Stay in contact with past participants and registrants for this year’s race on a consistent basis. These activities should be continuous all year and across multiple communication channels. Because you have their email address, you have a direct line of communication. Pick your spots and do not be spammy or your message will fall on deaf ears. Also utilize social media channels to drip training tips and other milestones about your event.
Share your Mission
Most race directors are not in this business for the money. There is usually an altruistic reason to create awareness or raise funds for an important cause that is near and dear to the organizers hearts. Put your message about the mission front and center. Remind folks that not only will they be able to participate in a well-run event, but they will also be supporting a cause that contributes back to the community and the greater good.
Related: How to Broaden Appeal for Charity Races to Increase Participation
Loyal customers who enthusiastically support a brand love to feel like an insider who gets special rewards or advance notice. Your race or event is no different. Send them special unadvertised deals like promo codes for additional discounts, contests or an offer for additional limited-edition swag. Recognize and celebrate the people who have supported your event year-in year-out. Maybe come up with a special award for 5-year finishers, etc.
Related: Using Promo Codes and Contest to Drive Engagement and Registration
FOMA is the Fear of Missing Out. Make your event THE place to be in your community on race day. Be sure and share lots of pictures and video of everyone having a great time with their friends and neighbors. Encourage people to share their own photos on your Facebook page or create a hashtag for Twitter and Instagram.
Of course you will want to post the official results as soon as possible after the race is over, but there are other opportunities to encourage people and give them a pat on the back. Include a motivating message with their registration confirmation and use social media channels to offer training tips and general motivation as well. For some runners it is all about the finishers award. Many people will pick an event purely on how much they want the award being offered. Make it unique. It will be a great form of advertising for your event for years to come.
Related: Race Swag: Expense or Opportunity
Ask for Feedback
The easiest way to delight your customers and give them what they want is to just ask them. When it comes to feedback as a race director you want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. A post-race survey sent out to participants a few days after the event will capture their opinions while the experience is fresh in their minds. You do not have to wait until after the race is over to get their input. Maybe you are trying to decide between 2 different finishers awards or t-shirt designs. Share it with your participants on email and social media and ask them to vote for their favorite. Also pay attention to chatter in the community about your event. Sometimes people more readily talk to other people about their experiences.
Related: Post-race Surveys: Go from Good to Great!
Do not cut corners on anything, especially aid stations. Always have plenty of supplies on-hand for race day and plan for any emergencies or contingencies you might have to deal with. Once you have all the logistics nailed down, now is the time to go above and beyond. Think of a way to give your participants something extra they were not expecting. At the end of the day, you want them walking away with a great feeling of accomplishment and sense of being a part of the community.
Make it Personal
Whenever you communicate with your participants make it as personal as possible. RaceDirector email functionality allows you to easily customize many email fields and make the recipient feel as if you wrote the email specifically for them. Some races even offer customized bibs that have runners names printed on them. Have your finish line announcer call out people’s names and where they are from as they cross the finish line. Everyone loves to be recognized and celebrated!
Attention to the details matter and that goes double for responding to inquiries from your participants, sponsors and volunteers. If possible respond to all requests and questions within 24 hours. Even if you do not have all the information they need, let them know you received it and that you are completing their request. Being responsive will keep little things from turning into much bigger problems or issues. Also train your staff and volunteers to adopt this customer-focused, proactive mindset. Make sure they quickly bring everything to your attention that needs escalated care. Be a pro.
Say Thank You!
Say it loud and say it often. All experienced race directors will tell you it is impossible to put on an event alone. Of course you want to thank your customers, but without volunteers the event would never even get started. Throw an appreciation party or offer them a unique piece of swag. This goes for your sponsors as well. Give them as much public thanks and promotion as possible. Of course some of the most appreciated thank you’s happen behind the scenes. Write a handwritten note to anyone involved that you want to share some extra appreciation.
Hopefully these tips will help you hone your craft a bit and take your race directing game to the next level. Here at RaceDirector we are all about providing you with the tools and resources to create an event that stands out from the crowd. Let us know if we can help in any other way!