There seem to be a lot of runners trotting around the streets of Fargo these days.  Most look a little pained, pretty exhausted. Several have water tied to their belt like there’s a chance of ending up in a desert.

What’s the deal?  The majority of these runners have been busting their butts – literally– to be in stride for the Fargo Marathon. The 8th annual, that is. So let’s see – 8 years, 26.2 miles, thousands of people… that’s a ton of miles.

In 2005, the Fargo Marathon became a venue for 707 marathon runners to sweat, bleed, and blister through a 26.2-mile jaunt. About 1,700 additional runners participated in other race events for a total of more than 2,400 people in the first official year. Race planners were thrilled with the turnout and believed it would be the largest attendance in the history of the Fargo Marathon.

They can look back now and laugh. Fargo Marathon events broke the 20,000 participant mark in 2010 – fitting hand-in-hand with the theme that year: 20 x 10 – 20,000 runners by 2010. But the 20,000 mark didn’t hold a record for long. Over 23,000 runners gathered to participate in last year’s event, and 25,000 are expected this year. Wow!

Obviously this event has set a good pace and won’t be hitting a wall anytime soon. So how did this annual event create such a stampede? It seems to have been a recipe for success from the beginning. My opinion – it’s all about passion. Combine insanely passionate people with a beefy challenge, and you’re set up for success. The same can be said with the construction industry – our clients are passionate about what they do and are excited to share information on their products.

Marketing Marathon

So while the runners gear up to hoof it their desired distances, let’s take a few minutes to pull some marketing strategies from the Fargo Marathon.

1.)   Be a goal achiever.

What’s your company’s biggest goal? It likely falls within the arena of expanding your product lineup to provide a better, more high-quality product than any competitor.

The 20 x 10 goal for the Fargo Marathon was no secret. 20,000 runners were needed. Hype was created. The goal was made known. And, it was achieved. This year, the race director followed that same principle. He extended the deadline and put out a public plea asking for increased participation in the 5k in order to meet a charity goal that would award 1,000 kids in the area with a new pair of Nike shoes. His goal is likely to be met.

2.)   Know what your customers want.

What is your customer after? A service to make his or her life more convenient? A product that delivers high ROI? A dependable feature to help the operationrun smoother? Take time to investigate the wants, needs and desires of your audience and cater to them as best you can.

In the case of the Fargo Marathon, the race now offers seven events for all types of runners: kids, walkers, runners, the competitive folk, team players, long distance, medium distance, short distance – you get the idea. In addition, the race provides an outlet to qualify for the Boston Marathon – a huge bonus for the craziest of runners.

3.)   Be innovative.

Finding a need and providing a unique product or service is the name of the game. What solutions can you provide to an ongoing problem?

Have you heard about that other marathon in Fargo? There isn’t one. You may not always be the only one, but aim to be the first. People won’t forget the original, so push to be the Keurig, Coca Cola and The Beatles of the world.

4.)   Stay fresh.

Keep your business propelling forward by regularly creating news worthy of boasting. Whether an upgraded warranty, a new product, or other exciting piece of company information, these announcements provide a great venue to remain on the forefront of your clients’ minds.

You’ll notice the Fargo Marathon’s route, theme and goals are different each year. Although this is somewhat subject to spring flooding, the event has something fresh to offer each year – a great reason to continue to participate.

5.) Celebrate.

Each year, a big ole party is hosted the evening of the Marathon event with music and entertainment with friends and family.

Maybe celebrating is something we all need to do a little more often – whether for running a marathon or experiencing a big boost in sales.  Take a moment to celebrate and reflect on what went right so you can do it all again.

This year’s Fargo Marathon events are scheduled for May 17-19. Best of luck to all the runners – including our very own IRONCLAD Marketing team members, Lauren, Lindsay, Megan and Mitch.

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