Event Sponsorship: The Inside Scoop

Several of my SignMeUp colleagues and I recently attended The Running Event in Austin, TX.  The three days were packed full of workshops and presentations, as well as a huge product expo and a particularly intimidating 5K run (the winning time was 14:23 – a 4:38 pace – and the top 11 finishers  were all under 5:00 per mile).  I sat in on one especially relevant workshop, “How to Make Events a Real Win for Your Business,” sponsored by NATHAN, the leading running accessories brand.  Presenters included three SignMeUp online registration and retail customers:  Dave Zimmer from Fleet Feet Sports Chicago, Kathy Dalby from Pacers Events, and John Rogers from Maine Running Company.  While targeted to independent retailers, the discussion provided some excellent general tips on how to make your event more valuable to your running store partner, and in turn, make your running store partner more valuable to your event.

The Expert Panel
Dave Zimmer, Rebecca Wallace, Kathy Dalby, John Clark, John Rogers

Notably, the moderator kicked off the presentation by defining what the word “event” means to running retailers, and the elements that are most important for an event to contain.  Each panelist returned to this list when presenting case studies of successful events.  An event must:

  • Be a noteworthy, social experience
  • Elevate the store’s cause and brand
  • Allow the store to gain social currency among its community
  • Generate revenue for the business

There are many ways for an event to fulfill these criteria beyond the standard in-store registration and packet pickup.  Pacers Running Stores, for example, was looking for a way to “gain more traction in the high school market.”  Solution?  Pacers teamed up with New Balance to develop the Pacers & New Balance High School XC Tour.  Pacers replaced the outdated popsicle stick timing system used by many high schools, set up a retail tent at every Tour cross country meet, created activities for the participants during downtime, and offered student discounts on formerly slow sales days.  Kathy said that the high school coaches greatly appreciated the assistance, the participants enjoyed the more dynamic atmosphere, and students engaged with Pacers brand.

The other panelists’ case studies were equally as informative and helpful.  Thanks to NATHAN, you can download a copy of the presentation deck here.  I encourage you to check it out.

Running retailers are a creative bunch.  If you want to strengthen your partnership, try meeting with the store’s marketing team to come up with ideas.  It will be a win-win situation for both of you.

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