Marketing 101

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Last week I traveled over to Sunapee Resort in NH for a retirement party.  Bruce McCloy was retiring after decades in the ski industry.  He started out at Killington and moved down to Mount Snow when Killington bought us.  I knew Bruce as the Director of Marketing and as my boss.  I would describe Bruce as over-the-top passionate about skiing and the ski industry.

When it rained, he would stand in front of Guest Services (it used to be where the bag check is today) in a top-to-bottom yellow rain suit (think Gorton's Fisherman) and try to convince guests who were coming in for their Snow Guarantee to go out skiing with him.  His pitch went something like this.  "Have you ever skied in the rain?  You have to try it!  It is so easy to carve turns - the snow is like butter."  I never witnessed anyone take him up on his offer but he was 100% sincere.  I hope for his sake, a few brave souls did.

If we were in a meeting and it started to snow, he would jump up and run out of the room.  We got used to this behavior and knew he was simply running to marketing to update all of the snow reports to reflect that it was snowing.  He would sometimes ask the switchboard operator to answer the phone with a cheerful, "thank you for calling Mount Snow, where it is snowing!"

Bruce loved PR stunts.  Like digging a hole on the North Face in the spring of 1986 to show the world how much snow we still had.  15 feet to be accurate.


Photo by Nancy Story

I once blogged about one of Bruce's craziest PR stunts - setting off dynamite on Ripcord to cause an avalanche so they could open the trail.  Seriously, we were one trail short of being 100% open when this idea was born.  If you want to read the entire story, click on the link and scroll almost to the bottom.  Worth the read, IMHO.

My biggest take away from Bruce?  Have a sense of urgency.  Everyone is competing for the same skiers and riders and if you can get the info they are looking for out first, you may just gain a few folks who will fall in love with your ski area and become fans for a lifetime.  When it snows, I can still hear Bruce and I try to pass on his sense of urgency to our staff.  I am sure a snow reporter or two have called me a freak about snow reports. Thank you Bruce McCloy!   

Some of Bruce's other marketing promos were the Teddy Bear Ski Weeks and music and bumps on Beartrap. Bruce loved events and was often the MC for the Glade-iator. When Killington bought Mount Snow, there was a massive investment in snowmaking and Bruce and his marketing department were always hammering on that message. I am not sure if the photo below was just taken at "just the right time" or if Bruce asked snowmaking to fire up a few extra guns.  I kind of feel like he had a little something to do with it.  What a photo - I love it on those super cold days when the snowmaking mist lingers like a fog.


Photo by Bob Story


At Bruce's party his kids were wearing all of their old season passes around their necks and there were copies of Bruce's old passes spread out as table decor.  I swiped a few for the Mount Snow history collection.  He still has a moustache.

Retirement does not mean that Bruce will slow down.  In fact, I believe his daughter told me he has lost 10 lbs (he's only been retired for a few weeks) due to the extra time available for biking and rowing.  He is a man on a mission!  Working for Bruce was not always easy but I am thankful for all I learned.  Thank goodness for passionate ski folks who make our industry rich with story and lore.

Be the first one to tell me EXACTLY what Bruce's vanity license plate said and I will send you a lift ticket.



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