conversion-secrets-for-racesWhen you first built your website, what happened? Did you expect to see droves of runners racing to sign up for your events, only to hear crickets?

Your focus probably became traffic, learning how to drive people (the RIGHT people) to your race website and registration page. But then you discovered that traffic numbers don’t pay the bills. You could be driving a million visitors to your site every day, but if you’re not turning any of those visitors into paying customers, what’s the point?

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The analogy between fishing and marketing isn’t new. A simple internet search offers hundreds of thousands of examples of people philosophizing about how marketing is an art like fly fishing. They advise you to know your fish, go where the fish are, pick the right kind of bait, and be patient.

“People develop their own techniques that they’re not going to tell others about,” advised Jared Brown, an avid sportsman from Waco, Texas. “There are certain things [in the market] that are designed to catch fishermen and not fish. There’s no substitute for experience.” Through our discussion, I learned a lot about large-mouth bass, the colors of bait that work best, fishing magazines, water temperatures, and lakes where he’s seen success.

Fishing clearly takes a lot more time and patience than I ever imagined, and many of the people I spoke with kept coming back with the same quote: “That’s why it’s called fishing and not catching.”

You’re an event organizer. You need to fill your event as quickly as possible. With everything you’ve got to do to make it successful, participants need to jump in the boat. You need a marketing plan where your rod and reel is a stick of dynamite and a map of where to throw it in the water.

So how do you improve your chances to catch participants as quickly as possible?

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HarrahsWhen it comes to customer service, Harrah’s has been used as an example of a casino that “gets it.” Ten years ago, when Harrah’s introduced their “Total Rewards Frequent Gambler Card,” it was seen by some as risky and too expensive, but it proved to be another industry disruptor that caused the competition to reconsider.

The concept was quite straightforward. Harrah’s would collect data on their customers, and then using their identifying information, such as name and address, the casino could follow their activity while they played. When a customer swiped their card in the machine it would identify them, and they could play like normal, but they were also able to score points that could be used for discounts on meals, hotel rooms and other perks. The system doesn’t use any information about their income, but rather their value to the casino based upon how they play.

Instantly, Harrah’s began to learn things about their customers that they might not have known prior to the roll out of the program. Based on the information they collected, Harrah’s reorganized the layout of their casino similar to the style of a grocery store. Popular slots were placed in the back, and higher margin games like roulette and blackjack were placed in the center of the space while more expensive slots were placed around this “party pit.”

The results were significant. The amount spent in this area increased by 5 times. Profit margins increased by 15%. But when the casino makes money, that means gamblers are losing money, and long term, this keeps a casino from being sticky.

So they turned to the data again.
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PoliticsYou may recall that in the 2012 election, polls dominated the discussion, such as who people said they would vote for or what particular issues where important to them. Often these polls were contradictory and several of them focused on issues unimportant to the election.

But one person, Nate Silver, used a statistical model that filtered out the noise and focused on the signals. By doing so, he successfully picked the election results for President in all fifty states.

So how did he do it?
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RunnersIn sales, it’s been said, “if you wait for your customer to find you, you may already be too late.” But what if you knew when your customer was likely to start their search? How would that affect your marketing efforts? Would you change when you opened registration?

In the endurance event space, tradition often governs when registrations open and the marketing activities that support the event begin, as in: “For 10 years, we’ve opened registrations the week following New Year’s Day.”  What if I told you that even though tradition may seem to work as a strategy, consumer data could indicate a better time to open registration or make a marketing push that could convert more registrations faster?

Consider Cyber Monday.

Since the mid-20th century, people have gone out searching for “door buster deals” on the Friday after Thanksgiving.  Brick and mortar retailers across the nation stock the shelves with the hottest gadgets and the latest fashions.  People come and people spend, every year. It’s a national tradition. But, in 2005, a retail trade association noticed data indicating that a wave of online purchases occurred on the Monday after Black Friday around lunchtime. The phenomenon became known as Cyber Monday and continues to be a boon for retailers.

So, what does that have to do with your race?
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