Short Term vs Long Term Thinking…

 

Jason Wills of Powder Eight Consulting joined us for MOTEX in April 2020 to provide an overview of what companies and brands should be considering in their marketing for both the short term and long term…

Jason joined us after his webinar presentation to discuss some of his key points.

Premium members of MTN can access the webinar in the MTN Marketplace.

 

You said that you have taken on the role of inspiring and creating interest in skiing for your children, as it’s something the industry hasn’t done. How could this change?

Firstly, I think it’s about understanding whether there is an appetite from individual companies in each sector to address the challenge. Getting companies to call out what their individual strategies are, then combining those to build a consensus across the industry. Being clear about the role of each industry body would be an important part of this process, e.g. Ski Club of Great Britain and Snowsport UK. Benchmarking and taking learnings from other industries such as UK Hospitality would help develop the strategy. I’d really like to see this as an ongoing forum/discussion topic within future Listex events. Assuming we can pull together a common strategic intent, getting some numbers into a plan will be critical if anything is going to change.

 

In you previous roles in FMCG you mentioned creating demand in a category. This is not something the ski industry has engaged recently, do they have to consider it now, and what ways could they look to start? 

Yes absolutely, however understanding where that category leadership comes from needs some thought. It should probably start with the resorts as they are ultimately responsible for delivering the product at point of consumption. However, driving participation at a UK level needs to be considered as part of an integrated plan. Category leadership is often driven by the opportunity to create additional revenue and profit so understanding where that Gap exists is key.  It does feel like the off peak opportunity to attract new consumers is a good place to start.

 

Where should marketing spend for ski companies, resorts and tourist boards be focused right now?

Probably three things… firstly staying in contact with existing customers, whether that be through email or social media – updating and informing on what the 20/21 season could look like, offering to still have the conversation about planning their next trip even though they might not want to book it. Secondly, inspiring! Providing relevant content that helps existing and potential customers think about where they might go next, whenever that might be and thirdly where customers are searching for information, ensure that you deliver the appropriate content to answer their need. Cervinia is still telling me to #StayHome!

 

Customers are likely to increasingly be split by their views and needs as we emerge from this crisis. With this in mind how important is segmentation, and how can ski companies begin to segment their market?

I’d start by really really understanding your existing customer base.  Why do your existing customers choose to do business with you rather than the competition?  Ask them who they see as the competition, is it the same as you? Then understand why you deliver like better solution then your competition. I’d get ready granular here – specific age groups, specific occasions, specific levels of ability etc. You can consider using personas to help articulate what these segments look like and then start to map revenue and profit by segment/persona. If you’re really clear about your target audience you can start to think a bit more broadly about who your competition might be. I talked a lot about Center Parcs in my presentation.  For me, an Esprit/La Plagne coordinated strategy to target this audience would feel like a useful exercise.

 

One upside is this situation has created ‘space’. If customers aren’t buying there’s no sense in selling right now. With that in mind, what should companies be doing right now *maybe 3 key things?

I’d start with the customer journey – be clear about where you sit within that journey. Are you adding value appropriately to help a customer make an informed decision? This should anchor back to your target audience, brand proposition and unique selling points. Customer needs – ask the customer what they are looking for and demonstrate how you can help them meet those needs. Particularly for customers that are maybe looking for an alternative solution to what they would.  normally book. Thirdly, think outside of the box there are lots of stories of businesses pivoting in the current climate here’s a great opportunity to do that not just for the 20/21 season but beyond also. One more… I learnt from my time at Merlin that new news drives interest and engagement, I don’t think the industry focuses enough on the amount of innovation and the benefit that it provides. The resorts are putting significant amounts of money into new lifts opening up new terrain.

 

You suggested many companies in the ski sector lack a clear mission, vision or set of value, and as competition for customers intensifies this becomes more important. How can companies go about finding and promoting their point of difference?

I think this goes back to target audience – being really clear about who they are and how you meet their needs better than the competition and then reflecting that in your communications plan. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that a ski trip is probably one of the most complex experiences that you may choose to take,  therefore transparency, authenticity and clarity on what you do as a business to help make that the best it possibly can be, is so important.

 

Successful business solve customer problems. How can companies in the mountain industry transform their mindset to being problem solvers?

I think this is an easy one! Start with your target audience, but don’t go skiing, ask them why they don’t go skiing and what things you could do differently to persuade them to try. I’m increasingly thinking that the complexity, cost and lack of flexibility to try the experience is a real barrier to growth. For example, Les Arcs has a fantastic funicular connection from Bourg-St-Maurice to the resort, yet in order to get there from the UK on the train, outside of the weekend, I have to trek across Paris from one station to another, then change trains in Chambery and to try and work out that journey took me to about 15 different websites. I think the mid-week break, off peak is a great opportunity to recruit new consumers.

 

Much of marketing is focused on creating differentiation and unique selling points to take market share from the competition. To what extent do you think those goals need to be set aside right now for companies to focus more on sustaining/reigniting demand in the overall market? 

I think the starting point should be how do I take a bigger share of the ‘experience’ category in the same way that a beer company will be thinking about taking a bigger share of the drinks category. Beer is a great example at the moment, where the likes of Heineken and Budweiser have finally developed great tasting 0% alcohol beer that has met changing consumer needs. That’s come from a constant innovation mentality.

 

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