Author Archive | Andrew

Tip: Deliver on your Brand

We have discussed that your brand is more then a color scheme on your website or a logo , a brand is a promise between you and your clients and prospective clients.

A successful brand will have depth. It is more than knowing a few progressions that will give your typical clients a quick win, but will involve knowledge about a whole sub-culture of the sport and the resources of that community. Work on delivering on the complete package that your brand implies, be an expert. If you find yourself teaching families. Being a source of knowledge on what the family can do after the lesson has real value. Know what great activities are available for the non-skiing members of the family. Knowing that there is a dog-sled tour is one thing, knowing all about the adventure, where they go, what you’ll learn, whom to contact to book a spot, can be that Wow difference.

Tip

Create a Wow experience for your students by delivering on the promise of your brand.

The 90-9-1 Rule: Reaching Out to the 90

You’ve built your ski instructor Facebook page. But is anyone out there? Perhaps you were expecting long threads, filled with in-depth discussion about powder skiing and mogul techniques, along with lively debates about the merits of New England vs. Western skiing. Instead, you only see a handful of replies to your posts. Unless you make a mistake then a bunch of people jump right in. What’s up with that?
You have just experienced the phenomenon known as the 90-9-1 rule.
90_9_1-rule

Exploring the 90-9-1 Rule

Simply put, the 90-9-1 rule states:
In any group of 100 people:
– One percent of its members are active communicators. They set the tone, and become the thought leaders of the group. If you started the group, you, along with a few of your friends or fellow ski instructors form the one percent.
– Nine percent are somewhat active, engaging with the other members on occasion. These are usually. Some of these folks either support your philosophy of teaching, and add to the discussion, or disagree with you, and engage in debate. Others are what ski instructors sometimes refer to as professional students. They have many questions, and embrace any opportunity to get them answered.
– 90 percent are lurkers, content to simply listen or follow the other 10 percent. Some are not sure of which questions to ask. Another segment of the 90 percent is simply brand new to social media, and is not yet comfortable with the posting process.

How do these ratios affect your ability to build a brand? Read on to find out.

Lurker or Audience

The lurker status of the 90 percent sparks many a lively discussion. Some social media specialists view lurkers as an audience, who will either applaud or walk out. Case in point: Your post “likes” on Facebook. You probably notice a number of people who like your different posts, but hardly ever engage in the conversation. Liking, however, is a form of active listening. When users like your posts, they are telling Facebook that they want your content to appear in their news feed. Even if they are not participating in the thread, this implies that they see value in what you are saying.
On the other hand, and adverse signal to noise ratio can discourage group members from active participation.

The Noisy Nine Percent

As your Facebook ski page community grows, you will need to identify which of your nine percenters are driving students to your services, and which are creating noise. This is an issue that is common among people who follow a specific technique. You see it in PMTS, CrossFit and bikram yoga communities, where zealots make it impossible to ask a question, or challenge any of the system’s basic methods. Sam Fiorella of Sensei Marketing describes this beautifully:

Volume and reach of one’s social presence becomes less important; the relationships among community members and the context of their dialogue grow in importance. At a minimum, there are greater complexities in managing online communities, identifying influencers, and deriving meaning from those engagements. This is the great paradox of social media marketing: As our communities become larger, the more important one-to-one relationships become. If not the one-to-one relationships between your brand and your customer, certainly we should be paying attention to the one between the customers themselves.

Students in ski class often form friendships that keep them coming back to the same group — and the same instructor — over and over again. The same thing can happen online. Create an environment on your Facebook page where there is no such thing as a stupid question, and where polite debate encouraged.

Don’t be discouraged if your early forays into Facebook land does not get the response you hoped for. Remember there are most likely 10 more people for everyone that likes or shares an article and 90 more people behind everyone that comments on an article.

Some of your 90 percent might keep their silent audience status, but if they like what they see they will continue to follow you work and be a resource for for future social feedback.

