This year’s theme, “A Sport At A Crossroad,” comes from a trend RPM boss Stewart Doty noticed. Over the past years, he’s seen that as the older traditional fans disappear, the younger generation, or ‘Generation Y,’ isn’t taking their places in the stands as they were called.
Unfortunately the weather kept the attendee count lower than usual but there was still a large group that included some new promoters as well as veterans.
In his opening remarks Doty said, “Just like you have to grow new fans, we have to grow new promoters for these workshops. Think about that and let’s make it one of our goals this next year,” he said.
Friday began with off-road and Monster Truck announcer Scott Rehn, who told the gathering that racing, is entertainment and must be entertaining to draw and hold fans.
He also told the story of taking two relatives to an NFL game for hundreds of dollars. The made the point of how economical racing is for fans when compared to other sports.
Next Jim Hanks gave a presentation describing the three demographic groups that racing attracts or needs to. He noted different approaches have to be employed for the 45-and-older group, those between 30 and 45 and the 30-and-younger crowd.
He explained the younger group makes up a third of our population and promoters need to begin to communicate with them. And he illustrated a critical difference between the usual fan and the new generation.
“The romance with the automobile, for a lot of practicable reasons, is over. There is a new romance and it’s (holds up a smart phone) right here. We approach this group on a now, now basis and use announcers they can relate to with their language, their way and their speed,” he said.
He went on to explain, to the younger crowd, technology is king and that many are turned off by the usual ads that seem to be attached to everything.
“The race fan demographic in this country is the largest in the U.S., they are out there, we need to reach them with a good story and understand who they are. And get the story in different ways and groups,” he said. “It’s a huge market, they want to be entertained and we need to learn what the 30-and-younger is attracted to and communicate with them.”
Thursday afternoon began with a presentation by Tyeson Muhlenberg from TESSCO Technologies on how to set up wireless communications at a short track. And he explained how the networks are set for races like SCORE’s Baja 1000.
After that Andrew Grimshaw, media production manager for SCORE International, showed how he set up streaming both for a live show SCORE has and during their races.
Friday began with Michael Thomas, from Reno’s Noble Studios, explaining how they are reaching out to this younger generation for their clients. And he also listed some of this group’s characteristics as less brand loyal, tech/web savvy, short-term focus but equally committed.
“You market by making it participatory, easy, shareable so take a risk and give it meaning,” he said. “They don’t enjoy standing in line to attend an event and if it’s not noteworthy this generation will not participate.”
He added that cost matters, they like good quality, fast service and having an experience. And that Facebook and YouTube are the two sites where people will find what promoters offer first.
“Think about graphics and get away from words so use pictures,” he said. “All the advertising you can do won’t matter as much as their friends talking to them about an experience.”
He noted that content marketing is big, as seven out of 10 customers would rather get content than ads. One suggestion is to have teams and drivers to pull videos off their Go Pro cameras and link them back to the track’s site.
Then he said, “There are five tactics, remember, understand what makes them tick, get to the point, keep them informed, position it wisely as well as engage and connect,” he said.
The goal is to show the uniqueness of a track and drag the content around this. And to peak the curiosity of the un-initiated about the sport as well as explain it to them.
“Create promotions and special experiences at the track for your social fans and join the conversation,” he said.
Later in the day Mike Eames and Rachel Kaneko, from Rocky Mountain Raceways, showed how they are using social media to promote their track.
They told promoters don’t be afraid to try something, be real, don’t just sell but think about building relationships, get involved and engage people and keep it simple.
Then she said, “Racing is visual, sell it via social media, it doesn’t always have to be about racing so share your personality, humor or story.”
Two sessions followed the duo with a panel oflawyers showing cases that pertain to tracks as well as giving advice.
The final presentation was given by Randy and Cole Queensland, a father-and-son team, from Deer Creek Speedway in Minnesota. They showed examples of how Go Pro cameras can show racing from different angles.
Now they are even trying a small camera-carrying drone for very different views of the racing. The goal is to get these videos of the action on the track’s website and social media so they can promote their facility.
As usual, Doty ended the workshop with his final comments and how promoters need to go home, start a conversation with young people and begin to use social media to help their businesses.
“Filling the stands is our responsibility. We can’t rely on large sanctioning bodies as we have to do it ourselves,” he said. “I think we are the ones to face up to the challenge but if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll always have the results you have.”
Asked about how the Workshop went he said, “We took a considerable gamble away from the normal workshop agenda. I’m excited as I honestly didn’t know how it would fly, I have people as good, and on some subjects and even better I think in Indianapolis and Daytona Beach. But it’s always a roll of the dice because this business is regional and every region wants to hear different things.
“So I’m happy but it still has to play in Peoria. The people in this room will make the difference in the future.”
This year, the Workshop meetings dovetail into each other. Next up is a one-day session in Indianapolis that adds more information on content and using social media to promote racing.
Then, during NASCAR’s Speed Weeks in Daytona Beach, there will be the final Workshop that will give promoters even more information and insight on how to connect with ‘Generation Y’ and hopefully put more race fans in the stands.
OTHER RACING NEWS
•Due to the cold weather, Exit 28 had to cancel its practice sessions last weekend. However, with the warmer weather in the forecast, practices should resume Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.