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Marathon marketing -- marketing lessons learned from the sport of triathlon

Rod Clayton

Marketing and living for the long run...

Triathlon, if you do it right it, can be a tough sport. But it's rewarding, too. Since I first stumbled my way into this addictive sport, I've learned a few do's and don'ts.

Like, don't ever mistake the cup of Gatorade for water and dump it on your head during a hot July race. Do always remember to take your bike to the race. And definitely  don't ever watch Jaws   just before an ocean race.

But it also takes careful planning, smart training, and more than a little dedication to be a decent triathlete.

I was reading a marketing article a while bcck by Alexandria K. Brown, and she reminded me that many of the principles that triathletes use to be successful should also be used in our small businesses.

1. Hang Around People You Want To Be Like...

Years ago, we started our own triathlon club. We train together. We race together. And sometimes we just hang out together.

Each one of us has our own strengths. One swims well. Another runs like a greyhound. A third powers a bike like a locomotive. We all draw off each others' strengths and build each other up. We feed off each other's enthusiasm.

Who do you hang out with? Are they building you up? Do they complement your strengths and weaknesses?

2. Consistency is the key...

Training consistently is probably the smartest thing a triathlete can do. Consistency is more important than long, marathon workouts. It just takes a little bit on a regular basis to be successful.

Marketing is the same way. You'll have more success if you're in front of your customers on a regular basis. They'll remember who you are and what you do -- especially in the long run.

3. Ups and downs are normal!

Good triathletes divide their training into phases. The early phases concentrate on building a good base. Then, as the season progresses, the phases are designed to bring more and more speed.

After the speed work, however, is the rest or recovery phase. The reason for this phased training is that the body can't operate at full force all the time. It has to recover, to rebuild -- and after it does, it's stronger and better than ever.

Marketing has phases, too. You can hit it hard, then ease back for a bit. It's okay to have "rest and recovery" phases in your marketing. Just remember to follow the "down times" with "up times". Use the down times to recover and prepare for the next "up" phase.

4. Hard work is just part of the game.

Good triathletes don't wake up and say, "I don't feel like working out today." They just do it. It becomes part of their schedule, part of their life. And that ensures their success.

Have fun at what you do, but, yeah, it is called work for a reason. And I've found that hard work is almost always worth the effort.


5. Model others who already do what you want to do.

Good triathletes don't just randomly make up their training programs.

They look at what the best athletes are doing, they find out what's working, and then they model their training program around that.

Find other business owners who already successfully doing what you want to do. Then model after them. Don't steal their stuff -- make it your own and make it awesome.

6. For best results, find a mentor or coach.

Find a good triathlete, and there's a pretty good chance he or she didn't get there alone.

You'll usually find a good trainer or coach in their corner who is guiding them through their season and ensuring their success.

Business owners can learn from that. Don't muddle through your marketing and web presence alone. Let an expert guide you when necessary.


7. Show off what you've got!

Okay, I'll admit it. I've sometimes failed to scrub off those race numbers that are inked onto my arms and legs for a race.

They're kinda like little badges of honor. Yeah, I'm a triathlete. Yeah, I did pretty well (for me, anyway).

As a business owner, you should show off your badges of honor, too. You should put your successes out there for everyone to see. That way people know you're for real and they know you're good.

You don't have to be a world-class athlete to show off your stuff. Just put it out there, consistently, always, and let people know what you do!



By the way, if you are thinking you might want to try a triathlon, marathon, or any other road race, I'd like to recommend one of our clients, FS Series . These guys put on a great event, and always go the extra mile to make your race a great experience.

Tell 'em Rod sent you...