Tip: Create a Larger Story with Your Client

To move the business of being a ski instructor up a level, you need to deliver an extraordinary experience for your guest. Bringing them to a place when they look back they say Wow that was great! One way, you can give more than is expected and deliver that Wow is to understand and help your guests reach their larger goals. Goals like Health and Happiness.

Help Build a Lifestyle Not Just A Change In Movement Patterns

Michael Shenkel, a successful ski pro shared with me that snow sports instructors are about a lot more than just changing movement patterns, we are enabling a new lifestyle, a mountain lifestyle as a skier or rider. Make the effort to connect for your client how making the change in their skiing today will advance them forward in their own adventure. This involves taking the time to learn what that larger journey is for your client, well beyond taking that new run. It can be as simple as moving beyond techniques on just how to turn the skis, to model eating and hydration patterns that allow them to feel their best.

Tip

Help your client connect what you are teaching today into that larger story where they imagine skiing will take them.

Tip: Arrange a Special Meeting Place

This tip comes from the Winter 2015 32 Degrees Magazine from PSIA in the article “Go The Extra Mile: 5 Tips For Great Guest Service” by Peter Kray.

It is important to build rapport quickly with your guest. One effective way to do this is to meet your guests early and help them negotiate the challenges of getting equipment and the issues of navigating your resort.

Anne Francis Mattack, states in the article. “I meet them in the rental building before the lesson. Gain their trust before you ask them to follow your lead.” Other examples are to meet them at their slope side lodging, at the bottom of the access Gondola or at the resort bus stop. With your knowledge, you can insure your guest transition to the snow goes smoothly, put them at ease and you can use the time explore their needs and goals for the day.

Meeting them early will show extra effort on your part and can ensure the lesson starts on a positive note. This effort changes a difficult logistical situation into an opportunity to create a bit of magic for your guest.

Tip

Meet your guest early and help them smoothly transition to the snow.

Beyond the Humor: Breaking Ski Instructor Stereotypes

At a party, how do you tell who the ski instructor is?
Don’t worry. He will tell you.
On a date, what does a ski instructor say after the first hour?
“That’s enough talk about me; now let’s talk about skiing.”
How many ski instructors does it take to change a light bulb?
A dozen. One to unscrew the bulb and the rest to analyze the turns.
What do you call a successful ski instructor?
A guy whose girlfriend has two jobs.
What is the difference between God and a ski instructor?
God does not think he is a ski instructor!
What’s the difference between a ski instructor and a bucket of chicken?
The bucket of chicken can feed a family of four.

If you teach skiing, you’ve heard these jokes. You probably laughed; at least the first time. Then, after awhile, the joke, along with the stereotype, got old. The classic image of the ski instructor as full of himself, skiing obsessed and broke prevails throughout all types of media. Let’s look at these stereotypes, and separate truth from fiction.

The One-Dimensional Ski Instructor

In the second joke, the instructor turns to his date and says, “Enough about me. Let’s talk about skiing.” Many ski instructors are fascinating, multifaceted individuals. In addition to their sport, they are often we-read, well-traveled and artistically inclined.

Consider the history of Aspen. Chicago industrialist Walter Paepcke dreamed of a cultural center in a mountain environment. Austrian Ski instructor Friedl Pfeifer, after serving with the 10th Mountain Division, wanted to stay in the US and open his own resort. Aspen became both a world-class resort and a thriving center for culture and literature.

Although most mountain environments attract a blend of artists, intellectuals and athletes, ski instructors often limit their conversation to one topic: skiing. While this is expected in the teaching environment, instructors can attract more students by presenting themselves as diverse individuals, with a multitude of interests.

The Classic Ski Bum


image by Adventure Jay: Creative Commons

In 2000, Peter Shelton wrote an article for Ski Magazine titled Ski Schools on Trial.
Shelton notes that the “culture of lesson taking has changed,” and that the authoritarian days of the Austrian “bend ze knees please” are a thing of the past. In its place, however, is the instructor as ski bum image. And Shelton believes that the resorts are partially to blame.
On the one hand, the PSIA does its best to educate, and instill a sense of professionalism in their ski and ride school instructors. On the other, the resorts pay rock bottom salaries, making it difficult for instructors to support themselves and maintain any sense of professionalism. Thus, the jokes about ski instructor incomes have become “a thing.”

