Marketing an Outdoor Adventure Company
I work for Land & Wave.
Six years and 9 months ago Land & Wave was, in its entirety, two outdoor instructors, a bucketful of ideas and a hard-saved investment of £1200.
Land & Wave now has 35 full-time staff on payroll working alongside freelancers.
We’ve grown fast, sometimes too a bit to fast. We’re really happy with where we’ve got to, we’re really excited about where we’re going.
We think that the reason that Land & Wave has grown is down to how we’ve gone out and looked for business, shouted about what we’ve done and given customer reasons to come to us.
Questions about marketing - websites, pay per click, social media seem to be regular on Facebook groups. There seems to be some amazing outdoor companies and coaches out there who struggle to find enough customers.
We thought we’d concentrate a few years of learning about marketing and business development into 5 key points that may help somebody else in the industry.
Some of the suggestions might be old news to some people, some people might disagree with me completely. Everything I write is based on our own experience and what works in sunny Dorset might be different elsewhere.
Number 1 (in no particular order)
Print isn’t effective anymore. Paying to appear in magazines, newspapers or brochures does not give a good return on your investment. Spending the same for pay-per-click advertising, increasing the visibility of social media or investing in staff time will always give you a better result for your money. The only time we now pay to appear on paper is in local publications if we have a message to get out to the community. We don’t spend money on printed paper marketing anymore and I don’t think we ever will again.
Spend enough time on marketing and business development, even if you don’t have loads of cash to spend, make sure that someone is working on marketing for a few hours a day or days per week. Having at least one person that is responsible, rewardable and culpable for marketing is really, really important. If you don’t have that central personality coordinating everything and making sure things get done, you lose continuity, forget stuff and get distracted by everything else that’s going on in your business.
Number 3 (and this is a big one)
Get rid of fluff! Lots of websites from the outdoor industry are full of lines and lines of text. Keep it simple. Say what you need to. Cut the rest.
Answer the phone, respond to emails. There are many, many phone and email systems that offer a host of virtual office and redirection services. Use a smart phone. Replying to an email or calling someone back more than an hour or two after they’ve tried to contact you doesn’t work anymore.
Provide Epic Experiences, do a really good job; look after your customers. We work hard at marketing but 50% of our bookings come from word of mouth. Make sure everyone that works for your organisation is enthusiastic and engaging. Work hard to resolve mistakes that you make. Work even harder to communicate with your customers.
Try and over-deliver, do a bit extra; it’s the details that people remember and talk about with their friends.
How much should you spend? It’s up to you, the accepted rule of thumb is 5% of gross income to maintain a business, 10% to grow a business, sometimes (new products) lots more.
Land & Wave spends approximately 9 % of it’s gross income on marketing and business development.
I really hope this helps a few people.
If anyone has a quick question or two then pop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org - I’d be happy to help.