About Me

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I am an experienced direct marketer who is now perusing a graduate degree in Entertainment Business with a concentration in Sports Management and a master's degree in Internet Marketing.  One day soon I will be a Director of Social Media Marketing for a major sports organization.   I am avid runner who in the next 6 months will run at 2 full marathons and 3 half marathons and that doesn't include the training runs. 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

On the Run with Chris Twiggs


      This week I had the privilege to take some of Chris Twiggs time for a short discussion on the Endurance Sports Industry.  Chris is the National Program Manager for Galloway’s Training Programs. Chris is also the Founder and Co-Program Director for the Jacksonville, Florida Galloway Training Program.  In addition, he sits on the Board of Directors for the 26.2 with Donna, the National Breast Cancer Marathon held every February, where 100% of the proceeds go to the fight to finish breast cancer.  One of the reasons I enjoy getting but early on a Saturday morning and running is due to Chris’s magical spirit and unbelievable knowledge of what it takes to get mostly middle aged women, some a bit overweight, to run a half-marathon or marathon, without injury in 7 to 4 months, all while making it fun.
            Chris Twiggs got into running and endurance running less than 20 years ago.  He was going to graduate school at Florida State University, working 3 jobs, one teaching at a community college in Gainesville, Florida when his new bride, an avid runner, told him about a new Marathon that would be held at Walt Disney World. Chris’ new wife wanted the two of them to do this together and as is typical with Chris’ personality he said sure.   Chris picked up a book at a local bookstore read it and started to follow the training schedule.  The problem with the schedule was that it was not practical for anyone who worked full-time and lacked time to run 13 miles on a Wednesday.  Chris muddled through the training and half way through determined that he would do another marathon but it would not be using the training in this particular book.  So he headed back to the bookstore and found another book, this time by Jeff Galloway, an Olympic marathoner.  It just happened that Jeff Galloway was a speaker at the first Walt Disney World Marathon, and Chris and his wife stopped to listen and get autographs from Jeff. 
            During his speaking engagement at the Disney Marathon, Jeff Galloway was introducing a new way to run using a run/walk ratio.  Chris and his wife decided to try this new method out.  Using walk breaks Chris went from a 4:15 marathon to a 4:01 while Chris’ wife went from a 4:14 to a 3:38, qualifying for the Boston marathon. They became instant believers in this new method. For their third marathon the two run the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington DC. Chris was just in the process of finishing another of Jeff’s books this time more of a novel.  As fate would have it Jeff Galloway rode in the bus back to the airport with Chris.  As an English Professor, Chris had taken note that in the back of the book Jeff had asked for feedback on how to improve the book.  During that bus ride Chris went out on a limp and asked Jeff if he could provide feedback. Three months later Chris and Jeff came together yet again at the Disney Marathon where Chris provided Jeff with feedback on the book.  A few short months later, Chris received a call from Jeff asking him to start a Galloway Running program in Gainesville, Florida. Unfortunately that didn’t work out but Chris took Jeff’s offer and started one in Greensville, South Carolina.  Chris enjoyed it so much that when he moved to Jacksonville, Florida he started a chapter in Jacksonville and Daytona Beach.  The Jacksonville chapter has grown from just 20 people to well over 500 in just a short 7 years.
            Because of Chris and Jeff’s relationship Chris once told Jeff that if the National Program Manager position ever came open he wanted the opportunity to take the position.  As fate would have it, again, in 2011, Chris became the National Program Manager for over 90 chapters of Galloway Training Programs across the United States and now internationally.  As National Program Manager, Chris provides all of the marketing materials, training needs and advice that a local chapter needs to become successful.  In our discussion, Chris mentioned that the most successful chapters have not one but two Program Directors and work with local running stores or health organizations like the local YMCA to gain membership and the support that is needed to grow and sustain a chapter.  Those in trouble are usually chapters where there is no one in the waiting to take over the reins.  It is Chris’ responsibility to help out as best he can to ensure that there is a succession plan and that a chapter is set to succeed.
            I asked Chris about what he believes makes a successful Marathon Director and a successful marathon race.  It was interesting to hear his response. Based on Chris’ assessment there are two types of Race Directors, those that are considered Professional Sports guys and the Passionate runner who becomes a Race Director. The Professional’s own the equipment and put on races weekend after weekend.  They care less about the runners experience and more about putting on a race that starts on time and ends on time.  They have the routine down and everything is turnkey.  The Passionate Race Director worries about the participant’s experience.  They want everyone to have a good time.  They want them to come back because it was fun not profitable.  A Passionate Race Director’s race may not make as much profit as the Professionals but the race most times is more successful in the eyes of the runner and may be around for a longer time, year after year.
I also wanted to get Chris’ feedback on some of the larger races that are out there and understand why he feels that some races are so successful and why some right now are receiving such negative feedback yet are continuing to see huge volumes of runners and continue to draw people year after year.  Chris’ assessment of this is that some of these larger races that are in their first years draw 30,000+ people are put on for the first time runner and not the avid runner, who knows from experience what they like and don’t like from an event.  Many races won’t recover from some of the mistakes that these races have experienced recently.  If you advertise a “scenic route” you have to deliver on that promise, cutting costs by running through lesser traveled sections of town and calling that scenic won’t cut it for the repeat runner.  The little things like having enough T-shirts, medals and water are important to runners.  Smaller races won’t recover from these mistakes. 
One of the trends in producing marathons is to use a cookie cutter approach and come into a city with a plan that has worked in one city and use the same methodology for all cities.  It just doesn’t work and leaves the runner with some extremely bad impressions. The problem is that these same races are bringing in millions of dollars to the cities they are held in and making millions for themselves while runners suffer.  In 5 years it will be interesting to see where we are and if races like the 26.2 with Donna will be more successful as a home grown, home town feel then the big cookie cutter approach guys. 
I could have talked to Chris for many more hours and feel a great privilege that he took time out of this day to talk with me.  If there is one thing I learned more than anything from my conversation with Chris is that if you want something or your interested in something let people know.  You never know who might be sitting next to you on a bus to the airport.  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Attracting Fans in a Down Economy



