So you’ve decided to or at least are thinking about throwing your first competition – that’s awesome! Now what?
Competitions are an amazing way to extend your brand, build a larger community, have fun, and even make some money. Admittedly, they can also be a ton of work, expensive, and harmful to your brand if not done right. Fear not—we are here to make sure the latter doesn’t happen to you.
It’s tempting to announce your competition to the world immediately, but check these 9 things off your list first and you will be in a great position to throw an amazing competition!
- ASK FOR HELP
Think back to your first WOD ever. Even if you came in as a great athlete, that 1st WOD undoubtedly kicked your butt, taught you some things, but also had you smiling afterwards.What happened next time you did that same WOD? You crushed it!Why? Experience and a lot of coaching along the way.Competitions are no different. You may be an expert competition host one day, but not yet, so ask for help.The good news is you have already started to by reading this! Read as many things as you can, ask friends that have done it before, and reach out to experts.We make the expert part easy by giving free consults to anyone that is throwing a competition. If you use us for other stuff, great!If not, that’s fine too – at least we know you’ll be headed in the right direction.
- DIFFERENTIATE YOUR COMPETITION
“If you build it, they will come” was a nice line in Field of Dreams, but the days of that working for competitions are over. There are simply too many options for athletes to choose from.So… why would they go to your competition vs. another one?In other words, give them something different! It sounds hard, but there are a ton of ways to do it: team vs. individual, amazing prizes, uncommon equipment, specialized audiences (think skill level, age, first responder only, couples, etc.), unique location, fun theme, unique format, interesting workouts, etc.The list goes on, you just need to choose. Take a look around you to see what is already out there. Then ask yourself who do you want to serve and what will YOU have fun with?
- SELECT A STRATEGIC DATE AND LOCATION
Once you know how you want to set your competition apart, it’s time to figure out the date and location.Your date needs to be at least 3 months (that’s tight) and preferably 4 months or more from now. Especially since this is your first one, you need time to get everything together, market it, and plan it to ensure it’s a success. Think about things like the CrossFit Open, holidays, major events (e.g. Super Bowl), and other competitions to plan around.For your location, we HIGHLY recommend using your own facility for your first one. It drastically cuts down on your costs, logistical requirements, and overall risks. Get it right first and then grow it in the future.
- RUN THE BUDGET & SET YOUR PRICE
Notice the order of this step – budget first, price second.Far too many competitions back themselves in a corner by publishing a price that can’t support the needed budget. In other words, they actually LOSE money.There are a ton of easy things to miss (cost of a paramedic on site, toilet rentals, etc.), so we’ve created a template for you to use. Every competition is unique so we don’t promise it is all inclusive, but it’s darn close!Depending on concept, geographical area, and prizes, prices can range from $60 – $100 per athlete for a one day competition. For your first competition, anything in the middle to lower part of the range is a good rule of thumb.Throw an amazing competition this year and you’ll earn the right to charge more the next.
- BUILD YOUR TEAM
So you have the idea, the specifics, and the budget – time to figure out how you will get the work done.We want you to run an AMAZING competition! To do that, you must accept the following fact:You cannot do this by yourself. We repeat, you cannot do this by yourself!Of course on competition day you need volunteers and judges, but even before there is a ton of work to do. Creating/executing marketing plans and materials, answering questions from current and potential athletes (there are always a ton), creating and selling sponsorships, getting prizes together, programming, planning all the logistics, etc.The list goes on and keep in mind for every task you take on, that is time away from your core business. That’s time away from keeping your members happy and gym healthy. That’s time away from developing your coaches and staff. That’s time away from bringing more people through the doors.So, how do you find help?Good Approach – Build from Within
If you happen to have someone experienced with events/competitions, start there. If not, look for someone that is organized, follows-through, and has the passion for it. That said, you still risk quality give lack of experience and will also pull that person away from typical duties.Note if you don’t have someone with the skills or passion, DON’T force the fit. No one will enjoy that process and it’ll lead to more headaches than you should deal with.Better Approach – Find a mentor and then build from within.
Mentors have been through it all. They know what you don’t know, they can relay best practices, and steer you clear of pitfalls. Without a doubt they will help enhance the quality of your competition and get more people to it. Honestly, this one is a no-brainer.Best Approach – Outsource it
What if you could make part/all of next month’s rent and build your community with very little effort? Not a bad deal! You can outsource all the hard stuff so the only thing you have to worry about is volunteers and sponsorships (if you want to generate more revenue).We are happy to help with better and best if you need.
- MAKE A GO/NO-GO DECISION
You’ve done all your homework – the concept, the date/time/location, the budget & price, and the staffing plan.Now the question you have to ask is – is this the right thing to do?If you aren’t completely comfortable with everything or if you worry it will take away from your core business, then don’t do it. Once you pull the trigger and publish, you can technically cancel, but it doesn’t look good.On the flip side, if you are ready to commit, then get ready for a fun ride!
- CREATE ALL OF YOUR MARKETING MATERIALS
Even if you have the most amazing idea for a competition, it’s nothing if no one knows about it.Marketing a competition is an article all by itself, but for bare minimum you need the following:
• Facebook Event Page
• Landing page for your competition
• Imagery for event page, landing page, Facebook ads, and flyers
• Marketing Plan – i.e. what you will post/send to whom at what timeUnless you are a graphic design artist, you’ll need to farm that work out. Options are a friend/member, crowdsourcing sites, an agency, or us.All of those options will vary widely in price and quality. Price of course is important, but in graphic design world you often get what you pay for. Keep in mind, you can reuse this stuff next year, so it pays out quickly over time.If you aren’t familiar with marketing plans or FB ads, that’s another thing you’ll want some help on.Marketing is such an important piece of competition we brought professional designers and marketers in-house to help our clients. We recommend you use professionals as well!
- CHOOSE YOUR PAYMENT & SCORING SYSTEM
If you are thinking about doing this thing in excel, kill that thought now.We’ve seen way too many competitions have hiccups because formulas weren’t right. Honestly, even when it did work, it just didn’t look polished.There are a few options out there. Play with all of them and see what you like. For basic payment, registration, and scoring most of them check the basics you need.Price is always a concern of course. Most of them are pretty competitively priced. We actually designed ours to give the host the option to pay nothing and have a small service charge added to each athlete’s/team’s registration instead. We’ve found that people are so used to this anyway with concert and game tickets, they expect it.The other thing to look at is how easy does the software make your life. Some software solutions make this a priority and some don’t. We have the standards for over 50 movements already pre-entered, score sheets that automatically generate, and a messaging system you can use for athletes, judges, and volunteers.
- GET A BROAD IDEA OF PROGRAMMING, STANDARDS, AND MOVEMENTS
When athletes are searching for competitions they are often attracted to or turned off by the programming, standards, and movements.You don’t need to have the workouts listed when you publish, but an idea of the movements and standards will help potential competitors make a decision. If you have something that’s unique – highlight it!Congrats! After checking off these 9 things, you are ready to hit the publish button on your competition.There is a ton more work to do of course, but know that you are on the right track and help is here if you need it. Good luck!