You know what I don't like about the "big race" experience? The never-ending chain of emails from photo vendors teasing you with expensive photos of your accomplishment. After paying hundreds of dollars in race fees and travel expenses, it feels wrong to be pestered by vendors looking for another dollar while holding a runner's image hostage. Is that the lasting impression race directors want to leave with their participants?
I just received another email from one of the vendors that I particularly despise. Let's call them Marathon Dodo. JASON, Don't Miss Out on Our Holiday Special! $10 off on orders of $50 or more. This is for a race I ran nine months ago. If you're going to bother me during the holidays, you can offer me the entire collection for free as a gesture of goodwill towards all people.
Some race directors have found a way to offer runners free photos by passing the cost on to their race sponsors in return for great brand exposure and viral content marketing. The 2014 San Francisco Marathon is a prime example. They partnered with GameFace Media to take over 300,000 photos on race day and then offered them to runners for free. Each photo had the sponsor's logo and race name printed in the corner of the image. Genius!
Runners visit the race sponsor's Facebook page or website after the race to claim their photos. Each visit gives sponsors an opportunity to interact with their customers. In addition, most runners share their photos on social media, which encourages others to visit the sponsor site as well. It's a great way to build relationships in the running community, give runners quality photos, and make the race experience a positive one, both during and after the event.
This model works for smaller events too. The Big Lake Half Marathon in New Hampshire (800+ runners), followed the GameFace model last year. After liking the race site on Facebook, I had access to all the high-definition race photos for free. Everybody wins!
Let race organizers know that you're tired of paying for overpriced race photos. There are better ways to do business, and we deserve to feel appreciated. Runners are great at sharing too! So, you can be sure we'll bring our friends along with us next year. A little courtesy goes a long way.
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