State of the Nation, Fall 2010: Part I

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September traditionally marks the end of the season for Endurance Nation, as we use Ironman® Wisconsin as a opportunity to reflect on the year, extract valuable lessons, and make plans to implement changes in 2011. Actually, this process is continuous, internally, but for many reasons a lot of stuff just comes together for us around the September time frame.

As such, this is a great opportunity for us to reflect on the year with you, our ENFans and TeamEN members, to share with you our lessons learned from 2010 and preview what we have in store for you–and the greater tri world–for 2011.

In Part I, we’ll talk about where we’ve been and where we are today. In Part II, we’ll reveal some (but not all) of our plans for next year.

1. The Waiting List
It started in May of 2009, but really took root in 2010. Closing registration to the Team, a potentially risky move, actually created a few opportunities:

  • Focus and Efficiency: The waiting list allowed Patrick and I to focus 100% on our members during the time when they need us the most: the Ironman® race season. Between supporting the team in the forums, travel to races, creating content for them, and much more, we just didn’t have the bandwidth to spare on what we felt would probably have been a trickle of new members joining in the heat of the racing season. Instead, we just closed the doors and locked them. However, we were surprised when the waiting list exploded eventually building to over 400 athletes multiple times by the summer of 2010.
  • Filters: TeamEN–the community–belongs to the members, not to us. We just can’t describe to you the depth of the community that our members have built for themselves within virtual walls of EN. Going to a waitlist meant that the people who were invited really wanted to be on the Team, making adding new folks a much more seamless experience.

2. Re-Investing in the Team

  1. We repaid our existing, longest serving members by offering to them a heavily discounted rate, for life. This core group of over 150 athletes has been with us since the beginning, through several iterations, and gyrations, of service delivery and pricing model. We sincerely appreciate their loyalty (sniff).
  2. We created a partnership that allowed us to build our own proprietary membership and training plan platform focused on what we feel are the most important elements of the coach/athlete relationship. In short, “Here is my training plan. Right next to it, easy to find, is the content I have created to accompany each week of your training plan. If you have questions about THIS week, ask here; about your SEASON, ask there. Connect with your fellow teammates over here.” We are continually improving this interface.

Training Plans
Listening to feedback of the Team and applying our own observations, in August ’09 we completely rewrote our OutSeason® plans, and created brand new podcasts and videos to accompany every training week. We ran a very successful OS training plan sale in September and many of these training plan customers decided to join EN in November after our offer of a training plan credit applied to membership.

We repeated this rewrite process again in December, this time to our entire suite of half and full Ironman® training plans, and recorded new podcasts and videos to accompany the new plans. We applied a sale to these plans in January and February, and brought in a few more members in March through our training plan credit opportunity above.

2. New OutReach / Education Initiatives
In keeping with our progressive outreach through free eBooks and social media, we decided to compile some of our most precious resources into more digestible and exciting formats.

Virtual Seminars: Related to our filter and screening ideas above, we decided to create a series of “virtual seminars,” to deliver to the tri world our thoughts on OutSeason® and Long Course training, and Ironman® race execution. (links to all). We were successful in delivering our message to more athletes, identifying potential members for TeamEN.

100% FREE Tri Rallies: A  free training camp for our athletes and the general public, hosted by us on a couple of the Ironman® courses. We hatched the idea while riding off the IMUSA course during our June ’09 camp and decided to focus on IMUSA and IMWI, the courses we are most familiar with.

Our first Tri-Rally was on the IMUSA course in June 2010. With only word of mouth marketing and RSVPs taken on Facebook, we truly had no idea what expect. We were very pleasantly surprised to have over 60 athletes attend the Rally and, though the weather didn’t exactly cooperate, I was still able to deliver about 3-4hrs of instruction and introduce many athletes to TeamEN. It was also a ton of fun and this was duplicated, with a few refinements, on the Wisconsin course in July, where over 70 athletes joined us.

ENFan: Our next to last epiphany of the summer was that we were under-serving all of the people who had connected themselves to our brand. Whether by downloading an ebook, taking one of our virtual seminars, purchasing a training plan, following us on Twitter, fanning us on Facebook, or attending a Tri Rally or Four Keys talk, these athletes had told us they were interested in hearing what we had to say and in connecting to Endurance Nation in some fashion. So we fired up ENFan, giving away our Four Keys DVD and a 10% training plan discount code. The response from you, our ENFans, has been incredible

3. Improved Race Weekends
Huge, huge, huge and, more importantly, incredibly fulfilling for us as coaches and founders of a community. An opportunity to meet our athletes again, watch them on their big day and be there for them and their families at the finishline.  The numbers:

At each of these races we delivered our Four Keys talk to 70-120+ people — the Team and general public. And as we better leveraged our word of mouth networking tools the number of people present at the start of each talk (ie, a measurement of how well we had gotten the message out there and convinced people to actually put us on their calendars) dramatically increased.

By September of 2010, we sensed that we had finally reached a tipping point of awareness of EN and our race execution message as we received MANY props on the course, in coffee shops, and shouted through car windows by our fans.

4. Two Week Trial
Now for our final epiphany: as good, unique, valuable and amazingly cool we think TeamEN is, it’s hard as hell to explain to the public what is actually going on inside. Instead, we were expecting you to sign up on a waiting list and then sit by the phone waiting for us to call to join the team, which you only got to see and witness after paying us. Even with a 30-day money-back guarantee, we’ve realized this isn’t the most efficient scenario for you or for us.

On September 17th we invited our ENFans to create a two week trial membership. Nearly 420 athletes responded by creating a trial. Close to 100 of these ended their trial early, within 5 days, to start their season with the Team. By the time the dust settled on October 1st, a total of 155 new athletes joined the ranks of TeamEN.

Endurance Nation is now a team of over 525 Ironman® and Half Ironman® athletes. Next we’ll share with you some of our ideas and plans for 2011.

Interested in Joining TeamEN?
Become an ENFan to receive a FREE Four Keys DVD, and an invitation to our next trial membership opportunity, expected to take place near the end of October, 2010.


Coach P

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