When I started in business back in 1980, my primary client base consisted on smaller to medium-sized ski areas in the Northeastern United States. We produced collateral advertising for these clients, most of whom were struggling to hold their own, as their clientele increasingly felt that they had “outgrown” the smaller, more local mountains. The problem was that everybody had skied at one time or another at the “big” resorts in Vermont and out West. As disposable incomes increased, leisure time became more highly valued, and it increasingly seemed to make sense to book a flight to the Rockies or Europe. The small ski areas that have survived are mostly the ones that repositioned themselves within this market. They no longer saw themselves competing against the other nearby mountains but against the marketing of the bigger resorts elsewhere in the region or partway across the globe. As time has gone on, they have further redefined themselves, extending their seasons with golf courses and other non-winter attractions. The fact is that they are no longer just competing against the bigger ski resorts but against foreign travel, the cruise industry, and the full range of options that vie for the consumer’s leisure dollars.
When we offered marketing solutions to our clients in the ski industry, we closely examined what was being done at Killington, Vail, Stowe, Sun Valley, Park City, Aspen, Vail, Jackson Hole and others, including the big resorts in Canada and Europe. The same thing has happened with our clients in the amusement park and attractions industry, where everyone has visited Disney World and has come back with higher expectations. The same thing happened as well with our campground clients, where every camper has at one time or another stayed at a five-star resort. In every instance, the idea is not to present your business as something that it isn’t, but to present the unique advantages that your business offers that allow it to remain relevant in the overall scheme of evolving consumer expectations. You need to closely examine – and visit – the leaders within your industry, as well as industries that compete for the same consumer dollars. Then come back and see how you can apply the lessons learned to make your business hold greater appeal to both your existing clientele and an expanding base of prospects. In almost every instance, the issue is not size but the quality and level of services that you are able to provide. You know your clientele better than anyone else, so you should know exactly which services are the ones that they will most highly value and appreciate. Offer them those, with a smile and a personal touch!
This post was written by Peter Pelland