By David H. Martin

According to a recent survey, 50 million Americans run at least once a year and 19 million run at least 100 days a year. Running is more popular than even in the US. So says a new survey by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) that claims that Americans are running in record numbers In addition, Americans are also purchasing more shoes and apparel despite an economic slump and raising money for charity for road races in record amounts.

Sales of running shoes reached $2.46 billion (USD) in 2011, a six-percent increase over 2010. Units sold totaled 38.02 million. The Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council’s annual study on charitable dollars shows that the top seven programs listed raised more than $1 billion in 2011 on run/walk events alone, cited Runner’s World. The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life topped the list at $415 million.

There’s a running renaissance going on across the US and, as a drinking water dealer, you won’t want to be left in the dust. According to recent article in the Miami Herald, corporate running groups are leading a pack of newly motivated amateur runners who run together after work. “Running may be the 21st century version of golf. It’s a chance to polish office relationships, impress the boss and bond with colleagues outside the hierarchy.” Across the country, companies are forming running clubs, co-workers are pairing up to to train for marathons and businesses are sponsoring employee teams in charity events.

Quality drinking water fuels runners’ health-and-fitness lifestyle
Runners require a lot more drinking water than more sedentary citizens, making them prime targets for drinking water system dealers who aggressively promote their business. Back in the mid-1980s, as a Culligan RO dealer on Chicago’s affluent lakefront, I provided drinking water for many races and other organized fitness events in my marketing area. Here is my organized race event formula:

  • Contact race organizer at least six weeks prior to the event.
  • Bring water to the race site in one-gallon (3.78-liter) plastic bottles: 100 gallons (378.5 liters) for 700 runners in a typical 5K race.
  • Provide 38 ounces (1.12 liters) of filtered water for each participant, dispensed in four-ounce paper cups placed on folding tables at multiple aid stations along the race route and at the finish line.
  • Recruit four to six volunteers to fill cups and maintain race aid stations.

Promote your participation before, during and after the race
Some dealers who merely dabble in events are happy to settle for name or image-building publicity. But with careful planning and execution, a race event can be an opportunity for spectators and participants to help you set sales appointments—as well as gain valuable publicity for supporting worthy causes. Don’t attempt to sell or rent equipment at events. The whole purpose is to sell appointments.

Some dealers capture sales leads with free drawings at the finish line for a free installation of an undercounter RO system. Others promise free in-home water tests at the time of the visit. In any case, make sure your finish-line promotional signs are bold and display promotional messages to effectively convey your offer. Have multiple sign-up sheets and pencils on a table near the finish line to secure names and phone numbers.

Since not all race/walk events have the same potential for generating leads and publicity, use this checklist of questions to help you decide whether or not to participate:

  1. Is the event organized and sponsored by a highly respected organization?
  2. Is the primary purpose of the event to raise funds for a popular charitable cause?
  3. Do the organizers have a plan and program to generate strong attendance and participation?
  4. Have they prepared press releases for distribution to all local print and broadcast media?
  5. Do they plan to advertise the event?
  6. Will they allow you to offer free drinking water to spectators as well as participants?
  7. Will they permit you to place product signs and displays near the finish line?
  8. Will they let you capture names and phone numbers through free offers or special drawings?
  9. Will they provide a list of participants for follow-up calls?
  10. Will they mention your product and company name in printed promotional materials and event press releases?
  11. Will they offer free audible promotional mentions via the public address system? (Note: Prepare your own 15-second typed promo message to make sure the message is on target and informative.)
  12. Can you negotiate for event sponsors to pay for the cups or water bottles? (Some dealers get by with providing the water free, but leave the cost of necessary paraphernalia up to the event organizers.)

Some ways to work with new running clubs
With more and more work-related running clubs forming, it pays to get in on the ground floor to keep your name in front of the members. First, you need to identify the organizers of running clubs, then print up discount coupons to be distributed to members. Next, provide free, low-cost imprinted water bottles for participants where they meet to run. And finally, if it’s a formal club with a name and logo, consider providing imprinted T-shirts or tank tops, complete with your company name in a less prominent size and position.

Community running events and race walks are increasingly popular and provide highly visible promotional opportunities for drinking water equipment dealers to interface with fitness motivated workers. But without proper planning and execution, you could come away with little to show for your time and expenses. To assure an effective participation in a larger promotional fitness event: Define your objectives.

  • Pre-plan exactly what you will need to achieve those objectives.
  • Make a checklist of all you will need, from cups to bottles to garbage bags.
  • Secure these items at least a week before the event.
  • Meet with your volunteers in advance.
  • Write press releases and announcement messages to be read aloud at the finish line.
  • Review all details with event organizers weeks in advance for maximum cooperation and publicity

2013 National Restaurant Association trade show report
Eighteen hundred suppliers and thousands of buyers gathered at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL this spring to view new products and trends in the food service and hospitality industries. POU water distribution systems were featured by companies like Xylem, whose new Flo-Jet V-Jet high-pressure carbonation units promise dependable low-flow performance; Pentair Everpure’s water manifold, designed to clean up and manage water dispensing by keeping different waters separate with maximum efficiency; Natura Water’s water purification countertop system that dispenses chilled sparkling, chilled still and un-chilled still water served at customers’ tables from stylish carafes and Vivreau’s under-counter, countertop and wall mounted water filtration systems, which include re-usable designer glass bottles for serving at restaurant tables.

Sanitation issues with kitchen ice and water equipment were tackled by such units as Follett’s ice and water machine, which features Agion silver-based antimicrobial protection and ozone, introduced by Franke in two new product configurations. Franke’s ECO3ICE device sanitizes ice machines continuously via a diamond-based electrolytic cell that safely creates ozone in the water supply line. The unit attaches quickly to most commercial ice makers. Franke uses the same technology in its EC03 hand sprayer for disinfecting all kitchen area surfaces. This 10-ounce (0.2-liter) portable sprayer runs on rechargeable batteries and produces ozone when tap water passes through the electrolytic cell, destroying odor causing bacteria and killing common viruses.

Chloramine reduction can be important for best beverage flavors from commercial kitchen water systems, according to Frank Rossi, interviewed in the 3M booth. 3M showed its DF290- CL choramine reduction system for beverage and ice service and its new wall-mount, expandable ScaleGard line pressure RO system that lets commercial kitchens add additional RO modules as needed.

About the author
David H. Martin is President of Lenzi Martin Marketing, Oak Park, IL, a firm specializing in water improvement and environmental marketing that integrates old and new media. He can be reached at (708) 848-8404 or by email at dmartin@lenzimartin.




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