Advertising & Sponsors
Before I begin part 3 I do need to remind you of the time committment in planning a race. As you can tell by the sporadic updates to this 5 part series, I have been busy. Planning a trail races takes A LOT of time. If you don’t think you have the time, don’t do it. Or make sure you have a team of people helping you in which to delegate tasks. Taking on this kind of planning solo is a big mistake unless it is the only job you have.
By now you have a lot of your basics covered and hopefully have insurance and a permit. Some of your sponsors may require proof of these, and some of them may require their name to be on the insurance depending on what they are providing for you.
- Do you have a Web site yet? If not stop what you are doing (after you finish reading this article) and get that done first. This is going to be the main source of information for your race and the more details your site has the more runners will appreciate it —even if the site is put together in five minutes using a Web-page generator program. A flashy site can help, but most of all it needs to be practical.
- Set up the registration process. You can offer mail in registration, internet registration or both. It’s probably a good convenience idea to offer both to your entrants. The most common internet registration site is active.com. They charge a fee per transaction. You can cover this fee, build it all into your price of registration, charge the entrant, or do a combination of covering a portion of the fee and passing half on to the entrants. If you are not a fan of active.com, I’m sure it would be easy to search around and find alternatives for online registration.
- Start placing ads. You can do this for free on many Web sites including Runners World, Trail Runner, etc. You can also put your listing in magazines such as Trail Runner and Ultra Runner. You really should place you ad in as many places as possible. In most cases you don’t need to pay for advertising and can probably get enough people to your race with all the free advertising options available.
- Spread the word. Talk to everyone you meet about your race. Tell your friends to talk about your race. This will be easy if it’s a good race. People will be excited and they will start talking. The word will spread.
- Strike up a partnership. Maybe there is another race or organization around you who does similar type of events? If so, talk to them about a flier exchange or maybe even a booth exchange. You can each advertise at each others events assuming your events don’t conflict too much.
- Determine your needs. Do you need water? That’s an obvious one. But think about what else you need. If it’s a longer race you may want electrolyte capsules. For any size race you will want water, an electrolyte drink, something to eat at aide stations, gels, etc.
- Go after the right sponsors. Make a list and then start looking for sponsors who could fill your needs. Try to stay away from any sponsorships that could be considered a conflict. Don’t talk to two different gel companies just so you can get lots of product at your race. Remember they are giving you product to advertise, not to just be another company giving you stuff.
- Do you need sponsorship levels? Somtimes a race has gold, silver, broze sponsorship levels, etc. This may be a good way to differentiate sponsors who have given you a lot of goodies. Sponsorship levels are not required and many smaller races don’t use them.
- Plug your sponsors. If you have race shirts put them on the back of your shirt. We have all seen these before. Make sure you put their logos on your web site. If you send out race updates to your registered runners you can plug specific sponsors in these emails. Another opportunity for plugs might be at a pre-race dinner or pre-race announcements.
In our next installation we will start looking at some of the logisitcs of the actual race. Stay tuned!