Great, you’ve decided you want to put on an MSTA event! You’ve downloaded the forms, you’ve picked a location and a date, and you’ve started to formulate plans on how to make it happen. So what’s next? You’ve got to get the word out to make sure that people know about the event and want to come! But, why do much promotion, you ask? Isn’t it enough to just have the powers that be put it in the STAReview or up on the website calendar? Why do more? Here’s my answer as to why do more, and How to do more:
#1 Remember the goal of the MSTA, it’s reason for being:
“To bring like-minded sport touring enthusiasts together as friends, and to promote our great sport through safe, responsible, and challenging rides experiences.”
To accomplish that goal we encourage our members and friends to plan, organize, and promote our local, regional, and national events.
So WHY promote the events?
Well to begin with, you should want to have as many members and friends attend as you think you and your team of volunteers can handle. The more people attending, the greater your chance of having a successful event. More people increases the fun factor. And having fun should be what it is all about. If it’s not fun, why do it? Members that attend club functions tend to remain club members, but those that join, but never participate, tend to leave quickly. In addition, the future of the club depends on us attracting new members and the best way I know to do that is to have non-members attend club functions. When a non-member attends a club function and enjoys themselves, they are at least 5X more likely to become a member than if they had just seen us on the internet or read a club pamphlet. Club events are our best recruiting tool. So we want to promote our events to our members and to non-members alike.
So HOW can you promote your event?
There are several different tools and ways available to event coordinators who want to promote their events. I will separate them into MSTA and Non-MSTA categories. First, MSTA tools.
MSTA tools will include:
This website and the calendar it contains. When you submit your event proposal to the National Events Coordinator, it generates a process where that information goes to the person that updates the club google calendar. Using the information that you provide, the event is put onto the calendar, along with the information about the event you provide. The more information that you provide, the more information that goes up there. In addition, if you provide enough information a separate post can go up on the 1st page of the website. After the event, if you write an event report and submit it, an additional post will be made. Another tool that the MSTA provides is the MSTA forum. Any forum member can post there and we encourage you to do so. You can post up all of your event information in the general area and/or in the sub-forums set aside for events. You can also put your event up on the forum calendar, which is separate from this websites calendar. Another tool we have, and one that possibly reaches the most people in and out of the club, is the Facebook group page that Will England runs. Even if you are not a FB user, you can still use this tool. If your a user and a member of the group, you can create your own FB event for the group. If you desire, you can even set up your own FB group just for the event. Link it to as many other FB groups as you can and see how people respond. We do this for STAR every year and it has proven to be very successful. One more way to use the internet and the things that the MSTA provide you is to send out invitation emails using the Bluebook. I would especially suggest sending them out to people that live close to where the event is being held. Finally, use PlanetReg as a tool. Even if it is just going to be a Just For Fun event. Once someone actually registers they are more likely to actually show up. You can even set it up with all the event information right there on the 1st page. For non-revenue or charity events, its even free to use.
But that’s only one half the story. We have many other tools we can use. Non-MSTA tools:
The first thing here to be aware of is the BMW Riders Association (BMWRA). Our relationship with them is that we are a chartered club. As such, we can share our event information with their members through their website and their club magazine. Using this tool will get your event information out to their 4000 members nationwide. And here are some others ways to get the word out….
Make up your own website. Norm Kern has been very successful with this for the Mail Pouch FlyBy Week. In addition he has business cards made up that promote the website and he carries them with him and passes them out to everyone. As I said before, if you are a Facebook user, consider setting up a separate FB Group. It is easy to do! How about having flyers and posters made up for your event and placing them in dealerships? Cross posts to other clubs/groups websites and facebook groups is another way to get the word out. Just make sure to get permission from the club/group leaders first! One more thing, is to attend meeting for other clubs and give a presentation. Off them the same opportunity at our club meetings/meetups. Work together with other clubs, not against them. Everyone benefits that way!
Of course, these aren’t the only ways to promote events. Whole books have been written and whole college courses are given each year on how to promote events. I’m quite sure that these ideas are barely scratching the surface of what is possible. So let your imagination run wild and try different things. Not everything will work, and not every thing will work right away. But remember, the more arrows you have in your quiver and shoot, the better your chances of hitting the target. But whatever you do, just remember to make it fun!
All of this probably sounds like a lot of work, but it’s really not. The key is to pick the items that need to be done right away, and those that can wait. Not everything needs to be done right away and not everything has to be done one person. Work with members in your area and with your state directors and other club leaders. Split up the duties and it becomes much more manageable, much more successful, and much more fun.