A few weeks ago, I completed a 75 mile ride to support and raise money for MS. It is a cause that is very close to my family. My brother Mark, suffered from Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. A form of MS that progressively gets worse with no cure. On September 16, 2001 he passed away. It was devastating week for our family between loosing a loved family member and seeing thousands of other people perish in the September 11 terrorist attack.
Since his passing our family, over the years, has raised money on an individual basis for MS. This past year we decided to ride together as a family to support a cure for MS. All six of my siblings, a sister-in-law, two nieces and a nephew rode in honor of my brother and to raise money for others that suffer from MS.
It was great experience. Not only being able to spend time with family but also the training and support I received leading up to the ride. Here are 6 Marketing lessons from training and participating in the MS ride that can be applied to your business.
1. Become Committed
Nothing in life is achieved without a commitment. When I first considered riding in the MS ride I did not have a bike and was not in riding shape. I had not ridden in over 25 years and while I had been exercising over the previous few months, I was not in the best of shape.
I had to become committed to achieving my objective. This meant setting aside time each week to ride and train. For 3 months before the ride I rode every Friday and Saturday regardless of how hot it was (I live in NC and August can be brutal for heat and humidity). I did not always want to go out and suffer through the heat or wake up early on the weekends,someday it just sucked. I had tow primary motivations that compelled me to suck it up and ride: Keeping the thought of my brother’s suffering and how others suffer everyday from other debilitating diseases and the end goal of riding 80 miles to support a cure for MS.
2. Maximize the Skills of Your Team
The National MS Society has been doing these rides all over the world. It is no one individual that makes the ride a success. In fact for every ride they rely on thousands of individuals to make every ride a success. They have a group that works on outreach, fundraising, marketing, technical personnel for their website and that’s just leading up to ride day. On ride day, thousands more help out to insure rider safety along the route and make sure riders have plenty to drink and eat. Volunteers give up their time to staff rest stations, Police and medics support the riders and ensure their safety.
Find team members with strengths that compliment your strengths. If all of your team members are great at sales and marketing but have poor organizational skills how long will you be able to retain all those new customers brought in by the sales and marketing group. When you leverage the all strengths and skills of all your team members your path to success will be easier and more lasting. No longer will “everything” fall on you or a select few.
3. Be Willing to Overcome Adversity and Obstacles
You will face adversity and have to overcome obstacles to achieve your goals. Your adversity may come when you are nearing your goal or the finish line.
During our ride, after 77 miles, adversity struck one of our team members a mere 3 miles from the finish. We had only two bridges to cross before the finish. My 17 year-old niece was side-swiped by another rider causing her to fall. She suffered a fractured wrist (which no one knew at the time), road rash on her hand, hip and knee. Anyone who has fallen and suffered raod rash knows how painful it can be. Not to mention how falling can shake you up and compounding that is having expended your energy riding 77 miles.
After receiving medical attention she was given the option of getting a ride back to the finish. She would have no part of it. She knew she wanted to finish the ride and had worked too hard not to achieve her goal. Although badly shaken, and fearful of getting back on the bike, she did and finished the ride. It would have been very easy for her to give up and take the easy path to the finish and no one would have thought less.
How often do we get close to achieving a goal and something happens that shakes us to the core. What do you do about it? Do you get back on the bike despite your fear of falling or failing? Do you visualize achieving your goal or use it as an excuse to quit?
4. Seek Support from Other Like-minded People and Groups
When I started I relied on my own motivation, inspiration to be committed to riding. After a month I realized I needed additional support. I came to rely on the Bike Depot out of Waxhaw. Every Saturday the owner of the Bike Depot sponsors a ride open to all (a great marketing strategy on his part which is the topic of a future post).
During those Saturday mornings I learned technique, how to ride in a group and by riding with other like-minded people it kept me motivated. “Teelo” the owner, always went out of his way to help keeping my bike tuned up. More than a couple of times I arrived at his store on Friday afternoon 1/2 hour before closing with my bike in need of repair. Knowing I was planing on riding the next morning he never hesitated to make sure it was repaired before 8 AM.
It can be lonely as a business owner. Often times riding as entrepreneurs we ride roller coaster of emotions with each small success or set-back. Having a group to learn from, help you stay motivated and to push each other is crucial. Today, you can find a group for any business sector whether its in an on-line social media forums such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google +, etc., an industry support group or professional network. Help and support is available.
5. Celebrate and Share Your Success
As I continued to ride, my family members motivated each other by sharing their weekly successes and progress and keeping our goal and ride date in focus. When I first started out I could not ride more than 10 miles at less than 12 MPH without feeling gassed. The first time I rode 25 miles, 30 miles and 50 miles I was ecstatic and made sure I celebrated and shared my achievements with other family members. We tracked and celebrated each others achievements.
Whether it’s your first sale, or achieving milestones in your business such as a new level of; sales, number of customers, subscribers or new product/service introductions, share you success and celebrate, but don’t stop. Reset your goal and make plans to achieve the next level of success.
6. Thank and Show Appreciation to All Those That Supported You
For each person or group that donated to help me achieve my fund raising objective I made sure I sent them out a thank you note and gift to show how much I appreciated their sharing and giving to a cause that is very personal to me.
This is one of the most important steps. Do not overlook all the support and help you get along the way. Acknowledge all those that are helping or have helped you. Without those that supported me and others that rode we would not have been able to exceed our fund raising goals and complete the ride.