Skip to main content

The Two Streams of Marketing Racing, Monday Notes of the Weekend Racing

Good day racing fans. There's a snowstorm here, so I figured I'd take a break from work and shoveling to jot down a few thoughts. If you don't like this post, blame the storm, not me!

There was quite the chat on twitter yesterday about Doug O'Neill's social media marketing initiative. Most tend to believe that marketing to millennials often revolves too much around fashion and booze and too little around horses and betting. Since at your average racetrack, a consumer of any age can consume horses and betting, while they can get fashion and libation anywhere, it's not a bad point, of course.

In general, I find talk about 'marketing' the sport can disintegrate into bumper sticker slogans, when it really needs some nuance. There, in my view, are two marketing streams racing needs to pay attention to. The in-your-face, and the targeted.

In your face marketing is social media, wiener dog racing, booze, fashion, red carpets, Wes Welker and human interest. As much as you or I might dislike its efficacy in building new long-term bettors or fans, there is a strong reason it needs to exist: It speaks to the people who control more and more of the purse strings.

John Kasich might be running for President, but he's governor of Ohio, and when he sees Little Brown Jug headlines, news stories about people having fun at local racetracks, charity events, celebrity bouncy pony races, charity giving, greenspace arguments and all the rest, it's a signal that the slot money is working. Yes, that might be silly, but it's the way the world works, in more than horse racing.

Horses trending on twitter, and pictures with people drinking, wearing hats and having fun serve a purpose, don't kid yourself.

The targeted marketing arm is a whole different story.

$10,000 of marketing money should bring in X conversions and those conversions need to be measured. Those convertors need to be carried through a (a rather obtuse) buy cycle. Then those convertors need to be given a lifetime value metric, with hard dollars or handle. At the end of the process a return on ad spend target is apparent and the process is honed, perfected and hopefully creates a strong system in which to funnel marketing dollars.

That's hard.

Not only is it hard, the "business" is not a business at all. It's a hodge-podge of alphabets, ADW's, track owned internet platforms, and on and on. Horsemen groups feel tracks should be doing it, ADW arms try to do it, but don't have the backing of others who are part of the sales and product cycle.

Seriously, it's much easier to promote hats and booze, so that's what's promoted.

One day the business will figure it out; there will be a salesforce.com segment with "horse racing". The efficacy of $10 spent on free bet coupons versus $10 of marketing to poker players and other initiatives like that will be a known number. That day isn't here.

Notes:

Hey, I liked this.
Grab a few shots of bourbon, eat four donuts, and head to the track. We have free parking!
No worries if the card starts at 11AM, it's 5 o'clock somewhere.

Quality racing? Well, at the Big M, the third race on Friday evening was for $10 claiming trotters with amateur drivers. The handle was $302,000. The Levy series with Foiled Again at Yonkers in the 5th race the same evening, did about $65,000.

Speaking of Foiled Again, I thought the 11 (is he 12, holy I think he might be)  year old raced super. Slow fractions are not his bailiwick. Even when he was 5 he was not a horse who could quicken.

Setting the odds with Garnet Barnsdale was good. A bettor was a guest this time.

Untapable does not have the go she once had, but with great horses, the will never goes away. You can see her trying, and that's what makes a lot of horses. It always fascinates me with the will to win types. It doesn't matter if they're a four claimer or a stakes horse; doesn't matter if they're a Thoroughbred or standardbred or quarterhorse. The ones who try hard are very special.

The Rebel was a bit of a head-scratcher to me (with some horses racing really bad numbers), although the odds-board sure was pretty right.

This is RT'd 16 times because it's not seen often enough. There's no NHL.com with stakes races listed like start times to a hockey game. It's as above, a hodge-podge.

Have a nice day everyone. I'll go back to shoveling now.


Comments

JLB said…
That diner opposite Yonkers Raceway has consistently served good food for decades. Was sitting at the counter on a late afternoon about 20 years ago when someone vaguely recognizable sat down next to me. Once I pictured him with a helmet on, I realized it was Herve Filion, just driven up by a colleague, from Freehold Raceway, and having a bite to eat before suiting up for the evening card at Yonkers. Very approachable, we chatted about "the old days" with Winter racing at Liberty Bell, and Sundays at Green Mountain.

I, too, was astounded by the pool size on that Amateur trot at the Meadowlands.
Anonymous said…
Marketing California's mostly 24% exotic takeout rates and unplayable short fields is a complete and total waste of time and money. Charging too much for a poor product will never work in the business world.