The Reno-Tahoe region is known for hosting such world class endurance events as America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride, the Xterra Championship, the Donner Lake Triathalon, and the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey, among many others. In years past, I have actually participated in the 72-mile bike ride around Lake Tahoe known as “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride.” It was both an experience and an accomplishment I will never forget.
Earlier this month, the Reno-Tahoe American Marketing Association was lucky enough to host each of these events’ respective organizers to hear more about how they market their events. The panelists included:
- Curtis Fong – Curtis Fong is the Founder, CEO and Event Director of TGFT Productions, LLC/Bike the West and is one of the founding fathers of the Alta Alpina Cycling Club. Over the past 19 years, America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride around Lake Tahoe has attracted 23,000 participants from 59 different cities in the US and has raised a total of $88 million for Leukemia and Lymphoma Research.
- Todd Jackson – Todd Jackson is the President and Founder of Big Blue Adventure, LLC which produces the Tahoe Xterra, Donner Lake Triathlon and Tahoe Big Blue events. As the Executive Director of Big Blue Adventure and Seventh Wave Productions, Jackson focuses on producing participatory sporting events.
- Eric Lerude – Eric Lerude, is the President of Race178, a Reno based race Production Company. Their signature event is the Reno-Tahoe Odyssey Relay Run Adventure (RTO). The 10th RTO occurred May 30-31, 2014 with a sold out field of nearly 3100 runners. The RTO is a 178 mile relay run around the Reno-Tahoe region. Many of the runners are locals, but the event also draws runners from across the U.S. Runners from about 30 states participated this year. Race178 produces other events in Reno including the Leprechaun Race, the Reno 10 Miler, and the Journal Jog
Event Marketing Best Practices
During the luncheon, the event organizers talked about their respective events, how they use marketing to achieve their objectives, and how they track their success. There was a shared concern that the practice of marketing itself sometimes takes a backseat due to the other aspects of running a small business that can naturally demand more time from their day, such as the management of permits (in one case, Curtis Fong mentioned the need for having to manage 55 permits a year to maintain his events.)
Overall, the key marketing takeaways for me from this event were:
- That marketing world-class endurance events is about building a culture and catering to that audience. While there are websites for each event, email blasts sent, a presence nurtured on social media, advertisements placed, news coverage gathered, sponsorships made, and cross-promotion pollinated, at the end of the day, it’s about maintaining a relationship with your engaged audience and then building upon that platform to maximize growth.
- That focusing on the quality of the events above all else will help to drive positive experiences and word of mouth marketing about these events that simply cannot be beat. And for those who have participated, being a part of this culture is the tie that binds, leaving attendees craving another experience.
Event Marketing Resources
By complete coincidence, I recently came across two fantastic articles via the Heinz Marketing blog about event marketing. In the post “More than attendees: 4 steps to get more long-term value out of your events,” the author talks about how to derive long-term value from events by re-thinking the event itself, and realizing that the event is just one piece of the big picture.
For example, rather than focusing on registration and attendance rate alone, think of other ways to measure an event’s success, such as through website traffic, lead generation, and social growth: “all things that the marketing before and after an event can influence and drive.” The author also recommends staying branded, building excitement around the idea behind having the event, finding ways to create extra value throughout the customer journey, and focusing on the longevity of content created. She sums it up her ideas with some sound advice: “Don’t create content just for the sake of content, and don’t event-market just for the sake of the event.”
In the second post entitled “The ultimate guide to event-based content marketing,” you will find an incredible list of ideas for maximizing your events, including how to define event content objectives, how to track ROI from events, why you should prioritize content marketing at events, and also a list of ten pre-event content marketing best practices, as well as a list of five post-event content marketing best practices. This is truly great advice and if I were planning an event, these articles would certainly be my go-to resource.