Running Away with the Running Shoe Business

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There’s a runner’s equipment store that I have driven by several times, often at around dinnertime. I am amazed to find this store mobbed with hundreds of people milling around outside the store on a fairly regular basis. There must be 200 to 300 people attentively standing around the store entrance on these days. These people are mostly dressed in runner’s garb and even have numbers pinned to their shirts. I don’t know who is running their PR but whoever it is, he or she is brilliant.

I thought I better find out more about this company. When I go to their website, it is not just a store. The website is dedicated to creating the community that gets them this kind of devotion. They invite everyone to be a member of their Running Club – walkers, runners, young and old. At the moment, they are advertising a scenic run through historic neighborhoods, a running clinic, a fun run on Saturday morning and a Thursday fun run.

It’s almost hard to find the SHOES because of the multiplicity of events, offers, news and even a weather report. You can find links to the brands they sell but these links take you to the manufacturer sites where you can get all the technical information on the shoes that you want. Yes, they sell shoes but also every other kind of running clothes, socks, nutrition and accessories. I think you could walk in that store with any running-related problem imaginable and they would know how to solve it.

It Comes from the Heart

If you pardon the pun, these guys are just a runaway hit with their customers. What makes it work is a real, heartfelt devotion to the sport. The business was established by two running enthusiasts (no surprises there), one of whom is a physical therapist who runs a clinic from this business (pretty unique!).

Of course they have a very busy Facebook page, with tons of customer interaction and fast answers from the staff. The site has a blog and a newsletter and tons of pictures. There are plenty of Tweets going out that feature club news, too.

Can you create this level of dedication among your customers? Some businesses can and perhaps it would be harder for others. But I would not underestimate your power to receive devotion back in exchange for what you provide. I’m thinking of an insurance broker I know. Especially right now, people are starved for information and understanding about insurance, with the whole health insurance issue looming for all of us. If you send out a series of articles on the basics of insurance that your friends and clients need to know, you will generate gratitude among those who really needed that information. Some of them will forward these articles to other people and your popularity will grow.

To win fans, give them something they can be a fan of. Hold events, Publish information. Report on news. Comment on other people’s news. Describe trends. Explain new features of equipment. Be useful! Become the go-to resource for your clientele and potential clientele. And maybe one day you will find hundreds of people milling around your door, too.