Thursday, December 26, 2019

2019 Reggae Marathon Experience

Chris Morales, Reggae Marathon
I've been a part of Reggae Marathon since 2009 when I ran my first full Marathon.  2019 made it 11 consecutive years of making the trip to Negril, Jamaica for the annual weekend vacation and running event.  Back in 2009, that never crossed my mind.  I had a special reason for Reggae Marathon that was a one-off!  But then something special happened...

That day in 2009 it had rained the night before.  The morning dawned with bright sunny skies and above average humidity.  Truth:  It was brutally hot!  I had a 4 1/2 hour target time to finish but by the time I hit the half way point, I knew that wouldn't happen.  And out on the course there was no way to communicate that back to Sally who was waiting for me at the Finish at Long Bay Beach Park.  Or so I thought...

That morning Sally connected with Diane Ellis, Sponsorship Director of Reggae Marathon.  Diane found a chair and umbrella for Sally so that she would have some respite from the blazing sun.  I didn't know that of course and on top of the challenge of finishing, worried about how Sally was fairing as the minutes ticked off past my target time.

Diane came to the rescue again when she shared my progress via the timing mats that I crossed way out on the course.  That gave her an approximate time, and a bit of relief that I was actually still making progress.

As I came to the finish chute, another surprise:  Bob Moore, a runner from Washington, DC who we had met at our hotel only days before was there holding a Canadian Flag for me to carry across the finish!  He had waited after he finished his 10K race for over 4 hours to catch my finish!  

Reggae Marathon Finisher Medal, 2019I was on the course 5hours and 26 minutes that day.  I finished well after the majority of finishers had left and were already relaxing at their resorts.  The coconuts and beer were long gone.  

There was no music.  Only Reggae Marathon volunteers handing my my finisher medal and bottled water.  Diane standing beside Sally giving her encouragement and support.  Our recent American friends sticking around to hand me a Canadian flag.

Chris Morales, Reggae Marathon

Today we talk about the excitement of the music, the fresh cut coconut and the cold beer as being the Reggae Marathon Experience.  Truth:  It's the people.  The friends we met that day are still friends 11 years on.  My Reggae Marathon Experience has kept me coming back year after year to meet up with friends I only see in person once a year.  

Over the years there have been 3 people who have become special:  Navin, Larry and Dan.  We called ourselves the 4 Musketeers.  Every year we waited for the last finisher in order to have a group picture celebrating another successful finish.  

Chris Morales, Reggae MarathonSadly Dan passed away in Negril in 2018 while in Jamaica for his 7th Reggae Marathon.  And in 2019 Navin was not able to make it.  Larry and I still got together for our photo...dedicated to both Navin and Dan.  This is the photo from 2018 when Dan's passing was fresh and very raw for all of us.  It still is a year later!  But what keeps us going is a love of running...and Reggae Marathon!

The Experience is about people.  Old friends reunited, new friends made;  friendships celebrated!  That Experience will live with me forever!

Until next time...

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Sports Marketing Tourism Still Growing

Sports Marketing tourism is still growing globally.  Reggae Marathon, the experience I am most closely related to, runners from over 40 countries made their way to Jamaica to participate in the 2019 event.  That is an increase in over 10% in one year.  The three things that stand out:
  1. Runners come for the experience.  For most it's a warm weather destination where they can escape winter at home, have a great vacation and run in a well executed event.
  2. Local culture is important.  At Reggae Marathon we take a bus tour to visit a number of off-the-beaten path bars and restaurants.  Some are in people's homes!  Definitely get to experience a bit more of the local culture on these excursions.
  3. Digital Media, particularly the 3 biggest Social Media channels, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter extend and expand the experience.  Participating runners share their photos and stories using specific hashtags and that in turn exposes the event to more people.  And so on...
For more, here are ten future trends in sport tourism:

Until next time...

Chris Morales
Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

What it really is like inside an Advertising Agency

What's it really like inside an Advertising Agency?  Well...drinking for starters.  That was my first impression at my first Agency when 10 minutes into my interview, the VP asked if I wanted a drink.  And he wasn't offering water!

The truth about what goes on inside an Advertising Agency is somewhat more mundane.  It's a business first:  It produces advertising at a cost (communication marketing 'stuff') and sells at a markup with enough profit to keep the shareholders happy.  On the surface it looks glamorous.  Until you're 3 days into a location shoot with costs spiraling and the client is freaking out. 

Back in the day 'The Agency' was the keeper of the Strategy.  We asked the questions, analyzed the data from both quantitative and qualitative research, came up with brand positioning and developed marketing, communication and advertising plans.  And of course the advertising.  Even within the world of 'Digital', not much has changed.  Maybe the players have but the song remains the same...

Until next time...
Chris Morales
Chris Morales, Toronto, Marketing

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Listen to Learn

One of the most frustrating things about listening is when we list to respond, not to learn!  In my Professional Selling class at George Brown College we talk about 'active listening'.  This is where we ask questions to learn and turn off the response urge.  It takes practice.  I share stories of times when I've listened to respond versus listening to learn and the results of each.  In almost all cases when I've listened to learn, I come up with better solutions because my mind isn't working to formulate a response.  I'm not a psychologist and don't know the science behind this I just know it works!

Listening to learn involves asking better questions.  The ones that get the person talking about their needs.  Questions with yes/no answers...go good!

A business conversation is not a social conversation!  No matter how much you and your prospect/customer want to talk about family and the kids (and yes there is a time and place for that), these are business questions:  What are you looking for in the product or service?;  How will this improve your process?;  How will this reduce cost?  These are they types of questions that elicit detailed responses...they tell you what your prospect values most...what's most beneficial to them.

At the end of the day, people buy solutions that work for them.  Actively listening to learn what those are is what we should practice doing.

Until next time...

Chris Morales 
Chris Morales, Toronto

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