Race Directors In-line with On-line Promotions
The tried and true methods of event promotion is giving way to a new breed.
Posted Friday, 20 February, 2004
Boston, MA -- According to Ras na hEirean race director Paul Collyer gone are the days of handing out race applications at local events. “I haven’t handed out race applications at a race in five years,” he says. “I don’t know how many hours I use to spend licking envelopes,” he adds.
Collyer is part of a growing group of race directors that are effectively using the Internet to promote their events. His March 14th Ras na hEireann St. Patrick’s day race is 90-percent full and only 150 applications have been delivered via the USPS. With 1100 already signed up, this puts him about 400-percent ahead of last year’s pace. He is also finding that online registration is the most popular method of entering his event by a 6 to 1 ratio.
“No one reads the newspaper anymore. They go directly to the Internet.” -- Paul Collyer
“That’s the way [online] it’s going,” he proclaims. “No one reads the newspaper anymore. They go directly to the Internet.” Chet Rogers, director of the Applefest Half-Marathon in Hollis, NH, agrees. He says that promoting his event through the Internet “was the best money we ever spent.” Last year was the first year Applefest used this type of marketing and the results were as he puts it “tremendous.”
All totaled the race saw an increase in participation of about 36-percent. Although some of the increase can be attributed to the addition of a relay race, Rogers gives a lot of the credit to the Platinum article on the popular web site Cool Running. “In the past we were cheap. We depended on word of mouth to promote,” he adds. “This year we took a chance on the Platinum article and it worked.”
Both Collyer and Rogers represent a new breed of race director that is breaking away from the standards of the past and blazing new ground in race promotion. Collyer adds “The new boom is being fueled by runners in their twenties and thirties that are fit and very internet savvy. If you don’t go after that crowd you will have a smaller race day field.”
According Cool Running sale manager Steve Moland the event promotion landscape has changed dramatically in a very short period, “I may have wavered on [Internet] promotion in the past, but talking with successful race directors daily leaves no doubt in my mind that Internet promotion or lack of is the key to success or failure.”
“The reason I hear most often for not promoting an event online is ‘We can’t afford it,’” says Moland. “Yet they seem to be able to live without thousands of dollars in missing entry-fees.” Moland believes that the largest factor effecting turnout at races is promotion done by competing events. “The entry-fees of the runners an event does not attract, pays for the promotion for the events that do promote.”
According to Cool Running’s co-founder and CFO Dave Camire the number of users accessing their site has grown substantially over the past year. “Currently we average around 44 million hits per month and that’s 1.5 million hits per day!” In layman terms that is equivalent to 900,000 readers and they expect to break the1 million reader level this spring.
These numbers certainly back the claim that the race promotion landscape has changed due to the Internet. The old days of canvassing car windshields with race flyers and spending countless hour on bulk mailings may soon be a ritual of the past if it is not already. Those are rituals that most race directors will gladly kiss goodbye.