Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

Well, here goes nothin’! My wife and I just signed up for the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon! We’ve been tossing around the idea of doing something big like this for a while and actually decided we were going to do it back in January while on a snowshoeing adventure in the mountains. This will be my first major running event, other than the two 5k’s I did last spring and summer…those went well, so I figured why not step it up a bit?! I’m looking forward to having this goal that means months of training, hard work, sweat, and dedication. I have already started my training regimen and have already seen some good health benefits like better sleep, increased energy levels, deeper breathing, and a little bit of weight loss. Come June, you won’t recognize me anymore!

So, what does this have to do with the theme of this blog? Well, the trend is that these running/endurance/cross-training, lifestyle events are one of the fastest growing sports properties in the US and probably around the world. Why is this you might ask? Well, let’s examine some of the elements involved:

– Sense of camaraderie with other participants

– Increased buzz in the community

– Personal fulfillment of having accomplished something great

– Goal setting and achievement

– Satisfaction of having overcome several physical and mental obstacles to self-improvement

– Increased societal focus on obesity and the subsequent emphasis on national health and fitness

– Relatively low-cost of participation

Of the items on this list, I think the one factor that sticks out the most to me are the community and camaraderie factors. As part of my graduate school requirements, my cohort was tasked with putting on some type of sport event that would raise money for a local charity and a 5k fun run was what we chose. Since I had never been a part of such an event before, my wife and I signed up for a small local run last spring on the Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA – I had a blast!

Since all you really need to run are some comfortable clothes and a good pair of shoes – that’s it! – I must have trained for about a week or two (I don’t recommend doing this) and just got out there and ran. I made it the whole way without stopping and really believe that if it had not been for the group, I definitely would not have made it that far. Now, I was in decent enough shape to run, but certainly didn’t run on a regular basis like I probably should have done (I know the 5k philosophy doesn’t work for a half marathon, so I’m already in my 3rd week of training now!). So once I finished, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and exhilaration at seeing the other runners cheering people on and then cooling off at the snack and drink table (my second favorite part!). It’s difficult to explain the mind-body connection as it relates to sport and the feeling you get when you cross the finish line, but there is no questioning the good, positive feelings you get when you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.

Wouldn’t you say that is what most fans are seeking in being a part of your stadium or arena? A sense of release, of community, of connection to something that was there before them and will remain long after? These outdoor events give your average citizen a way to be a part of their community in a much different way than what they might be used to, but also one that comes with great health and personal satisfaction benefits and with a low barrier to entry. I’ll post again a few weeks before I get ready to hit the road in Seattle and again after I cross the finish line. Wish me luck – I’ll probably need it!

GO FORTH!

Looking into the Fog

So as I was on my way to work this morning it was very foggy near my home. Now if you’ve ever driven in fog, especially at night or just before dawn, you know how difficult it can be to see what’s ahead of you. You also know that turning on your high beams is a bad idea, as it makes seeing the road and what is ahead of you even more difficult. However, even though you can’t see very far ahead, you also know that as you proceed with caution, the more you drive, the more you will eventually be able to see; one foot at a time you’re able to see more – that 100 feet in front of you advances foot by foot with each moment of driving. You can’t see any further than that 100 feet or whatever it is, but you do know that you must continue forward if you want to see anything else and get to your destination.

Isn’t this how life treats us sometimes? Your circumstances are so bleak or stressful or worrisome that you have trouble seeing more than what is right in front of you? In life, as in the fog of the Pacific Northwest, we know there is more out there even though we cannot see it at the moment. Allow this to be a lesson to us. In tough times or times of stress, just remember that although it is difficult to see what’s beyond your field of view, there is more out there as long as you keep moving.

Something else to be mindful of is the understanding that what’s behind you gets ever more difficult to see as well. With each step you see more of that which is in front of you as well as less of what is behind you! Think about that for a moment. When life seems like it’s getting the best of you, just remember that the fog will lift and you will see more clearly in the end, once the sun rises. Until that time though, simply putting one foot in front of the other puts you closer to where you want to be and further from where you were. Stay calm, don’t throw on the high beams and let your emotions get out of control, but stay focused and be reminded that the reward is in the journey.

How does this apply to sport? Well, for coaches and athletes you know the feeling of being in a slump or off-season training that just seems to never end. Stay focused on the most important things at hand and know that eventually things will turn around as long as you keep moving forward. For administrators and other staff, be reminded of where you work – in sport! We work so others can be entertained and fulfill higher order needs of personal satisfaction and escape. Sometimes troubles can get us down; let us not focus on the fog, but on the brightness of the good and warmth of the sun. Perspective and mentality is everything.

GO FORTH!

How do you monetize social media?

Gameday in Seattle
Sounders FC, Centurylink Field, Seattle, WA

That question seems to be all the rage these days, doesn’t it? How do you use these newly adopted social tools to assist in meeting your financial goals? Well, one of the (many) principles I try to live by goes like this – “the answer only matters if you are asking the right question.” I’m not sure where I was when I heard this for the first time, but it is certainly a thought-provoking philosophical statement indeed.

So, what kind of questions are you asking? What are your department’s bigger goals? Do you have a comprehensive marketing plan and strategic vision that actually align with one another? Social media is a tool – a means to an end that exists to accomplish an objective. The best way to figure out how to monetize social media is to come up with some arrangement of being able to measure your results, then monitor the activity you’re seeing and test, test, test! If you only put out the same promotions on the same websites or networks, how will you really know if what you’re doing is what people want? Regardless of what your results might be, the only way to know if it works or not is to try something different and then compare the two.

Here are a few rules for and examples of social media monetization:

– Rule of thumb: Track everything and collect data in every way you can. Even if you are not yet set up to analyze or do anything with your data, there will be a point in time where you will want and need some information to work from. Collect now, analyze later.

– Do A/B testing. I typically read about this in regards to email marketing, though it applies in several areas of social media. When sending emails, cut your list in half and send two different looking/feeling/edited emails with the same information with different links that point to the same place or sales page; then go see which list of people clicked more. If you really want to get technical, on your next email, switch the two lists such that each list is getting both types of emails. That would give you more confidence in terms of maximizing reliability and validity. After all, why would you do all of this work if  you can’t trust your results!?!

– Post a uniquely coded link on Facebook to track clicks and buys, then put a differently coded link on Twitter to track clicks and buys on that account. Which network gave you better results? Also pay attention to what time you are sending out your posts – each network may be different in terms of when people or fans are engaged, so do some testing there too. On Facebook, at what times do your posts get the most clicks/likes/comments? On Twitter, same thing – when are your fans actually engaged and looking at your tweets as they go flying by?

– Sponsored posts and tweets are another way to easily monetize your social media. Integrate this into your corporate marketing portfolio and rate card as something that might be attractive to businesses who want to advertise to your fans. X number of social media posts @ $Y each or per year, etc. = Revenue!

This list could go on and on, but start with figuring out why you’re on social media and pursue those avenues as a result of where you are headed. I’ve said this before, but your team website should be your home base with all links pointing there. That is the one space on the internet where your team has full control of how they present themselves. With so many social networks available, all of which are changing their rules on a regular basis, and with new ones coming online every day, your website should feel like the one genuine place your fans will always be comfortable.

Define your mission and vision. Develop a plan. Collect as much information as you can. Point all links to your own website. Simple right?

Go Forth!

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