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The last decade has seen massive shifts in the global racing industry. After a staggering 300% growth in popularity in the U.S. over the past 25 years, the industry’s growth has slowed. So how can you continue to grow your race?

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An Exploding Trend in the Active Community

The last ten years have seen major shifts in the racing industry. Types of races that didn’t exist before have become incredibly popular. Large numbers of casual participants have joined dedicated athletes in running, cycling, and swimming events. And technology use has exploded, transforming the way races market and sell registrations to participants.

To attract participants in this new market, race organizers need to know and innovate on the top industry trends.

New Types of Participants are Joining the Race Community

Growing participation has resulted in new and different audiences for race events. It’s vital to understand these participants’ needs — and the demands and opportunities that come with them. There has been a large increase in participation, especially in running, because of the interest in maintaining health through activity.

Create a Unique Experience to Attract New Audiences

There are more people looking for a shared experience, and it’s necessary to provide a physical, mental, and sensory experience. Providing a unique experience doesn’t just appeal to existing participants — it can also spark the interest of entirely new audiences.

So how do you provide that unique, shared experience? Answering this question requires the need to ask ourselves as organizers a series of deeper questions to find the answer.

  • How do we make our events better and different?

  • How do we get new audiences involved?

  • What other markets are there to tap into?

Answering these questions can help you create an event that your target market will love.

Be Observant of Current Trends

You don’t have to start a new participation trend — you just have to be observant and take advantage of the current ones. Finding out which demographics are growing or building your event around a cause your audience cares about can make all the difference in creating a successful sporting event.

Always focus on making a sporting event accessible, fun and collaborative.

Here are three ways you can repurpose event content and give interested event-goers a glimpse into the event experience.

Tips

Demographic Trends

Understand who your participants are and build an experience specifically for them. Build a theme to facilitate more participation and investment from your target audience.

Support a Cause

Find a cause that your audience cares deeply about and help support that cause with your race. If there is a cause your target audience is trending towards, find a way for your sporting event to be involved.

Building a Community

Participation from your target audience is important when growing an event. Here are 3 tips on how to build an active community that will support your event.

Research your audience

  • How do we make our events better and different?

  • How do we get new audiences involved?

  • What other markets are there to tap into?

Target your communications

  • Tailor your messages; inform and inspire in a way that is relevant to your target audience’s needs.

  • Use platforms and media that they already use — whether it’s social media or traditional press like radio or TV. Focus on 2-3 key channels for your audience: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, for example.

Meet their growing expectations

  • Respond to your audience’s inquiries and comments quickly across the web, social, email, and phone — both before and after the event.

  • Ask participants to review your race to ensure you delivered an experience that’s fun, social, and shareable. Conduct surveys and have first-hand conversations.

  • Anonymously observe participants at your race to find their pain points firsthand so you can ensure it’s a hassle-free event.

The Quality of Your Sporting Event is More Important than Ever

In an increasingly competitive market, events that are unique and well-organized will cut through the noise and create lasting and thriving brands.

Make Planning an Opportunity — Not a Burden

Think through all the logistical details of your race well in advance to minimize the risk of something going wrong. A small hiccup in the course design, water station placement, or permitting process could cause serious harm to your reputation

Get your community involved and stir up interest across a wider audience. Team up with other (non-competitive) local events, and work together to reduce the burden of regulation and planning.

Make Your Event Unique

Distinguish yourself from the competition by making your race a ‘must-attend’ event that can command a premium price.

Stand out from the rest by focusing on a single unique selling point (USP) for your event that gives it an edge. Think of your USP as what makes your brand different — and better — from all the rest

Highlight that USP in your communications to reinforce your event’s quality and longevity.

Your Event Needs an Engaging Brand Story

The best way to ensure your event resonates with your audience is with clear branding that distinguishes it from the competition. You need to tell a unique story that represents your brand in an engaging way.

“High quality events with the best brands will thrive; knock-offs will go out of business”

Find Your Story

Create a brand narrative suitable for your audience that differentiates you from other brands in your space. Find the stories that will help you articulate your brand narrative, starting with those closest to you — your company and colleagues.

Tap outside sources for other stories that say something about your brand (i.e. customers and key partners). Experiment and iterate: start small, measure, learn, and improve

Tell your Story

Find multiple ways of telling the same story, and remember that quality is better than quantity. Your story could come to life as a blog, a social post, a series of images, or a GIF. Use the format that is right for the audience and story you want to tell, such as a blog post or video.

Act and speak in a consistent way that’s appropriate for your brand and audience — don’t follow or copy others. Capitalize on your allies; start with the people closest to you (staff, partners, customers) and give them the tools and incentives to tell your stories.

Tips

WOW Factor

Constantly think of how to wow your mix of casual and professional participants. Consumer journeys need to be mapped out; events are no longer one-off engagement pieces. If you want your event to succeed and continually attract and retain participants, think year-round.

Differentiate Your Event

Find your niche - ask others what differentiates your event, especially returning participants. Use this feedback to make your next event even better. Learn from others in your sector and apply what you like to your own event.

How to Organize a Sporting Event - 6 Trends

Here are 6 trends to always keep in mind when planning a successful sporting event

  • 1.

    Know Your Audience

    Understand your participants while also keeping an eye out on trends to grow your audience.

  • 2.

    Improve Quality

    The number of organizers has increased significantly; many of them are new and have little experience. Focus on quality.

  • 3.

    Tell Your Brand Story

    Differentiate yourself by building a brand that participants can rally behind. Give them the tools and incentives to tell your stories.

  • 4.

    WOW Your Audience

    Create the event experience from all angles. Think about your participants, your spectators and your fans. Celebrate participant achievements via text, email, and social media.

  • 5.

    Build Advocacy

    Use every customer interaction as an opportunity to impress and generate advocacy

  • 6.

    Utilize Social Media

    The biggest trend we have seen in recent years is the growth of social media and building of large communities of people around certain sports, experiences, and events,

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