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July 13, 2016

Grassroots Marketing: Old School (and Low Cost!) Ways To Build Awareness For Your Race

Grassroots Marketing: Old School (and Low Cost!) Ways To Build Awareness For Your Race

While technology has changed the face of marketing (hello Facebook ads and email marketing), grassroots marketing is still an excellent way to promote your race.

Just like a John Hughes 80’s movie throwback, grassroots marketing tactics have a certain charm. And they can be dang effective, too. Combining 21st century marketing tactics with something a little more old school can build some serious awareness for your race (and be significantly more relevant if you’re targeting a bit of an older crowd).

But what old school marketing tactics should you be rocking?


Street Teams

While I’m obviously a cheerleader for allthings. digital, there’s no replacing face-to-face interactions (at least until Virtual Reality takes over the world). And to foster those face-to-face interactions for your race (and drive some serious traffic to your online race registration in the process), you should totally consider going #tbt style and hiring a street team.

Street teams can spread the word about your race, charm the pants off potential athletes (figuratively, not literally…get your head out of the gutter) and turn said potential athletes into paid athletes.

And the best part about street teams? They don’t have to cost you a penny.

Street teams are an AWESOME way to leverage your team of handy dandy volunteers. Just choose your most charismatic volunteers (you should probably leave any volunteers afraid of human interaction to build your race registration websites), give them some talking points and set them loose on the community. You’ll want to hit any places where your athletes might be hiding: farmers market, school events and (if you don’t mind potentially pissing off the competition) other races are all fair game.



Flyering might be annoying, but it’s also pretty darn effective. There’s no better way to guarantee that someone will see information about your race than by sticking a flyer right on their windshield (just check the weather forecast first). Now, obviously, a lot of people will throw it out without a second glance. But a lot of people won’t. Be strategic about where you car flyer and think about where your athletes are likely to kick it (again, if you don’t mind being that guy, flyering at other races in the area is going to get you money results).

But you don’t want to rely on JUST car flyering. Get a little creative. Make a list of all of the local businesses where your athletes frequent (juice shops and running stores and Whole Foods, oh my!) and leave a stack of flyers with the cashiers. Post your flyers on community boards around town. You can even pass some flyers to your sponsors and have them pass it along at their businesses and in their networks.



You know the old saying “there’s no such thing as bad press?” Well, it’s a cliche because it’s 100% true (unless you’re Britney Spears circa 2007… then ALL press is bad press). Getting your race talked about as much press as possible is only going to increase awareness in your market and widen your net for race registrations.

Now, running a serious PR push for your race isn’t free, but it’s probably not as expensive as you think. There are creative ways to get your race featured that are cost effective (and some are even free!).

Reach out to local news publications to see if they want to cover the event and do a story on the local charity your race benefits. Contact digital publications, like blogs or online magazines, in your space and ask if you can write a guest post. Make it a stipulation of your sponsorship packages that every sponsor does a dedicated feature on the race to their email list and social media followers.

You’ll have to shell out some cash to get covered in larger publications, but start small and work your way up. If you’re creative, your PR efforts don’t have to put you in the poorhouse.


Alright penny pinchers, I just gave you three old school marketing tactics to add to your repertoire that will get you results without breaking the bank. And now you’ll have that extra cash to invest in something awesome, like an epic post-race party. How sweet is that?!

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