How do you get more people to your event?
That’s the number one question most event directors ask themselves.
Good News: Low Budgets Rule
Maybe once, a loooong time ago, a event might run extra ads in the local paper or radio spots to boost numbers, but those days of big spending are long gone. The good news is there are more low-cost ways to reach your potential riders than ever before.
Make sure your event looks sharp. Pay for a talented designer who will hand over quality files you can use for several years to come. Your visuals are the first way most people will evaluate your event, so put your best foot forward. You get what you pay for.
Make it Easy
Clean up your website. The number one piece of information riders want to see is the date. Then they want to explore the routes. Everything else falls well below those two priorities. Embed an interactive route that allows viewers to scroll around, explore and zoom in. “Oh, I think the ride goes by that brewery we love!” Use photos; keep text light but informative.
Reach Your Riders Where They Are
Where are your potential riders looking for information? Chances are good they’re looking at calendars, and ORbike has the only extensive state-wide calendar of bike rides. Our newsletter reaches 40,000 cyclists who regularly sign up for supported rides, organized tours and races. If you’re hosting that style of event, our readers would love to know about it. You can add your event for free here.
In a survey we conducted, a pool of 200+ ORbike readers told us that the number one reason they read ORbike is to stay motivated to get off the couch and on their bikes. They look to us to find their next ride. And we absolutely love to help them find it!
Media coverage is free advertising, but a press release alone isn’t going to cut it. Getting the media to cover your event before it happens isn’t easy. In order to entice the media, you need to get creative with your coverage opportunities. Is there an engaging story within your event, perhaps a rider with a special situation or personal challenge? Stage pre-event activities that are lively and visual. “This guy is practicing riding a unicycle because he’s thinking of riding it 100 miles on XYZ Ride.”
Blast out those enticing press releases, but always follow up with the media afterward. They get a lot of inquiries and you want to have a personal conversation whenever possible. Be ready to drop everything and meet their schedule, be responsive and succinct. Read the media sources year round so you have a good sense of who your stories would appeal to.
Think Beyond This Year
All your efforts this year are part of building toward the future. Invest in this year for a solid foundation that will carry you for many years to come. Know that while not everyone who hears about your ride will have that date free or be able to sign up, it’s not necessarily because they won’t ever do your ride. Oregon’s summer calendar is jam-packed with fantastic rides, races and biking opportunities. There is a lot of competition.
Present your event well with a clear, exciting, inspiring and memorable message. Ensure your event stands out from all the other rides on the summer calendar. If your ride doesn’t have any unique selling features, add some. Crazy hats at the finish line, an interesting rest stop, a specialty food at a rest stop, a bike craft fair at the finish line, a photo booth, a loop through an especially scenic area, historic points along the course, a game along the way like a poker run, a mariachi band and tacos at the finish line, water misters and ice cream bars for that hot day, or anything else creative you can dream up. Then promote the heck out those fun features.
Build the buzz and get everyone talking about your ride. If they don’t sign up this year, there’s a good chance they will next year if they like the sound of your ride. Don’t hit people over the year with desperate pleas to sign up. Instead, craft a thoughtful messaging campaign that builds a sense of urgency over time and leaves readers eager to participate this year or in the future.
How you treat your participants from start (when they first encounter your website) to finish (when you send them a wrap-up email) will influence their impression of your ride for years to come. Convert your participants into fans with natural friendliness and awesome customer service. Ensure your volunteers are trained to be upbeat and helpful, and never let your frustration show to the riders, even if you’re working on two hours of pre-event sleep.
Follow up with riders, ask their feedback and listen to it.
Use Social Media
Don’t concern yourself too much with which platform is the best, go with what works well for you: what will sound the most natural and be the most accessible. When you feel awkward about a platform, for example Twitter, it shows in your messaging. Get to know your chosen platform(s) well, they all have a different character and etiquette, build your audience and maximize that potential for readers to share your message even further.
Not sure where to start? See below.
We’re Here to Help
We’re active on Twitter and Instagram every day – posting fun ride photos, riding tips, upcoming bike events, cool facts, new tidbits and witty (we like to think) commentary. It’s easy and natural for us to help promote your ride to our huge base of followers who are engaging with us every day.
Our team of writers keeps ORbike active with resource information about the latest gear, ride reviews, nutrition and health tips, maintenance advice and more – pretty much everything someone needs to know to support your bicycle ride lifestyle.
If you need help getting the word out about your ride this year, get in touch. We’d love to help. Contact Ayleen@ORbike.com or call 971 221 7228.
What Works for You?
Are you an event organizer? What has worked well for you in building your numbers?