An Open Letter to RAM Racing

Dear RAM Racing,

Your premier event, the Hot Chocolate 5k and 15k, is next week. I did this race last year (and blogged about it, too), but I have no intentions of doing so again this year.

Several friends and I shared our dissatisfaction with you about last year’s race. From the disappointing “country’s best goodie bag” to the dangerously crowded conditions, most of us vowed we would never run another RAM event.

And yet, like a rejected, overly optimistic suitor, you keep harassing us. At first it was kind of cute – the occasional email, urging us to register early to save our spot for 2011. After a couple of those, I unsubscribed.

Strangely, though, the emails kept coming, more and more urgently. “Really, we’ve changed!” you insisted, pointing out the new course and less crowded streets. But my mind was moved up, and I had moved on.

I unsubscribed again, and again for good measure. @HeathBar6 and I tweeted to you that we had indeed unsubscribed, yet were still receiving emails, violating not just rules, but manners.

The closer we get to race day, the more desperate the communications become. I’ve gotten still more emails – why bother unsubscribing? – a postcard and, last week, a text message, urging me to hurry and register.

Each time, we tweeted our dissatisfaction with you, though I’m now vaguely intrigued to see how far it goes. And I’m not alone. A quick Twitter search yields plenty of others wondering when it will stop.

Then, on Wednesday, the icing on the cake arrived in my inbox: a “personal” email from Sara Hutchinson, your Director of Participant Experience, asking for feedback about why I hadn’t registered yet. She even kindly offered to hold a spot for me! Once again, this email has a decoy unsubscribe link that I don’t actually believe.

It sounds like RAM has fallen into the buzzword trap, hearing about the importance of the “customer experience” without actually understanding it. You talk the talk about wanting feedback and “listening” to your customers, but your actions demonstrate that really, you have a marketing plan and, by gum, you’re sticking to it. That’s insulting to customers and potential customers. Don’t pretend you’re listening to feedback and “taking it seriously” if you’re not. Don’t waste our time – or yours, for that matter.

While it’s great that you have indeed changed the course to make it less dangerous, it’s not enough. As a marketer, I won’t do business with a company who insults my intelligence or doesn’t follow the most basic rule of marketing: don’t piss off your customers. In the increasingly social world, let your customers come to you rather than ramming your message down their throats. You have a great Twitter and Facebook strategy – you can do without the text messages. Push vs pull, you know.

So thanks for holding that spot, but you can give it to someone else. I plan on doing the Hot Cider Hustle 8 Miler next weekend: smaller, more scenic, cheaper and closer to home.

Good luck with your race.




5 responses to “An Open Letter to RAM Racing

  1. Crysta, I know exactly what you mean. I said I would never do the course again, despite the zipped hoodie being pretty comfortable and warm. Alli, on the other hand, was determined to do this race again as she was one of many who got screwed by the hoodie debacle and it ended up being too small so she never wears it.

    I was hesitate and decided I would just go with her this year and support instead of getting in the same mess again. Once I started seeing the emails coming in though about the new course, I did get intrigued. After seeing the course was going to be on closed off downtown streets, I thought “great!” I even switched time off with a co-worker so I could run the race with Alli. Unfortunately, Alli messed up her knee before the wedding and just had surgery on it last week so needless to say, she is not running anytime soon. We debated doing the 1 mile walk but it costs the same as the 5K so the heck with that.

    I was a bit disturbed by the barrage of emails they’ve been sending out about this. I truly wonder if so many people are unhappy with it that they’re having trouble filling up this year. It’s a week away and I still think they’re not even close to being full. I never unsubscribed from their emails but after this I may or just setup a rule to auto-forward it back to them. Let’s see how they like that. 🙂

    Enjoy your 8K Hot Cider run though! I think neither of us will be doing any running anytime soon. Do you have any big races coming up other than this?

    • Thanks for the comment, Mike! I’ve assumed the same, that they haven’t hit their targets for the year. I wonder what their goal is – and how many dissatisfied runners won’t come back. I love your idea of the auto-forwarding 🙂

      My hoodie is nice, but definitely on the small side (and I’m short! It’s rare that sleeves are too short for me), so I do wear it a bit around the house.

      I don’t have anything beyond Hot Cider on the calendar right now – school is kicking my butt pretty badly, so I’ve been bad about training. Hopefully Alli will be on the mend and ready to run in the spring!

  2. Pingback: Running a Race Just for Fun « We Wander And Ponder

  3. Yes! The emails were ridiculous. I also got the email from the Director of Participant Experience and I got the text. I ended up running the Palos Park Rec Dept Turkey Trot 5K this morning instead – for $18 we got free parking right next to the start/finish, a beautiful course with no congestion, long sleeve tees, I won a $15 gift cert to a local pizza joint in the post-race raffle, and my husband and I both placed in our age group and got little trophies.

  4. Pingback: Coffee Talk » Blog Archive » Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate 5k/15k — Brett Coffee

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