Thursday, October 28, 2010
Jumping on the WTC Bashing Bandwagon ...
This is in response to Patrick's post at The Road [A Mulit-Sport Blog]. I started to write this in his comment section and ran out of space so decided to finish it up here. As opposed to me paraphrasing his words check out Patrick's Post to give you some background. This in not really a dissenting view from his, just a little different:
Title: Perception is Reality
As a business person and someone who understands the value of a brand AND the painstaking hard work that goes into branding - I found WTC's initial announcement of the Access Program utterly baffling.
Let me explain.
For the bottom line of the P&L statement the Ironman Access Program makes financial sense to WTC. They are a for profit business and have a right to charge whatever they want or implement anything they think will make them profitable. But a savvy company knows that the value of the brand is also linked directly to the perception of that brand. And this is where I take issue with what WTC did with the Access Program.
The IM brand is synonymous with terms like community, hard work, and determination. The access program does not align with any of these perceptions. Part of the experience of doing an IM is the story of how you registered by volunteering at the race or by hitting refresh a hundred times when Active registration opens. Seriously, ask an Ironman the story of how they registered for their race and they undoubtedly will have a colorful story!
Back on point, the Access Program creates the perception of cheating the system. If I have to wait in line a year before a race than dammit so should you! Heck, what other sport has regular Age Groupers like us racing right next to the pros? None. We are different. We are special. WTC attacked this foundation and the consumer responded in kind. Like it or not a successful business will remain successful by reflecting the values of the consumer - P&L Statements be damned!
Now the Access Program was just the proverbial nail in the negative press release coffin. With the onslaught of changes (5150, price increases, new venues, IM branded products ..etc) that WTC has announced lately I found the access program to be not only poorly conceived but also poorly timed. They are changing things t0o fast and too dramatically. We are okay with minor changes but big changes like these are tough to swallow - if you don't believe me look at how well Change is working for Obama and the democrats.
What I mean by the last paragraph is how could a company that does Triathlon have no idea what the reaction of the Triathlon community would be with the announcement of the Access Program? How could they not have a finger on the pulse of their base? No consumer surveys? Focus groups? Really?
Well, WTC found out the hard way when the community went nuts they pulled the program as quickly as it came out. For us consumes it is sort of like biting into a spoiled piece of food - you realize it is spoiled and spit it out right away, no real harm - except for that awful aftertaste!
For me and many other triathletes the perception is that WTC doesn't give a crap about it's consumers - the apology video was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, the reality is that they are not going to stop doing things like this until a viable competitor surfaces. (Time to step up Rev3!)
Thanks for Reading,