Webinar Recap: Making the Decision to Go Virtual

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This year is the 36th Annual Scott Coffee Rotary Run (yes, that’s the race that inspired Bob to start RunSignup). It’s a big fundraiser that the Moorestown Rotary Club relies on and it serves an important role in bringing our community together. Cancelling the race wasn’t a great option – so we decided to make it virtual! Why?

  • Raise money this year
  • Engage the community this year with a fun event to commemorate this strange time
  • Keep relationships with runners, sponsors, volunteers so that they come back next year
  • Save money by not having an in-person event
  • We already had some people signed up for this year’s race
  • RunSignup lets us go virtual on a $0 budget
  • Virtual races are here to stay (and it’s not a zero-sum game)

In this webinar, Allison and Bob covered the steps we took to launch the Scott Coffee Rotary Run – Virtual Edition 2020.

Registration

These are the steps we took to convert our race to virtual after opening registration pre-coronavirus. We had 26 people signed up when we made the switch to virtual so decided to email them with flexible options that we handle on a case by case basis (virtual – we ship the swag to them, refund, or donate registration fee). If you have more people already signed up for your race, use the postponement tool to offer flexible options.

  1. Race Wizard >> Step 1
    • Updated Location: Changed Street Address to “Anywhere, Anytime!”
    • Extended dates: We wanted to be flexible, so extended the Race Day from June 6 to June 6-14 (with 2 weekends). This also ensures people are out doing their run at different times.
    • Switched Event Type: From Run/Walk to Virtual Race.
      
  2. Race Wizard >> Step 3
    • Pricing: We decided to decrease the price by $5. You can keep your pricing the same – the $5 decrease wasn’t significant but we did it because we don’t have the same costs as a real race.
      
  3. Registration >> Questions
    • Added a checkbox confirmation so that participants understand they are signing up for a virtual race.
      
  4. RaceDay Tools >> Enhanced Virtual Race >> Setup
    • Allowed participants to submit times between June 6 and June 14.
    • Set up messages to send via text or email (participants can choose). The first message sends at the start of race week (9am on June 6) and the second message sends at the end of race week (9am on June 14).
      
  5. Notifications >> General Settings
    • Customized the confirmation email instructions for completing the virtual race
      
  6. Donations >> Setup
    • Updated the donations for our town’s COVID-19 support (they are also using a Donation Website on GiveSignup to raise funds)
    • We recommend that you tie your donations (and fundraising if you are a nonprofit) to COVID-19 – be specific about how you are helping now

Swag

Andrew Sigwart designed this year’s t-shirt. We kept the design tasteful but it still “speaks to these times.”

  1. Ordering Shirts
    • We used the same local shirt company that we use every year
    • Everyone is being flexible – they are letting us do 2 rounds of orders
      • First order: May 16, delivered the first week of June 
      • Second order: June 15, delivered the last week of June
    • Don’t have a shirt vendor?
      • Ask your timer
      • Fulfillment companies
        
  2. Shirt Pick-Ups
    • For people who live in town, we will offer 2 dates to pick up shirts at the Moorestown Running Company
      • June 5-6 (if they ordered before May 15)
      • Later in June or early July
    • It’s impossible to know what social distancing guidelines and state orders will look like a month from now. We communicated on our website, confirmation emails, and other messaging that we will email a specific plan to participants the first week of June.
      • If strict stay at home orders: We will postpone shirt pick ups
      • If relaxed but stores aren’t open: We will do a drive through in the parking lot behind the Moorestown Running Company
      • If stores are open: We will do inside or outside Moorestown Running Company with 6 foot distance (people adapt to this type of change quickly!)
        
  3. Shipping Shirts
    • There are out of towners and want to provide them flexible options
    • Charging a flat $7.50 (we only do shirts – no medals)
    • Validate shipping address for everyone who chooses shipping (Race >> Registration >> Shipping)
    • We will probably end up shipping around 100 shirts
      • USPS First class mail (went and asked post office about envelopes and shipping cost estimation)
      • Cost will be $3-$5, but over 13 oz will be much more – that’s why it’s nice to have the $7.50 shipping buffer. Since we don’t do medals the packages will likely be lighter.
      • Use RunSignup’s Print Bib Labels to create shipping labels
    • Make shipping timelines clear to participants
      • Batch shipping vs. Mass shipping
    • If you are doing higher volume talk to your timer. They will be able to do shirt fulfillment and likely shipping for you.
    • Want more shipping information? Check out our Go Virtual hub.

