This week we were surprised to hear that there are 11,200 members of the parkrun 100 Club – that is the number of people who have completed 100 or more parkruns. Whilst fully aware of the phenomenal success and growth of parkrun over the past few years especially we still found this figure, and evidence of parkrun’s impact, remarkable.

Many people have postulated about the reasons for this success – what also interests us is what others can learn and apply to their own businesses? What are the universal truths that they have harnessed that we could all do with remembering as we attempt to forge successful enterprises of our own? There are many but can be boiled down to three key lessons:

1. Have a clear, simple proposition – as their website states ‘it’s a simple concept… free weekly timed runs’. Not only is it straightforward for parkrun to communicate what parkrun is to prospective runners and stakeholders, crucially it’s also easy for others to tell their friends and family about. Can you express what your company or product does in such clear and simple terms, and in a way that facilitates growth through word-of-mouth?

2. Focus on delivering a consistent, quality experience – world over the parkrun experience is largely the same positive and rewarding one. It’s taken a huge amount of effort on their part, with a largely volunteer workforce, to ensure this occurs. It has directly resulted in the growth of a huge, committed community of supporters that most brands would die for. Don’t pay lip service to it – if you can perfect the end-to-end customer experience you could generate the same exponential growth as your customers become advocates and become your best marketing vehicle.

3. Have the courage of your conviction – the parkrun journey didn’t run smoothly and their success is a relatively recent phenomenon. The things we have observed through that period that apply more widely are the importance of having a clear, confident vision, sticking to your guns when things get tough, and not fretting about the competition. If you have the right product or offering that meets an essential need, keep the faith and your persistence will pay off in the long term.

It is these things, and many others, that have made parkrun the success it is today. And I am sure that by sticking to what has delivered success while having the flexibility to adjust to changing circumstances, they will continue to grow both in the UK and worldwide. As for the rest of us – well if you want to be the best you have to learn from the best.

If you are interested in talking to the Freestak team about any aspect of marketing and communications for running, cycling, swimming, triathlon and outdoors sports, please contact Simon Freeman, CEO or Rick Jenner, Client Services Director.


Leave a Comment