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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Going the Extra Kilometer with Iron Girl Judy Molnar

Notice Sarah's race bib. Her name appears immediately underneath her number.

My friend, Sarah Goodman from The Hughes Group, participated in the Seattle Iron Girl event that took place this past Sunday, September 10, 2006. She contributed this post:

In marketing we talk about “going the extra mile” to connect with the female consumer and get her to take notice. Although measured in kilometers instead of miles, the Iron Girl 5K/10K in Seattle demonstrated the power of the personal touch in a spectacular way last weekend and it is in large part because of the individual behind the race.

Judy Molnar has directed the Ryka Iron Girl Event Series into its second season, so far growing each event by nearly double. I had heard reports of all the little “details” that Judy infuses into each event, to make it a personal, inspiring experience. Instead of the fierce competition that characterizes older sibling IronMan, the Iron Girl series is designed to be less intense, and focus primarily on promoting a healthy lifestyle for women of all ages and fitness levels. [ed. note: go to Doing Good for more information about IronMan, Iron Girl and for a link to Judy's story.]

As I watched and participated on Sunday I saw how, from start to finish, Judy put her personal touch on each detail of the race. It was not one big thing, but instead the multitude of little touches that impressed me.

Here are a few examples:

  • Judy made a note of everyone with a birthday on race day and publicly wished them Happy Birthday by name.
  • As the women were lined up ready to start the race, Judy asked those who had never participated in a race before to raise their hands. She then asked those who were more experienced to turn around and give the women behind them a big round of applause.
  • Judy recognized the many mother/daughter teams participating, and welcomed the many small smiling faces to their first event. Recognizing all the little girls around me made her theme of passing a love for fitness to the next generation all the more powerful.
  • Before and after the race, women would come up to Judy with questions or concerns about the race logistics or other details. Because each woman’s first name was printed on her race bib, Judy would glance at the bib, and then address the woman by name as she answered her. For those upset by something, the personal touch immediately diffused the situation. I was again astounded at what a difference a first name can make.
  • From the starting line salute to the awards ceremony after the event, Judy maintained an approachable demeanor and enthusiastic spirit. She was not so focused on the program that she could not interact personally with each participant, yet was still professional, running an efficient and first class event.

Mother/daughter Iron Girl participants:
After the awards ceremony, I saw many women come up and personally thank Judy for having this event and ask when the next one would be. Judy received lots of positive and probably helpful feedback from women who felt comfortable approaching her and talking with her. I don’t think it was one thing that Judy did to gain this level of respect and camaraderie but instead the many little signs where she “went the extra mile” throughout the event and conveyed the message that she cared a lot!

In today's retail environment, you rarely experience a personal touch as a consumer. As a retailer, you may not know which personal touch will connect with the consumer and differentiate you from the others. But, if you focus on the little things that tell a consumer that you care, they can all add up to a very big difference.

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