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Jeff Matlow
October 04, 2017

Don't Be Creepy (Communication Strategy)

In a previous rambling, I blathered on about communication strategies and how the most effective communication in today's environment is one that is personal, relevant and timely.
Let's chat a little bit more about the personal part of the communication and what that really means. First, let's all agree on two basic points: 
  1. Personalization is good
  2. Creepy is bad. 
There can be a somewhat-fine line between personal and predatorial. Howzabout we do a quick review...
Personal:  Referring to the recipient in communication by their first name
Creepy:  Mentioning their children's birthdates
Personal:  Reaching out to participants to get them prepared for the race
Creepy:  Reaching out to their emergency contacts to be ready for a call
data_transparent.pngIf you haven’t figured it out yet, the data you have from your participants is very valuable. Very.  View/use it in the right way and you can uncover channels to generate more revenue, methods to improve your event and opportunities to get new partners.
Just by the mere fact of me registering for your events, you have access to a tremendous amount of my personal data. The question is, how will you use it.
Of all the data participants give you, most of you only use one data point:  email address
Let's do a little basic math around your marketing outreach, shall we.
We'll assume you have 5,000 people who registered for your event last year.  The average registration form has about 25 fields.  This includes the basic fields (name, dob, gender, location, email, etc.) and a few custom questions.  
5,000 people filling out 25 fields = 125,000 data points that you have available.
If you're just emailing people and telling them to register, you are only leveraging 4% of the data you have (only email address).  On top of that, your "for goodness sakes, sign up now" email (which I'm sure looks really pretty and has awesome wording), will only be opened by 1 in 4 of the people. 
Of all the 5,000 people you emailed, most likely 4,850 of them are going to hit delete on that message without clicking anything.
So by only emailing people about the event without leveraging any personal data, you're using 4% of your available data with the hope that a whopping 150 people actually click a link and maybe one or two of them gives you money.  Way to go.
Here’s the funny thing you may not know, if you use the data intelligently, your participants will be eager to give you even more data about themselves.  (OK, maybe that's not funny... but you know what I mean.  Stop giving me a hard time).
I don't know about you, but I get around 300 emails per day.  For me to read an email, it's got to mean something to me.  If it's marketing related, it has to be personal, relevant and timely.  Otherwise, I just don't care.  <delete>
RunnerHigh.pngWhen it comes to your event, believe it or not, the participant's goal is NOT to cross your finish line.  The participants goal is to feel great about themselves and feel like they achieved something. Your finish line just happens to be the milestone in their journey to attain those feelings. It could just as easily be somebody else's finish line.
You really need to fully grasp that participant mindset in order to determine your communication strategy, because that's where the other data points you're not using (the ones besides email) prove to be highly valuable.  The more you know about me, the participant, the more you can help me achieve my goals and make me feel special.
You should know if it’s the first time I’ve ever done your event, so you can give me insight into the highs and lows I’ll be experiencing on my journey.  
You should know if it's the first time I've ever done this distance event, so you can celebrate my accomplishment with me.
You should know what my best finish time is, so you can give me some pointers on how I can do better.
You should know that I feel great when I get a personal text message from the race director so you can welcome me to the event, congratulate me on my finish, and pretend like you know me.
You should know whether I’m staying overnight, so you can give me the athlete’s insight on what to do and where to go.  Best post-race party spot?  Best place for a post-race massage?
You should know if I respond better over email or text.
You should know if I've ever referred my friends to your event and whether or not you've made more money because of me.
You should know all of this from the data that I've given you.
baby surprise.pngYou might be reading all of this and thinking "oh crap, how do I even get that data and how the heck do I find time to use it?".  
Well, let's all just calm down for a minute or two.  Get out a paper bag, stick your face in it and take a few big breaths (it's probably better to take the tortilla chips out of the bottom before you do that).
What all of this means is that you've got a goldmine of data at your fingertips and you should spend a few hours coming up with a company wide communication strategy.  That strategy should revolve around how you are going to use personal data to connect with your participants. That strategy should be the marching orders for the entire company and the interaction with athletes.  If you know what you want to do, getting the data and utilizing it is the easy part.
Here’s my point….
  1. Personalization isn’t an email.  It’s a communications strategy
  2. Use data to enhance your participants journey
  3. Give to get.  If you give the athletes value, they will give you more info about themselves
  4. It’s not about you, it’s about each individual participant’s experience
I'm going to shut up now so you can start thinking about how you're going to change your communications.  Let me know your thoughts, wouldja.



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