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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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there is nothing that indicated that rock 'n roll marathons around the country would've been the successes they've become. it's not about the competition, or the race calendar, or the pent-up demand or lack thereof. it's not about whether to grow it incrementally, grass roots, internally funding your race through fiscal discipline, versus the all-out, big-time, hit the ground running approach. some big, important races were built over time (timberman). others, like rock 'n roll marathon, were launched as high-dollar enterprises right out the gate.

you just have to always think in terms of the brand, what it means, execute your plan well, let your business guide you toward smart decisions, and have a large reserve of nerve and grit. but putting on a IM distance race without being an IM violates what i think is a key ingredient toward building your own brand.

Here is what a person in the sports marketing business would say about that:
  • Rock and Roll Marathons were a slam-dunk: brought marathons to a whole new market for the consumers (walkers) and packaged a "festival" for the city (like a "Taste of the town").
  • Timberman started at a time - and place - when/where there was not a lot of competition and built their "brand" by being in the right place at the right time at the beginning of a growth phase for the sport, allowed them to capture a market (lots of repeat customers and good location for lack of competition)
  • Triathlon is actually a "mature-growth" market - it is growing, yes, but it the supply and demand is fairly well-established and new suppliers have difficulty a real challenge distinguishing themselves. Don't you think? Are their many new races that have grown a lot in the last few years, compared to all the new races that have been added to the calendar?

I really think all this talk about "brand building" is way off the mark. This sport isn't like toothpaste, where people regularly by it at the same local store and see Crest and Colgate and Rembrandt side-by-side, so they might switch if you sell them hard enough. Just because Wildflower or Auburn have great brands, I live on the East Coast, have a pretty full schedule and see plenty of similar events all over the place, which prevents me from going to either one or the other very often. Wildflower has a great brand because of the nude specators and vodka at aid stations. ;-)

The "product" that fits participants "need" is not really a "brand" thing, no matter how hard it is marketed. People, I think, "buy" based on race 1) distance & calendar, the 2) location, then 3) event "type". Yes, 3# includes "brand", but the primary reason for attending is not really brand. If a new entrant can't distinguish itself in #1 & #2, then it is very expensive to build a brand. Look at the money spent in the late 1990's on brand building internet companies. Most all of them were mistaken.
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [reggiedog] [ In reply to ]
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Think of it like this. There is a professor here at the University who loves triathlons. He hasn't had a whole lot of success in the IM distance but loves the long stuff. When he heard about this distance/race series, he flipped because as he explained to me:
1. The distances aren't as long and as taxing on "the old boys" body as an IM is.
2. he won't have to train like a madman and miss all that time with his family. Especially on the weekend. he can spend more time doing other things.

personally, i believe there is a niche there ripe for the taking of a bunch of older fellas that don't/can't do the IM distance anymore but want to go longer than a half.
But like I said, we'll see.

https://www.miles4matt.run/
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [reggiedog] [ In reply to ]
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"I really think all this talk about "brand building" is way off the mark."

Brand building is relevant to the long term success of any business, no matter what the industry. Let's look more closely at Timberman and what KJ has done with his business--since I think its a prime example of a company leveraging their brand to penetrate new geographies.

Year after year Keith and his team have put on high quality races. He has built a reputation for managing through crisis situations (weather, etc.) exceptionally well and has earned the trust and respect of his customers. Endorfun Sports, is the KJ brand. That brand is emblematic of safety, customer service, value, and consistency. Again, attributes that have been built over time, from day one.

In my N=1 case, I didn't think twice about signing-up for the inaugrial Lonestar triathlon, a race that was half-way across the country for me. The reason--I trusted the brand, I knew that this race would meet my requirements as a consumer. I knew that if something came up that it would likely be handled in the proper manner (and in this case, weather was an issue, but as expected ES came through again).

If your a local RD that puts on one race a year, and have a favorable spot on the calendar, then you probably will get enough athletes to turn a small profit--assuming there is some sort of consistency to your offering--without focusing too much on brand building. However, if your trying to battle with the titan of the sport, grow your top-line, and generate a reasonable return to your investors, then you had best be focused acutely on your brand and brand building strategies, otherwise, you are going to be DOA.

