Sitting on a chairlift in the middle of the Canadian Alps staring down across my skis to snow covered tree landscapes beneath me, my mind began running through many of the hints and tips I was trying to focus on to improve my skiing.  I quickly came to realise there are quite a number of similarities we can draw between how you approach skiing and how they relate to marketing.

In fact, more than similarities, there is much that skiing can teach us about marketing, and the way that we as marketers go about our business.

Just as skiing isn’t about about getting suited and booted and hitting the hardest runs your first day on the slopes.  Marketing isn’t about jumping right in there and hoping for the best.  You need to build your skills, develop over time, plan, and then execute

Got your lift pass?  Ski boots strapped?  Are you ready to improve your marketing next time you ski down a mountain?  Here are 7 things that skiing can teach us about marketing.

1. Look Ahead

When you find yourself screaming down a hill at a pace that you probably shouldn’t be, it’s easy to focus on the metre or two in front of you and react to the terrain rather than plan where you’re going to go.

If you are trying to keep up with the kids and find yourself in a terrain park, see a jump ahead of you and think about hitting that sweet lip with a grab of your skis as you twirl in a 360-degree, you could assume that the landing is smooth sailing or fairly straight forward.

Don’t.

Plan your turns.  Scope out your jumps.

Only by looking ahead and planning, will you act proactively rather than reactively.

In skiing, you should be looking 3-4 turns ahead, planning the line you are going to take down the hill.  In marketing, you should have a plan about how the campaign will unfold, what elements are needed, and when.

2. Know Your Product

How tight are your shoes?  Are your skis for carving, or are they suited to powder.  What setting are your bindings on?

Before hitting the slopes it’s imperative to understand a number of questions about your skis, shoes, bindings, or any other products you may be using.

One of the earliest teachings about marketing is around knowing your ‘product’, and the questions around it.  Understand the difference around features and benefits, and then identify how you communicate these.

3. It’s Not All About Speed

As I’ve grown older, I’ve become less concerned about the G-force I’m producing, and more aware of the technique I’m using to reach the bottom.

Speed isn’t everything.

While the speed with which you can market your campaign is certainly impressive, and you can hang your hat on how quickly your campaign got to market, if it isn’t thought out properly from a strategic viewpoint it could become a waste of resources.

By improving ‘technique’ – your marketing strategy – you will reap greater and more efficient outcomes.

Understand your target markets, the demographics of your audience, the media they consume, and direct your marketing in a focused manner.

4. Understand The Terrain

Standing at the top of unknown, snowy slopes, about to descend into a gaping chasm of bumps, snow and trees, I spend a good while looking over the terrain and identifying any dangers that may present themselves.

I’ll know that if it’s heavy with fog I need to go slower, and if it’s icy under foot, that controlling my skis will be important.  I’ve probably spoken to friends who have completed this run, about the difficulties in this terrain and what they faced.

Every terrain is different, and every market is challenging.

You need to identify the market you’re playing in.  Understand internal and external threats to your campaign.  What can you and can you not control?

A simple SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a great way of looking at the market you compete in ‘from the top of the run’, and understanding the challenges you face and what you need to do to overcome them.

HOWEVER…

5. Obstacles Will Always Appear

Any skier worth their weight in gold will tell you they have had any number of incidents involving unexpected obstacles.

For some unknown reason, trees can pop up from nowhere.  A cliff face will suddenly emerge before you.  These things weren’t there a second ago, they just suddenly appeared.

Unfortunately, certain obstacles like trees and rocks don’t move.

There’s only so much planning and understanding of the terrain you can do, until you have to react to unexpected circumstances.

Be flexible.  Don’t be too stuck in certain ways to change if some things don’t work, or if something unexpected pops up.

Prepare contingency plans.  Through your SWOT analysis you should be able to identify internal and external threats of things that may appear, and plan to overcome these.

6. Face Forward

If you’ve recently been watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi, you’ll have seen any number of skiers hurtling towards the bottom of a hill with their legs pumping like car pistons, up and down, left and right.

World-class skiers on a bumps course will cover 4 x moguls in 1 x second.

Throughout this however, as knees, legs, ankles and feet all switch direction under the upper body – the chest and head remain the same.

Facing one direction.  Downhill.

Your marketing campaign will have various elements to it, using various media, and various messaging.  It’s important that you have a number of different channels of communication working their own niche the best they can, but they should all serve a singular goal.

Don’t get caught up steering left, or veering right.

Keep the head and the heart of your marketing focused on the outcome.

7. Apres-Skiing

The most enjoyable part of any days skiing, is either sitting back in a hot tub with your drink of choice, as the snow falls and the hot jets pound your sore body, or regaling friends and family with tales of your extraordinary feats.

Sit back and savour success.

Take the time to look over accomplishments, bask in the glory, and embellish every story.  However – always think about what can be done even better next time.

Ski Better.  Market Better.

Whether you’re a seasoned marketer, or just beginning, there are always skills to improve, tips to acknowledge, and snow to ski .

There are core principles that any marketer needs to execute, the key foundations that will form the basis of your work.

What skills, techniques, and tips from skiing do you have that relates to marketing?

Share in the comments below!