In Minnesota, the name “Runnings” used to make us think of a farm store. But that perception is evolving, just like their name and marketing. “Runnings Farm and Fleet” is now just “Runnings” because they are so much more than a farm store. For over 60 years, Runnings, with their corporate office and flagship store based out of Marshall Minnesota, has continued to add new retail stores in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Minnesota. Today, Runnings has a full line of goods, from clothing and footwear, to sporting goods, tools, housewares, hardware, pet toys and much more. For a long time, Runnings has depended solely on marketing their brand and products via sales flyers along with radio. However, Runnings recently hired Dennis Jensen to help bring Runnings marketing to the next level. Dennis came to Runnings with a degree in Business Administration, and over ten years experience in Marketing.
Dennis has been at Runnings for about 21 months, but in that short time, he has helped to make some significant strides in exposing the Runnings brand to over 31 store markets. He started with an evaluation of what marketing and advertising tools were currently being used to target customers. Dennis remembers, “First I evaluated what we currently had. I jumped on our website – which for the most part, was just a store locator and hosted our sales flyer. There was no promotional functionality on the website and it was not user-friendly. ” Dennis also realized that their flyers and radio ads did not consistently promote their website URL at www.myrunnings.com. This made Dennis really analyze what reasons Runnings customers would want to go to their website. The current website just did not have anything substantial to offer its visitors in terms of promoting upcoming sales and advertising events.
Dennis started the search to find a partner in redesigning the Runnings website and heard about Vivid Image of Hutchinson, Minnesota from a past colleague. He evaluated five different website design vendors, before choosing Vivid Image. Dennis remembers, “ I liked that Vivid Image was based out of Minnesota, and they were able to point us to some of their other local clients, who were not just large companies with a huge budget, but similar to us.”
“ I liked that Vivid Image was based out of Minnesota, and they were able to point us to some of their other local clients, who were not just large companies with a huge budget, but similar to us.”
When they started the redesign process, their goals were simple. “We wanted our website to feel like our store’s branding and logo with the red primary brand color. The website also had to be user-friendly and effectively communicate the various sales and promotional events occurring in our 31 stores.” Instead of emphasizing e-commerce on the Runnings site for all 70,000 items in their store, Runnings opted to focus on promoting their best products and brands to drive customers to the store door. One unique way they do this is with their Online End Cap.
Since their website went live in January 2011, the most impressive results they are having is with their web visitors. Dennis says, “We know that more people are coming to our website, we have had 300% more people visit our website in 2011, than in 2009.” Dennis is also happy with the overall sales volume at Runnings stores and attributes that success to many variables, including their expanded web presence. He explains, “Overall, our business is growing in sales and profits during a tough economic time. This can be attributed to many factors, including weather, expanded product offerings, and certainly, the expanded messaging we are doing to advertise our brand, our goods, our services through web, tv, radio, email, social media, direct mail, etc.”
“…we have had 300% more people visit our website in 2011, than in 2009.”
Working with Vivid Image was a great experience for Runnings, that Dennis describes as “Pain-free”. He explains, “Kori, my Project Manager at Vivid Image, worked with me as a partner on laying out my vision for our new website. I trust her…” He goes on, “ I am kind of a needy guy – if I have a question, I need an answer, and I don’t want to wait. Kori always gets back to me in a timely manner and I really appreciate that. Even now that the website is done, I know she is there when we need to make updates. I know if we have problems, I have a safety net… and Kori will help us figure it out.”
“I know if we have problems, I have a safety net… and Kori will help us figure it out.”
When other business owners or marketers ask Dennis for his advice on building a successful web presence, his response is straight-forward, “I always suggest they do their work upfront, lay out a plan and vision for the company and how their marketing plan and website works into it.” By strategizing upfront, this also provides a better chance of getting the buy-in from others at your organization, which Dennis says is critical, “Get all your stakeholders in agreement ahead of time, that this is what the website will look like and do.”
Today, instead of just using radio and sale flyers for their marketing, they are also using email, tv ads, Facebook, Twitter, and direct mail. But the Runnings website is the hub for all their marketing activities. Dennis explains, “Anything we do in marketing, we always point it back to our website, which is a great foundation for all our marketing. And now with a professional looking website, that is informative and easy to use, it is something we are proud of. Anything we do in marketing, we always point it back to our website, which is a great foundation for all our marketing.”