"I really wish you would post more often. You always have some good stuff to say. I copied it below just in case someone missed it." BarryP to Chainpin on 10/21/06

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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [reggiedog] [ In reply to ]
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>>Rock and Roll Marathons were a slam-dunk:<<

Actually, that's not true. The very first RNR marathon was a total FIASCO. People were pissed off about the hour delayed start, no water on the course until about mile 8, the lack of bands on the course (after promising one every mile), and I don't remember what else, but email lists and bulletin boards were lit up like Christmas with complaints. They weathered that storm and made changes and have grown the series since then. But at least one person at the first one (me) hasn't been back.

clm

clm
Nashville, TN
https://twitter.com/ironclm | http://ironclm.typepad.com
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Slowman] [ In reply to ]
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<<"do you consider the full Vineman a well run, successful race?"

i've never been to it. but it's an andy robles race, isn't it? he runs his races well. <<

No, it's Russ Pugh and Dave L. (Trifaster). And yes, they run their races VERY well.

clm

clm
Nashville, TN
https://twitter.com/ironclm | http://ironclm.typepad.com
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Ironboy] [ In reply to ]
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Joe - Very well put! You might not post often, but when you do, it is always a good point! Good luck with your planning for the 25th Ironman Canada event. I'm looking forward to it! Z
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [ironclm] [ In reply to ]
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>>Rock and Roll Marathons were a slam-dunk:<<

Actually, that's not true. The very first RNR marathon was a total FIASCO.

You are confusing market position with "execution". Big difference!

The R&R's were a slam dunk from a "need in the market" perspective because they addressed several "new customers" at one time: non-racing "marathoners", host venues and even the bands were given an audience that they don't normally get.
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Markus Mucus] [ In reply to ]
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Think of it like this. There is a professor here at the University who loves triathlons. He hasn't had a whole lot of success in the IM distance but loves the long stuff. When he heard about this distance/race series, he flipped because as he explained to me:

personally, i believe there is a niche there ripe for the taking
Certainly there is a niche. But both armchair analysis and the market seems to be saying it is likely too small to support much of a business.
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Ironboy] [ In reply to ]
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Ziebart, and I can't believe I'm saying this Tom, made a valid point: - dropping a race in one of the busiest months in the Florida schedule was probably the biggest gaff. - anytime you have a short window for reg. it also means that you have a short window for planning, permits etc

Both 'rookie mistakes,' from guys that aren't rookies. People can keep talking about how "it will succees, it just needs time," but the guys that operate in the real world of triathlon (KJ, Joe, Ziebart and even myself as a small RD) see these mistakes for what they are...poor planning. How many business models succeed in spite of poor planning? Not many. How many events succeed in spite of poor planning? Not many.

Really, from a business approach, and from a common sense approach, it's not difficult to look at some of the things 101 has done and think "what the hell were they thinking?!?!?!"
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [etocaj] [ In reply to ]
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Endorfun Sports, is the KJ brand. That brand is emblematic of safety, customer service, value, and consistency.

How many people do you know say they do an Endorfun, an NAS, a TriColumbia, a TriCal, like they say "I drive a Ford", "I love Ralph", "Meet you at Starbucks" or "Come to my house and we'll play on the Playstation" Those are "brands."

Triathletes do races/events (models) not brands: "I'm doing Timberman", "...Ironman Lake Placid", "...Wildflower", "...Eagleman"

I don't hear anyone call the name of the race by the parent company brand. And I doubt very much that more than 10% of the participants care about the parent company brand.
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [reggiedog] [ In reply to ]
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"I'm training for Ironman."

or

"I do triathlons." "Oh, you mean that Ironman thing?"
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [reggiedog] [ In reply to ]
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You just defeated your entire argument. M-Dot is the perfect example of a brand. When you say "I'm doing an Ironman" people assume it's Kona. That's the very definition of the strength of a brand, and why WTC and NA Sports have the stranglehold on long distance triathlons. It's why any business has to develop a brand to succeed, be it in the mass or niche markets.
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [GearGrinder] [ In reply to ]
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"Really, from a business approach, and from a common sense approach, it's not difficult to look at some of the things 101 has done and think "what the hell were they thinking?!?!?!"

