The online ad market is taking its share of knocks. Customers who were buying with gusto six months ago are now reevaluating their online advertising strategies. Even so, the media is prematurely sounding the death knell of an industry that is still in its infancy.
Some of our brethren are turning from dot-coms to dot-gones; but as an industry, there are plenty of money-making angles left to pursue. After the shakeout is past, those of us left standing will still have customers to satisfy and new markets to exploit. And that’s how great innovations happen — things get tough, we all get creative, and new ideas are generated.
Take, for example, the ski industry. I live in the Pacific Northwest and am an avid skier. I spend way too much money on equipment — just ask my wife — and am on the slopes every weekend.
But people like me are a dying breed. Even though tourism is the second largest industry in my state, ski areas have been caught in a flat-line growth curve for the past 7-10 years. There has been no real increase in the number of skiers or season-pass holders for several years. This is an industry in which a season’s success is judged by the short Christmas season, so area managers struggle to find ways to stay profitable.
Take a Long Shot
The first area to implement a dramatic change was Bogus Basin in Idaho. The management tried something completely new: Instead of charging high prices for season passes to make money, it dropped its season-pass rates almost one third.
It was a huge risk. If people weren’t skiing because they thought it wasn’t fun — rather than because they couldn’t afford it — Bogus Basin would go down the toilet. But, as it turns out, other people like to be on the hill as much as I do. They just don’t have spouses who consider skiing to be a form of marriage therapy, so they don’t dedicate the financial resources to being there.
By taking a long shot, Bogus Basin was able to quadruple the number of season-pass holders. Skier days increased 66 percent. People who had given up on skiing years ago flocked back, now with new families and friends in tow. This brought a plethora of newcomers to the sport — all needing lessons, boards, helmets, clothes, cheeseburgers, and microbrews. Ancillary sales from other profit centers skyrocketed.
By using its primary product — lift tickets — as a loss leader, Bogus Basin was able to substantially increase overall sales and profitability. A small resort in the proverbial middle of nowhere was able to redefine an entire industry. Almost all the large regional ski areas in this part of the country have now adopted this pricing system.
Bogus Basin seized on an idea that we can all relate to. When things start looking bad for your primary product, it’s time to step back and evaluate what else you have to offer. You’ll probably discover ancillary products or a new mix of inventory that can make your business take off again.
Get a New Lease on Life
By revitalizing your marketing efforts, you can turn an economic slowdown into a very profitable “correction.” This is the time to review your prospect database, hit the phones, make lunch reservations — even take clients skiing! Call the businesses you couldn’t, or didn’t have time to, help before. By proactively reaching out with a new focus and wisdom when times are tough, you can begin building the relationships that can propel you into the stratosphere when the market takes off.
From my view, we are all at the top of the 11,000-foot ridge with 14 inches of fresh powder; it’s a beautiful day with blue sky and sunshine. Are you going to make figure eights with your clients and talk about it for months to come, or are you just waiting for the ski patrol to take you down to the lodge in a body cast?