I admit it. I want to be one Tough Mudder because it represents grit, tenacity, and the best about competing in a hardcore athletic event: finding your capacity for being better.

Create a Customer Movement

Tough Mudder is a great example of marketing because the focus is not on the product or service. Instead, the event tells a story about something aspirational – something bigger than products, services, and even the company. Customers are always motivated by a human need, and in this case, Tough Mudder taps into that deep human need to be be better, tougher, and stronger by challenging ourselves.

Billed as the “premier” adventure obstacle course designed to test your stamina and endurance and “Probably the toughest event on the planet,” Tough Mudder markets itself as a way of thinking and a triumph of the human spirit. Over 1 million people around the world have participated in these endurance events where teams compete together and are greeted with beer and rock bands at the finish line.

Marketing is About the Human Need

So why would people pay money to get their butts kicked? Because it’s about more than an event. The bigger story is about being part of an elite group and bonding over that status, it’s about unlocking your human potential, challenging yourself and being better, and it’s about teamwork and endurance. And, as a bonus, participating teams can donate money to a great cause that the event supports – the Wounded Warrior Project. To date, participants have raised over $5,000,000.

Values Drive Customer Experience

All Mudders (event participants) are bound by certain ideals, including teamwork, no whining and, before each event, they are asked to take the pledge:

Source: Tough Mudder

Source: Tough Mudder

Mudders have a great sense of humor – consider the names of the events (below) and the fact that participants can wade through mud in costumes.

Source: Tough Mudder

Source: Tough Mudder

This is what companies can learn from Tough Mudder – find the spirit that connects customers and brings them together. TOMS created a One for One company that connects people to giving, and IBM, for example, created its Smarter Planet movement to connect to something bigger than itself.

What does your company stand for in the world? How do you make lives better for customers? What connects your customers and your company to something bigger?

That’s the story you need to tell.

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