And to my point, these type of mistakes have negatively impacted 101's fledgling brand equity with consumers. Is it the end of the world? No, not in the short-term, it just means that they have to work that much harder to prove the concept and gain acceptance from racers.

The downside of course is that your dealing with a business that includes a lot of fixed costs, so your marginal customer is that much more important. In other words, you only get so many chances to get this thing off the ground.

"I really wish you would post more often. You always have some good stuff to say. I copied it below just in case someone missed it." BarryP to Chainpin on 10/21/06

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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Carl Spackler] [ In reply to ]
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You just defeated your entire argument. M-Dot is the perfect example of a brand. It's why any business has to develop a brand to succeed, be it in the mass or niche markets.

Huh? So the all the other triathlons in the country without a parent company brand name are doomed to failure?

Ironman is the ONLY brand in the sport, from what I can tell. WTC/NAS put on less than .1% of all the races in the country, yet many of the other 99.9% of races are, in most cases successful without a leading brand name.

Endorfun, TriColumbia, TriCalifornia, are successful companies (I hope) by their individual events, not their brand name.
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [reggiedog] [ In reply to ]
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We're talking about brands. Ironman, WF, Roth, Accenture, Escape from Alcatraz, etc, all sell out faster and/or have more participants than the remaining 99.8% of races out there. Not to mention that most of the other races are geared towards a regional audience, and are not trying to attract the "destination" racer like 101 is.

I guess you've missed my points all along. I hope every other race succeeds and I support/race some of them just like I do M-Dot, and will for 101 -- it's better for all of us.
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [reggiedog] [ In reply to ]
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Either way you parse the words it doesn't change the dynamics of whats going on--which is the success of a product, company, and person because of brand building.

In the case of EndorfunSports, I know that everytime I go to timbermantri.com that is the first logo I see. I know that that is Keith Jordan's company and that that company puts on the Timberman, Mooseman, etc. I know that those races are put on by KJ and his team with a high degree of professionalism and consistency.

So whether I thinking about KJ, the race director, my upcoming race at Mooseman, or that quasi-techno music intro that I hear everytime the Endorfun logo pops up on the website, I think of quality(among the other attirubtes I have already mentioned).

There is total continuity across brands in this regard and that is extremely valuable.

"I really wish you would post more often. You always have some good stuff to say. I copied it below just in case someone missed it." BarryP to Chainpin on 10/21/06

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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [GearGrinder] [ In reply to ]
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...they sure didnt help themselves with their first effort...mistakes were made...with low entrant numbers they have damaged their event/series reputation...and likely lost a bundle of money....they created a buzz but its not a good one....I would be wary of the series now, it has the image of failure...and I was one that predicted that a event of this distance would be a success....whether I ws wrong or it was more about execution the number of entrants was dismal...

I cant understand why people that want to build a series/brand like this would not start with ONE event....do it well, put all your resources in marketing it making sure you have enough time to execute well and then add other races after the ONE oneoone race is deemed something special and unique...I dont understand why someone who test a new concept like this with a high risk, nationwide, costly national series that exposes them to to much risk...why the hurry?....I think they gambled and lost....
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Carl Spackler] [ In reply to ]
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My point is that we should NOT be talking about "brands" since there is so little evidence that "building a brand" is the key to success for making an event successful. In fact, it seems clear that "brand" is not all that important for the success of an event. Yes, IM was the brand that launched the sport, but it occupies a completely unique category, which is ~1% of all triathlon races in the country.

The point is that all this talk about brands doesn't explain the reason for the success of the vast majority of the sport. And when entering a market, the first thing you should do is understand and copy (if you can) the things that make the average vendor successful. After that, then you can worry about less important issues.
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Steve-oH!] [ In reply to ]
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they sure didnt help themselves with their first effort...mistakes were made...with low entrant numbers they have damaged their event/series reputation...

