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4 Ways to Bolster Declining Event Participation Numbers

Posted by Chris Clark on Aug 24, 2015 3:41:00 PM
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When an event’s participation numbers start sliding down the backside of the bell curve, it’s time to freshen things up to keep people coming back for more.

Fusesport founder and CEO Chris Clark shares 4 ideas for combating the inevitable event fatigue that can set in after years of repeat performances.


“Once you strike gold on a particular concept, there’s a temptation to just keep doing that and think it’s going to work every time,” Clark said. “But you need to recognize it is truly for experiential reasons that people participate in events, and because of that there needs to be something new about the event each time, in order to keep that element of surprise and freshness. You want to feed an expectation that next year will offer a blend of the familiar and the unexpected, give people reasons to keep signing up and building a tradition.”

  • CHANGE IT UP: Whether you tweak elements of the event itself, like making it at night or adding obstacles along the route, or something larger like moving it across town to give participants new surroundings, changes keep interest levels up while attracting new participants. Know that the novelty factor is short-lived, so continued creativity is a key to ongoing success.
  • UTILIZE SOCIAL MEDIA: When promoting an event, build interest and attract early registrations through social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter. Localize your outreach and make it easy for registrants to share when they have signed up, and encourage them to invite their friends to join them.
  • OFFER LOYALTY INCENTIVES:  Giving repeat participants a memento like a special pin or a color coded pass that lists all the years they’ve participated can cultivate and reward loyalty. A badge of honor is something fun to earn. Special registration access might be another effective reward. Prior to early bird registration, send out an exclusive discount code to repeat participants, and a discount offer for them if they recruit new participants to sign up early so they too can receive a price break.
  • TAILOR MESSAGING: Sports organizations often fail to look at the multiple markets they’re serving in an event, and use the same marketing messages with all participants. Quite often there are different motives for different participants to get involved. Doing profile analysis to learn how to best segment participants into like-minded groups allows you to speak to each in a way that is relevant to them, and acknowledges their hopes and expectations. No one likes to feel lost in a crowd. Every individual participant should be made to feel valued and recognized.

Bottom line, participants join in events to have a quality experience. Make each year convenient with fresh elements and opportunities for meaningful keepsakes, and tailor your communication to participants’ motives and you will help build loyalty and shore up eroding participation numbers.

Topics: Events, Event Marketing

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