Category: Strategy

It’s no secret that content marketing has been all the rage the past few years. A quick search in Google Trends shows us just how popular it has become.

Google Trends Content Marketing

The core concept is to publish valuable content that showcases your expertise – building brand awareness and potentially driving in leads. Everything from infographics and blog posts to animated videos and whitepapers are fair game. And, as you would imagine, as content marketing has become a go-to marketing practice, the amount of content consumers are bombarded with everyday has increased exponentially. Which brings us to today’s lesson – content vs. context.

Content vs. Context in Marketing

In a sea of marketing, consumers have become numb. Advertisements and offers have become background noise. Unless, they’re presented in the right context. This means delivering the right content in the right place at the right time. Something that flies in the face of conventional media spending where “more was more.” Let me illustrate.

Billboard with Poor Context

Here’s a billboard I snapped a photo of recently. Aesthetically I’ve seen much worse. But let’s discuss the context with which it’s being presented – on the highway. Think about that, an ad pushing their digital prowess presented on an analog medium.

Here’s another example of something we see time and time again happening on social media platforms.

Tweet with Instagram Link

Here a fairly prominent influencer (60k+ followers) shared an image directly from Instagram to his Twitter channel. But…Twitter shut off the functionality that actually populates Instagram images in the feed years ago. He lost the opportunity to grab someone’s attention because he didn’t think about the context with which his content was going to be presented. You’ve probably seen something like this happen when a Facebook status is shared directly to Twitter as well. The status is cutoff and the tweet reads poorly because of it.

Tweet with Facebook Link

The point is, to be effective we must spend time thinking about how we’re presenting something, not just what we’re presenting. Otherwise, our content marketing efforts are bound to fail.

Here’s an example of someone who realized the issue with sharing a direct link from Instagram to Twitter.

Tweet with Instagram Link done Correctly

By uploading the image in the native Twitter app, their tweet stands out in the feed. And they’ve still included the link to their Instagram page to drive people who are interested there. But effective content marketing isn’t just about understanding the nuances of social platforms. It matters offline as well!

What does “Doing it Right” Look Like?

Arby’s is a major brand that has absolutely nailed content marketing context! They’ve done a fantastic job of keeping the consumer in mind in their television spots over the past few years. Here’s a recent ad.

They’ve kept it simple – a white background and the one of their sandwiches. Many cable and satellite subscribers have a DVR so they can pause/ rewind live TV and record their favorite programs. Unsurprisingly, many people also use the technology to fast forward through commercials. Arbys, and/or their ad agency, kept that in mind when designing their recent ads. They took a minimalist approach, using white background and focused solely on their sandwich for the duration of the commercial. 

If I’ve got the television muted because I’m talking to someone in the room, I still know what’s going on based on the visuals alone. Flip that, and if I’m doing dishes with the TV on the in background, I’ve got that iconic voice helping me visualize what’s going on. They’ve nailed the way they present the ad because they’ve considered all of the things consumers could be doing when it is presented. Regardless of whether someone is actually paying attention to the TV, an impression is still being made. That is putting context on an even playing field with content!


The brands that realize that they need to deliver the right content, to the right people at the right point in time are the ones succeeding now. They’re crafting their content around the context they plan to present it in, not shoehorning it in. The more you keep this in mind the more successful you will be. I can guarantee that!

If you have any examples of marketing that was presented poorly or extremely well, I would love to hear from you. Send me an email at or connect with me on my website here.

Over the past decade and a half, regional ski resort visits throughout the U.S. have been largely stagnant or in decline. Per Snowsports Industries America 2015 Fact Sheet, nationwide visits peaked at 60.5 million in the 2007/08 season and dropped to an almost 15 year low of 52.8 million in the 2015/16 season. Why is this and what does the industry need to do to remain viable long-term?

Lack of Early Adoption

First and foremost, early adoption is key in determining whether or not a consumer will EVER get involved. In a 2014 Ski Essentials survey, almost 32% of people started on the mountain between the ages of 2-5 and a whopping 82.5% began before the age of 18. Of those that started before the age of 18, 94.5% are still skiing.

