If you event is an existing race, then you should start to work on communicating next year's event at the conclusion of this year's race. Post great pictures and video of all aspects of the day's festivities that capture how much people enjoyed the day you worked so hard to create. Be sure to utilize all social media channels as well as your own website. Not everyone is on Facebook. Many in the younger crowd only do Twitter or Instagram. Some will only go to your website. Cover all the bases on some level.
For most events, the next communication may be the announcement of the date for next year's race and when registration opens. The sooner you can set your date the better. If you know during this year's event that the date is secured, then promote next year on race day and maybe offer participants a coupon to sign-up during an "early bird" period to get a discount. All the better if your race eventually sold out this year or you might expect it to next year. If you are already using RaceDirector, you can use the "Replicate Race" feature and easily publish your site for the next year and get registration open.
As you set-up your registration timeline, you can create pricing milestones that you can use as a part of your communication strategy to build interest and excitement for your event. We already mentioned having some sort of "early bird" pricing. The next period would be your regular pricing for the event. You can also have a slight price increase timed 30-60-90 days before the race. The earlier everyone signs up the better you can plan for all the supplies, swag, and other details relevant to the final number of participants in your event. Remember, send out reminders a few days before any of these registration deadlines across all channels of communication you are using to reach potential participants. Tip: When posting this kind of information on social media, always include a robust image relevant to your event. People pay more attention to messages with images and video.
Once registration is open, look for other aspects of the planning of your event to drip out to your audience. This can include an announcement when sponsors come on board. It gives your sponsor recognition and exposure and shows participants that your event will be THE place to be in the community that day. Everyone wants to see what the swag will look like. If you are doing something unique with aid stations or the start/finish area, be sure to promote those fun and unique details as well. Remember, you are working hard on all these details. Share this with your audience as you build the story along the way.
You can also create a few contests along the way to boost registration and/or create a bit more buzz. We saw one event create a drawing for 10 lucky runners to have exclusive access to a VIP porta-potty at the Start/Finish. As runners, we all know what a sweet perk that can be at a larger event. Get creative with this if you are so inclined. You can also have a special piece of swag that is only limited to the first XXX to register.
Be consistent as you drip information and details, but not to overdo these communications too frequently or people may become numb to your efforts. You want to build slowly and steadily towards a grand crescendo. As you approach the home stretch, there will naturally be a bit more to talk about. These can include details about packet pick-up, articles on training and nutrition, and other race-day details. Remember to keep sprinkling information about your sponsors in these communications. Show them value and share with participants any offers or discounts they have included for them.
Race day is finally here and it is time to execute. If you exceed people's expectations and they have a great time, they will probably be back and bring a friend and spread the good word. Do not miss the mark on key details like course marking or aid station supplies. You know in your area who does a great job putting on events and who does not. Guess what? The runners in your area do as well. Their experience will be your best form of future advertising.
So you worked hard and shared your story along the way, and the community came out in droves making your event a smashing success. We mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating. Be sure to take lots of pictures and video during all aspects of your event. You are going to need all that great media to promote the next year's event and do it all over again.