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Digital Marketing topics were front & center at the Colorado AMA Ski & Outdoor Marketing breakfast Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at the University of Denver. Here is a recap of the Colorado AMA Ski & Outdoor Marketing event. 

What is Social Good?

Social good is something that provides benefits to a large number of residents in the largest possible way.

Social good is something all four panelists listed as a weakness in their marketing strategy, but an important message that resonates with customers and patrons who are looking online for their next travel destination or adventure.

Annie Gleason, marketing manager for resort & adventure giant Intrawest, said each of the resorts in the Intrawest family has their unique brand and ability to impact the community around them. The failure, at times, is promoting the social good that’s happening on a daily basis.

Marketing for Outdoor Lifestyles

Gleason joined Colorado Parks and Wildlife Digital Marketing Specialist, Mike DelliVeneri, Gateway Canyons Resort and Spa Director of Sales & Marketing, Michael Macleod and Rick Rusch, a marketing adviser for outdoor and sports brands on the panel Wednesday in front of an audience of students and marketers looking to learn more about tactics and challenges in the Ski and Outdoor Industry.

Macleod shared information on the increased competition of private rentals that hotels and resorts must create – and market – and the experiences they offer at their locations. Social media plays a big role in how those experiences are viewed by travelers, and the panel agreed. It can be a double-edged sword to have instant feedback and marketers have had to learn how to respond quickly, and use the feedback to improve experiences for others. Overall, the panel agreed that digital media – including social – has had a positive impact on the industry by improving experiences in a way that resonates with customers.

Successful Marketing Campaigns

There are several examples of how brands have taken customer feedback and research and turned it into a marketing win. Outdoor apparel company Merrell, was mentioned as one company who has turned those insights into a winning strategy. While their website still features some extreme outdoor adventures, Rusch mentioned that the majority of their customer base uses their shoes for ‘everyday’ events. With their ‘Do What’s Natural’ campaign, they bridged the gap between both the adventure-loving core of their mission, and the ‘everyday’ consumer that may not be trekking deep into the woods, but enjoying the outdoors in other ways.

Another winning social media moment in 2016 came from outdoor retail giant REI when they promoted their #OptOutside campaign to encourage consumers to get outside, rather than participating in frenzied Black Friday sales last year. Their audience responded – both with dollars and with social media content – Rusch said, making it one of the most memorable marketing moments of the year.

Where the Outdoor Lifestyle is Headed

It’s that connection to consumers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s DelliVeneri said, that’s helped smaller marketing teams extend their reach – literally. With the Denver area nearing record-setting population growth, the state’s nearest parks and recreation areas have been at or above capacity on some days. The challenge, DelliVeneri said, is to entice them to drive a farther from the city center to enjoy the beauty of all 42 state parks in Colorado. That’s where social media and engagement can really help. The state no longer relies solely on professional photographers to inspire trips to the great outdoors, citizen journalists can feed content on social media and in other avenues to entice people to venture out. That unfiltered connection, DelliVeneri said, is often more powerful than traditional marketing messages.