PHA MARKETING

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'09 Schedule Issue Resolved - Marketing

Postby Cumberland Racer » Thu Dec 11, 2008 1:07 pm

Series Wide Marketing Idea: Extending the growth thinking now in place at Polish Mountain, that being the potential benefits of trolling (ahem, should read "marketing to") known pockets of club racers who already own Level 4 Time Trial legal equipment, here are three thoughts for general consideration.

1) If there was money available for a mailing, how much work would it be to obtain addresses of licensed drivers with legal cars in the Northeast and send them an attractive series flyer extolling the virtues of using our PHA hill climbs for fun seat time at a lower cost than a track weekend...plus, the living history angle of our great venues...and the great people (read "party at Morg's cabana").

2) The "free" way to do same is to obtain e-mail lists of same, or to post links to our pitch in other SCCA/NASA forums.

3) Is it worth an ad in SportsCar or Grassroots Motorsport...or an editorial effort to get an article frontselling the series. The more modern version of same is to buy or barter clickable banners on key web sites linked to a custom landing page that hypes 2009 participation the PHA series. This web banner stuff is what I primary do for a living and we currently generate responses from sites like washingtonpost.com and pittslive.com at under $2 per lead for getaway travel to the Mountainside of Maryland.

Bottom line, PHA leadership has worked hard to get an early schedule out there. Our experience at National Road Autosport suggests that is a good thing, even in our little world. Attempting some "hard marketing" ASAP might yield some new blood on the starting lines of all PHA events....perhaps some of the costs can be spit among event organizers We're certainly going to do some of these things for Polish, both personally at the track and via e-mail, but it just dawned on me that the whole series might want to take a look at some "evangelistic" outreach to target audiences.

Marketing is an interesting process that is not the same as sales or advertising. It is the process of working backwards from the profile of the possible customer to create both promotions and products. In the case of hill climbing, the question is not one of "how" can we make hill climbers come out more often, but rather "who" is most likely to become a new hill climber and "why" would they consider it. THEN, you get back to the original question of "how" you can affordably and persuasively reach them.

That D*mn Dave Williams
The Guy Who Drew The Short Straw To Become The Polish Mountain Marketing Guy
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PHA MARKETING

Postby dspgti » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:33 pm

As per Rich Rocks suggestion, lets start a thread to share ideas on how to see our events expand. I asked Matt Rowe to move the posting from Dave Williams over here. Untill that gets done, please read his posting under the "schedule" resolved title.

I just heard last night that the Motorsports Expo is alive and well and being held in Atlantic City. South Jersey Region has 4 booth spaces. Maybe we should look into having one for PHA. I think we did one 10 years ago or so when it was held in Fort Washington. I heard it was $1,000 for a space but they are hurting for venders so maybe we can get a deal?

I'll get back with the dates if anyone thinks it's practicle.

Dave Y.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby dspgti » Thu Dec 11, 2008 3:51 pm

Link to vender info: http://www.aarn.com/images/ms-brochure2009.pdf

$575 10x10 space
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby dspgti » Fri Dec 12, 2008 5:12 pm

Here's my suggestion. Each Region appoint a Public Relations/ Promotion/ Information Representative to the PHA. Each individual will share ideas, information, and efforts and meet and report in conjunction with the PHA Membership Mettings. If PHA wants to appoint a PR officer, they would be responsible for keeping track of material and property associated with PR. Currently, either the Sec. or Treas. has control. I'm talking about Banners, brochures etc. I think the Treasurer currently takes care of patches, decals and such. Am I right Rich S.?

I have copies of three TV programs we produced several years ago that was braodcast on BCTV, the public access channel in Reading. I have a lot of information to share on past efforts that whoever can pick up and run with this, will help get them started.

Please don't ask me to head anything up right now. I'm a struggling, small business owner and now is not a good time. I can help with opinions! I'm good at that 8)

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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby Rich Sweigart » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:03 am

The treasurer currently controls the inventory of equipment and merchandise, the checking account, and the points. Gordon Wise has been and has agreed for 09 to assist me with the merchandise.

As far as PR, Mary Anne Fieux has made up some flyers in the past, Gordon and Tom has done some work at Hershey and some car shows.

