In advertising, we’ve bombarded consumers for so long with FREE this and FREE that, you become numb to it and it means nothing at all – kind of like watching television and zoning out commercials – it gets easy to do and is almost subconscious reaction.
It’s interesting to note the different ways of leading a successful racing association. Some put their efforts on promotion, some on cost containment, while others will try bold innovative campaigns of different kinds of thought. In this day and age of The Great Recession, it almost seems anything and everything should be used. One particular association caught my eye last year: the ADRL.
I’m a bigot of sorts when looking at drag racing. It’s a West Coast based sport and its strength is dragsters, on nitro running a 1/4 mile. So you say, uh Daryle, that ain’t the ADRL; and you’re right. The American Drag Racing League is an upstart association in its 6th season out of Missouri that is strictly door-slammers along with a bike class. They run 1/8 mile and race in the Eastern half of the country.
So you see I’m coming at this strictly as a fan of marketing and motorsports. And how did a door-slammer based group garner praise from a 1/4 mile dragster fan? Easy. And it basically starts and stops with the man at the top and what he did to move his association to a strong and growing position. Ken Nowling is the head honcho and someone I applaud. He packs in tens of thousands of fans into the these races everyday – packs them in! How? Four-letters: FREE.
Who ever heard of going to a sporting event and walking in FREE?! Why did this happen? Well, having been in quite a few businesses of my own, selling almost anything to get by, desperation can create grand ideas. He was struggling after he first started and needed to figure out a way to keep his young racing league going. In short, he talked one track after another track into letting people in with the thought being they would do more concessions and impress sponsors who want generally one thing – eyeballs. The more turnstile, the more potential consumers and that’s what marketers need – not including the fact, motorsport fans are the most loyal in all of sports.
So instead of getting 5,000 paying customers in to see a meet, you have 50,000. Sponsors love those numbers and 50,000 will buy more many more t-shirts, hot dogs and other concession – heck why wouldn’t they? They got in FREE! Genius!
So although I don’t have the best appreciation for 1/8 door-slammers as I would 1/4 mile nitro-thumping Fuelers, it’s quite an accomplishment for Mr. Nowling and guess who benefits? Right, everyone as it truly is a win-win-win-win all around. The track gets much more concessions, the league gets more attention (including TV) plus funding from the sponsors, the sponsors get more fans seeing their brand supporting the sport and finally last but not least, the fan gets in FREE.
You may not see this spreading to other sports anytime soon but my guess is, if the economy continues its downward spiral, maybe others will take a cue from the ADRL.
Who knew FREE could work in a free-market (well, sort of free-market) and everyone would benefit? Sign of things to come? Hmmm, maybe we could get FREE hot dogs if we stamped our head with …