scenes of this partnerships to make it happen.

And second, it benefits everyone. Skiers get more value when they buy a pair of skis, the shop can increase the value of every purchase to increase margins and/or sales, and Sir Sams gets great visibility among their market.

Keep it Simple
I love partnerships like this, and there’s a reason I started with the discussion of email. Partnership opportunities are everywhere, and they can start incredibly simply:

  • Find a business in town and say, “Hey, want to send a nice email about us to your list if we do the same?”
  • Stop by that restaurant where you know the owner and say, “Hey, what if every person that buys a lift ticket gets 10% off their meal and every person who buys a meal gets 10% off a lift ticket?”
  • Or just find a few local brands and say, “Hey, what if we just reshare at least one of each other’s Facebook posts each week?”

I love what Sir Sams did with this partnership and I’d love to see more, especially from smaller areas.

It’s a great way to get more reach, it’s a great way to build relationships with brands that are part of your community, and it’s a great way to help everyone involved inch closer to success.

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