Riding a wave of its own success, the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon (IMM) has made notable strides in marketing. So the Indy AMA invited the IMM’s executive director Blake Boldon to speak at the May luncheon, with the presentation “Monumental Marketing: The Rise of Indiana’s Fastest Growing Marathon.”
A background in competitive running and coaching wouldn’t seem like a proving ground for marketing finesse, but Boldon has shown he has an innate marketing sense. “I immediately looked at what wasn’t working, and looked to grow opportunities that were.”
He has taken the IMM on a successful path that landed it last year on a list of Runners World’s top nine marathons in the US. When asked to comment on IMM’s marketing strategy, founder Carlton Ray said, “One of our keys to success has been a strong, agile marketing campaign interwoven with strong efforts to produce an exciting and fulfilling experience. Our outstanding marketing team, led by IMM executive director Blake Boldon, and supported by the IMM board of directors and marketing professionals, reaches and attracts runners by highlighting their inspirational stories, and their high quality IMM experiences while showcasing our mission of reducing childhood obesity in IPS.”
Boldon broke down his presentation into three categories:
- Event Marketing
- Not-for-Profit Marketing, as the IMM is a 501 (c)3)
- Marketing to Millennials And in each of those categories?
The IMM has successfully gotten to know that audience, maximize opportunities with, and build compelling messages for each.
“If you see your brand is not connecting with the audience, change the messaging.”
Knowing your audience is Marketing 101, but often a tough nut to crack. Boldon spoke about how the branding changed since he first came on board in 2012. The word ‘monumental’ was taken from all of the monuments that dot the course. It became clear, however, through speaking directly with participants that they didn’t really care about the monuments. A name change didn’t seem prudent, so they changed the messaging to “Be Monumental” — as in stupendous, and incredible, both of which running a marathon is. This has worked. The “BeMonumental” hashtag is used extensively in social media and is a calling card of the Monumental Stories that participants submit.
Speaking of social media, a running event is a perfect vehicle for that marketing platform to work. “The not-so- humble-brag is what the running community is all about,” Boldon explained. (Many in the room, runners themselves, laughed because they knew that was certainly true!) “Runners are proud of their workouts, their accomplishments. They’re tailor-made for social media.”
Boldon opened the presentation by screening the Emmy-nominated video, “Because I Can,” created in the spirit of connecting runners’ own monumental stories, and the stories of the runners in the film. Elite athlete or first-time marathoner, there are common bonds that all runners share. Video is a marketing vehicle that can tell that story well.
Thanks to a great event and some astute, responsive marketing, all signs point to the wave the IMM is riding to continue!