In reviewing 2011 recently, here are 11 things I learned from sports events I either attended or participated in…
11. Good SWAG Gets Good Results, Awesome SWAG Gets You Sold Out!
The Seaside Half Marathon in Seaside, Fla., sells out in days because it is a beautiful course in a destination area and also because every participant gets a free Vera Bradley Bag. Find a cool sponsor or find something really unique to give and people will flock to your event.
10. Pick A Cool Name
Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash and Urban Disturbance sounds way better than “Roll In The Mud” or “Run And Jump Around The City.” I know traditionalists would want you to carry on the same name but if your event is dwindling, re-naming it could be the spark to catch it on fire again.
9. Use Facebook
I love getting Facebook updates on my Ironman events. I love having my friends know that my big day is coming. I love getting training tips through Facebook.
8. Use Twitter
I would love to know the official story and timetable of my daughter’s swim meet when there is a thunder delay or the morning session has run long. If I’m at a softball tournament, I would love to have updates about what inning the preliminary game is so I don’t have to hang out at the hot field all day!
7. Attract At Least One Unique Food Vendor
Families are more likely to want to come back to an event they remember, and people remember food. “Ooh, yeah I want to go back there because that’s where they had the best snow cones!” Or “Oh, yeah, let’s go back there! Wasn’t that where that awesome chicken and waffles food truck was?”
6. Great T-Shirts Are Your Best Free Advertising
If you have great T-shirts, you have the best free advertising possible. I have been to enough athletic events that now I am very selective about which T-shirts I wear, even if they free. So take a look at your style, your slogan, and your color and make it something so cool that people will want to give you free advertising!
5. Be Flexible With Your Schedule
Yes, you want that date to stick with people. But if you have an event in Alabama and Auburn and Alabama re-schedule their football game to your event weekend don’t try to stand up to Goliath and get your event squashed because you were there first. Same thing if you look at some other scheduling conflict is brought to your attention. Don’t kill your event with stubbornness.
4. Be Creative
When your climate, location, or time of year doesn’t exactly fit with your traditional sport make up an alternative. Marshall McLanahan of Panama City Beach, Fla., puts on a couple of traditional triathlons but in the winter puts on “The Frozen Floridian.” He gives athletes an alternative by giving them 45 minutes between the bike, the swim, and the run to thaw out and put on warm enough clothes to not get frost bite. It also builds a relationship with athletes, new and old, that brings them to his other, more traditional events.
3. Merchants Beware!
At least a month ahead of your event, tell area merchants that you have a bunch of hungry athletes coming to their area. That way they can offer specials and stock up on sports drinks, bandages, and wait staff. If they put a “Welcome…” and the name of your event on their sign, all the better.
2. Use Free Air Time
Radio and television stations have airtime to fill and a legal obligation to use some of it to promote community events. Our local television station has to fill four hours of local news every single day. They are happy to have some help filling that time with your event.
1. Brand Your Brand So Strong That People Want To Be Branded With It!
Yep, my wife is branded by Ironman. She has a pink “M-Dot” tattoo above her left ankle. That is the logo for Ironman triathlons. It is something of a tradition and a rite of passage for many Ironman triathletes. Sure, it helps that once a year the Hawaiian Ironman World Championship is broadcast on NBC. But, at least, consider promoting your event so hard, so thoroughly, so creatively that people would be proud to have your logo as a permanent ad on their skin!
Make friends with mental health therapist and athlete Paul Peavy on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=667771430. Contact SportsEvents at firstname.lastname@example.org.