Running and Marketing – How 1000+ kms of running gave me a perspective on branding and marketing.
How it started.
Sometime end of March, early April this year, I started to realize that my age was catching up with me and lack of active physical activity had started translating to a slow weight gain.
The moment I realized this, I was kind of alarmed and wanted to do something about and like most people, I started googling and reading about weight loss and all that. Most likely due to my googling, I started seeing ads about apps for weight loss and one app in particular caught my eye, I think it was called something like weight loss by walking. The video ad talked about how it had a million+ installs, 4.x rating on the app store and how you can manage your weight with just a simple walk. So I installed the app and it was start of my daily dose of “cardio” to stay healthy.
Hardly a week or two into this routine, I realized that I was not liking using this particular app. The reason was simple. Being a free app, they were running ads and the ads were getting a little too intrusive for my liking. So I started searching for other/better apps to for my usage and bumped into “Map My Walk” by Under Armour. The big bulky “Beef Cake”, “The Rock” is what convinced me to move to this app. It was more like not just a brand ambassador for the sake of it, but someone who walks the talk and it shows. So at this point I uninstalled the previous app and became a regular user of this one.
Probably a fortnight into walking, I felt the need to do more than just walk around, and our in-house health nuts, Toshal and Rahul, who were already into running/swimming/yoga, etc, suggested I start running and I started. Now for the app bit, it was a no-brainer. There was an app called “Map My Run” by Under Armour and I migrated to that at the click of a button. The experience was seamless. No need to register again, my previous data still intact. This was the start of my run. Note that this was also a free app and had ads, but they weren’t as intrusive as the previous one.
The experience and engagement.
As I started my running routine, it was kind of getting boring after a few days and luckily the app had various challenges that I could be part of. The big one was to do 1018k on or before Jan 1, 2019 and there were other new challenges posted once every 45 days to keep their users engaged. These were shorter, simpler challenges like asking users to complete ‘x’ number or runs in a certain period or asking them to complete ‘y’ kms in a certain period, etc. Along with these, I was getting badges for every milestone achieved towards the big target. This continuous engagement is what kept me happy with the app and also develop a discipline towards running.
As I was inching closer to my 1018k target, I started noticing that the number newer challenges to keep the users engaged were reduced and kind of become variants of the previous ones. In the meantime, I also started noticing how the community was doing in terms of the 1018k challenge and I saw that the top runners had done excess of 8000k and some similar distances under 300 workouts. These numbers seem very unrealistic and I started doubting the validation logic of the app. A combination of boring and reduced challenges and these unrealistic numbers kind of turned me off and I no longer liked the app like I had in the beginning. I didn’t switch because of my target and I held on till then.
Now that it is done, I will be using the month of December to research and try out other apps before beginning the new year with newer goals.
In case you are wondering how all these are related to branding and marketing, I will simplify it in 4 points.
- Reach / Frequency may get you a customer, but a bad experience will bury all that effort. See, I can’t even remember correctly the name of the first app.
- Credibility does play an important role in getting a customer, then again the experience is what will retain them.
- A good experience and engagement will help customers build loyalty towards the brand.
- Users will need to have good/upgraded experiences and also improved engagements over time, otherwise despite loyalty, you may lose the customer.