All race directors appreciate race participants (hey, they pay the bills!) but be honest, how much do you really know them? Sure, you know their age and T-shirt size, but what else? Do you know how they prepare for a race? How they see your company? Their likes, dislikes, fears and dreams? Okay, so this isn’t an episode of The Dating Game. You don’t need to know their favorite color or perfect date.
But there is good reason to get to know your participants better! In doing so, you give yourself the tools you need to build stronger, more positive relationships with your race participants and ultimately increase your revenue and registration numbers.
So, where do you start?
With the Facts
In addition to the information stored in your race participant database, there’s a treasure trove of information tucked away in social media. Simply log in to your Facebook Insights or Twitter Analytics and prepare to take notes!
You can find out almost anything here: whether your followers are male or female, how old they are, when they’re online and where they live – right down to the city! Twitter even provides information on their marriage status, education level, political leanings, and top interests. In addition, both platforms provide reach and engagement metrics for every post.
Use this information to have better conversations with your audience. Do they prefer photo or video? Should your posts be tailored mostly to women? Maybe millennials? See if you can capitalize on a connection to one of their other interests.
Tell Us about Yourself
Everyone has a different reason to race. Encourage participants to share their personal stories: they can make a video, write a letter, or share a social media post. Consider creating a Facebook album or dedicating a page on your website to race participant stories, like the TCS New York City Marathon does. Not only will this help inspire other participants and bring them together, it’ll also help you understand where your participants come from and what motivates them.
Send a Survey
What better way to answer questions than with a questionnaire! But before you start slinging out surveys, you’ll want to come up with a strategy.
Choose your Goal
What are you looking to learn and, more importantly, what are you going to do with that information? You can send out a survey post-race to find out what your race participants enjoyed and what could be better for next year or survey before the race to explore what kinds of post-race activities they’d like to see or what kind of content would be most helpful in their training.
Choose your Method
In addition to survey-ready platforms like Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey, there are a few other, less extensive venues for polling participants. Look into free plugins for your website, like WP-Polls for WordPress, or post a poll to Twitter. While these will only allow you to ask one question at a time, they can be switched out periodically to create a fun and engaging platform for participants.
Keep in mind that no matter how you create your survey, it’s important to reach the right people: you have less control over who responds to open polls whereas a survey sent through email can be highly targeted.
Choose your Questions
Of course, all questions should relate back to your goal, but there are a few guidelines. Keep your surveys short and sweet: if it takes longer than ten minutes to complete, chances are it won’t be completed! The bulk of your survey should be multiple-choice as they’re the easiest to answer and easiest to assess. Save the open-ended and time-consuming questions for when it really counts.
Here’s a secret: actually talking to someone face-to-face is the best way to get to know someone. Crazy, right? So get out there and really talk to people! Host activities for participants to mingle with volunteers and staff, like group training runs or a pre-race spaghetti dinner! Whether it’s at packet pick-up or the post-race hot dog booth, go out of your way to have genuine conversations. On that note, don’t forget to talk to your customer service team! They are the frontline when it comes to participants’ concerns and are sure to have an idea of what issues they care about most.
Participants are the most important part of your race. Without them, it doesn’t happen. Take the time to get to know them (and don’t forget to say thank you to your race participants often); we guarantee they’ll return the favor! For all your other race management needs, give us a shout!