Congrats! You threw a successful event, had tons of race registrations, your sponsors are happy, the feedback has been positive and you are basically feeling like a total boss. It’s a great feeling, right?
Before you breathe a sigh of relief and chug that celebratory beer (or whatever you like to chug), remember - you are only as good as your last race. In this day and age, people have the attention span of a squirrel with ADHD on speed, so if you want to build a successful race franchise, one successful event just isn’t enough.
You’ve got to keep people coming back.
How do you build brand loyalty and keep your athletes coming back in a market where something new and shiny is always coming up on the horizon?
It's one thing to one-up your competition, but in order to keep your athletes coming back year after year, you need to start thinking about how you’re going to one-up yourself.
The quickest way to chase off your athletes is to let them walk away from your event saying, “Meh. Same as last year.”
If you want your athletes to be so stoked to re-up that they’re literally counting down the days until your online race registration goes live, it’s time to step up your game.
Did you have multiple check-in booths to process your athletes faster and make bib assignment a breeze? Great. Next year, let your athletes know you’re eliminating the line altogether and sending them their bib assignments via text.
Got feedback that your athletes love your race t-shirt? Awesome. Bring it up a notch and let your athletes know they’ll have the option to personalize their shirt next year.
Were your athletes saying that your parking was a total cluster? Yikes. Apologize and let them know exactly how you plan to improve next year.
Look, loyalty isn't earned over night, and remember that squirrel with ADHD on speed. Folks forget about and lose interest in things fairly quickly. No matter how awesome your event was, if you want repeat business you’ve got to make it even better next time.
Take Care Of Your Repeat Athletes
Have you ever had a restaurant that you were absolutely in love with? Maybe you go every Friday, you’ve gotten friendly with the owner, the servers always remember exactly what you want, and they make sure you get the good booth in the corner. Cue the Cheers theme song.
So the question is: why do you love it there?
It’s because they take care of you. As a repeat customer, they make you feel special, and that’s what keeps you coming back.
If you want to keep your athletes coming back year after year, you have to take care of them and make sure they know they are special.
Offer a “returning runners” discount for repeat athletes. Give them first dibs at race registration, parking passes and VIP packages. Have special medals for finishers for year 2, year 3, and to infinity and beyond.
You’re going to gain brand loyalty by giving your athletes something to be loyal to. Make them feel special and you’ll become special to them.
See how that works?
Keep In Touch
You know back when you were serially single and you had a really great date where you totally hit it off with the other person and you spent the whole night talking about your hopes and dreams and then you ended the date with a magical kiss and the other person promised you that they would call you in a few hours and then...crickets?
Yeah, that’s what the Tinder-obsessed youth these days call ghosting, and it’s precisely what you do not want to do to your athletes.
If you don’t reach out to your athletes regularly, you are going to lose the connection you worked so hard to build. And then? They’re likely going to forget about you. Sniffle.
Even if your event only comes around once a year, you are going to want to reach out at least once a month to stay on your athletes' radar. So that when the time comes, your past participants are the first in line to register. Send them emails, send them texts, send them training plans or protein bar recipes or whatever you have to do to keep adding value.
If you follow these simple steps, you can rest assured that your first time athletes will become repeat athletes lacing up for your events for years to come.