Caveat: Not all ski instructors are broke. Some have a regular base of private students. Others develop special on-mountain programs. In the off-season, they fly to the Southern Hemisphere, and teach in the mountains of Australia, New Zealand and South America. These instructors view their teaching as a business, and treat it as such.

The Turn Analyst

It’s funny how even non-skiers recognize the South Park“bad time” ski instructor meme. Here’s a recap, in case you never saw the episode. The kids are introduced to their instructor at Aspen, who in turn drones on and on about things that will make them “have a bad time.”
Example: “If you french fry when you should pizza, you’re gonna’ have a bad time.”
Meanwhile, they’re still in the base area, talking about skiing.
Finally, one of the kids asks, ” So when are we gonna’ have a good time?”

There’s truth in the humor. You probably know an instructor who spends half the lesson along the side of the hill, talking to his or her students.
Don’t be that instructor.

Stereotypes were made to be broken. Professionalism, flavored with a touch of humility, will encourage respect for ski instructors.

Tip: Let the Pro’s Take Your Social Media Photo

The visual presentation often communicates so much more than the limited amount of text your client or potential client is going to read. Like it or not, they are going to gleam a lot more from that photo of you than anything else on your page or in the email you send. Getting an image that not only puts you in the best light but communicates a bit of your own emotion and story is important.

Team With the On-Mountain Photographers

This tip is from Kevin Foote a ski instructor at Vail and a Digital Marketing Expert.

Headshots are easy…. I let semi-professionals take them (the on mountain photo staff). I subscribe to get all the pictures that are taken for a flat rate; then I send the ones with my clients to them as gifts/souvenirs.

Spend the time to get to know members of the on-mountain photography team. Learn a bit about how the are rewarded and the challenges they face. Think of them as part of your professional network at the resort. Use that knowledge to help the photographer get the best photos of you and your guests. These photos are a great way to memorialize your clients accomplishments one step towards converting them to raving fans. Check out the great photos at Kevin’s web site skiwithkevin.com

Tip

Team up with the on mountain photo staff to get the best photos for your social media marketing efforts and mementoes for your guests.

Tip: Be Genuine

This tip is from Kevin Eddy a Ski Instructor at Breckenridge Colorado,

People can tell when you are being genuine, and when you’re not. If your love for the sport comes through EVERY day. If every tip, trick, task and tactic you put out there has care behind it. If your success or failure is tied directly to those of your students/clients… You’ve got a built-in brand that people will talk about and want to enjoy for their entire skiing career.

Tip:

Be genuine in everything you do as you tie your success to the success of your students.

Tip: Create Momentum

As instructors, we often help our guests achieve some larger goal by breaking it down into achievable steps. Giving the student a path to success is one of the biggest benefits of joining a lesson.

People often push off decisions and making commitments until the last minute. The most successful sales pitches include a call to action with a time limit.

Combine these two concepts to build a path of progress for your client beyond the current lesson. Create a sense urgency with your students. They are close to achieving their goal, booking another lesson with you will push them over the top. “See how much we have improved today, spending the next day with me and you’ll be killing that bump run.”

Tip

Use the momentum of improvement you are creating for your client to invite them back with a sense of urgency.

Greeting Clients on Facebook: Banners and Colors for Ski Instructors

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Inspiring Clients with Font & Colors

Your banner and profile picture sits at the top of your Facebook page. This image combo is your most important important marketing tool. In fact, the results of webcam eye-tracking study indicate that participants spend less time looking at wall posts and more time looking at the cover photo on your brands’ timelines. Your Facebook banner introduces you to potential students. Are you making a good impression? Read on to find out.

