Below are abbreviated results from a marketing project completed by a John’s Hopkins University graduate class.

Goal:  To create a communications campaign to increase the number of people who are trying cross country skiing!

This project involved marketing graduate students, most of whom had never skied.  Elements of the campaigns were to include: goal, target audience, key messaging, channel/media outlets and partnership ideas.  Highlighted results from this work are below.

Highlighted Campaigns

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Vacation is about experiences, but experiences vary. Some people want to relax amongst the backdrop of any place other than home, while others want to participate in the activities that area has to offer.  No matter the type of vacationer one thing is clear, they want a different view.

Target – Vacationers from warmer climates that love adventure.  This group is always around the heat, meaning warm weather.  By taking a vacation that includes cross country skiing, they are reaching their happy place between seeing new sights and enjoying a new activity.

Messaging –

  • Beat the heat
  • See the sights
  • Find your footing

Channel/Media/Partnerships – Companies similar to Hilton and Airbnb could be potential partners to bring in business,  and snowbelt states could join and use this campaign to fuel tourism.  Establishing these partnerships will lead to construction of social media ads and web pages on their respective sites to feature cross country skiing.  Instagram will be the campaign’s powerhouse in social media where scenic photos of patrons skiing with scenic views will trend using the hashtag #skititoseeit.

Let XC Ski Set You Free

Many active people have become slaves to indoor, environmentally controlled workouts on machines that go nowhere.  Let XC set You Free is about breaking the chain to the normal and being set free.

The target audiences are participants in cycling, running, swimming, etc., who live in regions where winter weather prohibits them from participating in their usual activity or where they would normally be participating indoors.

Key Message – “Let XC Ski Set You Free This Winter” – The goal is to show how they don’t have to travel far to cross country ski, they can enjoy the activity at ski areas not far from home or work.

Imagery – Imagery could show people sad about packing away their summer sporting equipment while it snows outside or participants in an indoor gym looking longingly out the window to a snowy scene.  Phrasing would say that these participants shouldn’t let the weather trap them indoors this winter but should let cross country skiing set them free for some winter sporting fun.

Print ads could be put up in gyms or near ski areas, showing how easy and local the activity is.

Partnerships – Partnering with local running/cycling and other sporting clubs would be huge.

Me?  Cross country ski?

Nice rhyme!  Also a great slogan to for people to overcome entry barriers to cross country skiing and also try something they never thought they would.

Campaign Goal – Inspire recreational enthusiast to get out and try cross country skiing by seeing liked minded people doing it.

Target audience – People who are already outdoor enthusiasts and within a drive of cross country skiing

Key messaging – Partner with amateur athletes from other outdoor sports like surfing, running, cycling, etc., who have active social media accounts and fall into the micro-influencer or higher range of followers’ categories.  The athletes would post photos of themselves participating in their usual sports with the slogan, asking the question how can a surfer, runner, cyclist… become a cross country skier?  They would then be set up with everything they need to go skiing.  The entire journey would be photographed/videoed from the drive to the ski area, getting ready and then learning to ski with happy hour/family time at the end.

At the end of the campaign the slogan would be changed to “cross country skiing is for me”.  Visually create cool hip culture!

Media channels– YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, etc.  Also included will be freelancers.

More than what meets the eye

Cross county skiing is designed to ease stresses and celebrate the wonders of winter through new physical activity and unconventional experiences.

Goal – The campaign goal is to persuade the demographic of young, adventurous individuals who aren’t familiar with cross country skiing to give it a try.

Target Audience – multicultural millennials

Key Messaging –The trails range from beginner to advanced with friendly staff ready to assist in every way.  Cross country skiing is an experience that goes beyond the sport, encompassing miles of sunlight drenched trails for picturesque and unforgettable moments, cozy log cabins with hot chocolate and nights of bonfire bonding dinners.  By design, the weekend long excursion becomes more than a physical activity, it will create and emotional experience which is key to influencing the millennial generation.

Channel/media outlets – Instagram (IG TV Stories) YouTube videos/sponsored ads and popular multicultural bloggers channels.  Campaign would use the power of micro-video (no more than 30 second) that illustrates gentle trails, bonding, skiing, relaxation and having a good time at night – a total experience package.

Go Outside and Play…Again

It’s a call to reclaim one’s youth and reconnect with those interpersonal aspects that make us human, and alive.  Getting home from school, chucking the backpack and dashing for the front door to go play outside was how things were done.  Sun-down was the 1% battery cue that the fun was about to end.

Target Audience – baby boomers, active golden aged adults.  A vast majority of baby boomers enjoy walking, camping, traveling and other outdoor recreational activities.

Key Messaging

  1. Go outside and play…again.
  2. Regain your self of adventure and de-stress from the constraints of the technical world while exploring the great outdoors.
  3. Revitalize your mind, improve your physical health and regain endurance and stamina with cross country skiing.

Channel/Media Outlets – Facebook, broadcast media

Partnership ideas –

  • Low key gyms like Planet Fitness
  • Country clubs and golf courses
  • Outdoor apparel like Patagonia, North Face, Columbia, LL Bean
  • Senior centers
  • Health and wellness programs at large corporations, Blue Cross Blue Shield, etc.

So, what do we do with this wide range of suggestions?  These are idea starters, does anything in particular resonate with your ski area, can you apply certain elements of one or all of these to your marketing campaign?  Use your imagination…


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