Answer this simple question; you are a retailer who sells brass door knockers, big, shiny, expensive door knockers. Would it make sense for you to go to a craft show to exhibit your wares?
I think most of us would agree that it is not. But I also think most of us would also agree that to turn up to a UPVC door and window fair would be more of a worthwhile investment, with an increased chance of success. The same premise is true for a specialist running retailer and the local running community, but ONLY if you do it with legitimate intentions.
Firstly, the running community is built from a diverse group of passionate and committed athletes. They are loyal to their ‘tribe’ and they are very focused on what they do. Therefore any approach by a ‘commercial’ entity should ideally be done with an open hand and a clear expression of intent. If it is a service that you wish to provide, be clear on that. If it is to trade to them, then make sure that you are open about that too as any ‘hidden agenda’ will be seen straight through. Runners are smart.
Secondly, if you are trading make sure that you know what you have to offer fits the audience that you are going to present to. If you turn up to a track meet with cross trainers, or a cross country event without any 9, 12, 15 mm spikes and spike keys, you could be left with more than mud on your face. You need to make sure that what you do is also aligned with what your audience wants. If it is not, then be very clear with yourself what you are doing as it could cost you time and effort and not give you the outcome that you want. This miscalculation could also reverberate around your brand in a way that doesn’t just give you a low return on investment (ROI). It could also ripple further out, even ending up into the groups that you ‘actually’ wanted to engage with in the first place. Be considered and selective.
This leads onto the final point. The running community informs ‘Who YOU are’, more than you may think. They are committed and as such they know what is ‘hot’ and ‘current’ in the market place and they are also doing the ‘thing’ that you are trying to help to facilitate by selling your range of products. Namely RUNNING. Therefore, by working closely and in an open manner with your local running community, your will be able to forge long lasting and sustainable relationships. In a world where products can now be bought in a plethora of retailers (both on and off line) and in a competitive world, being honest and engaging is the core to good retail. You may not be the cheapest, nor have the widest range of products. Nor will you be able to please all of the people all of the time, however, as sure as eggs is eggs, you’ll be less successful if you try and hoodwink a community who’s passion relies upon the use of a core piece of equipment and especially one that you just so happen to sell.