Home Articles Five marketing lessons everyone can learn from Tough Mudder

Five marketing lessons everyone can learn from Tough Mudder


Most people know Tough Mudder: The world’s toughest obstacle race course. (Although, they have changed it to “probably the toughest” with the influx of obstacle courses entering its marketplace.)

Well, lil’-old me, she who was once known as scaredy-cat-of-the-world, did it and, completed it at Phillip Island Victoria.

I’m officially one Tough Mudder!

It was an amazing personal achievement for me, one that has left me with many lessons to apply to both my personal and business lives.

But, reflecting on the day in hindsight has me captivated by the brand’s success and the lessons businesses can learn from the worldwide phenomena that is Tough Mudder.

1. Have clear marketing objectives

The Tough Mudder “pledge”, for want of calling it a vision statement, is plastered everywhere: their website, social media, at online registration. On the day, we had to kneel on one knee, raise our right hand and repeat as a chorus before we started the race. Did everyone abide by the pledge? Absolutely!

Lesson #1: Have a clear marketing message ensures that everyone, from your employees to your clients, are all on the same page regarding expectations. Putting your values in writing and repeating the message across all your media is key to your business’ marketing success.

2. Train and prepare

While Tough Mudder has been designed to be accessible for most people to participate, unlike some of its competition, it still requires months of preparation in training to be able to complete 21 kms intermixed with obstacles that require strength and agility. What many forget, or don’t have patience to witness, is the preparation time can provide some of your most amazing “a-ha” moments that challenge your thinking and beliefs.

Lesson #2: How can you expect quick results from your marketing, when so few things of substance in life ,can be achieved in a short time frame? And, let’s take that a step further: Have you spent time thinking and reflecting on business to write a marketing plan with an action plan of strategies?

3. Build the tribe

Telling people you’ve signed up and are training for Tough Mudder and, then to become a Tough Mudder results in one of two responses: admiration (from those who haven’t done it) or acceptance (from those who have). Either way, there is public acknowledgement of the tribe you have joined and what it takes to try and enter the club.

Lesson #3: How can you build a tribe mentality with your customers? What does your business do that can connect the marketplace in a common goal or achievement? Don’t over-think this. It may be as simple as lesson #1 and, finding your set of differentiating business values.

4. A reward you can’t buy

One of the proudest possessions I now own is an orange headband! And, I’m truly not sure if I’d be more disappointed if I lost that or, my new smartphone. What’s it worth? Probably a few cents, but it’s priceless to me as there is only one way you can own it, by crossing the Tough Mudder finishing line.

Lesson #4: Too often businesses believe that rewarding their customers cannot be cost effective. Put yourself into the shoes of your ideal customer and think what “reward” would make “you” feel special. Often it’s not monetary, but acknowledgement.

5. Get brand advocates

What every business wants and, should endeavor to create are “brand advocates”. These are the clients that love your business and brand so much that they want to tell everyone about you. Needless to say, in this digital and social media age, this can equate to customers sharing your marketing messages for you, without any expectation in return.

Tough Mudder Inc have this sorted. Beyond “wear your orange headband to work day”, which is more a verbal acknowledgement that it’s ok to brag to your peers for one day, they send you image badges to share on your social media, as well as photos and videos to share. The participants’ bragging rights are unashamed plugs for their business.

Lesson #5: So, has this Tough Mudder shouted from the roof tops that she owns a cheap orange headband? Of course I have and, proudly so. And, I will continue to do so in the future.

Oh. Wait. What am I doing now?

Megan Barrow is owner of JoElla Marketing and is passionate about assisting businesses to find their personal story to produce personalised marketing strategies and messages.