As we go through the process of an election year, we are all reminded that we are in a “down” economy or a recession. The entertainment industry has seen lower box office revenue and as prices go up at the gas pump and in the grocery isles we are all feeling the pain in the wallet. That is with the exception of many sports teams. A recent article by the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta spells out how many teams are not experiencing the same issues of the entertainment industry and sports are still bringing in the fans despite the economy. The Florida Gators are one of those teams that are not experiencing any issues with the down economy.



          

Living in Florida for the last year and in a city with a football team often rumored to be moving to Los Angeles, I can see the creative ways that teams are attracting fans to sporting events. The Jacksonville Jaguars created a program called "Teal Deals" for their season ticket holders. Teal Deals offers $2000+ discounts at local merchants and restaurants. A program like this is a win-win for everyone.

Things like Groupon and LivingSocial, also called daily deals can work for sporting events and running events. Your daily deal might not be a discount on the entrance but a limited opportunity at the expo. Creating a “runners” experience at the expo or on race day won’t take from your registration fees and can provide additional revenue opportunities on race day. Think an exclusive VIP tent with massages and heat before and after a Half Marathon, a place to meet friends and family where you can also offer concessions, merchandise and registration for your next event.

A down economy makes business look for creative ways to drive traffic into their stores and restaurants. Sports teams and fitness events are no exception.

 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

RunDisney's Social Media

As we all are aware, social media isn't going anywhere. You most likely use it every day and I know that I'll be sharing my blog post on my Facebook and Twitter pages.  Some companies us Social Media effectively and others need some help.  In the attached video I have provided an analysis of Run Disney's Social Media Marketing mix.

The one thing Disney does great is keeping us all coming back for more.  Something I love. 




Sunday, January 8, 2012

Performance Enhancements in Sports


            With the New Year upon us it always gives us a time to look back at the recent past events either in our lives, our businesses or our interests.  I was directed to a CNBC video called “The Biggest Plays in Sports Business”.  While I don’t necessarily agree with all of the assessment, the one thing that I do agree with is how Performance Enhancing Drugs have played a roll in the last decade of all sports, not just Major League Baseball or Cycling. 
            Performance Enhancing Drugs have been around going back to 1886 and have just become more popular in the recent decade with increased financial incentives to outperform the competition.   In 2008, Sports Illustrated wrote a timeline that really puts things into perspective on when the increase in usage became apparent. Reading this makes me more frustrated that we now question every athlete’s performance especially those that define all odds or records.
Running, Cycling, and Swimming have been hit the hardest and the earliest with some of the biggest names in their respective sports.  Rumors have swarmed around Lance Armstrong and his usage, if even by association, during his 7 years as the Tour de France winner.  Since the Tour de France is one of the most grueling events in professional sports it makes sense that the athletes must use something to excel and power through.  How else can you go 20 days on a bicycle for over 3,479 kilometers or over 2,162 miles? 
As a marathoner who is participating in the Disney Marathon this weekend, I can see how more and more amateurs are walking in the footsteps of the professionals and are looking for the next edge.  Those in the front of the pack will look for ways to make it into the elite marathons like Boston, and those in the back are looking for a edge to keep them going for over 5 hours or to ensure that they are not swept by the sweeper bus.
This need for increased performance enhancements is articulated very well by a quote from the Association Against Steroid Abuse. “The most common reason for steroid abuse in sports is desire to excel. These drugs are a particular enticement when faced with the pressures felt at the high school and amateur levels.
They are often seen as a necessary step towards college scholarships and progression towards the professional ranks. Steroid abuse has been speculated to be even worse at these levels than in professional sports.”
            As I run the Disney Marathon, I will be proud to know that I am not one of the amateur athletes who is running with the help of Performance Enhancing Drugs, but will be powered through by my own training and a “Runner’s High”. 
            Now if we could all get everyone from the amateur athlete to the professional to perform drug free we can show our kids the real meaning of “This is your body off drugs”.