Study Results

EyeTrackShop recorded eye movements of 30 participants as they looked at a variety of brand profiles. They recorded:
– What participants looked at on each webpage
– For how long
– In what order
Here’s what they discovered:
– Viewers looked at the cover photo first
– They spent more time looking at it than reading the rest of the content
– Cover photos that featured faces attracted the most attention
– Information that was once less visible now claims prime real estate. The number of Likes, events and apps now have top-and-center territory.

Designing Your Ski Instructor Banner

Two features comprise your Facebook banner:
1. A long, rectangular image
2. A small, profile image
Your profile image sits to the left of the banner. Since these images overlap, choose pictures that complement each other. Here’s a cheat sheet for choosing the proper image dimensions:

Image Guidelines
– Display on page at 851 x 315 pixels.
– Minimum size of 399 x 150 pixels.
– For best results, upload an RGB JPG file less than 100 KB.
– Images with logos or text work best as PNG-24 files.

DIY Banner Creation Sites

Some websites, such as http://www.timelinecoverbanner.com/, help you create interesting banner and profile blends. No Photoshop experience required!
Here’s a mock-up example:
ski-with-bree-facebook
Note: This is not Chamonix, and the woman in the profile picture is not a ski instructor named Bree.
It’s a 1940’s image of Olympic skier Erica Mahringers. But the use of a vintage photo says a lot about the “instructor’s” personality and interests, which can help her find her ideal client. Of course, an instructor interested in a younger crowd might choose a different type of image.

Next, we were able to do some interesting things with Timeline Cover Banner. First: The Erica Mahringers photo was in black and white. By adjusting the hue, we created a blue tint, which blended with instructor’s jacket. The red text matches the red in her jacket. Which brings us to a discussion about color.

What Color is Your Facebook Palette?

Hubspot Marketing lists a variety of factors that contribute to visual brand strategy.

Your Color Palette

Check out the colors of any well known brand. You’ll notice the same colors over and over again. It appears in their logo, their text, and even in their choice of images. Think about the dark blue and red of Breckenridge, and the sky blue and gray of Aspen. These color blends help students recognize your brand. In color psychology, red implies excitement and passion, while blue denotes trust and technology. These are perfect color choices for ski instructors, but you might want to consider other options. Our post on branding explains color psychology in detail.

Your Font Personality

Your choice of font should harmonize with your color choice. Font also expresses your brand personality. Choose three fonts, and use them consistently. Although you can’t vary your font on your Facebook posts, you can create special fonts for your banners and quote photos.

Quote Photos

Quote photos are images paired with inspiring quotes. Hubspot suggests using them as a “Tip of the Day” theme. This is an excellent idea for ski instructors! A number of websites, such as Ribbet.com and Pixlr.com, help you create them. Use your own ski teaching photos, or find Creative Commons and Public Domain photos. Google image search lets you search by size, usage rights, and – most important – color. This means that you can find license-free photos that fit your ski instructor branding scheme. To add text, use the same text you included in your ski instructor Facebook banner, then add two other signature fonts.

Now, look at your own Facebook Page banner, and think about what you can do to make it stand out!

Tip: Make Your Clients Feel Like They Are Important

I saw this quote on my LinkedIn stream: “Managers make you feel that they are important. Leaders make you feel that you are important.” This resonated with the tip I received from Scott Burger a Ski Pro in the Beaver Creek Children’s Ski School. The best ski instructors make the client feel like they are #1.

Honest Approach

You must communicate this feeling honestly. It starts by taking a few moments to learn their name and then taking the appropriate amount of time to understand their goal. Moving below the surface request and teasing out their deeper goals. Then develop a common understanding of what they need to be successful.

It is about paying attention to our clients. Our attention is an important asset. Social Media advertisers and others vie aggressively for our attention. When we focus that attention on our guest, connecting what they said earlier to a new observations, showing that your making detail assessments, they will understand they are important to us.

Tip

Pay attention to your guests and honestly demonstrate you feel they are #1 to you.