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Backcountry Marketing

EP: 154 The Most Undervalued Tool in Marketing

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The outdoor industry is in a state of flux and if there is any area that has been bearing the brunt of the disruption, it’s the bike world. This COVID-induced challenge has led to some pretty drastic layoffs, reshuffling, and creative efforts to offload old inventory in an attempt to keep the boat afloat. This ad from Kona is especially hair-raising: buy one- get one free1 and the article “The mountain bike industry is dying, long live mountain biking2 paints a fairly dire yet healthy perspective on the change to come.

“... Stories of millions of unwanted and sometimes un-paid for bikes being held in warehouses and docks in the far east at the start of the year are old news. Now the rumours are of containers worth of complete bikes just being landfilled or tipped into the sea because even if they ever sell, it’ll be for less than the price of keeping them in storage any longer.”   - Guy Kesteven

Cash is required to run a business and sales are necessary, but I wonder what this “keep the lights on today” thinking will do long term. If bike manufacturers are marketing based on how steeply they can discount bikes today, in a sea of sameness, how will those brands stand out from their competition 5 years from now? Will it matter or will it have a lasting impact?

I understand that some of my perspective is naïve and when faced with hard business decisions, it seems like a luxury to be able to contemplate 5 years in the future when the house is on fire now. However, I think it’s still a good thought experiment and in this latest podcast episode, joins me to discuss the virtues of patience in marketing and how sometimes the best strategy is to play the long game.

From Smartwool, to Vail Resorts, to REI, to Red Bull, Jordan has been working in marketing for outdoor businesses for years. He shares his perspective on how brands can market through the day-to-day while balancing the long-term strategy.

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