Marketing Lessons from a Tough Mudder - Part 2

Teammate Leslie crushing the Electroshock Therapy
My second Tough Mudder obstacle course race is in the books. This time it was in SoCal instead of hot, humid central Mass in July with a major lightning storm at the very end. 
I committed to one Tough Mudder’s longer races this time and did only half of the training that I did for the shorter race, so I was a bit nervous about being able to compete comfortably. I was also concerned about competing so closely next to strangers, who would most likely be breathing on me during tight obstacles, even with proof of vaccination to participate (obstacles require help to get through sometimes and generally you are wildly close to one another). (None of my team members or I contracted Covid — thinner crowds and a spread-out venue played a role.)
Tough Mudder, the brand itself, did not disappoint and is alive and well, as part of the Spartan brand family. 
I posted some marketing lessons learned after my first race and would like to state they still remain true. But here are some new ones.
  • Lesson #1: Anticipate Customers’ Needs
  • Lesson #2: Set and Meet Customers’ Expectations
  • Lesson #3: Offer Free Pics – or a Cool Surprise Element
  • Lesson #4: Offer Free Beer

Lesson #1: Anticipate Customers’ Needs

Because of their sole focus on their one mission, Tough Mudder anticipates whatever it is you may need along the way. Starting with what’s your race length desire, what’s your jam, what’s your need? Do you have to see the obstacles before the race? Here are some videos. Do you need help training? Here are training sessions. Do you need gear? Here’s the store. Do you want personalized training sessions with only one month to go? Here’s the link. Do you need a routine to follow? Here’s your calendar with corresponding videos.
They answer all your questions up front because they know what they are, for example: What should I bring? What should I wear? What if I have to cancel? What happens after the race? What if a thunderstorm is forecast? Where can I store my pocketbook? 
The more the customer knows about the process and the details, the more comfortable they will feel. This generates trust in you and your offering. A simple example of this is, if you don’t have an FAQ on your website, you should. Take all the common questions your customers and prospects ask and post them with the answers.
The SoCal team

Lesson #2: Set and Meet Customers’ Expectations

Nothing is a a secret with Tough Mudder (see #1 above). This means they set your expectations as to how the race will work, what you’ll see and do, where the showers will be, all the way to how to experience the celebration at the end.
They tell you, show you, and show you again, what the obstacles are and how to tackle them. They tell you how to prepare, what to expect at the Tough Mudder Village, explain how tough it might be at times, but with “tough” encouragement.
Then it all just plays out, as planned, with some grit, mud, fun, and perseverance. It’s up to you to make it happen.
Setting expectations can happen at each touchpoint you have with a prospect or customer through the funnel. As a simple example, if you say “click here for pricing,” you better have your pricing on that landing page, in clear, understandable language. A more complex example would be, explain how to work with you and your company. Explain the process, show the process, walk the customer through it. You may know the process through and through but they’ve never been through it before. 
Setting expectations, and meeting them, builds trust.

Lesson #3: Offer Free Pics – or a Cool Surprise Element

Tough Mudder places a few photographers around the course. They offer free photos as a memento, via a link in your Inbox when you get home. But the cool thing is rather than using your bib number to track you through the race, you can upload a picture of your face, and the AI does the rest. Voila, your photos are ready.
Me on the Block Ness Monster

Lesson #4: Offer Free Beer

A free beer is always a good thing, after the race, it hit the spot.

Summary: Deliver on the Experience

All of the lessons above add up to delivering on a great experience. Because most product categories are commoditized with multiple options to choose from, it’s critical (and difficult) to stand out. The best way, is through the experience you provide.
How many times have you said (or heard) something like, “Their coffee is good but I love their service.” “We had a great experience at [insert name of place] and I would definitely go back there.” “Their onsite support system was so bad I would never use them again.” “I didn’t like the way that person treated me on the phone, I’ll never buy their product.”
Have you asked the customers who have left you why they did? Have you done a mystery shopping experience on your own website? Have you seen the marketing messages your team puts out and clicked on them as if a prospect would? Have you ever listened in on a sales demo or read through support tickets?
Experience is undeniably king.
p.s. Although I did not get a Tough Mudder tattoo and have no plans to do so, it’s a reminder of how far a loyal customer will go when they believe in your [insert product, service, or experience here].
I’m signing up for another one! Who’s with me? The more the merrier!
Have you done a Tough Mudder or other OCR? What was your experience? 

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