Rich
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby Cumberland Racer » Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:20 pm

OK, message matters more than money, at least at the start of a marketing idea. Role play, group.

You are a club racer. What are the top ten reasons why you might come out for a PHA event?
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby Cumberland Racer » Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:09 pm

How about some of these semi-serious reasons for starters?

10 Hill climbing doesn't tear up your stuff like a track day surrounded by idiots (unless you're Mark Aubele).

9 It's you against the hill instead an exciting three turns followed by a 20 lap parade.

8 A hill climb weekend is half the price of a weekend track event.

7 A class record an a PHA hill can be "one for the ages" that lasts long after your starter goes flat.

6 Your car is already legal and so are you.

5 We substitute altitude for attitude.

4 Trees and large rocks flying by your head increase the sensation of speed.

3 It's been a very, very long time in the PHA since anyone tore somebody else down with a protest.

2 You can always coast back to the pits.

And...drum roll, please, the ultimate reason a club racer should try a PHA hill climb: A Morg Wilson doll and an inflatable Belgian Bud Girl comes with every entry.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby dspgti » Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:23 pm

I like the way you think. It is "Out of the Box". The sad reality is "Club Racers" make bad "Hillclimbers".
There are several threads and many stories about the typical Club ("road") Racer showing up at a hillclimb, taking one run, loading their car on the trailer and shouting out as they drove out of sight, "YOU GUYS ARE NUTS" (guys, should not be taken as gender specific).

That being said, the comment is not intended to mean we should not try it agian. Just don't expect a lot of lasting results. Perhaps, the new twist as you pointed out, might have some success. I never ran "Polish" but the comments and feedback show that it might be the right kind of road and event that may open the eyes of those "that don't know any better".

I believe that the thrust of the marketing attact for Polish, should be in the southern regions. You know, south of the Mason-Dixon. Why not make it the old "East Coast Championship"? What ever happened to that?

Dave Y

P.S. I saw on line where we can make up a Morg Wilson bobble head doll.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby Jim Leininger » Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:48 am

Self edited, J.L.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby TKnorr » Tue Dec 16, 2008 1:28 am

Historically, what has influenced people to become involved in hillclimbing. I began hillclimbing in the mid '60s and I think I may have some perspective on this issue. However, first, in order for the PHA series to remain viable, we need to have MORE EXISTING PHA DRIVERS SUPPORTING OUR EVENTS. In 2008, we had a total of 191 different drivers compete. If half of these drivers would have competed in our events our numbers would have been different in 2008. 67 drivers only ran ONE EVENT. That is 35% of all drivers. 37 drivers only ran TWO EVENTS. That is almost 20 %. So 55% of our drivers ran two or less events. In 2008 we did not have anyone compete in the team championship. It is important in 2009 that we have teams compete for a championship. Perhaps the Yearly Plaque will encourage more drivers to compete in more events. I will post more on this issue.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby Cumberland Racer » Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:15 am

OK, I REALLY like the Morg bobble-head idea. An effort to encourage existing PHA drivers to attend more events is, of course, a good idea...and it need not be an "either-or" proposition to the idea of carrying an evangelical message to other drivers with legal equipment and sufficient seat time to come out and play. Successful events in my world require multiple target marketing streams, understanding from the start that some will work and some will not.

Believe it or not, modern marketing begins with Sigmund Freud. Over a brewski or twoski I can share the whole story (here comes Morg again), but suffice it to say that the magic in marketing is more dependent on the receiver's filter than the sender's offer.

Just as we've semi-seriously addressed why a club racer might try a hill climb, I think Tom's observation about the lack of frequency in event entry by recent PHA drivers merits a similar study. What Tom shares is that racers are not attending multiple events...an observation rather than a causation. Before we start throwing out possible enticements to improve frequency among known hill climb suspects, shouldn't we first attempt to understand in more detail the Top Ten reasons they are not coming out more often??????? Offering more rewards for season long attendance runs the risk of being a single dimension answer to a problem that is likely to be more complex than that.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby Cumberland Racer » Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:52 am

Re: The Southern Outposts. Stat Boy Tim made a very telling observation in an earlier thread...some 35 racers in the 2008 PHA series never made it north of Mason-Dixon line, albeit for a variety of reasons, no doubt. But speaking as the Polish promoters, we are very thankful that our now-possible 2008 date is not squarely on one of the southern stalwart event dates. The likes of Bowland, Vann, Cutchins, Rausa, et al are key gatekeepers to the future potential of an East Coast series and we will do our absolute best to get them back to Flintstone, even if it takes paternity suits from the lovely bar maids at the Briar Patch.

