1. Stop advertising on TV, print, radio and out-of-home.
If you come away with one thing from this post, I hope it’s this: print, radio, TV and billboards are all a massive waste of money. You should absolutely, without a doubt, put your advertising money into social media.
There are three primary reasons why:
- Social allows for interest based targeting. Advertising is all about reaching the right people with the right message. Why buy a newspaper ad that’s going to be read by people who have absolutely no interest in racing at all, when you can run a Facebook ad that is only shown to Donny Schatz or NASCAR fans within a 200 mile radius of the track? The Donny Schatz or NASCAR fan on Facebook is MUCH more likely to see the ad and actually attend the race than the 28 year-old liberal arts grad who drives a Prius and enjoys weekends reading the newspaper at the coffee shop.
- Social and digital offers trackable results. Within seconds of running your Facebook ad you can begin to see if people are responding it. Are they clicking your link? Are they liking the post? Are they commenting? If not, you can quickly pause the ad, update your targeting and/or the creative and try again. You can't do that with any other advertising medium.
- It’s the most cost-effective platform for video advertising. Racing is an inherently visual sport. Even the best billboard, print ad or radio spot is nothing compared to actually seeing a 900 horsepower sprint car ripping through the turn on 3 wheels. To reach 100k people with a TV spot might cost well over $1,000. But I regularly get that many views for less than $100 on Facebook. And those views are verified, unlike the soft “Nielsen-style” metrics used by TV, print, radio, etc.
2. Hire a designer at fiverr.com
When it comes to advertising, it's all about appearance. If your promo materials look second rate, people will assume your track is, too. Unfortunately, most tracks can't afford a full-time graphic designer. But services like Fiverr.com make it easy to hire a freelance designer on a per-job basis to create just about anything you need from fliers to logos to promo videos. The cost for each item is typically between $5-25 dollars. The quality of work can be hit or miss at first, but once you find a freelancer you like, it's an incredibly easy (and affordable) process.
3. Or use the free Canva app to design promo materials
Canva is a free app with hundreds of graphic design templates, automatically sized for every major social media platform (as well as print fliers). Whether you need new Facebook cover photo or a promo image for Instagram, you can find countless design options. Once you select an option, simply swap out the photo, update the text, save it and share it.
4. Live stream your races for free
Look at the series that are resonating with younger fans like Formula Drift, American Flat Track, and Stadium Super Trucks. They all broadcast their races live and for free on Facebook. If I’m a 15 year-old race fan, am I going to watch Formula Drift for free? Or pay $20-50 to watch a sprint car race? The sport of dirt track racing is hemorrhaging young fans because it’s putting up unnecessary barriers like PPV broadcasts. It’s bad enough the sport isn’t on any network, why further limit its reach and exposure?
So how do you make money giving away content for free? With advertising. It’s a win-win for everyone. The more free live streams a track does, the more fans it attracts, which leads to more advertising dollars, which leads to better live streams, which leads to more fans, which leads to more advertising dollars.
The reason NASCAR is on the decline is because half of the races are on networks like NBCSN and Fox Sports 1. When you could watch races for free on broadcast networks, people paid attention. But when NASCAR started putting up barriers and limited the accessibility of the sport, people found other things to do. Dirt track racing should learn from this and avoid emulating it. It’s short-sighted and terrible for the long term health of the sport.
5. Automate your ticketing and website with MyRacePass
I’m a huge fan of what the team at MyRacePass is doing and I firmly believe that every track not using MyRacePass is wasting time and money. If you’re unfamiliar with MyRacePass they essentially automate a TON of labor intensive sales, media and marketing tasks for tracks.
You might know them as a company that builds websites. But that's just the beginning., Their platform also automatically updates your website with the latest news and race results in real-time – so you don’t have to stay up late posting results to your site after the race. They allow for online ticket sales, which reduces the need for extra track staff – while reducing lines and creating a better experience for fans and drivers. And they have an automated advertising platform through their network that helps you promote races to the right people and boost your attendance. They are light years ahead of any other digital solution for race tracks, and they’re just scratching the surface of what they plan to offer. If there’s one company leading the fight to modernize dirt track racing, it’s MyRacePass.
6. Get a Square account
I was amazed earlier this year when I went to the concession stand at a World of Outlaws race and it was cash only - especially since I personally had a booth at the Chili Bowl and accepted credit cards. A one man operation had moved into the credit card era, but one of the most iconic tracks in the nation hosting the Greatest Show On Dirt had yet to do so. A square account is free and it allows you to use any laptop, tablet or cell phone to accept and charge credit cards. You may think you’re better off avoiding the transaction fees, but I guarantee the loss of sales more than outweighs the transaction fees. Plus, it creates a better customer experience for the majority of us who typically don’t pay with cash.
7. Drop the final checkered flag at 10:30 pm
It much easier to keep an existing customer coming back than it is to find new ones. And the fastest way to lose fans is to run an inefficient show. You RARELY see an NFL or NBA game end after 11 pm local time. But I'd say at least 50% of the dirt track races I attend do.
Every time a show ends after midnight, the sport loses fans. I guarantee it. No matter how well intentioned the promoter is, or what the extraneous circumstances are, that individual is costing the sport fans. His or her absolute highest priority should be to create a positive fan experience, and ending the show at a reasonable time is essential to doing that.