As Event Organizers we often have so much going on that sometimes we forget to stop and remember the basics. We go to crazy lengths to boost our registration numbers and fail to remember our local running advocates. Finding Athletes can be as simple as just starting a conversation. We’re talking about the power of partnering with local Run Clubs. In 2017, the National Runner Survey and Running USA reported that 1 in 3 runners are involved in a local running club or social group. Start taking advantage of some low hanging fruit, right in your own backyard!
It’s important when building these relationships that you don’t start by just asking the run clubs what they can do for you. Ask instead how you can build a partnership that is mutually beneficial for both of you. Approach your conversations with an attitude that supports longevity, loyalty and community because if all goes well, you’ll be starting a partnership that contributes to your event’s success year after year.
When approaching these communities remember the following:
- Do your research. Find out where these clubs operate, the runs and activities they plan, their membership size, etc.
- Go to the club members, don’t make them come to you.
- Give them what they want – discounts and free swag, of course!
- Find influencers and incentivize their help with social postings and Team Registrations
- Help the clubs promote their organization to your members, not just the other way around.
- Be authentic. Show genuine interest and support for these clubs – it will go a long way.
Bring Your Own Ideas to the Table
Once you’ve introduced yourself, your event, and your intentions, here are few ideas you can implement to gain access to members and earn their support:
- Team/Club Discounts: Offer exclusive club discount codes for members to use towards individual, family or team registrations.
- Encourage Referrals (and Social Media follows): Statistics show us that 43% of runners get their race information from Facebook, 37% from word of mouth and 18% from local run clubs.
- Co-Host a Run: Offer to co-host a run leading up to your event such as a fun 5k run or a training session, and bring your team, experts and equipment. Invite Athletes who have already signed up for your event to join in the activity, as this can be a great way to help with training and preparation. This will also give the club exposure to new Athletes in the community.
- Sponsor the “After Party”: Follow this mini-event by sponsoring drinks at a local brewery or catering a pasta dinner.
- Take a few minutes to address the Athletes in an informal, organic, yet trusted environment and speak about your event.
- Give out event swag such as hats or t-shirts, or even have contests or giveaways for free registrations.
- Ask those who attended to post about your event via social media, or encourage they refer friends and family to attend the event. (Be sure to take photos so you can promote their club on your social media platforms as well.)
- Speak at an Organized Run: If adding another event to your plate is too much, simply ask if you can come speak about your event before or after an pre-organized run. Make it quick and informative but offer those who are in attendance an exclusive discount code for your race registration, and just like above, bring some swag.
- Recruit Brand Ambassadors: These mini-events are great ways to seek out Event Ambassadors. There will definitely be club influencers in attendance so get to know them and make friends! Offer them exclusive perks if they are able to recruit members for team registrations. Show your appreciation for their leadership by throwing in food/drink tickets, or special VIP perks the day of the event.
- Create Friendly Competition: If the local community has multiple run clubs, create friendly registration competitions among clubs and give the winners (the club that registers the most members) extra discounts, swag, etc.
Power of Social Media
If you’ve read our Race Directors Guide to Social Media, then you already know the power Social Media can have to boost your registration numbers. Social media can become even more powerful when it comes from a trusted and authentic source, such as the Club Organizers themselves. Ask that the Run Club promote your event on their social media pages and to their member database via email lists, while offering to do the same on your channels. These posts will come from a familiar source and won’t come off as random plugs, especially if the message is communicated multiple times and through various channels.
When it comes to run clubs, the more the merrier, and supporting and promoting running should not be exclusive. Offer these opportunities to all clubs in the area to promote the sport (if not just for the pure fact that you will gain access to more Athletes.) This should hopefully create little to no issue among clubs, as athletic-focused organizations should be supporting the growth of the sport and individual and not just for profit or exclusivity.
For more information regarding Team Registration and Referral features through Athlinks Services, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find running clubs in your area visit Road Runners Club of America and then go out and get acquainted with the locals! Join the community that supports you and your events – you might even make a few friends along the way.