SignMeUp Offers RaceIT Migration Assistance

September 12, 2017 § Leave a comment

SignMeUp is pleased to offer assistance to race organizers who have been displaced by the shutdown of the RaceIT race registration platform, which is scheduled for November 15, 2017. We invite you to join the SignMeUp community to take advantage of our industry-leading support and online race registration. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Part 1: What Event Planners Should Know About Social Media Marketing

August 30, 2017 § Leave a comment

(Need online event registration? Find us on signmeup.com.)

Everyone will tell you that social media is important, but few will address how overwhelming it feels to start using it with all the social platforms available—especially in the context of event promotion.

We won’t hesitate to break the pressure you may feel: You, the event planner, don’t need to use every single social platform on the internet. In fact, it may be the worst decision that you could make without considering the needs of your organization. You may risk spreading your time too thin with minimal returns on your efforts.

We’re going to help you break down the basics of a social media marketing strategy for the events that you’re planning—whether it’s a charity race, corporate conference, running, triathlon, or any other event happening in the future. « Read the rest of this entry »

Parenting Towards Event Success

February 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

I recently had the pleasure of giving a short talk on online registration at DG Productions’ Race Director workshop in Oklahoma City.  One of the most interesting presenters at the workshop was Abbi Meadows, who founded Hot Mamas Run, billed as “Oklahoma’s Only Women’s-Only 5K Race and Baby Parade.”  I felt a particular affinity with Abbi, since I did the same crazy thing many years ago and started a 5K in Chicago, basically on my own.  However, while my first year event had about 250 participants (admittedly mostly friends and family), the inaugural Hot Mamas Run drew 1,000+ women from eight states!  How did she do it?  Following is an excerpt from her presentation.  Incidentally, Abbi has two step-children, her own 3 year old son, and is expecting another.  It’s not surprising that she compared race directing to parenting!

Race director Abbi Meadows (right) congratulates a finisher.

Race director Abbi Meadows (right) congratulates a finisher.

« Read the rest of this entry »

Got Sponsors?

January 17, 2013 § 4 Comments

One common question asked by almost all event organizers is this:  how do I attract and retain sponsors for my event?  Not sponsors that will give me a flyer for a goodie bag, but quality sponsors that will help me make the event a better experience for its participants and the community?  As a recovering race director and former Texas Field Marketing Manager for Clif Bar, I have been on both sides of the sponsorship aisle.  Here are 5 ideas that could help.

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  • Ask, don’t assume.  Ask your sponsors about their marketing objectives so you can help achieve them.
  • Create sponsorship levels, and make it clear on your marketing materials which sponsors are at the top level.  Not all sponsors need to be mentioned on every marketing piece.
  • Introduce sponsors to each other and encourage them to create cross promotions around the event.  For example, if you have a beer sponsor and a restaurant sponsor, suggest that they host a pre-event party at the restaurant and feature the beer.
  • Create a post event marketing report that details how you helped fulfill their objectives.  It always impressed me when the 3M Half Marathon would send out a binder that listed all the media on which they had placed the Clif Bar logo.
  • Host a post event party and invite your sponsors (as well as volunteers and others who helped on your event).  Tell them how important they are to you.

Share what has worked for you in a comment below.  Or, if you need more marketing ideas or want to spend a few minutes brainstorming , feel free to contact me at chris@signmeup.com.

Heart at the Back of the Pack

January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of those in the “back of the pack” isn’t hard to do and it’s well worth the effort.

One of the favorite parts of my job as the IT director of the Chicago Marathon was being at the finish line.  I had a prime post since timing and scoring fell under my role, along with the honor of facilitating certification for three world marathon records during the time I worked on the event (1997 – 2003).  I was also there as the last finishers crossed the line.

Which is more memorable?  The world records are something I’ll always be proud to have a small part in, but the joy on the faces of those final runners as they reach the 26.2 mile goal is unforgettable.  While the crowds in the grandstands may have gone home, the energy was just as abundant as when Khalid Khannouchi or Paula Radcliffe finished first.

Harnessing the energy and enthusiasm of those in the “back of the pack” isn’t hard to do and it’s well worth the effort.  Many of these runners and walkers are new to the sport and have a circle of supportive friends and family who could be inspired to join in and become your future participants or volunteers.

Of course every event organizer wants to create a fantastic race experience for all participants. Here are a few things to consider when focusing on the back of the pack.

