Growing up in the Midwest (Missouri specifically), I really only got to ski once a year, if I was lucky. Being a part of a family that was fair skinned (super, extra pale), we all agreed that a beachside spring break probably wasn’t in our best interests.
So instead, the mountains were where we vacationed, and every year my brother and I watched ski movies to get more and more excited for our annual excursion. It was the golden age. Warren Miller films took precedence then. Now, Level 1, Matchstick Productions and Teton Gravity Research films typically make up our playlists.
I think it’s been apparent for a long time now that skiing and the action sports industry has been greatly affected and ultimately helped by the growth of social media and video content. What’s the best way to truly share what these athletes are doing? They’re sports that were meant to be seen – Not read about, not listened to on the radio, but seen.
Video and multimedia truly came of age during the freestyle revolution of skiing and snowboarding, perfectly positioning these sports and athletes to take advantage of all the possibilities. All you have to do is look at the general marketing strategy for almost every successful ski or snowboard company, athlete or related product to get an idea how effective it can be to leverage video and multimedia to market their brand.
Marketing today, especially in a niche industry like snow-sports, relies heavily on viral, online and print publication marketing. Most skiing companies and gear brands are athlete driven companies, or depend on word of mouth to spread the word.
These companies want to market their brand by showing you elite athletes using their gear. If the best in the world uses it, it’s probably good enough for the rest of us, much like a basketball player with a sneaker deal or any pro athlete and Gatorade.
Where the snow sports industry differs is that it cultivates these ‘teams’ of athletes that promote that certain brand. Rarely is one athlete transcendent enough to be able to elevate a brand by him or herself.
That being said, this is the kind of industry that is solely about style, looking good and being visually pleasing. The more technically difficult tricks don’t always win competitions, but the smoothest, best looking ones usually do.
So what are the best ways to share this visual content? You have to look at where your audience digests their media, and if you’re marketing to ski bums, chances are, they’re online or reading an industry publication or magazine. These aren’t the kind of people that watch TV endlessly. They’re the type of generation that watches or reads what they want and when they want a la Netflix, YouTube or video on demand.
Now that we’ve discussed the almost singular importance of video when it comes to digital marketing for these companies, what about the athletes that represent these brands?
Most freeskiing or snowboarding athletes operate as a separate entity. They may be inextricably linked to certain brands and their teams (think Tanner Hall and Armada or Sean Pettit and K2). But most of them float between sponsors like NBA players drift between teams. This gives them an air of independence and makes it crucial for them to identify and promote themselves strictly as individuals, not necessarily as skiers or athletes for a certain brand. They are separated.
This means that in order to become successful as professionals, they need to set themselves apart. Joining a sponsored team might be a way to do it, and that gives them access to more opportunities to film. But they need to not only film but be able to actively promote themselves on social media. It’s imperative for them to differentiate themselves from everyone else.
And apart from the athletes, another entity emerges. Not the hardgood brands, but the movie companies that make it their business to film and document the sport to the nth degree. And let’s be honest. This is all possible because of the visual nature of skiing. The sport seems to defy the laws of physics and is built on the principle of, ‘what looks cool’. This whole premise lends itself to the beauty of these professionals doing what no one else can. They make this sport, sliding with style, look as cool as possible. And it looks really cool.
Social media promotion of a visually enchanting sport has become the norm for marketing athletes, products and movies, but really, it’s about getting other people excited. We all want to watch something cool and these brands have a pretty good formula. It might be worthwhile to take some notes.
If you’re looking to get others excited about your brand, getting in touch with Imagine That might be your best bet. Contact us today.