Steamboat Brochure Says Nay to Skiing

I’m just baffled by the cover photo on this year’s brochure for Steamboat. Oh, I can figure out what they’re trying to say because I know Steamboat is positioned as the wild west ski area, personified by the legendary Billy Kidd and his signature cowboy hat. But a picture of horses running in the snow? Really? 

Someone in the marketing department may have thought this was a brilliant extension of their Old West image. Or maybe their marketing team had grown tired of showing Billy Kidd skiing through trees in waist-high powder every year – a photo now relegated to a gatefold. But it’s precisely that Billy Kidd photo that gets skiers excited to go skiing. That’s the product. And one of the most important rules in developing brochures, ads, postcards and other marketing materials is to show the product. Don’t show me horses unless you’re trying to sell me horses.

For more incongruity (yes, incongruity!), the tagline under the herd of horses states, “#1 Family Resort in North America”. For whose family? Mr. Ed’s? If Steamboat wants to attract families, their marketing team might have considered replacing the horses on the cover with the excellent photo depicting the perfect American family smiling on a perfect, sunny day under the warm, enclosed gondola. But that photo is pushed back to page eight.

Their marketing team also forgot to test the wafer seal. My mailer ripped right through Billy Kidd when I opened it because the wafer seal was overspecified – thicker and stickier than necessary. With all the investment involved in developing the self-mailing brochure, it’s important to make sure it can be opened.

Steamboat also broke one of my personal rules: don’t try to be cute and clever just to be cute and clever. When you truly have a superior product, just say so.

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