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Utilizing Ambassadors and Referrals to Drive Race Registration


You work hard to create a great event that stands out in a crowded calendar of races and other events. The job of promoting your event means finding a way to be heard in the noisy space of websites, social media, and other communication channels. You should definitely cover all your bases and do some or all of these things. An avenue you may not have considered is the use of Ambassadors and Referrals.

Utilizing Ambassadors and Referrals to Drive Race Registration

Ambassadors are people in the running community or demographic you are trying to attract to your event that have a sizable circle of influence. By giving the right ambassador a free entry and a financial incentive to encourage people in their network to sign up, you can increase your event's social reach and increase registration. The key is to carefully choose the right people to be your ambassadors. Look at their social media presence. How many followers do they have on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? When they post items, what kind of response do they get?

You also want to identify some ambassadors in a variety of categories in your targeted demographics or makeup of your surrounding community. Looking at the different types of running clubs in your area could be a good place to start. They usually have well-established social media channels. Look for the people that are the most active within their communities and seem to be the leaders of the groups. It could be a mom's group, master's runners, high school cross country teams, seniors, etc. Think about the diversity of your community and find one person that seems to represent that group and will create the reach you are seeking.

Once you have decided who the ambassadors are going to be, the next part is to figure out the right way to incentivize them to drive people to your event. Obviously, giving them a free entry is the first step, but to get them to be an effective part of your marketing plan, you are going to need them to take action along the way at strategic times leading up to the event. You can give them some special swag of course, but money talks. Create a $1.00 to $2.00 payment to them for each person they can get to sign-up. You can scale the amount based on the registration fee you charge for your event. The ROI for this small kickback is well worth the price.

You will need to manage your ambassadors and keep them engaged over time. This means that each week you can have some sort of mission for them to promote related to your race. As you draw closer to the event, you will have a natural progression of promotional material and topics for them to push out to their constituency. Any bumps in the registration price or other deadlines are obvious opportunities. Maybe your race shirts or other swag items come in. Give these to them in advance and have them post a picture wearing the shirt or enjoying a frosty beer in the cool pint glass you created. They can help you create exposure in this way for your sponsors as well.

Creating a referral program is a strategy you can roll out to the entire population. Here's an example of how that could work: Your event costs $50 to enter. If someone who signs up can get 5 other people to register they will get $25 refunded back to them. If they only get to 3-4 referrals and can't get the fifth, then it costs you nothing. If they do get to five and they get the money, you still win. The key is to make it attractive enough that they will actually make the effort to get their running friends to sign-up. Like the kick-back to the ambassadors, you can scale this based on your registration fee. These referral programs are becoming quite popular and some races are seeing 10-20% of their registrations from a direct referral. These are effective in newer, growing events or established races that had previously seen registration numbers plateau or fall.

So how do you keep track of the results of these ambassadors and referral programs? We have you covered on the RaceDirector platform. You can create unique coupon codes for all of these scenarios. This will allow you to track the progress and effectiveness of each individual or the program as a whole. Pay attention along the way. Don't be afraid to tweak your efforts. Some things will gain lots of traction and other will seem to fall flat.

Also check out our article on Promo Codes and Contests for more tips from the RaceDirector blog.

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