What if someone told you they wanted to start up a business, but there were already 200 other businesses doing the same thing in your local market? You’d probably doubt the odds of their success…

But what if they could guarantee their customers had a unique, memorable and sharable experience?

Well then they might be on to something!

Last weekend I ran The Color Run in St. Louis with Danieal Broz. It was my first 5K – and I can guarantee I’ll never forget it! I’ve always wanted to do a run, but I was a bit intimidated and unsure of what the experience would be like.

The Color Run 5Ks are taking the country by storm. How are they doing it? Well… it’s not just another 5K – It’s the “Happiest 5K on the Planet!”

One visit to their site and you’ll quickly realize they have created an EXPERIENCE for participants and volunteers alike. They’ve taken an activity that could be intimidating for some and made it completely, utterly, unmistakably FUN! Everything surrounding the brand is excitement and energy. Clean, crisp white splashed with bold, vibrant color. They’re appealing to an emotion – and it’s paying off by leaps and bounds. The St. Louis event was sold out over a month in advance, to the tune of 15,000 registered participants.

A big part of their success can be attributed to their ability to tap into social media. The Color Run has a very active Facebook community. Even weeks before the St. Louis race, I saw posts from runners declaring their excitement for the event. In the week prior, The Color Run encouraged all runners to change their Facebook profile photo to a bold image declaring “I’m a Color Runner.”  Did I do it?  You bet your asterisk I did! I’m a Color Runner and I’m proud of it! On race day, people were constantly uploading photos to Facebook, tagging The Color Run and posting them to their personal walls and The Color Run wall. Talk about Social Media brilliance. Runners were having an amazing time and sharing it with all their friends and family.

What did I take away from The Color Run?  (Other than an ear full of pink and blue cornstarch and a bumper sticker)  I learned that to be wildly successful in a saturated market, you can’t be “just another 5K”. You have to create an experience and appeal to an emotion. If you can do that – you’ll create an energy you never thought possible.

One final thought – don’t just limit the experience to your customers. Your entire company should embrace the experience so that it becomes part of your culture. Customers will feel the energy and passion your employees have and they’ll respond to it. Even the volunteers at The Color Run were having a blast!

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