5 Mostly Free Ways to Market Your Marathon

Promote your Marathon without breaking a sweat blog imageSo, you’re planning a marathon? Good job! It’s a big task, and we know you’re up for it. But, as you’re dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” in your planning, don’t wait too long before you start to think about marketing your marathon. The most successful races have a strong brand, and are able to generate great buzz before anyone registers.

how to plan a marathon ctaThe great thing about new-age and digital marketing is a lot of it doesn’t cost too much, and some of it is even free. Here are some surefire ways to create buzz for your marathon without breaking the bank.

1)  Learn the ins and outs of social media. (Cost: Free, but potential to buy inexpensive ads)

You just knew we weren’t going to let you off the hook with social media, right? It’s one of the most effective ways to connect with future participants and volunteers, while also giving your marathon a little personality. Networks like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram really allow you to have fun, and show people what it would be like to participate in your marathon.

But, the field is already crowded, my friend, and you’ll want to make sure you follow our guidelines for how to grow an audience on social media by giving your followers valuable content.

One last thing: Don’t feel like you need to create an account on every social network out there. Think about the demographics of your marathon and find the network(s) where they are likely to be.

2) Send an email or three. (Cost: Free)

As much as social media is a great way to give your marathon a personality and engage with potential registrants, email is how you get them to actually sign up. Email is still the most effective way for brands (like your marathon) to get potential customers to act, so you’ll want to make sure you are building a good email list, and using it wisely.

Just like with social media, you want to send relevant, useful messages to your list. Be sure to keep it segmented by people who have already registered and people who haven’t. This way, you can tailor your emails to different groups. A group of registrants won’t appreciate getting lots of emails reminding them to register, but they might really be into a marathon training schedule or eating plan from a seasoned runner.

We’ve broken down all the elements of a good email, from the subject line to the footer, so read on for great tips on winning emails.

3) Grab some clicks with Instant Ads. (Cost: As inexpensive or expensive as you want)

Pay-per-click advertising is a model that’s pretty popular with digital marketing. It’s how you’ll see ads sold on social networks like Facebook and search engines like Google. ACTIVE has its own pay-per-click advertising platform that gives you premium placement in ACTIVE.com search results and newsletters. The great thing about this pricing model is you set your price, and once you’ve amassed the clicks set by your budget, you ad simply expires or you can renew it, so you never go over-budget.

ACTIVE.com is one of the biggest names for marathon runners, and lots of athletes come to the site, not just to register for events, but to read useful information on training and nutrition. Basically, it’s your target audience, already amassed, so you don’t have to go looking for people who are interested in your event, like you would for social media or some other forms of advertising.

4) Create a great race website. (Cost: Free)

Your racers are looking for information on marathons using the same technology they’re using to look for anything else: Google. It’s important that your race have a digital footprint, so racers can find you on their computers, smartphones and other devices, which is why a race website is uber-important to your marathon marketing strategy.

Make sure your website contains the basic, really useful information, like where the event is located, how to get there, how much it costs and how to register. Make sure you do a little keyword research as well, so you can find out what search terms people are using, and match it to the text on your website.

5) Print magazine or newspaper ads. (Cost: Varies)

Most major cities have local magazines and all have a major newspaper, so tap these vital resources when planning your marathon. There’s a lot of variety in these ads, and the costs reflect that. So, if you’re really low on budget, go for a classifieds-style ad in the newspaper. If you have a little extra, you might think about a magazine ad, which will likely be in color, larger and will be around for an entire month, versus a newspaper ads’ one-day or one-week shelf life.

But, be sure to do your research. Look for advertising rates online and compare the value using the publication’s circulation (how many people are reached in a given period) and relevance to your audience.

Bonus: If there’s an interesting or charity element to your event, consider contacting the publication’s editors to see if there’s interest in a news story as well. Be sure to give the publication plenty of notice (especially if it’s a magazine, which is written months in advance of publication).

Although creating buzz is an essential element to planning a marathon, there’s so much more that needs to be done for a successful event. Be sure to download our free guide, How to Plan a Marathon, for 26 tips on how to achieve the best 26.2 event.how to plan a marathon cta

Gina Calvert

Gina Calvert is the Senior Marketing Writer for ACTIVE Network, providing marketing and business resources for active lifestyle organizations across a range of markets, including government, nonprofits, camps, schools and endurance events, for more than six years.

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