Skiing is a Lifelong Sport

Sadly, even high retention among those that get started early may not be enough to save snowsports long term. In the late 70’s there were roughly 735 resorts in the US. By the 2013 season, that number was down to 470, says Unofficial Alpine. That means the nearest ski hill is getting further and further away from the average family, making it even more of a hassle to get involved for those who are interested.

Exorbitant Costs

Above and beyond issues around interest and access, the increasing cost of participation has also put a damper on consumer behavior. In the 2013/14 season, the average weekend lift-ticket price was $93.33 per Ski Essentials. Factor in equipment rentals and food and you’re talking about well over a $150 day…per person! Now you may be thinking, “yeah, but those are Colorado prices,” and you would be correct. But cutting the number in half for smaller local hills still makes a day trip for a family of four roughly $300. Numbers like these are a still a significant investment for many families and a tall barrier to entry for new consumers interested in giving the sport a try. To take it a step further, look at what it would cost to BUY all new equipment for a family of four. Not to mention having to replace equipment for growing kids around every two seasons. The total costs skyrocket.

Skiing Lift Tickets are Overpriced


First and foremost, ski resorts must work to build relationships with local schools if they want to help groom the next generation of lifetime skiers. Roughly 11% of those surveyed by Ski Essentials said they were introduced to skiing through a ski club. Beyond that, the average estimated ski club trip costs between $26-$40 unlike the typical family trips mentioned above. That means there are swaths of youngsters out there with the potential to get into skiing while young and at an affordable rate. I call that untapped potential.

School Ski Clubs

Furthermore, those small and medium “beginner” resorts need to rethink the overall costs of a day of skiing. Discounted lift tickets are helpful, but the price of equipment rentals and food often make a seemingly affordable day anything but.

Second, everything possible must be done to keep small local ski hills open. They are key to ushering new skiers into the fold. So much so, that over 60% of skiers surveyed say they learned on local hills with less than 1600 feet of elevation. And once they’re involved, they tend to stay involved for life. Many of these ski hills are community funded and/or non-profits. If you’re passionate about snowsports, make sure you advocate for continued funding for these type of local ski hills and help with fundraising efforts to keep them alive.

Industry consolidation will play a key role here as well. If large players like Vail Resorts continue to purchase and invest in small properties (like they did recently with Wisconsin’s Wilmot Mountain) there may be hope for the little guy. Investments in diversifying entertainment options at these properties creates viability by bringing in much-needed non-skiing revenue. However, this type of consolidation can also lead to price increases, which could ultimately be detrimental to the industry as a whole, as research shows that cost of entry is a large barrier to new consumers.

Finally, the industry must embrace dynamic pricing as quickly as possible. This means taking everything from the weather to on-premise hotel inventory into account when setting prices vs. working with a dated static pricing structure. It means offering discounts for those who purchase lift tickets in advance, raising prices as the date approaches, and potentially cutting them drastically on days with low turnout or poor weather forecasts. While this sounds complicated, companies like Liftopia have been helping resorts implement this model for the past decade. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area told Bloomberg that it increased its advance sales by 15% the first season it implemented the model.

Only time will tell if the industry is going to respond appropriately. Will the major players in Colorado put today’s profits ahead of nurturing tomorrow’s customers?

Do you work at a ski resort and have an opinion you would like to share? Leave a comment below or email me at

Your menu is one of the most effective tools you have at your disposal when it comes to running a successful and sustainable restaurant. Pricing issues, confusing layouts, and menus with too many (or too few) items can lead to frustration for your guests as soon as they sit down. Any of these issues can wreak havoc on your ability to create market-leading check averages. Below I’ve included a few menu pricing & design tips and tricks that I’ve accumulated over the years.

Eliminate Ambiguity

Have a clear pricing separation between appetizers and main courses. Guests make significant assumptions about your dishes based on price alone. If all of your appetizers are $12-$16 and your mains are $12-20, re-think where your dishes fit. You have to strike a balance between price and portion.

Pro-tip: Examine your appetizer offerings closely. Include some to enjoy individually as well as some that are meant to share. Make sure you note which are which. This make ordering much easier for groups.

