Daunting Challenge, Fun and Empowerment Marketing
The Climate Ride fundraising event begins this weekend. I’m excited to be joining hundreds of cyclists to pedal in a 5-day, 320-mile ride from Eureka, CA through redwood groves and scenic coastal highways back to San Francisco. Our goal: to raise awareness and money for non-profit organizations, including Free Range clients, whose work focuses on sustainable energy and environmental solutions. As I prepare for the ride, three ideas are simultaneously spinning in my head like the wheels and sprocket of my bike: the relationship of a daunting challenge, fun and empowerment marketing.
Climate Ride, like many charity events, centers around a big physical challenge as well as a social challenge of raising money. Both are daunting—many participants have never done a long bicycle ride or raised funds before—that provide a test of one’s inner resolve and a reminder of one’s capability to accomplish bold challenges.
At the same time, it is an enormously fun experience. We get to socialize for days with fantastic people from all walks of life who share core personal values around sustainability, and we get to experience breathtaking landscapes in the great outdoors. The fun begins even before the ride as everyone's anticipation grows. For example, my colleagues helped me to create this spirited video to get everyone pumped up:
Free Range’s Climate Ride Tips (41 sec.)
During the Climate Ride in 2011, we experienced heavy, persistent rain for several days, including a windstorm one night that blew people’s tents away. But no one complained. We enjoyed the heck out of it and had an even more deeply fun experience because of the extra challenge. On the last morning, we were all crunched under a tarp to eat breakfast. The rain came in waves, steadily increasing over 10 minutes. Did anyone moan? Complain? Nope. Instead, someone smiled and exalted, “Harder! Harder!” Everyone burst into a jovial uproar and we soggily saddled up for the day’s ride back to San Francisco full of good cheer. The group affectionately entered Climate Ride lore as, “The Storm Riders.”
"Storm Riders" taking on the fun challenge of CA Climate Ride 2011.
Which brings me to the third point: empowerment marketing. Climate Ride calls upon each of the riders and donors to a purpose larger than themselves—to raise visibility and money for environmental organizations—and to take a journey of self-discovery through challenge. (It can be a challenge to part with one’s money!) These are the hallmarks of empowerment marketing. Climate Ride doesn’t say (as traditional inadequacy marketing might) that you’re not capable enough, not smart enough, not strong enough, not good enough: buy our solution and you’ll feel better. Quite the opposite. Climate Ride’s tagline reads, “Pedal Your Bike. Power the Movement.” Like Nike and other great brands that use empowerment marketing, the message is: Through your hard work, we can collectively accomplish big, important things. Beyond the immediate goal of funding nonprofits, Climate Ride offers an inspiring example for any communicator or marketer to reflect on how they tell their story and engage an audience.
I’m proud to be a part of Climate Ride again this year and The Free Range Riders have raised over $5,000 for worthy nonprofits. If you’d like to chip in and donate a few dollars, please do! Any small amount you contribute adds up to a big win: Donate to Climate Ride
I also hope you’ll follow and share our progress on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter (see links above, right). Cell phone reception is spotty along the route but we’ll aim to post daily updates. Thank you for joining us in supporting this worthy cause.