Archives For Event Marketing

We are in the middle of the second running boom in the United States. The National Sporting Goods Association reports that sales of running/jogging shoes increased 23% percent in 2012 when compared to 2011. Running represents about a third of the overall sneaker market. Serious runners purchase on average three pair of running shoes a year. The running industry continues thrive despite a sluggish economy.

Participation in running has seen a steady increase in recent years. Running participation (ran at least 6+ days/yr) was up nearly 4% overall in the last year. Adventure running has experienced explosive growth. Events such as Tough Mudder have increased in popularity. Adventure running grew 34% last year. Marathon entries have more than doubled over the past 20 years. More and more women are taking up running. I see it in the size of our local high school’s girls cross-country team. Women accounted for 8.6 million finishers in road races in 2012 compared to 6.8 million men.

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The running shoe market is highly competitive. The top running shoe brands are ASICS, Brooks, Nike, Saucony, New Balance and Mizuno. Brooks has experienced impressive sales and market share growth in recent years. This was fueled by a shift in marketing strategy. For years, Brooks had tried to be a total athletic company like Nike, selling football cleats and a wide variety of sports apparel. Their athlete roster included Dan Marino, James Worthy and Jimmy Connors. They tried to compete with Nike at their own game. That turned out to be a losing proposition.


About ten years ago, Brooks Sports under the leadership of CEO Jim Weber made a strategic decision to focus on performance running shoes and gear. Brooks eliminated football, basketball and tennis products. Distribution was focused on top running and specialty retailers. This has proven to be a winning strategy.

Many marketers mistakenly believe that more products sold to a broad target audience is the key to growth. Brand Strategist and Author Al Ries in his book “Focus” outlined the premise that long-lasting success depends on focusing on core products and resisting the temptation to diversify. Brooks has successfully executed a focused strategy.

Brooks has developed a simple slogan: “Run Happy.” which defines the brands connection with employees and runners Employees at Brooks live and breathe “Run Happy”, through expression of brand values:

  • Serve People 
  • Lead Thought
  • Play As a Team
  • Compete Every Day
  • Have Integrity 
  • Have Fun
  • Be Active. 

What is your favorite brand of running shoes?


America has a strong love affair with the hamburger. Half the country reports eating a burger at least once a week. 90% of people eat at least one burger a month. Hamburgers are among the biggest and most competitive food markets in the United States. In 2012, the “Better Burger” market grew by over 20%.


Smashburger is an American chain of fast casual burgers restaurants that originated in Denver, Colorado in 2007. The company was founded by Tom Ryan. The name Smashburger refers to the process by which its 1/4-pound, 1/3-pound and 1/2-pound burgers are made. It begins with a ball of raw Angus Beef, which a grill cook “smashes” with a handheld steel mold on to a butter-brushed grill for ten seconds, giving the patty a caramelized sear to lock in the juices. Every burger is made fresh to order. Smashburger offers unconventional toppings including avocado, fried eggs and garlic mushrooms. The typical meal at Smashburger costs $10-$12, $2-$4 more than a meal at McDonald’s.


Every market has specialized burgers created for and sold only in that market. In the D.C. market, for example, there’s the Capital Burger, which isn’t made with lettuce but baby arugula. It’s also has grilled onion, aged Swiss cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, tomatoes and mayo and is served on a brioche bun. Or, there’s the Brooklyn Burger which is topped with grilled pastrami and served on a pretzel bun with yellow mustard. Smashburger also sells sweet potato fries, chili cheese fries, and the house-specialty Smashfries, which come tossed with rosemary, olive oil and garlic.

Smashburger has experienced rapid growth. It is estimated that Smashburger will end the year with over 250 locations. Their goal is to build 400 new units over the next six years. When Smashburger opened its first unit in 2007, the better burger category was just starting to take off. Six years later Smashburger is an industry leader. Forbes magazine ranked Smashburger as America’s most promising company. Smashburger has also made the Inc 500/5000 list an exclusive ranking of the fastest growing private companies for three consecutive years.

Smashburger marketing has relied heavily on social media and generating word of mouth. Smashburger focuses heavily on events, such as when it offered a free sandwich to anyone with “burger” or “berger” in their name on National Cheeseburger day, he said. Each time it enters a new market, it contacts social media trend-setters like restaurant bloggers and “mommy” bloggers who influence where consumers eat. Then, before the restaurant opens its door, it invites the bloggers in — as a group — to demonstrate how the food is prepared.

The other key differentiator is the in-store environment and customer experience. The stores have a cool look. The food is brought to the table, so consumers  don’t have to stand around and wait. The burgers are served in a stainless-steel wire basket with a real knife and fork not plastic.

