Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Chess Tournament Marketing

I'm pretty hopeless at marketing chess tournaments. I'm kind of OK at publicising them (which is a different thing), but for marketing I don't do a good job. Part of my problem is my attitude. For I long time I felt that marketing involved the following steps
  1. Organise good chess event
  2. Make sure the tournament details are easy to find
  3. Rely on chess players to find out the tournament details
Sadly this approach hasn't worked as well as I hoped. (My feeling is that Step 3 is the point of failure.) So what strategies do work?

Over the last 12 months I've looked at 4 tournament for guidance. I have been involved in organising 2 of these events, and have been in contact with the organisers of the other 2.
The two major outlets for publicity that all the tournaments looked at were Direct Marketing and Internet Marketing. Direct Marketing consisted of sending out either a flyer or an entry brochure, usually direct to the prospective entrant. For the purpose of the summary a flyer is considered "weak" direct marketing, while a brochure is considered "strong" direct marketing. Internet Marketing involved setting up either a web page or a web site connected with the tournament. In the case of a web page it usually consisted of a single page providing information, while a web site had a whole lot more bells and whistles including online entry facilities. Again, a single web page would be "weak" internet marketing, and a web site would be "strong" internet marketing.

So how did each event do?

Event A
Direct: Weak
Internet: Strong
Entries: 58 in main section , 54 in other events. 112 Total

Event B
Direct: Strong
Internet: Weak
Entries: 200+ expected (Last years event attracted 220 using the same marketing strategy)

Event C
Direct: Weak
Internet: Strong
Entries: 150 (Tournament Limit)

Event D
Direct: None
Internet: Strong
Entries: 220 (Event record)

So what conclusions do I draw from this sample? Basically none. To my eyes there appears to be no general rule concerning the type of marketing versus the expectation of success. Instead it is worth noting that the type of marketing that "may" work probably depends on what sort of tournament it is.
So basically, I'm as still as confused as ever on the issue of what gets chess players to enter chess tournaments.


Libby said...

If I'm "guessing" on Event D it's probably not true to say there was no "direct" marketing of the event. It is true that almost no entry forms were directly distributed however -

regular updates were emailed to stakeholders nationally

"preview" brochures were handed out to all Juniors (with a lolly attached) at the Doeberl Cup 2006 (and a number of parents mentioned this at the event 9 months later!)

webmasters/publicists at clubs were contacted directly to add links and facilitate publicity

regular updates were available online on both the official site and at other locations

And clubs/associations/businesses were asked if they wanted the "paper" forms and all bar one declined. Which is interesting given so many feel lack of "paper" distribution impacted on the Aus Open. As I said, we offered paper (and even budgeted for it for the Juniors) and nobody wanted it.


Pax said...

It's not about the type of marketing, so much as the reach of the marketing.

So whether you use a flyer or a brochure, it's about how many you get into the hands of players rather than whether they are big or small.

Anonymous said...

Like Libby I assume option d is the Aus Juniors. Apart from all the other direct marketing she did, she also took a group of people round to view the accommodation at Easter and talk to them about the Aus Juniors.

From memory the group included Graeme Gardiner, David Cordover and Charles Zworestine. Each of them representing organisations that together contributed over 100 kids to the event.

I think Shaun's comment is fair - there is no one way to market an event. What works for juniors probably won't work in a more scattered adult market.

I think though that to assume if you have a good event people will find it and come to it, would be a dangerous assumption. Each event needs a marketing strategy that is appropriate to that event. A mix of internet and targetted marketing is essential, although that does not mean having to print 1,000 glossy brochures and scattering them over the landcape.