We’ve just returned from our second year at Peaks N’ Swells surf camp in Costa Rica, and once again I found a PR lesson among the waves. After our trip last year, I wrote about turning customers into ambassadors– Hillary Harrison and her crew do this brilliantly and by gut-intuition– and here is another example of how they make it happen.
This year, at the beach one day, I looked around and noticed two groups wearing brightly-colored, heavily-branded rashgaurds and realized instantly that these were folks from another surf school. I jokingly thanked Hillary for not making us wear matching outfits and discovered that this was a very intentional decision for her. “I want everyone to have their own experience here,” she said. After that, I started paying more attention. Instead of a van with a huge logo blazoned on the side, we rode around in Hillary’s truck. “We want to avoid that herd mentality,” she said. “You don’t need to arrive at a break and be recognized immediately as a group of beginners.” Anyone who has tried to share a wave with a seasoned local knows the truth in that. And, god knows, I don’t need anything else working against me out there in the water.
True brand ambassadors are the customers who feel passionately about you, not the people who wear your t-shirt to clean the house. By NOT making us into walking advertisements, Hillary enhanced our experience and, therefore, the gushing reviews we give to anyone who will listen.
One of the other guests at camp noted that his favorite moment was riding in the back of Hillary’s truck through Montezuma at dusk after a full day of surfing, his arm flung over the surfboard. He said he felt like he was “part of the place.” Bingo. You can’t manufacture that.
Filed under branding, client stories, pr | Tags: branding, surfing | Comment (0)