Stickers for marketing work. In the simplest of terms this is because if properly designed, produced and distributed, promotional stickers provide a badge that advertises, encourages word of mouth, and identifies insiders. As our culture moves towards more online and electronic means of communication it becomes harder to see and spread physical badges, endorsements, and insider awareness. Taking the ski industry and specifically mountain resorts as an example of these changes I’ll examine some simple solutions for firing up and improving lost or overlooked marketing opportunities.
Mountain Resorts (ski and snowboard areas) in the past easily identified their customers and some of their best customers and insiders. Everyone who paid to ski or snowboard at a certain resort had a giant ticket that was hung from their jacket. These tickets were great marketing for resorts because they often stayed on the jacket off the slopes as well and for extended periods of time. Not only were they difficult to remove, but many people did not want to remove them because they made a statement, “hey, I’m a skier… check out all the days I’ve skied (at a particular resort)”. Now lift tickets are most often electronic cards stashed inside of pockets and not displayed to anyone.
A similar shift has happened with mountain resort’s best customers and insiders. Season pass holders used to have a cool pass with a picture that identified these locals and insiders to other skiers. And with a new pass every year they were often collected, saved, and displayed in ski houses as signs of insider status. Now, with electronic passes being stashed deep in unseen pockets, locals and insiders are thrown in with all other visitors and have lost the social currency they were once awarded. These best customers don’t want to be asked on a gondola where they are from – they want to be envied and asked about the best runs or local hot spots. The mountain resorts have inadvertently stifled the voices, pride and marketing potential of their best customers.
In my book, Stick This! Using Promotional Stickers To Build Identity, Create Word Of Mouth and Grow Sales, I talk about Badgers. Badgers are “The people not just willing, but enthusiastically volunteering (or even paying) to showcase a badge declaring their association and affinity. This is where the secret to marketing success lies – fully harnessing the marketing power of your fans and advocates.”
In Jonah Berger’s book Contagious he asks,
“what good is status if no one else knows you have it?” People may talk “but it is even better if there is a tangible, visible symbol that can be displayed to others… cues in the environment not only boost word of mouth but also remind people about things they already want to buy or do.”
Mountain Resorts have not adapted well to a new world where insider status and affinities are more hidden then ever in the physical environment. As a result, they have lost out on a lot of the free marketing that customers offer. Luckily there are easy, powerful, inexpensive ways to reignite word of mouth and display insider status – not just for ski areas but for any business. The answer lies in better designed and distributed custom promotional stickers for advertising to all customers/visitors and something extra special and unique for best customers and insiders.
Ideas For All Mountain Resorts:
Most Mountain Resorts have promotional logo stickers for advertising. They may hand them out at consumer shows & special events, sell them in their shops, or make them available in other ways at the resort. But, few resorts design and distribute stickers in a way that covers different customer tastes and where individuals may want (or be encouraged) to apply them and broadcast to others.
Here’s my best idea (which has become even more powerful and important for the 20/21 Season during the Pandemic) for maximizing the effectiveness of a promo sticker badge when marketing for resorts.
Making one sheet offers many benefits when marketing for resorts including ease of distribution, multiple options for recipients, and high perceived value. Copy or color changes can also be utilized to target different market segments.
• Distribute the stickers for advertising in a planned, organized manner to paying customers that appreciate (and will most likely display) the logo stickers.
Instead of random piles in random locations or offering no stickers at all when marketing for resorts, stickers can be offered (verbally) to everyone who makes a purchase in a retail store, rental department and/or in restaurants or cafeterias. In this way people are asked and the stickers all end up in the the hands of interested paying customers who view the collection of stickers as a valued gift.
Ideas For Best Customers / Insiders
Best customers need to be armed with a unique product or badge that separates them from other visitors and common folk. Best customers and pass holders need to feel special, appreciated and they need a way to show off that status with stickers for advertising. Again, “what good is status if no one else knows you have it?” On the Mountain pass holders use to literally wear their special status on their sleeve or around their neck. Why not stick that status back in the open, not only on the mountain but where ever they may travel?
Back to some words from Jonah Berger in Contagious;
“If people get something not everyone else has it makes them feel special, unique, high status… We need to use scarcity and exclusivity to make people feel as if they are insiders.”
We also need to give our customers an easy way to show off that status. An exclusive sticker or badge offers the highest degree of exposure at the lowest cost. Here’s an idea for affordably showcasing the status of best customers.
• This is no time for a basic bumper sticker or helmet decal. Not only does the design need to reflect a special, unique status but the quality and perceived value of the sticker needs to be pumped up a few notches as well.
Vinyl cut decals (perhaps with a gold, silver, chrome or etched glass material) can be highly prized. As can what we call a VIPcal – a sticker of obvious high quality that can’t be easily replicated. This could be done with a special design or in a less common (but more high end) material like domed decals, which have a poured epoxy layer over a high grade material.
• Two sizes of VIP/Insider stickers should ideally be produced for mountain resorts. Smaller stickers can cover helmet and equipment applications, and larger stickers for cars, cargo boxes, water bottles, etc. multiple size options can cover many other applications and it leaves it to the fans/advocates to decide where and how they want to display their stickers badges.
• Who should receive a VIPcal or “Insider” Sticker? Top level (or all levels) of season pass holders? Or, perhaps people that reach a milestone of a certain amount of runs taken, days skied or years with a pass? These days with these stats readily available at so many resorts it can be simple to reward top customers, frequent fliers and “insiders”.
With some creativity and proper designs any resort can turn valuable customers into valuable and visible advocates and marketers. There could even be different designs for different achievement levels to incentivize more time on the slopes, a higher priced pass, membership in a special club, etc.
• How should these elite stickers be distributed when marketing for resorts? Mail them with a nice note congratulating them on their elite status and how much you appreciate them. You can further incentivize application by offering special perks. On a car perhaps the sticker allows special parking privileges or access to a special event? On a helmet perhaps the special sticker allows for free coffee, an express lane for lifts, or any number of creative perks. But, no extra benefits should really be necessary if the sticker itself is cool, coveted and conveys special status.
Tip: Now more than ever sticker postcards are one of the best marketing values on the Planet. The tips above of having multiple stickers delivered to very targeted best customers are easily realized with a sticker postcard. Here are 5 reasons sticker postcards may be the ultimate low-cost marketing tool.
Mountain Resorts, of course, are not the only businesses that can increase exposure, word of mouth, loyalty and revenue with promotional stickers. At Websticker we have helped hundreds of businesses boost marketing power and strengthen identity with well designed, quality stickers. With today’s technologies it’s easier than ever to use available data to connect offline in creative ways.
Don’t leave low-cost marketing opportunities hidden in your pocket like a newfangled ski ticket – take full advantage of high exposure stickers and your best fans and advocates who are potentially also your best salespeople.