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The Long Game


How Word-of-Mouth and Community-Building Marketing Stand the Test of Time

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I fell in love with biking 15 years ago,

so when the opportunity to share that love with the next generation came up, I was psyched.

The Coos Cycling Club (CCC) of Gorham established Pete’s Bikes Kids Summer Ride Series, a youth mountain bike initiative in memory of Randolph resident and CCC member Peter Brockett. The group hopes the effort will share Pete’s love for cycling and encourage an active lifestyle in the local community. So becoming a volunteer ride leader was right up my alley.

Despite the challenges of canceled events and social distancing practices, the CCC was able to safely continue their efforts of getting kids on bikes for Pete’s Bikes. They kept the series small enough to be safe by only using word-of-mouth promotions and encouraging participation from the local crowd.

They put the free event and additional details on their website, along with a short post on Instagram, and that’s it. As expected in a community of outdoor enthusiasts, the word spread quickly and it didn’t take long for the spots to completely fill up.

There is endless joy in seeing kids of all ages and abilities excited about riding bikes. To this day, as an adult, there is a childlike vibe that I can’t escape when bouncing around on smooth trails, wearing a dorky helmet and laughing with my friends. Maybe it’s because I learned to ride as a young kid, but that feeling still rings true–even now with clipless pedals and a fancy full-squish suspension.

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The morning of the ride was bustling with incredible energy. The kids hop out of cars, excitedly chit-chatting about nothing in particular. Some are already on their bikes, rolling around the lot. The trailer of donated bikes arrives and the adult leaders start unloading, checking tires and chains, swapping out water bottle cages and making sure every kid has a bike. Everyone is smiling, the parents are chatting and the kids are just being kids outside!

The ride leaders establish groups and discuss options of where to ride. Our group heads out with six tiny shredders, half of them taller than me! As everyone starts moving, we filter into a line where kids can keep their own pace and appropriate distance between each other. Some kids are already comfortable on the bike, heading straight to the front of the pack with the group leader, who is conducting the train of kids. They are excitedly telling him about the trails and jumps they want to hit this week. The others are a bit awkward and are still getting a feel for the bike. One little guy, John, stays right in front of me almost the entire ride. He explains that his legs are tired because they rode the Pumphouse loop the day before. Despite his tired little legs he pushes his bike on the uphills and navigates the downhills. At the end of the two hours, our group completed six whole miles! Pretty far for little legs.

The day after the ride, one of the program leaders received a message from John’s mom, sharing how much her son enjoyed the series and that he had not stopped talking about it with his family and friends, many of whom would eventually sign up for subsequent rides. That was the best part of this experience, the icing on the cake of an already incredible afternoon.

With the pandemic creating a sense of detachment and discomfort among the nation, the CCC provided a remedy to the discord by showing up for these kids, their families and the community through nature, human connection and the importance of spending time outside.

Pete’s Bikes continues its efforts in supporting the community by partnering with local businesses and individuals passionate about what this small mountain town has to offer.

Experiences like these are vital to our own personal growth as well as that of the community. They are not about ads or social media, influencer selfies or paid promotions. They are truly about the connection with each other and oneself.

In the marketing world, we emphasize the importance of brand trust. Well, this is the starting point. Memorable experiences are what create brand trust and longevity among a community. So hopefully one day when these kids are on bikes of their own, they will also seize the opportunity to be a ride leader and share their passion with the next generation.