Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fish where the fish are

Most people over 40 who live in the Sun Valley area tell the story that they came for the winter and stayed for the summers.

Summer in the Wood River Valley and Sawtooth Valley is enchanting with its warm days and cool alpine nights. With visitor numbers at yearly highs in July and August, it's a great opportunity to invite people to return and experience our winters of crystalline snowfalls, unsurpassed skiing, boarding and snowshoeing, and the relaxation of evenings with great food, cozy fireplaces and outstanding entertainment.

Yet, every summer finds both public and private marketing organizations missing out and failing to extend the invitation. It's just assumed that everyone knows that Sun Valley was the nation's first ski resort and that people will return if they want to.

The assumption could be deadly for the economy if it's not remedied—and soon.

Weather, airlines, the economy, shorter vacations and the graying of America are oft-repeated excuses for a winter economy that's less than stellar. But there's more to it and the remedy is within our grasp.

With limited and poorly targeted marketing, the Sun Valley area has fallen off the radar as a winter destination. While that may please the "my private Idaho" camp, it threatens the viability of the businesses that make the area a good place to visit and live. It threatens the visual and performing arts that make us unique.

Every successful sales executive and politician knows that after they familiarize clients and constituents with what they're selling that they must not forget a key element: to ask for the sale.

We're either awfully shy or we've forgotten Marketing 101. We need to fish where the fish are and to ask for the sale. It's that simple.

The owners and staffers of every business and service organization need to invite summer visitors to return in the winter.

Doing so needn't be expensive. Every operation provides sales receipts that could double as an invitation. Clerks could insert a printed invitation into every shopping bag. Packets for major events could contain an invitation. Banners hung over Ketchum's and Hailey's Main Streets could invite visitors to come back. And, we must not forget the personal touch. Everyone who comes into contact with summer visitors should be an ambassador for winter.

Given that the Sun Valley area has no chamber of commerce and that the Sun Valley Marketing Alliance's efforts are limited, businesses should take this on themselves and invite everyone back to discover the enchantments of Sun Valley's snow-draped winter.

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