So you’ve got an idea, you're ready to run with it and you have decided to get into the wild, wild west of race and event planning. Excellent!
I wish I could tell you that it’s as easy as taking first place in the Mushroom Cup of Mario Kart to launch an uber successful brand in the race space in 2016, but I’m not a liar, so I can’t. Competition is FIERCE. And as an active athlete myself, I can tell you that with so many options out there, people are more discerning than ever when it comes to signing up for new races.
So how do you launch an event and build a brand with staying power in this oversaturated and overcompetitive market?
Give The People What They’re Looking For
Remember in Field of Dreams where Kevin Costner builds the baseball field because he hears a voice that tells him “If you build it, he will come”?
That worked out pretty well for Kevin Costner, but if you want it to work for you, you’re going to have to make a slight amendment: “If you build what they’re looking for, they will come”.
It’s simple economics. You can build what you think is the best event EVER, but if there’s no demand for what you’re supplying (or, in other words, if no one is picking up what you’re throwing down), than you can pretty much guarantee that your race registrations are going to hover right around the zero mark.
If you want to build a successful brand, you have to know what people are looking for. Now, I’m not saying that you should completely cater to the masses and do whatever you think will please the most people. If anyone’s an advocate for daring to be different, it’s this girl right here.
Just make sure you’re not so different that you’re throwing a party for one - figure out the audience that jives with who you aim to be as a brand, and then build for them.
Get Your Messaging Tight and Right
One of the biggest mistakes that I see races making is what I call “the spaghetti method” - they try out about 10,541 different things in hopes that one of them will work, kind of like throwing spaghetti against the wall and hoping that something will stick.
Should we target the local high school, Mommy-and-me groups and the senior center with our Facebook ad campaigns? Ok, sounds like a plan!
Should we have a host of ravers covered in glow in the dark paint passing out energy chews at bib assignment? I mean…it couldn’t hurt, right?
WRONG. If you want a strong brand, you need to get your messaging tight and right. You need to define who you are, what you stand for and how you want to reach your audience, and then base every decision that you make for your event based on that messaging.
Shout It From The Rooftops
This should go without saying, but if you build an awesome brand and then don’t tell anyone about it, you’re not going to get very far. If ever there was a time for shameless self-promotion, launching a brand would certainly be it.
Once you know your target audience and have your brand messaging tight as a whistle, you gotta shout it from the rooftops. To build a brand, you have to get your brand out there. (#duh)
Partner with influencers on Instagram. Get coverage in the local paper. Partner with a charity. Host a training club in the months leading up to your event to build buzz. Do whatever you need to do to get the people pumped on your brand.
If you don’t, you run the risk of launching your event to crickets, which is never what you’re going for, amiright?
If you focus on building your brand and launching it the RIGHT way, you can totally find your niche of athletes and have a successful event for years to come. Put in the effort on the back end and you’ll watch those race registrations rack up quicker than you can say “branding 101”.