5 Steps to Advertising for Your Marathon

You’ve got your marathon’s date and location set, and planning is underway. Now you need runners! While it may seem like runners will naturally flock to any event related to their favorite pastime, it’s important to remember that your race isn’t Field of Dreams. In other words, just because you have a marathon planned does not mean that the runners will simply show up.


To attract lots of participants to your marathon, a good advertising strategy is imperative. If you’re like a lot of organizations planning a marathon, you’ve got big ideas and goals but a fairly limited budget. How can you make the most out of your advertising dollars? Here are five steps.

1. Invest in a great web presence.

While it almost goes without saying that a good website is essential to promoting any event, it’s worthwhile to point out just how important a great web presence is to an event like a marathon. Participants will want to register and get a wealth of information from it, plus many will send the link around to friends who may be interested and post it on their personal social media pages. To make your site great, work with an experienced developer and designer who will listen to your ideas and make them look good.

2. Get strategic with sponsors.

Of course you want to bring in sponsors for your marathon, but make the relationship more of a partnership. Businesses who are interested in sponsoring your marathon presumably have a customer or client base of individuals interested in running, even if some of those businesses aren’t overtly running-related. As part of your sponsorship packages, require sponsors to prominently display and mention their affiliation with your marathon. Ask for links to your website, informational displays in their place of business, and more.

3. Take advantage of free channels.

Advertising can eat up a lot of money: you pay for pieces to be produced, and then you pay again to have them run as TV spots, print ads, billboards, and more. While paying for some placement is certainly necessary, use cost-free social media channels to get your slick promo pieces out to a larger audience. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more are all good places to start. Encourage fans and followers to share your content by offering incentives like a free race shirt or half off registration fees.

4. Make it newsworthy.

There are so many media outlets dedicated to runners and their passion for their sport, and all of them need content. Think about your marathon in terms of newsworthiness — what’s interesting, unusual, or unique about your race? Write it up as a simple press release and share it with running publications and websites to encourage them to write a story about your marathon. This gets the word out at practically no cost to you.

5. Bring in the big guns.

Advertising smaller marathons can probably be done by you and your staff, but if you’re trying to bring big crowds to a larger event, it may be wise to bring in an advertising agency that knows how to target your audience and build a successful campaign. A good agency can also show you how to best spend your budget, and they may also have inside contacts to get you better prices on ad placement. If you’re trying to reach a national audience and build your race’s reputation as a respected athletic event, this may be a worthwhile expense.


Scroll Up