As a race director, it’s really important to say thanks. To let your participants know that you understand it took time and money to get to your event, and you think they’re awesome for it. The more successful you are at expressing your appreciation, the more special you’ll make your participants feel. And that, friends, is a key element to making your event stand out from the pack.
If you really want to make your race memorable and stir up positive word-of-mouth marketing, show some athlete love. Here are some ideas how:
Say “Thank You,” scolds Mom
After all these years, Mom is still right. Saying “thank you” is polite and there’s power in those simple words. How you choose to say it is up to you, but here are two options that have worked well for other race directors:
- Set aside time at the start and finish line to walk around and talk to participants. It really is all for them, so the logistics and pressures of planning a race can be put on hold for a short time.
- A simple handshake at the start or finish line from the race director is as 1:1 an experience as you can offer. Try it and see what happens.
- Pick participants at random and send them a sincere thank you email. Grab their email from your online registration system and send a short note that expresses your appreciation and includes personal touches.
- You’ll often get a gracious return email from a surprised participant and can be sure that story will be shared with that person’s network.
Put ‘Em in the Limelight
Everyone secretly wants five minutes of fame, and why not? Time, effort, and passion has been put into participating in your event, and that deserves recognition. Shine that spotlight on your participants to show them you appreciate what they’ve done:
- Get help from interns or volunteers to reach out to your participants, gathering personal stories to promote and share.
- John Korff, former race director/promoter of the New York City Triathlon, used interns to comb the race registration list and call each of the participants, thanking them, soliciting feedback, and gathering inspirational stories to share and create social media and PR buzz.
- Give race day shout-outs by looking up names associated with bib numbers and name dropping people at the start and finish line, thanking them for being there and wishing them luck. That PA system shouldn’t just be used for sponsor plugs.
- Give special awards for the “Furthest Traveled” participant, “Youngest/Oldest” participant, or maybe even the last person to cross the finish line.
- Ask participants to make videos for your event. This valuable user-generated content can tell their story and be highlighted on your website, social media, and at the event.
Go Beyond a Cool Medal
Yes, participants care about medals (really care about them!) and love schwag bags stuffed with free stuff. But they expect that, and you can do better when you’re thinking of other ways to say thanks:
- Get great food at the finish line. Bananas and oranges are healthy and necessary, but not much fun.
- John Korff (yes, we find him an inspiration) made sure everyone had a warm slice of New York pizza at the finish line of the 2012 Ironman U.S. Championships in NYC by having pizzas regularly delivered to the finish line throughout the event.
- If you do the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k, you’ll get a finisher’s mug filled with chocolate fondue, dippable snacks and hot chocolate. Yes please.
- Many events have started bringing a variety of the oh-so-convenient food trucks to finish lines.
- Get others involved to help you say thank you. Each event is a part of its community and if you can get more members of that community involved, all the better in creating an incredible experience for participants.
- World Famous Mud Run on Camp Pendleton has the full support of the Marines, who staff the event and encourage (or rather, affectionately yell at) participants on the course.
- Kids from local schools can write letters to your finishers and congratulate them on their accomplishment, which will simultaneously encourage the kids to learn about and stay active.
- Local or national charity involvement in your event will help everyone feel like they are contributing to something bigger, and you’ll have charity staff members on hand to offer further thanks to participants.
However you choose to do it doesn’t really matter. Just remember to say thank you. Your participants will notice and, quite simply, you’ll make them happy, loyal fans.
To learn more about ChronoTrack, contact us.