FYI, it seems there are some magic numbers for healthy hill climb events. 40-60 is not a healthy number. 80-100 is. The drop in average turnout between 2007 and 2008 seems to support that idea. Events that were fine at 70-75 entries bleed noticeably at the wallet with 50-60. Our National Road Autosport's objectives for Polish are pure and simple. We've improved the venue and cut the operating costs. We had over 90 registered in Year One. We had only 66 run up the mountain this year. We've looked at the two fields, observed who was there in 07 that wasn't there in 08...looked at who ran with us for the first time this year (read the Ancus Nation)...and who could be enticed to run for the first time in 09. Stick all that in a blender and out comes the 2009 Polish Mountain sales and marketing plan.

It is very easy to look at institutions of merit like the PHA and talk in terms of "supporting" the series. While some of that plays into the minds of the True Believers in any given association, I think we need to put ourselves in the shoes of the casual competitor and do our best to create the most attractive entertainment/recreational opportunity for them at our hill climbs. The basics, guys. When and where are the events. Why is it fun to enter them? What kind of unique driving experience and technical challenge do they represent? Why is it more rewarding than the other things the drivers may be doing with their time and money?

Anyone who knows about Polish Mountain gets the sense that we at National Road are very attuned to the hospitality and customer service aspect of visiting our community. That's our mission, promoting motorsports as an economic development and community development activity for our hometown. We believe 100% in value-added and plan to work to continue adding as much value as is financially possible to the Flintstone event. 80+ racers is what we need for our event to make money for all involved and operate it at the standard of customer service, value and safety we expect of ourselves and our partners. At the end of day, 80 successfully recruited racers will have to be a blend of the PHA core, our Cumberland based racers and friend and logically targeted common bond groups of other racers we can encourage to come out and hill climb. All of the theory comes down to hitting our respective numbers at nine different venues on nine different dates.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby TKnorr » Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:48 pm

Certainly, one way to get the word out is through related publications. Articles on hillclimbing have been printed in Grassroots Motorsports and Sports Car. Further, most regions have their own montly publications which are distributed to all region members. For example, Washington D. C. Region I am sure has a publication. All that is needed is for someone to write an article and submit it for publication. Currently, we have a hard time getting people to write an article for the PHA "UpHill". If someone would like to step forward to complete such a task, that would be great.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby Cumberland Racer » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:05 pm

I'm in Tom for that duty. I'll e-mail you tomorrow.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby TKnorr » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:21 pm

The PHA website address should be included with each article to be published. Possibly, on the PHA Home Page we could create a box that an interested person could click on to learn more about hillclimbing. This box, “The Thrill of Hillclimbing…. Click here for more info”, would send the inquiring person to video from many sources we already have including in-car video. In addition, information regarding licensing, required safety equipment, etc. could be included. It should be brief and simple. Of course someone would need to create the video from what already exists.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby dspgti » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:37 pm

I have a nice video, if I can find it, in VHS format, if someone can convert it to whatever we need to post it. BMR made a small investment a few years ago in the video and it never got produced but it has some footage that might be pretty good for what you have in mind. At least it is not in car videos put out by drivers that chicken out, overbrake, miss the apex, crash and post it to the web site. (just having some fun with that :wink: )

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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby mrevilracing » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:45 pm

Video? How about linking to the one done by Mike Spock over on 0-60 mag? That was really nice. Long, but nice.
RIP Joe, my friend.

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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby jgrausa » Tue Dec 16, 2008 11:15 pm

Dave W.:
I like the idea of adding a video to the PHA website and using the site as a tool to introduce hill climbing to our brethren drivers.