Highlight the Details

These days, it seems like everyone has a food allergy or some kind of intolerance to something. Well, everyone likes to act like they do anyways. Go out of your way to mark dishes that cater to specific dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.). This helps direct guests towards dishes that fit their diet without staff involvement.

Pro-tip: You can have fun with this. While dietary restrictions and spice-level are no-brainers, things like the region a dish is from, portion-size,and protein type could all be noted using creative indicators as well.

Form vs. Function

Have you ever sat down at a restaurant with menus the size of a road map? You were probably as annoyed as I was the last time it happened to me. Unique and beautiful menus are great, but they can’t be so unruly that place settings need to be moved just to set them on the table. At that point, they’re taking away from the experience instead of adding to it.

Focus on Photography

Frankly, photography isn’t a fit for every every menu. But, it goes without saying that if you’re going to do it, do it right! Invest in a professional photographer and utilize the images wisely. If you have a unique dish, focus on it. Sometimes a written description just can’t do it justice.

Pro-tip: Be sure to include photos of appetizers and desserts. People eat with their eyes and it’s a lot more difficult for guests to overlook those money makers when they see how delicious they look.

Looking for a great food photographer? Check out Green Frog Photo!

Separate Dessert Menus

Give your kitchen the ability to offer unique treats by pulling dessert off of your regular menu. This makes it easier to update on the fly. Doing this also gives your service staff additional opportunities for suggestive selling.

Pro-tip: The dessert tray is a thing of the past. They’re too hard to maintain and can do more harm than good. Avoid them!

Don’t Forget the Kiddos

Like photography, kids menus aren’t for every establishment. But if you’re going to have one, do it right. Make them as interactive as possible. Anything you can do to help parents keep their children occupied makes their experience better…not to mention the experience of the diners around them.

Pro-tip: Crayons are great. Paper tablecloths and crayons are better if they fit into your restaurant theme!

Wrap Up

In general, restaurants need to have the less is more policy going forward. Having fewer items that you knock out of the park allows you to deliver a fresher, more consistent product day in and day out. That allows you to keep your food costs and prep time down and makes menu analysis much, much easier. Proper use of your digital POS allows you to see what sells, when it sells, and how much of it you sell so you can optimize your menu over time. This is how you figure out what people like, what’s most profitable for you, and what’s costing you money.

I would love to get your feedback on menus you’ve either loved or hated. Reach out to me at

Are you sick of paying Online Travel Agents (OTAs) upwards of 25% for making reservations at your hotel? Looking for ways to drive more direct bookings online? Here are 3 ways your hotel can better compete against OTAs to drive more revenue through direct bookings.

It’s no secret that roughly 60% of restaurants fail within their first three years. The number one reason? A lack of revenue. The number one way to address it? By increasing the average check. Below you’ll find 3 simple ways to do just that. Take these to the bank!

According to the 2016 Direct to Consumer Wine (DtC) Shipping Report, prepared by Ship Compliant and Wine & Vines  “…Millennial wine drinkers are beginning to replace Baby Boomers, and the smaller Generation X is poised to drive DtC sales over the next 5 to 10 years. These generations have very different tastes when it comes to wine and it’s important to understand their preferences and what that means for your business.”


Here’s a scenario.

You’ve thought about opening restaurants for some time now. You heard one just closed down and there is a super cheap lease available. Realtor tells you that it won’t last long as it’s a super high traffic area. It even includes all their kitchen equipment and dining room setup. BOOM. Cash in that 401k early and sign on the dotted line. You’re now a restaurant owner. But now what? (more…)

What do you think the future of Twitter looks like?

, a member-based business intelligence firm that benchmarks the digital performance of brands seems to think that Twitter’s recent move of installing the same man who could not revive Twitter as the chairman and CEO as part-time CEO is a terrible move. (more…)

FIRST, start by listing all the things you need in terms of your hotel’s marketing.

There are obvious benefits of Online Travel Agents (OTA) to help your fill your hotel rooms, but they also charge a pretty penny (up to 25% commission) to do that for you. (more…)

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