Last month, I participated in the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. I won’t go too far into how the race went or my new found dislike for Fiesta Island and the 163 Freeway, but I will say, I was a little surprised by some of the advertising tactics displayed by some companies.
Every participant should have known the event was put on to benefit The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an organization that I have been involved with for three years.
With a lot of marathons, there is a corporate sponsor who spearheads the event. I knew in the past that PF Chang’s was the official sponsor of the the PF Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon. That one wasn’t too hard to figure out since their name is in the actual name of the event.
However, I couldn’t recall one corporate sponsor of the event leading up to this marathon or even during the marathon. It wasn’t until about 2-3 weeks later, I realized there was actually a head sponsor of the event. What do ya know, it was actually PF Chang’s.
When I came home from work one afternoon, I started sifting through the mail. It was full of the usual junk. But then, I came across a random letter addressed to me from PF Chang’s. I will admit, I was about 3.2 seconds away from tossing it with the rest of the mail but then I felt something inside. Being a curious person, I opened it. Inside was a congratulations letter from PF Chang’s on completing the marathon as well as a $10 gift card to their restaurant. For someone like me who loves local deals (trust me I’m known as the coupon/deal girl in the office) I was pretty excited.
Obviously, their goal from this direct mail wasn’t just to get people into their restaurant, but it was also to create a buzz. They got exactly what they wanted from me. I immediately got on my phone and tweeted out a thank you to PF Chang’s letting them know I had received my gift and I posted a message on my Facebook page about how I love coming home to free stuff. And now, tonight I am actually going to go there for dinner, just because I have that gift card. Lettuce wraps = amazing!
This was a great thing for them to do, yet I feel they could have done a few things differently to generate more buzz and a higher-return on investment.
1) Make your presence well-known as a sponsor prior and during the event.
2) As email addresses are supplied when registering for the event, send an email 1-2 days after the event congratulating the participant on their accomplishment and to keep their eyes peeled for something special in the mail. Don’t tell them what, make them curious. This way, they know something is coming.
3) Better packaging. The envelope looked 100% like junk mail. It was plain white with my name ink jetted on it and the PF Chang’s name in the top left corner all in black. There are more creative ways to send something that doesn’t break any postal envelope regulations.
Overall PF Chang’s did a good job. I look forward to seeing what they do next year, if they continue to be a sponsor, as well as seeing what Dodge will do, since they are now the official sponsor of the 2011 San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. And no, I will not be running it. I am retired from marathons at 27.