Although most competitors don’t consider it, the ultimate object of any race is, typically, to make money or to raise money for a cause. Although the individual runner might just be running it for the challenge, or to say they did, the organizers of the race are behind the scenes trying to attract athletes and to have everything ready to go to create a good impression. If you want to make sure that come race day you have enough people to participate, then it is going to take some race promotion to create buzz and make people want to come.
In this day and age, social media is obviously going to be one of the best race promotions that you can have. The thing that makes social media ideal is that it can reach millions of people instantly. Word of mouth is always important, but social media can reach people from all walks of life who you might not even know is your target audience.
People typically don’t wear a badge saying “I am a runner”, so knowing where to find them can sometimes be difficult. Social media is an excellent way to market to people that traditional promotional activities might have left out.
You will want to use all mediums possible to promote your race. It isn’t enough to be on Facebook or Twitter. You have to be everywhere, like on YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, even promoting yourself on LinkedIn to professionals is an excellent idea. The good thing about social media is that for the most part it is virtually free, and it doesn’t take a genius to figure it out.
Often race organizers downplay the importance of sponsors. Sponsors aren’t just about getting people to pitch in to help to pay some of the expenses through donation, what they can do for your promotion is amazing. If you can get bigger sponsors, they will want to gain the recognition for sponsoring your race. So, they will promote it to get themselves the credit.
Big corporations have a whole lot more resources to get the word out then a small time operation might. If you can get bigger sponsors on board, they will likely enhance your race promotion so that they can promote themselves too.
Don’t underestimate the community
There are a vast number of places to promote your race locally. Hard to imagine, but there are still community boards at establishments around town. Put flyers up where you can. Ask the local businesses if they would be willing to display a poster to promote your race. The more exposure you can gain in the location where you are having your race, the more you can pull locally from the people around. You don’t have to have a big budget to gain exposure for your race. If you spend the time to have a cool flyer and logo made and are willing to pound the pavement asking people to help out, you would be surprised how quickly your participation rates will climb.
There are some who would argue that email is on its way out, but what the rest of us know that the first thing that people do in the morning is to check their email. If you have the resources, invest to collect email addresses to market to those in your niche market. You can use email marketing to announce open registration, to give details about your race, and to provide links to your website.
Most people think that a website is just a place to announce information about your race. If you add a button to allow people the ability to preregister, then you are making it convenient for racers and making it more likely that they will sign up and make the commitment ahead of time. But, that is not all that your website will do. If you create a website and work to rank it highly in an organic search, then you are going to drive people to your run that might not have even heard of it.
An organic search is when people search for things like “races near me”. As anyone who uses the internet knows, if you don’t show up on the first page of a search engine search, then the likelihood of someone finding you is going to be very slim. Things that will increase your search engine ranking are repeat views, and external links, which is why adding a link to your website in your email marketing is so important.
To increase traffic to your website, you will also want to know what keywords and key phrases to use. If you know what those who are most likely to come to your event would research to find you, those are the words that you want to use on your website.
By creating a blog you not only give runners useful tips and value-added, but you also increase the likelihood that viewers will come back to your website again and again, which will increase your SEO ranking and traffic. That is a win-win. In your email marketing make sure to have a prompt and a call to action to have people visit your site to see the information that you have, that will continue to give your website more credence and rate you higher on page one to be seen.
Race promotion is going to depend on what type of run you are having. The ultimate goal of any race is to raise funds either for an organization or for a charity that the race is being run for. Use all the race promotional tools at your disposal, especially the free ones. And, don’t rule out the traditional ways of advertising like flyers and posters, they can really attract a large crowd and are often overlooked.