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Marketing Director in Outdoor Sports/Resort Tourism

Those people that make decisions that impact the bottom line.

We work with lots of smart marketers at Origin, and have seen their role evolve dramatically over the last few years. No longer are these marketers just responsible to develop a yearly plan and have coordinators execute it. More than ever, marketing directors in the outdoor/resort industry are expected to be swiss army knives.

What’s the reality of a marketing director in outdoor sports/tourism? How has the role evolved and where is it headed?

We work with lots of smart marketers at Origin, and have seen their role evolve dramatically over the last few years. No longer are these marketers just responsible to develop a yearly plan and have coordinators execute it. More than ever, marketing directors in the outdoor / resort industry are expected to be swiss army knives. They need to:

– manage more channels than ever

– work with multiple agencies (versus the AOR from the old days)

– react faster

– monitor and measure

– prove ROI on pretty much everything

Beyond that, marketers are playing a bigger role in strategic planning and are responsible for decisions that impact the bottom line. So, we picked two marketers with whom we work actively to see what describe as their challenges, and what they see as the future of their role.

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Jano Arabaghian is the Marketing Manager at The North Face in Canada. He comes to the role from a career in marketing at Red Bull and previously in his own marketing agency.  When asked about his biggest challenges, he says: “Interactions with brands, the retail experience, and the consumer’s shopping journey are no longer as linear as they used to be. Consumers are presented with numerous touch points and they are defining their own purchase process, their own ‘tailored’ shopping journey. Providing a seamless and consistent omnichannel experience for our consumer is a big challenge and an opportunity we are faced with as marketers. Not only should that experience be consistent throughout each of the channels, it also needs to be engaging and tailored in an authentic way for that specific channel.

Beyond the consumer experience at retail, we need to also look at how our fans are interacting with The North Face through communication channels like social, advertising, PR, at our events … and ensure we are telling an authentic, engaging, and cohesive story throughout all of these touch points.

ORIGIN: How do you think the role has evolved?

I feel that Big Data (access to it) has definitely helped shape the evolution of our role as marketers. Data is more accessible and new tools are popping up everyday, which are helping us make more informed marketing decisions. However, we cannot rely solely on the data for our strategy; we need to also use our intuition and creativity as marketers and we must stay authentic to our brand’s core values (even if it sometimes goes against what the data is telling us).

Moreover, the consumer’s access to information has also made it critical for brand marketers to share truths and be more transparent by participating in an honest, open dialogue with consumers.

ORIGIN: What is the relationship you have with your agencies?

Having been fortunate enough to work on both the agency and brand sides, I feel strongly that the agencies we work with need to be an extension of the internal marketing department at The North Face – our marketing team works very closely with all of our agencies.

Gone are the days where the agency would be brought in after the strategy is created only to pitch on tactics; I feel that agencies need to be an integral part of the strategy process early on.

ORIGIN:  What do you see as important in the future for marketing directors in the outdoor industry?

(Great) Content

We’re seeing more and more curated content coming from both the brand and the consumer/fan – we need to focus on creating and generating great authentic content that breaks through the clutter and noise.

Local

Global outdoor brands like The North Face need to continue building community at the local level and making genuine connections with consumers.

Mobile

Leveraging mobile in order to deliver a personalized consumer experience.

Passion

Passion can’t be fabricated – our love for the outdoors is what fuels us and it’s important that we continue to promote getting outside (and a life of exploration).

On the resort-side of things, we talked with Matt Gebo, director of sales and marketing at Taos Ski Valley.  He describes his biggest challenge as “how to break through all the noise. Twenty years ago, there was no internet, there were four major networks and people got their news from TV or newspaper and they made their travel decisions in a much different manner. Now you have to break through the noise of all of the different avenues in which people choose to consume media. Trying to FIND the consumer is as much of a challenge as is being unique enough to break through all the clutter. And it just seems to be getting noisier. Figuring out the best way to spend a media budget gets more difficult by the season.”

ORIGIN:  How do you think the role has evolved?

You have to be an expert (or at least pretty damn proficient) in so many things. Again, look back at what marketers in the ski industry did 20 years ago-  we bought print ads, made brochures, maybe did direct mail and attended ski shows. Now, we build websites, apps, handle email marketing, create compelling video and blogs, develop online sales strategies, maximize impact of existing and emerging social media channels, have a clear mobile strategy, navigate the challenging world of digital media buys – and still be in traditional media, make brochures and attend ski shows. The job has evolved into a far more robust role with so many hats. And if you aren’t proficient enough to know how to navigate all those aspects of the marketing world, you’re in for a rough go.

ORIGIN:  What is the relationship you have with your agencies?

I would say that we have a real collaborative relationship with all of our agencies and partners. It’s critical to be on the same page and feel a sense of agreement on what you should be doing, how you should be doing it and when it should all be happening. It takes a team to navigate all those things I mentioned above so not being on the same page can really make things go south fast. In fact, we work collaboratively with our creative and media buying agency so that we’re all on a very clear, succinct path with the same end goals.

ORIGIN:  What do you see as important in the future for marketing directors in the outdoor industry?

Oh boy, I wish I had a crystal ball. That really is a difficult question, and this may seem generic, but I think being adaptable is the most important thing in the future. Our world is evolving at such a rapid pace from a technology and a media consumption perspective that we all need to be adept and always keeping an eye on what’s next. Right now, I’m most interested in what’s coming in the realm of virtual reality technology and what that could mean for how we attract guests through visual content pieces. That future is closer than what many probably think.

Stay tuned for more industry interviews and a series on retailer marketer insights starting next month.

 

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