So you’ve got your sponsors lined up and your venue is all secured. Now you need to get people out to the event. How? It’s a competitive marketplace, and people are selective about how they spend their recreation dollars.
Just like your sponsorship, make sure your entry is priced according to the value you provide. Participants are willing to spend money if the experience they are buying is worth it. Is there a party after the race? Are you supporting a cause with portion of the proceeds dedicated to that? Do they get some fun swag? A pint glass, a medal for the winners? Finishers prizes (if applicable)? Is there fun? In addition to the fun of riding or racing, sell the experience. Sell the stoke. And then deliver.
Use all the channels at your disposal and make finding the information easy. Have a webpage, a Facebook event page, an Instagram account where you highlight sponsors, cool prizes, course features, and more. Get people feeling connected to the event. Actively cultivate followers. Podium photos of your winners are a simple thing, but they go a long way to making your participants feel special. Have somebody solely responsible for this on race day. Best part? If riders feel appreciated and celebrated they’ll come back. If your budget allows, do some paid social advertising on whichever platform will reach the most customers.
Use USA Cycling as a resource. We can support your event in a number of possible ways if you work with us. We can send geo-targeted emails, demographically targeted emails, include your event in social channels, our calendar listings are extensive - just to name some of our options. Take full advantage of the marketing support we can offer. Just reach out to your regional manager and ask about options.
Look at other options as well. Does your event have the budget to support digital advertising? Can you make savvy media partnerships where in exchange for certain on-site benefits you receive promotional support?
Communicate. One of the most powerful methods of event promotion is making sure all of your information is out well in advance. Have the details together early and make sure they are thorough. If a potentially new participant stumbles across your event three weeks before its scheduled dates and the details are “coming soon” that’s likely a lost customer.
Create smart outreach campaigns to past participants. Let them know when the event is and when registration opens. Talk about it frequently on social channels but don’t bombard. Get other influencers to do the same. Cultivate your social media channels year round. Follow influencers, engage in dialogue with them, follow other events, use your channels to be part of the dialogue around your sport to expand your reach.
Think not just about paid marketing opportunities but also earned. Press releases to the local and cycling media about your event can attract more eyeballs and more participation. Highlight the event features that would be interesting to the specific recipient. Reach out to the local news station and ask the weatherman to do a story on what the weather forecast will be for race day. Work with your local sports commission and see if their media department would be willing to send releases to their media lists. Most often Sports Commissions know who is friendly to covering local event and are an excellent resource when it comes to earned media coverage. See if they can help you get the event discussed on your local sports talk station!
Great event photos are a very worthwhile investment. Spend the money on a good photographer or make friends with one. In our digital heavy world, the right photos can make or break the stoke of your event. Build a library of great images of participants and fans that you can send out with press releases and in sales decks. Do an Instagram take over, and have somebody fun and interesting to your demographic do the photos for race day.