Monday, May 11, 2009

OC Marathon

Last weekend, I ran in The OC 1/2 Marathon with 5 thousand other participants. It was an athletically rewarding experience and it taught me a lot about marketing to large groups.

5 Lessons Learned

5) Focus on the top 3-10% of your target audience. Don't focus on the marketing to the top 1% of your consumers base. Their attention is too difficult to maintain, as they are striving towards goals that may not be representative of the entire group.

The top 1% of runners were simply too fast. They ran 5 mile splits, which is an unrealistic goal for most "weekend warriors." The competitors who ran in the top 3-8% finished with 7 minute mile splits. This is still a fast time, but a more realistic goal for athletes to achieve.

The top 1% of your target audience will also be courted by the competition with VIP events, exclusive promotions or free merchandise. Frequently, it's often to difficult to compete for their dollar. If you focus on the top 3-8% of a consumer base, the general public will still aspire for your product and your marketing ROI will be higher.

4) Expect different degrees of "fan" participation. From ringing cow bells to simply observing, each spectator supported The OC Marathon in a unique fashion. Although each fan exhibited a different degree of enthusiasm, each was still engaged in the event.

As you create marketing collateral, remember that your target audience will not react the same. Some will share the advertisement with friends, a few may even frame it, and others may simply glance over it.

3) Tell a story. Everyone had a different reason for running The OC Marathon. I registered as a motivation to stay in shape. Other runners used the event to raise awareness for cancer or to raise money for scholarship funds. Others ran to feel part of the Orange County community. Whatever the reason was, each person felt engaged in the event and left with a finisher's medal to tell the story. The event continued long after it was over.

Are consumers encouraged to share your brand long after they purchase your product? Does your product packaging encourage others to carry it with pride? Do you offer incentives for repetitive purchases?

2) Not all of your brand enthusiasts will be measured. Society likes to take pride in having analytics programs that measure every click and hit to your website or know the general amount of people who watch your television commercial. Nevertheless some people will inevitably slip through the cracks.

For example, I finished the 1/2 marathon in a time of one hour and forty minutes. However, if you search my name, I don't have an official time. Why? because my timing chip did not work. I still ran in the event, but "officially" I didn't.

Similar to my time not recording, not every fan who sees your brand will be measured, but their voice will still help market your brand. Expect that 1-3% of brand enthusiasts who see your advertisement to not be "officially" measured.

1) Make every consumer feel like their number one. I finished the run and was immediately handed a finisher's medal. I felt proud. Well, I felt sweaty, but also proud. Why? Because I had a medal that told the story. The medal helped keep the event alive the entire week and encouraged me to share the event with my friends and coworkers.

If you make your target audience feel passionate and engaged in your brand, the consumer experience will last well beyond the shopping experience and help your brand have a consumer for life.

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