Website

  1. Race >> Race Page >> Race Theme
    • Updated our theme colors and uploaded a new logo
      
  2. Race >> Race Page >> Menu Order
    • Hid some of the content that wasn’t relevant to this year’s virtual race. But the content still exists so we don’t need to re-create anything for our in-person event next year.
      
  3. Race >> Race Page >> Cover Page
    • Check it out: https://www.scottcoffeerun.com/
    • Include directions on how the virtual race works
      • Don’t assume that everyone will know what to do
    • Promote the Swag
      • Feature images of the shirt and highlight “virtual swag”
    • Linked to RunSignup FAQ on how to submit virtual results
    • Featured Andrew Sigwart’s videos
    • Countdown clock
    • Need design help? Use www.canva.com
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Marketing (with a $0 budget)

There are the marketing assets we had to start with:

  • Past participant email list: ~ 2,800 emails
  • Moorestown Turkey Trot email list: ~800 emails (after removing duplicates for Scott Coffee Rotary participants)
  • Breakfast & Lunch Rotary Club members
  • Scott Coffee Rotary Run Facebook Page: 897 followers
  1. RunSignup’s free Email Marketing platform and why we are using it for our race’s emails:
  • FREE
  • Easy to use
  • Dynamic lists of past and current participants
  • Easy to upload custom email lists to send to additional participants
  • Simple templates
  • Good reporting (and it will only continue to get better!)
  • Integrated with sponsors (automatically show on your emails)
  • If you are paying for an email marketing platform, using RunSignup’s free email marketing is a good way to save money.

First Email

  • Sent to all email lists on May 1st (scheduled email)
  • Announced virtual race
  • Included steps on how the virtual race works (same text that I used on website)
  • Included image of t-shirt
  • Showed all sponsor logos (with links to their websites) at bottom of email
  • Sign Up and Donate options

Second Email

  • Sent to all past participants (and auto-exclude all current participants) on May 5th 
  • Cinco de Mayo promotion – made the email funny
  • Showed all sponsor logos (with links to their websites) at bottom of email
  • Sign Up and Donate options

2. Promotion >> Social Sharing

  • Control what participants share
  • If you don’t see your new images being shared on Facebook correctly – go to Facebook Debugger and enter your race website URL

3. Facebook Posts

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4. Teams (Caffeine Challenge)

  • Incentivize people to build a team of 20+ to get a prize (running socks)
  • We do this every year – just updated the team description with social distancing language (Participants >> Groups/Teams >> Setup)

5. Referral Rewards

6. Time-Limited Coupons

  • We did a one day coupon – CINCO – that we promoted via email and Facebook
  • $5 discount per registration
  • Marketed as limited to first 50 registrants (but we ended up increasing this cap because of the popularity of the coupon)

Sponsors

It’s not easy. Overall, we’ve had pretty good luck with sponsors. This is in large part due to the Rotary Club connections – members tend to be local business owners who are still willing to support during this difficult time. Here are some general points re: sponsors.

  • Everyone is hurting
  • Readjust expectations for sponsor revenue
    • And remember that you are saving money by not having an in-person event
  • We’ve had pretty good luck with sponsors
  • Always had a wide range of sponsorship levels, from $100 – $5,000
  • We decided to include all of last year’s sponsors on email marketing, website, etc.
    • It’s a nice way to maintain relationships
    • Assumptive close

Sponsor Activation

  • Direct mail is a massive part of virtual races. Adding sponsor goods, papers in the mailings is an easy win.
  • Emails are now read as participants learn how a virtual event works, thus sponsor messaging is getting read as well.
  • RaceJoy is a great option for virtual races with cheers that feature different race sponsors
  • Logos on the race website, emails, map tracking
  • Virtual goodie bags or credits to local sponsors.

RaceDay

  1. RaceJoy
    • Makes the race real
    • GPS tracking 
    • Maps, directions, splits, cheers, and sponsor activations
    • Auto-posts your results
    • We are also getting ready to introduce a RaceJoy “Run Anywhere” option
    • Ask your timer!
      
  2. Virtual Results
    • Easy to submit results
    • Leaderboards
    • Gives more of a real race feel – it’s not just get your swag and run on your own. It’s especially nice for timed races.
      
  3. Virtual Bibs and Finisher Certificates

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