Wednesday, September 9, 2015

You May Be In the Wrong Business if You Think of Your Customers As F**ktards!

Now, I never went to business school, so maybe the rules for engaging your customers has changed.  Maybe 'in-your-face' is how it's done.  There are undoubtedly companies, or at least CEO's, who think their customers are "fucktards".  My own take on business acumen...and perhaps remaining in business not to let your customers know that.  As I said though, maybe the rules have changed.

This whole question arises from a recent situation in the obstacle course racing (OCR) industry.  I first heard about this through a Facebook group I am a member of...Crazy Mudder the aftermath of the BattleFrog race in Pittsburgh, PA.  Apparently while quite a few (including me) were at this event...where a small number apparently received relatively minor injuries...a much smaller group were at the Mud Factor event...where a greater number of racers allegedly received more serious injuries.

[Although a group member, I don't know any of the racers personally nor have I run as a member of the team.  I also don't know anyone that was at or injured during the event. Nor have I made any investigation into the allegations in the Obstacle Racing Media story, Mud Factor – A disgrace to racing.]

This is not about whether Mud Factor or the marketing and production company were negligent or misleading about the safety of this event or venue.  It's not about whether these companies had the experience or knowledge to put on a safe or even worthwhile event.  Having run over 15 events myself, I and most of the other racers realize this can be a dangerous sport.  Made all the more dangerous however, when those trusted with the safety of the racers and spectators betray this trust.

No, this is about how to deal with the public...particularly your own this age of the Internet and Facebook (FB).  When I wrote this post in July, Lessons Still Not Learned....Why People Don't Really Care What You Think!, one of the main themes was to be careful about what you post...anywhere!  They have a way of never, ever, ever going quietly into the night.  And if people really get the idea that you don't care about them...that you really think of them as "fucktards" or "meatheads" or even the more affectionately playful term of "goobers"...well, it's time to think of a new way to make a living, because this one is likely cooked.

The other thing that wasn't mentioned in the original post, that is probably just as important, is know who the hell you're dealing with!  This particular FB group is large, active, vocal and extremely knowledgeable about OCR.  They are also part of the core of the OCR community with ties throughout.  Probably not the best people to piss off unnecessarily...certainly from a business standpoint.  Disney had a great way of putting it...'The customer isn't always right...but they're always your customer."  And if you're going to try and look clever anyway, take a note from the movie 'Now You See Me' and make sure you're the smartest one in the room...or in this case, on the page. 

At this point, I seriously doubt we've heard the last of it.  The OCR community is a very large one these days.  At the heart though is a core of serious racers, and serious groups, who have been doing these races for years now.  And part of the purpose of these groups is to expand participation and share race and training experiences.  If a race promoter has any thoughts of becoming a legitimate, national competitor they need these groups on their side.  And vice-versa, once you lose them, word will spread and filling venues or even selling enough entries to break even will be all but impossible.

I know many people will be watching to see how this will play out...for many reasons.  I'm certainly interested on the business side, as well as the OCR end, to see how Mud Factor and handle this and future PR issues...they are sure to come.  Early on in Spartan Race history and in Tough Mudder and BattleFrog as well, negativity has arisen.  How they each handled those times told a lot about the companies and individuals, and had a lot to do with why those companies are still around today.

There is another old saying that I may be paraphrasing a bit...

Adversity doesn't build character, it reveals it!!

Enough said.......

Please share your own experiences here with me regarding any similar race/event issues!


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