A truly successful and sustainable product is one that is rooted in truth. Authenticity is hard to fake, even for the best marketers and creatives in the game. But with the right team at the helm a little can go a long way. If you have been following the recent contributions to this blog you will have noticed that our team has been posting under the common thread of charity and charitable organizations.
With that in mind, some of you may recall an article I wrote last year about a charitable event that my wife and I participated in. The event was the Pan-Massachusettes Challenge, a two-day cycling event that spans 200-miles from Sturbridge to Provincetown, MA. It is the authenticity of the cause that has made the PMC the most successful athletic fundraising event in the country. At its inception the concept was simple, raise money for the hospital that extended the life of the founder’s mother. The impact was much larger and has become a phenomenon unlike any other.
Thirty-two years ago, PMC founder Billy Starr set out to raise money in memory of his recently deceased mother. His goal: support the hospitals and doctors that supported her during her battle with melanoma. Billy’s concept came from a place of absolute authenticity and that concept has not changed in over three decades. Truth and authenticity are still at the forefront of the PMC brand that has, to date raised over $337 million for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Tell me that’s not a successful track record. Low overhead, huge brand following and continually increased revenue. This success does not come without work. Savvy marketing, organic consumer-driven branding and outstanding public relations have made this business the success that it is.
The PMC has created a product that fosters intense brand interaction and propagation of its message. The transparency in strategy and authenticity of the product helps keep the brand nibble and relevant. There are, of course, fundamental differences between the not-for-profit goal of the PMC and the goal of those selling a product in the more traditional sense, but the takeaway remains: create truthful, personal interactions and you create brand loyalty. The founder himself lives and breathes this concept. When Lance Armstrong asked Billy Starr what makes the PMC so successful, Billy responded that Lance would have to come and see for himself. By doing so he required Lance to create a meaningful personal connection with the product. Like it or not (not many fall into the later category), this forced personal interaction allows each participant to form his or her own authentic connection. Armstrong accepted the challenge and rode last year.
I can tell you from personal experience that the takeaway was worth every dollar raised and every drop of sweat spent training. My PMC brand story may be different from the rider next to me, but we are united in our authentic connection. We can only hope to evoke the same sentiment from our customers, client and employees.
A special thank you to LAN Associates, The Indian Trail Club and Bank of America (Jonathan Lesko) for generously donating to our ride this year. These generous companies have helped us close in on our fundraising goal of $10,000! But, we’re not there yet. If you would like to support our ride and the amazing work of the PMC and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute you can donate directly to our ride by clicking here. Enter my name, Ryerson Kipp, under the donate to riders option.