Your competitors are already marketing their 2017 events. If that felt like a kick in the gut, it should. In a saturated marketplace where racers are spoiled for choice, it’s no longer enough to put on a great event; you have to become an expert marketer, too. Fortunately, promoting your event doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive. Here we’ve put together a quick-start guide to kick off your 2017 event marketing plans.

 

1)     Update your website. One mistake race directors regularly make is leaving last year’s race date up well into the following year. If your event is coming back again in 2017, update your website with the date (if known) or a simple “2017 race date coming soon!”. Your website is often the first (and possibly last!) point of contact you have with prospective racers…make it a good one.

 

2)     Submit your event to online calendars. Magazines, newspapers, local television and radio stations, tourism boards and municipalities often provide community event listings that can be submitted at no cost to you. Start by submitting your event to Get Out There Magazine’s calendar.

 

3)     Set up a 2017 event page on Facebook. If you’ve got a Facebook page, now is the time to set up a dedicated 2017 event. Setting up an event allows people to easily express their interest in attending your event, and for you to benefit from the resulting social media hype. Be sure to post a notification on your main page inviting participants and those interested in participating to join the event.

 

4)     Speaking of social media… If you’re not updating your social media pages at least weekly, now’s the time to start. You need to build engagement and excitement throughout the year if you want to be top-of-mind when prospective participants are ready to make their 2017 race plans. Remember to post both event specific details (such as registration reminders, fun event facts, pictures of your 2017 shirts or medals, etc.) in addition to general information of interest to your participants. This could be stories from other media sources, related viral videos or fun memes, for example.

 

5)     Reach out to past participants. It’s much easier to convert a happy past participant into a registrant than it is to sign up a brand new person. Reach out to past participants by email, giving them early access to registration discounts, sneak-peeks at new medal or shirt designs before they are made available to the public and special event announcements. Be sure to include a direct link to your registration page with a strong call to action in every email.

 

6)     Co-promote with non-competing events. A simple, grassroots way to reach qualified prospective racers is to co-promote your event with a non-competing event in your area. If you have a fall event, reach out to a race director with an event in the same area in the spring and see if you could exchange flyer distribution in race kits or promote each other’s event on social media, or ask for a mention in their next e-newsletter. This is a simple win-win way to grow both of your events.

 

7)     Make friends. Have you contacted sport clubs in your area to offer them a special member discount to come to your race? Have you dropped in at your local running shop to tell them about the event and see if you could speak to their run club one night? Have you sent out a special invitation to local community groups to participate? A simple Google search is all you need to get started.

 

8)     Ask. Sometimes a simple ask is all it takes. Does your timing service have a social media account? What about your registration provider or shirt supplier? Write-up a simple social media message (be sure to include a key message like “registration is now open”, your registration URL and a great photo from your event) and ask them to share it on their social media pages. Similarly, you could also request inclusion in an e-newsletter or mention on a website.

 

9)     Get help from your sponsors and charity partners. It’s in their interest that your event does well. Invite them to support your marketing efforts with mentions on their websites, social media pages and in e-newsletters.

 

10)  Get informed about advertising options. No matter the size of your event, there are advertising options that can support event growth. It costs nothing to seek out information from magazines, newspapers, local television stations and radio programs. Ask for media kits, ask about what they would recommend for your event and ask what kind of added value they can provide if you do spend some advertising dollars with them. Quite often you will be surprised at the value you can receive with a small spend. Remember, advertising is not just an expense – it’s an investment in your event that should directly contribute to your bottom line. At Get Out There we are happy to have a no obligation discussion about your event and the ways we might be able to help market it. Email adsales@getouttheremag.com for details.