Not so according to this.....

http://www.teamtbb.com/hillarybiscay/

...The race organization went surprisingly well for a first-time race. I could not believe how attentive and helpful all of the volunteers were before the race that morning; it made our lives very easy....

---------------------------------------
Awww, Katy's not all THAT evil. Only slightly evil. In a good way. - JasoninHalifax

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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Katy] [ In reply to ]
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I wasnt talking about how well the race was done....I am talking the damage done because no one showed for an event that portrays itself as a "big deal"....the damage was done before the starting gun....

can they recover from this?....I am betting not....
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Katy] [ In reply to ]
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Not so according to this.....

http://www.teamtbb.com/hillarybiscay/






I interviewed a lot of the pros after the race, and virtually all of them thought the event went well. The heat killed a lot of them, but that is not the events fault, otherwise Ironman would be the worst offender of that one. And low numbers in this first race, is not a big deal. The big deal is, that they put it on in short notice, and paid all their bills, immediatley. Was it illconcieved, probably. But they stuck to their committment, bit the bullet, and made sure that those that did enter, had a great expirence. Only a company that plans to be in it for the long haul would do this, otherwise they would just have cut their losses and cancelled the event. They will see a steady increase in numbers at each event this year, and with a year to plan, will have many putting them on their calendars next year. They do need to look at the schedule and try and not conflict with some of the classic races like Wildflower and St Croix though......
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [monty] [ In reply to ]
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see above comment.....Hillary's site is popular....
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [Steve-oH!] [ In reply to ]
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I wasnt talking about how well the race was done....I am talking the damage done because no one showed for an event that portrays itself as a "big deal"....the damage was done before the starting gun.... \\




What damage are you talking about exactly?? We all know and have talked about why the numbers were low for this first race, but honestly, what damage does that do? Is anyone out there less likely to enter one of the next 3 races because their was only 150 at the first one?? IS that your criteria for entering an event, the numbers that were at some other one? I don't believe for one moment that that has one bit of influence on a persons decision to do some other event. I think that they did themselves a lot of good having the event, in spite of the numbers, showing a willingness to forge ahead with their plan, until they can get over the hump... People that were there, seemed to have a great time, and were happy with the race. It will only get better from there.....
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [hammerheadny] [ In reply to ]
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Good post - as I was reading this thread I thought of Survival of the Shawangunks. This is a fantastic race that is really unique on a beautiful course within 90-minutes of NYC at a perfect time of year - beginning of September. Plus, many have heard of this race, it has a 'hardcore' reputation, and they give you cool stuff for finishing - a bag, towel, and a great t-shirt at the "Survivor Line." You have to qualify to get in. Did I mention that the finish line was on a mountain top. So why does this race not sell out within 20-minutes of registration opening? IM events get more than the 150 people that can get into SOS within 20-seconds.

I'm not sure what the answer is, but I think people like standardized distances. A friend of mine who is a running race director did a poll to find out if he should put on a unique 4.5 mile race through a scenic area on a very hilly course, or a 'flat and fast' 5K. I was the only one who voted for the 4.5 mile race. I think people like to race and try to beat there best time or a achieve a good time over a standardized distance. I think this is too bad for triathlon - one of the neat things about triathlon is that it started out as a kind of Maverick sport. Moses did not come down with tablets proclaiming triathlons shall be raced at 70.3 or 140.6 miles. But unless a race is raced over these distances, I think its a lot harder to get people to enter. I hope 101 suceeds, and I hope there are other alternatives - how about a race in which all 3 sports are equally weighted - maybe a 2.5-mile swim, 40K-bike, and 15K run? Or more races of Alcatraz-distance?
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Re: We can all complain about IMNA, but... [monty] [ In reply to ]
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yes, it is for long course triathlon...and this type of event...and I am not alone...I put all the time and effort to train for it I want a big field to play with....

on the flip side I am doing a sprint adventure race this weekend with 50 people in the race I am doing....and a 25K trail run the next weekend with probably 150...different deal....
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