Know an individual or business doing cool things with marketing/promotion both online and off? Let me know about it; I am always looking for ideas!

I spent this past weekend skiing in New Hampshire. I have a couple of friends who are members of ski clubs in the Mount Washington area and this weekend was the kickoff of the ski season for the Eastern Inter-Club Ski League or EISCL (pronounced “ice-sill”) at Bretton Woods. I attended as a guest, helping my friends at the registration table in exchange for a free lift ticket.

I later found out that the whole event was underwritten by Jack Frost Ski Shop, located in Glen New Hampshire.

By being visible at big ski events, like 13 Hours of EICSL at Bretton Woods, Jack Frost is reaching its target audience in a place where they enjoy being.

Sadly, this was not obvious to me at the event but the good news is I learned a lot about the Jack Frost Ski Shop anyway. Here are some things we can all learn from them, and what I think could be improved upon:

Not all the technology in the world can buy you a stellar reputation, so do things to earn it (and keep it).

I sat next to one woman after a day of skiing near the roaring fire at the lodge when she told me her first Jack Frost experience.

She was in college and had driven to New Hampshire to ski for a long weekend only to realize she had forgotten her ski goggles…and her wallet. The shop just gave her a credit line at the store, telling her to pay the next time she came in.

She hasn’t ever forgotten that kindness and some twenty years later, she’s still telling the story.

Other people I talked with felt a similar affinity to the store and said they’d never buy their equipment anywhere else. Is there competition and probably cheaper stores to get ski equipment? Probably, but these stores can’t buy good word of mouth said by real people in the real world about good products and services. Jack Frost has good word of mouth, and they keep stepping up to it.

Don’t be afraid to affiliate if it works.

I know there is some attraction to being a lone wolf businesswise but if it works, there is no reason you shouldn’t affiliate yourself with another business or group with a similar target demographic or complimentary service. This way, you can piggy back on each other’s promotions, share resources, or otherwise do something bigger and/or better than you could do by yourself.

Jack Frost and EISCL are very linked together. EISCL members get 20% off their purchases at Jack Frost. Jack Frost gets the exposure to serious skiers via EISCL. Since Jack Frost offers custom services and specialized equipment for skiiers, affiliating with a racing league works and in turn, EISCL members get to demo equipment and otherwise get educated about the best gear for their chosen sport. It’s a win-win.

Jack Frost Ski Shop specializes in boots with educated fitters, state of the art equipment, and a great selection. Also, they are super nice people!

Don’t try to do everything, just do a few things well.

Jack Frost is known for custom fitting boots, and if you spend any time wearing ski boots, you know how important that is. They can be pretty uncomfortable!

Do they sell other sports equipment or otherwise feel a need to generalize? I’m guessing that providing the best equipment and service for skiers and snowboarders is broad enough to be lucrative but specific enough to be coveted. If you are going to do something, it’s best to do a few things well rather than scattering your efforts and energy, and I think this is especially true for most small businesses.

Not every website needs to be, and actually for certain specialty items, many customers prefer that it is not.

Have a website, and don’t be afraid to get personal on it.

Jack Frost has a really basic website, but when you start reading the site, it gives you that old time store feeling.

Andy the ski tuner may have a tip jar and a cookie jar but “Andy’s die hard customers have realized that a fresh baked cookie is what really brings a smile to his face!” And Susan the salesperson, well, she’ll help you pick out what you need but “does get pushy on one thing)€”you don’t leave the shop without a pair of Smartwool socks!”

I encourage my clients to be personal on their sites. Don’t use stock photography. Don’t use a generic template. If you are a small business, embrace it and let your customers feel like they can get to know you. And if you want to know the power of that, try to remember the name your last cashier at Walmart. Exactly.

I would recommend Jack Frost Ski Shop beefs up their online presence, and in particular its website.

Jack Frost has a good thing going, but I think it could be better.

If Jack Frost could take this great word of mouth and translate that into some new online presences, their customers would be able to take their experience home with them in a way they can’t currently. Is that lack of access part of the allure? Perhaps, but as more and more businesses get online, it will become a little more frustrating for Jack Frost’s customers to not be able to connect with Jack Frost online, even if it is just to leave a comment or ask a question.

The first order of business though is to make the site a little more contemporary. I’d love to see closeup photos of the skis, maybe even some video showing how their equipment works. I know they do boot demos, so why not record a presentation and put it online for all to see?

I would also recommend that Jack Frost publicize some of these sponsorships. I was at this event they sponsored for an entire day before realizing they were the main sponsor, and that shouldn’t be so. Sure, the regulars knew but based on my registration table interactions, plenty of us were new to the clubs as well.

Overall, I am impressed with Jack Frost Ski Shop and hope to see them online a little more, and definitely in person and upcoming ski events this winter.

Know your website could do more but not sure where to start? Breaking Even Communications is happy to do a consultation with you. Just contact Nicole; she’ll hook you up.

Our first in-person workshop in 2+ years is happening September 24!