Every Industry Has Its Unique Marketing Challenges

There’s often a conflict between “marketers” and companies who work within specific industries and need to market their products or services. 

  • The first will say that marketing is marketing, and there are guidelines that are important to follow in any industry. I couldn’t agree more.
  • The second will say that it’s important to understand the industry in order to be able to market their product or service. I couldn’t agree more.

If it sounds like I just want to be agreeable, that’s great. And while it’s nice to get along with everyone, there is some truth to what both groups are saying. This week, let’s use the winter sports industry as an example on why we need to follow both schools of thought.

Winter is upon us, and hopefully anyone within the industry has done some extensive pre-season planning.  This is the cornerstone of any good marketing program, and in an industry with a short (6 months or less) season, if you’re not ready to hit the ground running, the window of opportunity will be over before you’re ready to launch that great promotional idea. The program should be creative, integrated and well placed for maximum effectiveness. A few significant “marketing basics” would include, but not be limited to:

  • Brand consistency – make sure your overall brand messaging is consistent through all platforms
  • Focus on the interest of the sports enthusiast, not the management team
  • Develop and present  in ways that are consistent with where the communication is shared, i.e. differently for ads  than for public relations
  • Identify your core target market, and find the right ways of reaching them most effectively
  • Use enough frequency in your communication to reach your target multiple times

So what about those industry specific buffs?  This would include everything from ski/snowboard areas to outdoor clothing to equipment and accessory manufacturers and retailers.  Another cornerstone of good marketing is to really understand your target market, but also understand the limitations of your own industry.  A few thoughts to consider might be:

  • Outdoor winter weather is fickle, so make the program flexible. There will be significant communication that has to do with what Mother Nature has to offer.
  • People love what you do, but they hate to be sold.  And the ones who hate to be sold most are the press.  Ads are for raising awareness and adrenaline, social media builds relationships, and press coverage gives that all important communication of conditions, programs and events. 
  • Different groups have their own lingo, their own hot buttons on what’s important.  Messaging should have some variation to relate to each segment, i.e. cross country skiers, snowboarders and downhill skiers.  If you don’t understand the differences, you won’t get their attention.
  • Geographic differences – what’s cold to a Southern Californian in winter is like a spring day in Northern Minnesota, so their needs and tastes will be different.

If winter sports is your industry, the world in general loves you – whether they participate or not. Take that love and expand on it, in the right way.  Use an integrated campaign, but don’t assume that your website, social media, blogs, advertising and media outreach can be exactly the same.  Each part of the marketing program has its own objectives and its own unique characteristics.  Be consistent in the overall pictures of what you’re doing, but treat each part of the program as you would each of your winter guests – in the way that works best for them. 

Think Snow!

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