If you are reading this blog, chances are good your event is already fantabulous. My superhuman intuition tells me, though, that that no matter how awesome your race is, you still want more runners.
In a crowded marketplace with so many folks putting on races, how do you break through the noise and get more race registrations?
We have three suggestions for you:
There are now approximately a trillion and one races that runners are able to choose from. Having a good idea for a race just isn’t enough to drive race registration anymore. If you really want to attract more runners, you need to niche yourself.
What do I mean by “niche yourself”? You need to figure out exactly what kind of runner it is you’re looking to attract, and then make your race so gosh-darn exciting for those particular runners that they can’t help but sign up.
Will this make your overall pool of potential runners smaller? Probably, but Marketing 101 tells us that the more specific your audience and tailored your approach, the better your results.
A great example of this is Nike Women’s Marathon, which has been held in San Francisco for the past 12 years (2016 location is TBD). It’s tailored to women (obviously, I hope), and Nike pulled out all the stops to make this race the destination for lady runners. At the finish line, participants get a sterling silver Tiffany necklace. From a fireman. In a tuxedo.
Maybe not particularly enticing to all demographics, but to the Nike Women's Marathon target audience?
25,000 runners voted heck yes in 2015.
Be A Sponsor
You are likely already used to working with sponsors. Sponsors make the racing world go round.
What about flipping sponsorship on its head and instead of pitching a sponsor… being a sponsor?
Now, hear me out. I’m not saying that you should sponsor someone else’s race. (I am familiar with the definition of the word competition, thankyouverymuch.) What I’m saying is that sponsoring a local event outside of the racing world (but still in the health and fitness category) is a great way to get exposure to potential runners you might have otherwise missed out on.
For example - maybe you sponsor a raw foods expo, which is going to put you in direct contact with a whole bunch of veggie-loving health nuts who probably go for a run every now and then between wheatgrass shots and green smoothies. Or maybe you sponsor a yoga-in-the-park event and then watch all those blissed out yogis zen their way right over to your registration table.
Helping out a local event and getting new runners at the same time? That’s what I call a win-win.
Get Social With It
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again… gone are the days when Facebook was just an avenue for funny cat videos and mildly offensive political rants and Twitter was something that a bird did to welcome the sunrise. Social media is now the most powerful tool in marketing.
I can’t emphasize this enough: if you’re not using social to drive your online race registration, you’re just not doing it right. Use Facebook advertising to target your runners and direct them to your online race registration. Use referral rewards to encourage your athletes to get friends to sign up. Create a board on Pinterest with different workouts for your runners. Use Twitter to ask the community about what they’d like to see at bib assignment. Start conversations with your community, build relationships with your runners and get them to your event.
(PS - If you need more tips on how to effectively use social media, check out our Do’s and Don’ts list.)
These strategies are a great starting point to attract more runners, but growing your race? It's a race that never ends. So get out there, get hustling and get those runners!