I never went to Florida for spring break. I always went skiing in Vermont, usually to Sugarbush or Mad River Glen because they had the sickest terrain. The thought of skiing the next mountain over – Smuggler’s Notch, “America’s Family Resort” – would have been inconceivable. So how I got on their direct mail list I’ll never know but I’m about to book a family vacation there for the next spring break and it’s not because of the direct mailing I received today but because of all of the direct mailers I’ve received for years as part of their long-term direct mail program.
I don’t recall exactly how many times I’ve received a mailing from Smuggler’s Notch -every fall and winter, I guess. The one I remember that probably had the most impact was a video and companion brochure that read more like a magazine. This was four or five years ago and I watched it with my son – then age four or five – over and over for a week or so. Now that he loves to ski, I can only be grateful for whatever effect that five minute video had on him.
So it wasn’t the self-mailing brochure that came in the mail yesterday that sold me. No, that self-mailing brochure was just the trigger. It worked because the timing was right. The video and all of the other mailings were part of the setup. They positioned Smuggler’s in my mind as the smart choice for families and then maintained contact with me until I was subconsciously ready to buy.
The direct mailer itself touched all the emotional hot buttons. The cover photo features a smiling mom and daughter. The inside front cover showcases a happy family skiing together, all smiles. The indoor play place and children’s learning programs garnered two full pages. The shots of steep chutes, menacing bumps and tree skiing that I used to require were nowhere to be found. A full page highlighting its many awards and honors as the preeminent family ski resort demonstrated they knew what they were doing, even though I know how these awards work, it still worked. Packaging lodging with a full kitchen, lift tickets for everyone, lessons, free access to the play place, ice rink and other amenities into an impressively low price made the offer too hard to overlook. Sure, the copywriting and design could have been better but the overall strategy and commitment to building customers over the long term overcame any shortcomings.
We weren’t even planning to take any vacation this year and the very thought of hauling everyone to Vermont is almost as dreadful as it is wonderful. But then came that direct mailer. Now if they would just send me a companion email, I’ll really be impressed!