I once stood in the lobby of a hotel in San Diego speaking with a few people. It was about noon and I was agreeing to dinner plans later that night. One of my future dinner partners was dressed for a run, and when plans were finalized, he said, “Great, I’ll just get a run in.” Between lunch and dinner, he ran 26 miles (or 42 kilometers for those north of 49), which is the distance of a marathon.

For years I have thought that I’d like to be a runner. I have no plans to run a marathon, but if I could run 10 km every night while I’m staying in a hotel, I’d transform myself from a guy who sits too long on airplanes into a leaner guy who can’t wait to land, get changed and get a run in while I see a new city.

So I recently bought a pair of running shoes and running accessories at a store near my house called The Running Room, which is not so much a store as it is a community center for people who run. Before you even walk in the door, there are multiple signs outside informing would-be customers that there are all kinds of running groups to join depending on your level of fitness and experience. While I was in the store, a running group showed up, sweaty and panting. I heard one of the leaders say that this was the turn-around point for some of them. They had water, talked a little, then took off running east towards downtown. More than a few of them talked to me. “Join the club!” they said.

Of course, there are dozens of sporting good stores in the city that sell shoes and likely for less than the pair I paid for at The Running Room. I bought size 12 NIKE shoes, which are available anywhere. Typically, the stores that sell them compete on price. However, there is only one store that I know of, The Running Room, that sells guided transformations for people who want to be runners or run better.

All the other stores will sell you a size 12 that fits. But only The Running Room fits you to the right shoe; they fit the customer to the shoe because your quest to run is about you, not the shoe. You might want a pair of NIKE shoes, but NIKE may not be the right shoe for you depending on how you walk. (By the way, there is a support group I am starting for those of us who pronate – it’s time to come out of the closet and be who we are!)

The other stores charge for selling shoes, so they compete on price. Wait long enough for the leaves to turn or the snow to fly and these other stores will blow their shoes out on sale to make room for ski boots.

The Running Room provides connection and transformation. We will make you a runner, a person who needs to run and wants to run to be happier.

Buy a pair of shoes at the Running Room and you get the shoes you need. You get a list of groups you can join so that you can transform from a person who is sedentary to a person who looks for opportunities to “get a run in.”

At The Running Room, the shoes (the good) and fitting them/analyzing your gait (the service) is subsumed into a larger personal health experience. The groups are fun; they provide a great experience and some human connection but most importantly, they serve as a guided transformation. Start running with us now, even a very short distance, and by next May when the Ottawa marathon is on, you’ll be able to run it and finish it.

In other words, a transformation complete from sedentary fella to a marathoner.

What about your customers? Are they buying investments because they have to, or are they buying investments to become something else?

Your business exists to do what? Sell shoes (investments) or facilitate transformation?

 

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