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Three Marketing Laws I’d Love to See Applied at Ski Resorts

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Years ago, when I was first getting into marketing, my father bought me a book called “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.” It wasn’t until a few years later that I finally opening it up and gave it a read. Ever since, it’s been one of my favorite marketing books to turn to when I need a little bit of idea-sparking inspiration for a new campaign or product.

All 22 laws are surprising true despite the bold claims, but I want to bring up three today that I’d love to see a resort apply well and run with.

Law #15 – The Law of Candor
The idea behind this law is that “when you admit a negative, the prospect will give you a positive.” This is a little hard to full grasp, though, right? As humans we hate to admit that we’re wrong or have a specific shortcoming. This, however, is exactly why it works so well because we don’t expect it. The authors claim that:

“First and foremost, candor is very disarming. Every negative statement you make about yourself is instantly accepted as truth. Positive statements, on the other hand, are looked at as dubious at best. Especially in an advertisement.”

This tool obviously needs to be handled wisely, but works in daily communications as well. When someone is humble and recognizes faults, a barrier is removed between you and that person.

I’d love to see a smaller resort take advantage of this law. Wolf Mountain in Utah has 3 times the vertical and acreage of a Midwest resort, but compared to Snowbasin and Powder Mountain, its neighbors, it looks tiny. I’m not sure the best way to pull if off, but by embracing their size and admitting it up front, I can see this law paying off. An early, rough thought would be a campaign around “It doesn’t take a [$90 lift ticket, high speed quad, 10,000′ peak] for [views like this, an awesome day on the mountain, etc.].” followed up by a tagline of “Where Small is Better”.

Law #2 – The Law of the Category
This law revolves around the idea that “if you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.” This is based on the first law #1 that states it’s “better to be first than to be better.” Growing up in Utah I knew that Brighton was for snowboarders. Later I learned why, a fact that reaffirmed this law: they were the first resort in Utah to allow snowboarders. Similarly, or inversely I suppose, Alta is for skiers because they are one of only three resorts to not allow snowboarding.

Bear Mountain did something similar with terrain parks. Vail Resorts did it with EpicMix. I think there are still many more doors for big, yet specific innovation in the ski industry. The idea is not to compete in the same category, but open a a whole new category or product that no one else has. I don’t know where it will come from, but if I did, I probably wouldn’t tell you anyway…that would be a very valuable piece of information to have.

Law #13 – The Law of Sacrifice
Instead of being the best at everything, this law suggests that “you have to give up something in order to get something.” It reminds me of when Steve Jobs returned to Apple after his time starting NeXT and running Pixar. The product line-up was choked with countless iterations of products and options. To summarize the direction he felt they should take he drew a matrix with two columns and two rows. The rows were labeled “Desktop” and “Portable” and the columns tagged “Consumer” and “Pro”. what resulted was only four types of products: desktop consumer, desktop pro, portable consumer, and portable pro. This focus helped Apple trim the fat and turn things around.

I see a lot of this at resorts. Each resort is trying to be family friendly, yet highlight the steeps, but also point out how great the terrain park is, and brag about the glades before finishing a sentence about grooming and lift lines. I really don’t know the best way to apply this law, but that’s why I’d love ot see someone else do it ;) If you could find a way to focus on your strength, this might also satisfy Law #2 by putting you in your own category at least regionally if not on a larger scale.

Bottom line, read the book. It’s awesome and I think you’ll see that more than these examples, resorts have many opportunities to apply proven laws for marketing success.

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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