Authentic, values-driven storytelling is the key to inclusive marketing that has a real impact. Over the past few years, we have seen a tidal wave of change toward inclusive marketing across many industries. It was impressive to see how much change was made so quickly, although the speed with which things shifted created a swell of criticism as well as celebration. As the snowsports industry worked to embrace more inclusive marketing, there were some cringy fails as well as some impactful successes. Even in the failings, however, as a woman of color and a skier, I found it refreshing to see so many trying and willing to put themselves and their businesses out there to help move the needle toward a more welcoming and diverse snowsports culture. Inclusive marketing is an opportunity to reach new audiences, but the most impactful campaigns I have seen actually help to acknowledge the many diverse participants from all races, regions, and abilities that have been here all along, just largely unrecognized and undervalued. These campaigns created exposure for many of us that felt like “the only” in our small circles and enabled a larger community to find each other. In that way, they also supported collaborative efforts to shift culture forward and advanced the idea of outdoor access for all as a priority throughout North America. Here, we will look at some examples from the 2021-22 SAM “Best and Worst in Marketing” that get inclusion right. CASE STUDY: ADVENTURE OUT CRYSTAL MOUNTAIN, WASH. The Adventure Out video from Crystal Mountain allowed snowboarder Layla Anane to tell her story about finding her place on the mountain through The Service Board, a youth development organization focused on increasing diversity in the outdoors and building confidence in historically marginalized youth. Anane’s story about making a meaningful connection to snowboarding and the mountains helps to debunk the myths and limiting stereotypes about who belongs in the outdoors. Debunking myths. Too often in marketing, professionals have relied on stereotypes and assumptions fed by data overly focused on age, gender, area of residence, and income level to tell them who their customer is. This leads to marketing that excludes everyone but “the market,” leaving many of us feeling like outsiders—and not compelled to buy. We are in a time now, though, when more of us who are perceived as outside “the market,” but still out enjoying the slopes, have a chance to be seen and/or heard in a more equitable way. Social media and the digital landscape have helped to open this door, and there are so many talented creators—and leaders like Layla Anane—out there telling stories that deserve to be shared. Working with those creators and leaders allows your business to tell the stories of traditionally underrepresented snowsports participants well. Lending your platform to elevate their work can be part of facilitating cultural change. CASE STUDY: SISTERHOOD OF SKIINGALTA SKI AREA, UTAH I am inspired by marketing that not only highlights current leaders too often left out of the spotlight, but showcases those who were representing their communities and breaking barriers to outdoor access before it was widely celebrated. The Black community alone has examples of unrecognized outdoor trailblazers going back more than 200 years, from legendary abolitionist and outdoorswoman Harriet Tubman and the Buffalo Soldiers 25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps to explorer Matthew Henson and mountaineer Charles Crenshaw to the National Brotherhood of Skiers, and so on. Nod to barrier breakers. A good example of storytelling that highlights barrier breakers from the past and present is “Sisterhood of Skiing” from Alta Ski Area. It elevates the stories of women across several generations that have found community and made an impact at the mountain. By including multiple generations of women, the video acknowledges the legacy of women that have been trailblazing in mountain towns for centuries without much recognition. Now that we see more individuals getting to tell their story, it is important to give gratitude and attention to those who helped pave the way. Giving shine and credibility back to those we have looked up to who have blazed a trail is the closest we can get to time traveling back to say thank you, and to show that their hardest moments were worth it. CASE STUDY: WHAT IT TAKESPURGATORY, COLO. Purgatory’s “What It Takes” video has mountain operations director Jim Brantley walk viewers through what it takes to open the lifts at the resort. This type of behind-the-scenes marketing allows everyone to be an industry insider. It’s content that demystifies an industry that’s often viewed as inaccessible, elitist, and only available to those with generational knowledge of the sport. Consumers also get to see a real person express his real passion, interest, and experience. It gives voice to people (in this case, mountain ops personnel) who consumers rarely hear from. Different voices. For marketing to be inclusive, it doesn’t always have to feature people of color. There are so many types of people to feature other than 20-25-year-old, thin, white, “traditionally pretty” people. People of color should always be seen as part of the movement, but we are not the whole movement. There are myriad stories happening at ski areas, many of which will resonate with different audiences depending on what the story is and who is telling it. From an inclusivity perspective, this type of marketing suggests that your story doesn’t need to be the same as someone else’s to be appreciated. That willingness to share your unique style and expression as a resort also draws consumers in. Marketing is impactful when a ski area speaks from its own humanity and experience, and demonstrates a willingness to expose the sides of itself that are typically hidden. AUTHENTIC STORYTELLING Great marketing will generate true connection and loyalty by communicating with authenticity, genuine expression, and clarity about the organization’s goals and purpose. The evolving bottom line in marketing is if you don’t really believe in what you’re doing/selling, it will be evident to today’s audience. This is especially true if you want to speak to a specific audience. In this case, make sure you are also speaking with them and, most importantly, include the voices from that audience. The absolute worst inclusive marketing is just not trying at all. Bypassing inclusive marketing means only building content that delivers a narrow view of who your customers are and the perception that they, too, are narrow in their thinking and interests. It’s minimizing to those that don’t fit into the small box you’ve identified as your core market. The value in trying is so much greater than any instant gratification and positive feedback you could get. Sharing a public expression of representation that can reach people who have been conditioned to look away from the mountains, and especially ski resorts, can change how our industry is viewed. Inclusive marketing is about communicating that there is no longer resistance to participation, but a true desire to actively invite those who may have felt left out. So, tell your ski area’s story. Tell it as honestly as you possibly can, to as many different audiences as you can, with as many different voices as you can, and enjoy the evolution. Let the audiences you connect with be a part of the journey and your ski area’s story.