How to Brand a Mountain Guide Company

Marketing is about understanding your target audience and speaking to them in a way that resonates with how they think about the experience your organization is providing them. In this video I illustrate this concept by talking about how I'd brand a mountain guide company a little differently than the way most mountain guide companies are branding themselves.


Hey guys, this is gonna be a good one. I was thinking about how I would promote a guide company like a mountaineering guide company because ever since I've lived in Portland, I've been sort of get into this a little bit and I was thinking about it today.

You know a lot of these companies promote themselves, you know their names are like Alpenglow Expeditions and Alpine Ascents. International and RMI Expeditions. They describe like the thing they do. You know the focus is on like climbing mountains, on the expedition, on that kind of thing

But the thing I've come to realize about mountaineering in general is it's not about that at all.. It's about pushing past your limits.

If any of you have seen that movie Meru with Jimmy Chin, Conrad Anchor and I forget the other guy's name. Oh what is it... I follow the guy on Instagram. I can't remember his name. Renan Ozturk, I believe I'm probably totally butchering that..

So these three guys climb Meru if you haven't seen it, there's a scene in Meru where they're like, I think they're like four days from the summit I wanna say, and they're like pinned down in their port-a-ledge in a storm and because they're pinned down for like four days or I don't know, they're several days from the summit and they're pinned in their port-a-ledge for like 4 days.

So they go through almost all their food and then Conrad Anchor, basically, there's this scene where Renan is like really nervous and they're gearing up to go and Renan's like, "You know, I thought we were gearing up to go back down." And then these guys are like, "Alright, let's head up." And he's like, "What?!"

And because they were like out of food and he thought they turn around and then you know they cut to Conrad Anchor and Conrad's like this is why you need a mentor in the mountains because the mentor can show you like what's okay. Like yeah, it's okay to go with limited food for several days on a mountain but like maybe 1 more day would not be cool. Conrad was saying like you know, that's why you need a mentor.

So anyway, like they're... think about that for a second. They are climbing this mountain on a dangerous sketchy face that's never been climbed before and they're several days from the summit and they've basically run out of food.. There's a scene where they're like cooking little cubes of cheese over the flame to eat and keep themselves fed. And that is what mountaineering is about.

It's about suffering. It's about pushing past your limits. Of fear and pain and yeah, that's literally what it is. As I get more into it, that's what I realized.

And so if I was gonna promote a guide company, I would maybe focus on that because that is what the people are really there for. They're not there to climb a mountain. I mean, yeah they are the mountain is cool. It's beautiful. But it's secondary...

The primary thing they're doing is they're climbing the mountain to overcome their own limits to push past their own limits. And so I'd name the guide company something like Limitless, or something similar to that, that really focuses not on the mountain or on the expedition, but focuses on the thing the person and what they're doing in that process and call it you know something like. Limitless right, Limitless Expeditions or something similar to that Push Past Your Limits.

And then all my marketing would be about the pain and the suffering.. I would be talking about stories of people pushing past that. You know this guy once told me about the story like his greatest trip ever, It was like this old guy who had never climbed a mountain and he like just got diagnosed with cancer or something that was like terminal and he'd always wanted to do it. And so he came to to Mount Rainier and this guy took him up and he was literally crawling at the top of the mountain to the summit and he was crying and it was this emotional moment and the guide's talking about it and I'm like that is what mountaineering is about..

And so I would focus all my energy on that.

Now you may turn off people who don't know that's what it's about right. I think there's a good number of people who go try to climb, you know Mount Hood or some of the smaller mountains that they're just getting into it. It's before they realize that's really what it's about.. And so you probably lose that set of the business that cohort of of potential customers.

You probably lose them. You probably turn them off, but potentially that would be a good thing because honestly, those are probably the customers that a guide company doesn't want those are probably the clients they don't want right. Those are the clients that are gonna get injured easier because they're not gonna be prepared.. Those are the clients that are gonna not be able to push through because they don't you know... they're not into that sort of thing. And they're gonna have to go down and the guide's gonna have to walk down with them and the other guide's gonna have to stay with the other group and it's gonna slow everybody down and it's gonna piss everybody else off. So like those are probably clients you don't necessarily want.

So it would actually be a good thing to eliminate them, but that all kind of hinges on the idea that there's enough people who are there to push past pain that that would not matter right, you eliminate all those people that are really just there to kind of like for whatever reason they don't realize what it's about you know they're just kinda testing the waters a little bit.

And you'll eliminate all of them and then all you have left are the kickass clients who are really there to do what it's about and you're also speaking their language..

You're speaking to them and no other guide company is doing that as far as I can tell it's all about like... yeah, they show people on the summit and they talk about it and they show the beautiful pictures and stuff like that. But they don't really focus on the suffering.

I would tell stories about that. I would tell like that that patient or that old guy who is terminally ill, I would do like a video testimonial with that guy at the summit or at the bottom of the mountain when you came back down with him like sharing what it was. What he pushed through and what it meant to him and all that kind of stuff..

That would really connect with the type of people who are into this. So yeah, that's what I would do if I was starting a mountain guide company.

John Crenshaw
John Crenshaw
UFO company founder. 15+ years experience in performance marketing.
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