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Snow Job

I heard a great story by Jeff Brady on NPR while on the way home yesterday.  It was about the work of two researchers from Dartmouth who found it odd that ski resorts seemed to report more snowfall than surrounding areas and and steeper increases in snow amounts on weekends.  They also found that resorts close to major population centers exaggerated figures even more.  These scientists were skeptical about this “weekend snow” effect, and started collecting data about it.  Turns out that ski resorts were in fact inflating the snow fall amounts quite a bit, falsely using extra snowflakes as a marketing tactic to get people to come out and hit the slopes.

Michael Berry, President of the National Ski Areas Association, said that ski resorts had often been “optimistic” with their past reports.  However, he went on to say that this practice is quickly dying.  Why?  Two reasons  – the iphone (or any mobile device) and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.  These tools and technologies are rendering snow reports obsolete, as users report conditions to their friends in real time.  The researchers stated that the number of exaggerated snow actually reports dropped off sharply with the release of numerous iphone apps enabling users to document conditions.  Mobile and social technologies are growing fast and empowering people to better understand the world.  Many of the techniques and tactics that “optimistic” marketers could get away with in the past, are now becoming problematic.  If you are not working on building trust as a core part of building your business, you are simply lying to yourself about your future prospects.

Berry had a great quote in the piece – one that transcends skiing.  “If you try and create a reality that you perceive to be the truth, it had better be consistent with the reality on the ground, because the consumer will remind you of it instantly.”

Service truly is the new marketing.  Every consumer is a researcher.  Every customer is a journalist.  Everyone is now what Mike Wallace or Consumer Reports once was – armed with flip cams, iphones, and 24 x 7 communication networks.  People trust the advice of their friends. so work hard to make friends, earn trust, and dazzle your customers.  Real people and their tweets, posts, and updates either represent your next great new ad campaign or a damaging expose on the truth about your company.