A lot of marketers today talk about building communities – and attempt to do so with programs and partnerships. Typically, a program overview is provided, dollars are exchanged and logos are slapped on websites, brochures or t-shirts.
Working in the healthcare marketing space for over a decade one of the biggest missed opportunities I’ve seen is the ability to activate and build communities with partnerships.
Building authentic communities means relationship building, idea sharing and excitement. This takes a lot more time than sending a logo jpeg over to graphic design.
I recently partnered with OrthoCarolina on 26. BREW a half and full marathon training program in partnership with local Charlotte Breweries – NoDa Brewing Company, Lenny Boy Brewing, Matthews Beer Temple and partners like Charlotte Running Company and WFNZ.
The program resulted in 80 runners completing a 4-month training program. Many, like Carla, ran a full marathon for the first time.
How did we activate the partnership? Here are 4 ways we pushed the partnership beyond logos to drive success.
1 – Engaged Audience, Right Goals
When building any program or partnership it’s key to identify engaged audiences to enable success. In Charlotte, there is tremendous energy around brewery run clubs. Our team saw an opportunity to further drive community around this group.
Our goal was never to drive volume with runners, it was to build relationships. Look for areas in your community that have excitement building and get engaged for the right reasons.
2 – Torch Carrying Organizers
26. BREW was led by the run club director of Noda Brewing Run Club, myself and a team at OrthoCarolina who are crazy for running. True passion is something that your community will feel.
Being runners, we used authentic knowledge to build a fun program. I never felt like I was working during the program. I was gaining knowledge about proper running warm-ups, logging my miles and making running friends who liked beer. Find passionate people to lead your teams. People can tell if your faking it.
3 – Connected Content
Content, not logos are the secret sauce. With 26. BREW we had opportunity to share timely, relevant content via a weekly e-newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages. We drove live content by having sports medicine specialists lead runs and putting together special events like runner’s yoga with an OrthoCarolina physical therapist.
We went to runs and listened to the questions runners had – there was confusion about foam rolling, so we created a runner’s guide.
Program participants listened and responded. They came to events, posted motivating photos and built relationships that enabled them to meet their running goals.
4 – Fun, Authenticity
Here’s a crazy idea. Your partnerships and programs should be fun. We made sure 26. BREW was.
Our group liked running at brewery clubs, meaning they liked beer, so Noda Brewery and Lenny Boy collaborated on a runner’s beer named 26. BREW and donated the proceeds to a local running charity.
We hosted kick-off parties, carb-loading and sign-making parties. We had Chris Kroeger with WFNZ host brewery run clubs and talk with runners about local sports and a love for running. We had a cheer station with enthusiastic supporters dressed in beer suits out on marathon day.
If you want a program and partnership that is stiff that’s what you’ll get out of your audience. I’m giving you permission to have fun.