The thought occurred to me that nearly each marque has a webforum were owners discuss topics of interest. Once a video or two has been added to the PHA site, the schedule cemented in place and the server working like a charm, then posts to various forums with a link to the PHA website can be an effective marketing tool.

FWIW, what I like about hillclimbing is the social aspect; camping out, telling lies, sampling more Yuengling, grilling on the barbie. Also, the clear sky, moonless night and meteor shower you provided for the '08 Polish Mtn event was a highlight of the '08 season. Hard to put a value on that experience.

Another thought was there may be a better opportunity to grab a pair of new drivers rather than a solo driver. Traveling to a new venue/new event, is often best done with a buddy. Maybe a "buddy" package or "intro" weekend. Get experienced drivers to mentor a newbie for their first weekend - particularly when running a similar car. Mentors are not a new idea, but we've never pursued a guideline/strategy for helping out a newbie. I'm confident you could get a number of mentor volunteers.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby Cumberland Racer » Wed Dec 17, 2008 10:45 am

Good ideas, all! OK, here are the unpaid channels we need hit first, I think:

1) Develop a slightly customized "media advisory" in the form of a 500 - 700 word article customized to the media outlet, several of our best images showing cars on course and friends in the pits and a "backgrounder" with history highlights and website URL info "to learn more". SportsCar, Vintage Racer, Grassroots Motorsports and SCCA regional publications are the primary targets. Although the hill climb series history and spirit is great copy and the angle that hill climbing has been of the one form of motorsport most impervious to technology (as evidenced by some of the very long standing hill records) is very good, it's probably not worth the trouble to try and sell an article into Car & Driver, Motor Trend, Automobile, etc, IMO. I DO think, however, we might sell our way into a mention for our schedule announcement on Wind Tunnel as Dave Despain seems to like niche motorsports.

2) When and if good overview on-line videos are available, volunteer shills (I mean supporters) need to ping into the various other specialty motor sports forum we all frequent and share the announcement that the PHA schedule has been announced for 2009 and 2010. As advocates, we can fly under the radar of commercial content or competing events in most forums, I think....at least long enough to get our info out.

More soon, paying work calls.
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Re: PHA MARKETING

Postby TKnorr » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:10 pm

Regarding marketing, perhaps this may help... a little history.
Hillclimbing is Regional. If you ask people in the Wilkes-Barre, Hazelton or Reading area what is hillclimbing, you will find a higher percentage who know what it is compared to other regions that do not have a history of hillclimbing.
NEPA spends a lot of time promoting our 3 events. For example, to promote Weatherly Hillclimb we do a half hour TV talk show (Community Affairs) which is replayed frequently before the event, we have been on the noon TV news, we do a half hour Radio Talk Show the Friday morning of the event, and TV stations show up at the event. Further, prior to the event, we have articles published in the local newspapers and after the event the results are published. None of this cost us a dime but helps tremendously in promoting the event. In addition, we attend numerous regional car and outdoor show events with displays and video. At these events, we distribute the brochures developed by Mary Ann Fieux which are primarly designed to reqruit volunteers to work our events, however, it also serves as a tool to reqruit new drivers.
How does the above relate to reqruiting new drivers? Below you will find, in my view, the answer
Traditionally, how have people been introduced to hillclimbing and subsequently become drivers. From my experiences, new participants from a regional area come from:
Spectators becoming drivers
Workers become drivers
But most come from Family, Friends and Neighbors of drivers.
The existing driver provide the personal attention needed to get an individual started in hillclimbing. Of course, the biggest hurdle is the cost involved in meeting all of the safety requirments. Current hillclimbers can help with this as well.
I can assure you, within my region (NEPA), all SCCA members know about hillclimbing and our events and we have club racers who participate.
I must agree with Dave, many club racers think we are crazy... years ago, a well known road racer made one run and described hillclimbing as "driving at speed through a narrow, crooked, wooden tunnel" and went home. Certainly, there are some club racers who might consider our events. Other potential groups to consider may come from the ranks of NASA and EMRA.
I hope this may help understand how the process has worked.
Our events need 10 to 30 more drivers to allow them to break even.
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