Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Harness the Power of People for Fitness Marketing

By: Mike Logan

If you’re not familiar with Tough Mudder, you should know that it’s marketed as “Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet.” Each race features a 10-12 mile obstacle course riddled with obstacles designed by British Special Ops.  Who in the hell would want to do that? Before coming to Northwestern to pursue my degree in IMC, I participated in the 3rd ever Tough Mudder. Afterward, my eyes were sunken, my whole body hurt, and all I wanted to do was… run it again. And it seems I’m not alone in my enthusiasm for the event.  According to a recent article, 500,000 participants are expected in 2012 (3.5x that of 2011). How did they do it? The power of community.

Tough Mudder stresses the importance of camaraderie at each of their events; moreover, most participants are first-timers and people who’re only casually into fitness. By providing these people with communication infrastructure like the ‘Mudder Nation’ (currently 23,000+ members) and Tough Mudder-themed fitness classes in 24-Hour Fitness gyms, they remove a number of barriers-to-entry.
  • “Am I fit enough to finish?” Sure you are! Here are the workout plans people have used to get ready!
  • “What if it’s too hard?” It’s supposed to be hard. And guess what? Everybody else around you will help you. It’s the Mudder Way.
  • “I don’t know, I’m pretty shy…” Even better. Tell your friends and sign up as a team.
Tough Mudder even provides those who’ve finished their race with a way to connect on LinkedIn through the ‘Tough Mudder Alumni’ group, ensuring that their brand enthusiasts spread the word through their professional networks.

What does this mean for your fitness event? I can’t promise you that you’ll enjoy the success of Tough Mudder. But you can learn from their success and adapt their model by taking these fundamental steps towards building your own brand/fitness community.
  • Partnerships: Even local events like triathlons and 5ks can partner with nearby gyms to hold classes that you’ve developed to be geared towards the event. This symbiotic partnership will get business both for your event and the gyms & fitness centers where you hold events.
  • Communities: As an event organizer, you should become a contributing member of other fitness communities before forming your own. This means: go to r/fitness boards of, go to MudderNation, and become an active and valuable contributor. Post your personal experience with supplements, training programs, and other events. Trying to brute-force your way into these communities simply will not work.
  • Tap Fitness Bloggers, or Become One: Seeing is believing. People want to know that a product or service will work before they use it. Demonstrate how your fitness plan/supplementation will benefit them by posting weekly results, transformations, and fitness milestones. Digital word-of-mouth will spread amongst your target communities like wildfire. Just look at P90x.

I may be in a marketing program aimed at understanding the consumer, but none of this is revolutionary thinking. If you haven’t taken one or all of the steps listed above, you’ve been missing out on a fully fleshed out customer-base. Remedy the problem as soon as possible. Don’t be a loser, be a Mudder.

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