I am not Prefontaine

Posted by Athena Rodriguez on Wed, Aug 10, 2011

Nope, I’m not a 1970’s mustachioed running legend, and I’m never going to break describe the imageany records. But that doesn’t mean that, as a novice runner, I shouldn’t set goals and track my progress.  And while my progress (and my pace) is slower than the great Pre, tracking helps me stay focused on my goals. The same is true for brand tracking.

Many of the things I’ve learned from running can also apply to MR, here are a few, with some Pre-quotes sprinkled in for extra inspiration:

“What I want is to be number one."

Setting Goals: The key here is to be realistic and just like with running, you have to take experience into account.  What should I aim for in the near future based on where I am today, and in the longer term?  This also means accounting for your competition. While a little competition is healthy, monitor a range of contenders—companies who share similar levels of awareness, as well as older and more established companies (companies you aspire to be like), and keep an eye on the newcomers.

"Success isn't how far you got, but the distance you traveled from where you started."

Tracking Progress: What is most important to your organization?  What inspires and motivates? When I run, I’m focused on distance, while my running partner is obsessed with speed.  Although we both use the same tools (I love my Garmin Forerunner!), the metrics we pay attention to are different.  Likewise if customer satisfaction is your motivator, customer experience measurement must be central to your tracking, a “one-size-fits-all” benchmarking study will not address your needs.

"Don't be afraid to give up the good to go for the great."

Updating with the Times: Just as running gear has changed with the times (gone are the days you estimated distance by driving your running route with eyes fixed on the odometer) so should your brand tracker.  With cell phones, the Do Not Call List, email, and texting, fewer people answer (or even have) landlines.  If you’re running a tracker using random digit dialing (RDD), consider moving it online. If this move makes you nervous, ease into it by running concurrent waves, both online and via phone once or twice (the equivalent of using your car’s odometer and GPS watch).

In running, adversity comes via injury or inclement weather, and each has a different remedy. (Okay, I couldn’t find an adversity quote from Pre, but in running and MR, setbacks are something we all face).

Adverse Conditions:  What happens when you injure yourself?  Just like runners, brands can also suffer temporary setbacks, and it’s important to diagnose what happened, how to fix it, and how to prevent future mishaps.  This diagnosis can come with further analysis or additional research.

If you’ve suffered a setback, it’s important to establish whether your competitors suffered similarly and how you can better prepare for stormy weather in the future.  Indexing to the mean (dividing individual scores by the overall mean) is an easy way to show if you gained or lost ground (in a relative sense) given the market environment.  Keeping a module in your tracker to address timely topics will allow you to dig deeper into brand related “injuries” and market related “storms.”

“Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started.  It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement."

Reaching Your Goals:  What happens when your company reaches its goals?  How do you stay motivated when you’ve gotten to a finish line? Take a moment, catch your breath, and reflect on what went well and what needs to change for the better.  It’s also important to celebrate and communicate successes both internally and externally.

Then it’s time to set new goals…and of course, keep on tracking!

All quotes are from Steve Prefontaine

Athena Rodriguez is Team Director for CMB’s Financial Services Practice. She is an Asics loyalist who has run the Boston Marathon twice as a bandit, because she’s admittedly way too slow to qualify and because “running ain’t a crime.”

Topics: Brand Health & Positioning