Getting Your Race Message Right.

Many times I see race companies really struggle with brand and message. It has been said that “The surest way to fail is to try to please everyone”. Yet many race and event companies, living in fear of losing potential customers, do just that. Their message is all over the place.

Come and do our SUPER HARD CHALLENGE. of mud and obstacles, yet ANYONE CAN DO IT so BRING THE KIDS for a FUN DAY OF PLAYING at the TOUGHEST 6 MILES OF YOUR LIFE!

If you construct a course that is full of bouncy things, Awesome! Announce that loud and proud.

The Liquid Run

Many people are looking for just that. When those people come, show them that great, fun, bouncy time! They will enjoy it, and will come back with friends.

If, on the other hand,  you are putting together an event for people who have already tried the “easy ones”, make sure everyone knows. Your messaging and imagery is going to attract the “hardcore” enthusiast looking for that next challenge.

Green Beret Challenge

2 of The Big 3 actually struggled with this concept themselves in the early years. Spartan Race and Tough Mudder each had multiple (and sometimes contradicting) message points. Neither could decide if they were going to “Just rip people off the couch” or “Be the hardest thing you’ve ever tried”. Nowadays, the message they both seem to have settled on is ‘Come out and play; you can challenge yourself and have a great time doing it.’

Warrior Dash, on the other hand, have been doing messaging right since the beginning. They advertise, and deliver on, a “3 mile mud party”. Newcomers see fuzzy hats, giant turkey legs, and rock bands in message after message. They can’t wait to sign up for that good time race. Warrior Dash is also able to retain customers and bring in the more experienced participants because those racers can do multiple laps, and/or bring first time friends to try one. Warrior Dash does this, year in, year out, and they don’t waiver on message. (While not bringing in their 2012-2013 participant numbers, they are still a very steady brand).

When you advertise with one message, then deliver on that message, there is a bonus of actually giving participants MORE than they bargained for. So, for example, if a newbie thought it was going to be easy, but it is actually slightly challenging, that’s a selling point for them to bring friends. “It was a great time AND I got a good workout”. Same goes for the more challenging event. If you advertise a difficult race, and some participants find themselves thinking “Gee, I have a friend who’d like this, but he is afraid, I can tell him/her that they can still do it”. Again, they will pass that experience along.

Conversely, if you try to please everyone with multiple messages, you are going to get people who show up with big expectations. When those expectations are not fulfilled, they will blame you, and never come back.

*Photos courtesy of The Liquid Run and The Green Beret Challenge.

This article is the 2nd in part of a series of posts for race and event directors. The first post was on race photography.

Matt B. Davis

is the host of the Obstacle Racing Media Podcast and the author of "Down and Dirty-The Essential Training Guide for Obstacle Races and Mud Runs". He is also the only (known) #wafflehouseelite obstacle racer.
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