Did you watch the London Marathon on Sunday?
Tucked up in bed, chomping on chocolate biscuits with lashings of tea.
I make out like that was a good thing.
Really, I’d have preferred to be in there amongst the 38,000 runners squeezing their way through the streets of London.
So much did I want to get on the start line, I journeyed up to capital on Friday evening to try and blag a place at the Marathon Expo.
(Don’t feel too sorry for me, I’ve already run it three times…)
One of my pals was a pacer and he’s particularly adept at engineering last-minute places for me at major marathon events.
Last year, he got me a place at Brighton Marathon just 45 minutes before it started.
(Needless to say, the pizzas and beers the evening before were sorely regretted at mile 17 and beyond…)
Anyway, I digress…
Why makes the London Marathon so incredibly special?
Why has its legacy endured?
And how can it help you sell more?
It’s nothing to do with the elite Kenyan and Ethiopian runners who power around the course, barely breaking a sweat and finishing before you’ve even had a chance to hit Tower Bridge (at least for me anyway).
It’s nothing to do with the course itself.
Yes, it goes past some major landmarks but for long swathes of the course you’re in some pretty dismal parts of London, i.e. south of the river.
And it’s nothing to do with it being a particularly well-organised event.
Yes, it’s good, but there are other more scenic and more challenging marathons in the UK and around the world.
It’s almost entirely to do with the profusion of stories which come out of the London Marathon, helped by the fact that it’s the biggest fundraising event in the UK by a LONG, LONG way.
That’s a lot of people who are raising money for very personal or very inspirational reasons.
And marathon time is when we get to hear about them.
It’s also the pinnacle of training for a huge group of people who have never run marathons before.
The rigours of a spring marathon training regime – especially in the UK during the dark winter months when it couldn’t be worse to train – makes toeing the start line even more special.
In other words, it’s all about the stories. The human face of the marathon.
Yes, it’s a significant distance.
But it’s not about the miles.
It’s about the people who are going through the pain of enduring those miles for whatever reason they’re running.
Seeing this does something to us.
As humans. we’re programmed to respond to stories.
We’re designed to react to their emotion, to share it, to feel their pain or experience their joy.
Not as intensely of course, but enough to make us do something very odd indeed:
Act on it.
It’s no coincidence all the rival marathons to London are waiting in the wings to take full advantage of this mass of emotional outpouring over the marathon weekend.
There are two times in the year when marathon entries in general spike: 1) after the London Marathon in April and 2) after the London Marathon ballot results are announced in October when you know whether you’re in or out.
All the other marathons (and charities too) turn into feeders at these points.
They know they can take advantage of the emotions of elation or dejection to scoop up runners eager to be part of the marathon dream.
Because that’s what it is at that very moment of purchase.
The emotion of being part of something, of creating your own story is so powerful.
It can wash over logic and rationality in an instant.
(I should know, I’ve made some ridiculous race choices in these moments)
And here’s how it can help you.
Find a way of doing the same in your sector and you can piggyback on the positive emotions in your target audience to boost your sales.
Every industry – yes, even yours – has moments during which human emotion is writ large through stories.
My challenge to you is to find those moments, latch onto them and watch your sales sprint off into the distance.
I’m off out for a run…