  • If your event has a strict finish time due to the course and arrangements with the town or city, make sure you deliver that message up front and include it on the first page of the online registration form. This will help manage expectations and avoid the disappointment of registered participants who may not make the cut-off.
  • Have enough water, post-event refreshments and giveaways for everyone.  No event organizer wants the added expense or hassle of left-over items, but place importance on providing the perks to all registered participants.
  • Deliver on-course support to everyone.  Talk with the leader at the hydration or aid station ahead of time.  It might make sense to start breaking down a station once the majority of participants have gone by, but pre-arrange to have a few volunteers dedicated to handing out water or fluids and cheering until the last participant has passed.
  • Keep the music at the finish line going strong until the last participant has crossed the finish line and encourage everyone to stay and cheer fellow participants.
  • Ask your event photographer(s) to stay until the end.  It seems the smiles on finishers’ faces get brighter as the finish line clock ticks on.  Your favorite race photo could very well come from one of the last shots of the day.

So don’t forget about the back-of-the-pack and I’m not saying that just because that’s where you’ll find me these days.  Embrace the emotion and energy you feel at the finish line long after your top finishers have gone for their cool-down and you’ll find yourself with an event that has more heart.

Do you do anything particular to support the last finishers?  Tell us about it.

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Registration Resolutions

January 4, 2013 § Leave a comment

New Year's Resolutions

Now that it’s January, I thought it appropriate to suggest some New Year’s “online registration” resolutions.  I promise these aren’t nearly as difficult as losing 20 pounds.  Plus, implementing them just might get more registrations for your event.

  1. Promote your event on social media, and motivate registrants to do the same.  You can post your listing to Facebook when you publish a form directly from the FormBuilder or copy tool.  If you miss that link or aren’t ready at the time, go back to the first page of the online registration form and click the “share” button at the top.  Registrants can post to Facebook from their screen and email confirmations.  If you need suggestions for other social strategies, take a look at Ryan Heisler’s recent guest blog article, Feed the Beast:  Social Media for Events.
  2. Check out the SignMeUp tools that you haven’t used, especially in the Form Menu->More Tools section.  There you’ll find Friend Get Friend, our easy-to-use viral marketing program; a tool to create and upload Coupon/Promotion Codes; the Snapshot Widget, a quick summary of your form’s most important statistics; and more.
  3. Maintain a consistent brand image by customizing your online form with a logo and colors that match your website.  You can find customization tools in the Form Menu->Edit Form.  For more help, see SignMeUp Support Guru Katie Petralia’s article, 5 Tips for Building Better Online Registration Forms.
  4. Publish your online registration form well in advance of your event, and, if appropriate, encourage early registration with “early bird” pricing.
  5. Lose 20 pounds (just kidding).

As always, if you need assistance or want further suggestions, feel free to contact our support department or me directly at diane@signmeup.com.  We’re here to help you succeed.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

December 28, 2012 § Leave a comment

by: Ralph Harrington, co-founder and president of SignMeUp Inc.

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As we say goodbye to 2012, we’d like to thank you for your continued support. It’s been an exciting year for SignMeUp.  We launched the beta of SignMeUp+ and doubled our size!  We look forward to rolling out RunFree, our new loyalty system, next month and expanding the SignMeUp+ feature set and reporting throughout 2013.

“We will continue to roll out SignMeUp+ features as we prepare to launch the full version 1.0.  In addition, we will begin rollout of SignMeUp version 4.0…completely new, built from the ground up.”

We’re excited about the beta launch of SignMeUp+, a system designed specifically for specialty running retailers that provides them with a single view of their event and retail business.  For 2013 we will continue to roll out SignMeUp+ features as we prepare to launch the full version 1.0.  In addition, we will begin rollout of SignMeUp version 4.0, the latest version of our industry leading service that we initially established in 1999.  Version 4.0 isn’t an update, add-on or patch; rather, it’s completely new, built from the ground up.

In late 2011 and early 2012 we added nine employees, expanding our company to 18.  Our sales and marketing team now includes two-time Olympian Todd Williams and Keith Dowling, the first US Finisher of 2002 Boston Marathon.  Todd and Keith are leading our charge into specialty running retail.   Andy Kulina, formerly the Director of Loyalty at TSYS in the UK, designed the Run Free Miles program.  Elizabeth Vincenty worked at Chicago Marathon and Fleet Feet Sports Chicago, Chris Leon is most recently from Clif Bar, and Joe Garza has more than 20 years’ experience in payment processing.  Kelly Matthews, an AOL veteran and our new User Interface Designer, and Dave Crouch, a software engineer from Yale are great additions to our tech team.  Jeremy Leithold-Patt, who has several years’ of direct customer support experience, rounds out our Support Department.

Happy Holidays from SignMeUp and all the best in the New Year.  We look forward to working with you in 2013 and beyond.

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