Have you eaten at a Smashburger location?

Burberry is a brand with a strong heritage and a modern approach to digital marketing. This combination has given the brand a distinct competitive advantage in the fashion industry. Burberry was founded in 1856 by Thomas Burberry in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. Burberry is most famous for its trench coat which was designed by its founder Thomas Burberry. Its distinctive tartan pattern is one of the most widely copied trademarks in the world.

By the mid to late 1990’s, Burberry had come to be seen as tired, stodgy brand that put its signature checkered print on far too many items. In 2001, Christopher Bailey joined the company as creative director. Bailey is credited with leading a turnaround of the Burberry Brand through product design and digital marketing.

Burberry Kisses

Burberry has reinvented itself as one of the most forward-thinking fashion marketers in the world. Burberry has seamlessly integrated digital into everything that it does. Digital is not an afterthought its the way Burberry conducts business today. Its digital focus has differentiated the brand and moved it ahead of its fashion competitors. In 2009, it was one of the first fashion houses to live-stream a runway show. It’s also been known to tweet images of a new collection before a show, effectively giving its Twitter followers a glance at the line before front-row celebrities and high-powered editors get one. The commitment to social media has changed its production schedule. Burberry is one of the few brands that allows consumers to buy clothes immediately after models walk down the runway in them.

Efforts such as “Art of the Trench,” which features consumers wearing the iconic trench coat, and “Burberry Acoustic,” which features collaborations with British musicians, are examples of how Burberry integrates digital. The brand is not afraid to experiment with new ideas. The latest is “Burberry Kisses”, developed in partnership with Google, which lets users capture a print of their kiss on a smart phone or webcam and send it in a digital letter to the object of their affection. Burberry does an excellent job melding the digital and physical world.

Burberry has 16.1 million Facebook fans and 2.1 million followers on Twitter and other impressive social media stats. Luxury Fashion Brands downplayed the internet in the beginning, believing it would cheapen their image, Burberry is now seeing its fastest growth in online sales as it embraces social media and blurs the boundary between its physical stores and the digital world.

Can you think of another heritage brand that has successfully embraced the digital world?

Harley-Davidson is a classic American icon. This past weekend Harley-Davidson celebrated its 110th anniversary with event in Milwaukee.  Nearly 7,000 Harley-Davidson customers, dealers and employees from around the world rolled through downtown Milwaukee to celebrate the anniversary. Harley-Davidson has a good job staying true to its roots and to its consumer base. Harley Davidson has built a strong emotional connection with consumers especially baby boomers. This connection is based on freedom and personal expression. The brand’s purpose is “we fulfill dreams of personal freedom”.


Harley-Davidson has a rich history. Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 out of a small shed in Milwaukee by William Harley and Arthur Davidson. The first production Harley-Davidson motorcycle contained an engine that was designed to fit into a bicycle. Harley Davidson incorporated in 1907. The Bar and Shield logo was trademarked a few years later. The company grew quickly over the next decade. In 1918, almost half of all Harley-Davidson motorcycles produced are sold for use by the U.S. Military in World War 1. In 1914, the brand formally entered motorcycle racing which it continues today. In the 1990’s, the brand experienced rapid growth as its focused its efforts on attracting aging baby boomers. In many ways, the Harley-Davidson Brand has been defined by the emergence and aging of baby boomers.

Harley-Davidson was a social brand long before there was a name for it. In 1983, the brand created the Harley Owners Group. There are an estimated 1 million members around the world. This group keeps active through clubs, live events and gatherings. The Harley Community is a unique world of people who like to ride motorcycles and have a good time. Harley-Davidson is the original social marketing brand.


Harley-Davidson’s challenge going forward is to attract a younger more diverse customer base as baby boomers age out of the motorcycle market. The brand has long relied on a white middle-aged consumer base. The brand has implemented product and marketing efforts to reach women and a more diverse audience.

Harley-Davidson has been a leader in using non-traditional approaches to reach consumers. Harley-Davidson spends about 15% of its marketing budget on traditional media. Most of their marketing investment is spent trying to create unique experience for customers. The company believes that the best marketing are customer experiences spread by word of mouth. The 110th Anniversary celebration attracted tens of thousands of people to Milwaukee over Labor Day Weekend and had a positive impact on the local economy.

Harley-Davidson’s challenge going forward is to attract a younger customer base as baby boomers age out of the motorcycle market. The brand has long relied on a white middle-aged consumer base. The brand has implemented product and marketing efforts to reach women and a more diverse audience.

I have alway been impressed with how Harley-Davidson used social, content and experiential marketing to build their brand.

Have you ever owned a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle?