Driving the value sponsors are seeking from race organizers
As the 2017 Running USA Industry Conference approaches, we want to introduce attendees and the industry at-large to our incredible speakers and panelists.
We recently caught up with Troy Schooley, vice president of partnerships and sales at P3R, where he oversees numerous high-profile sponsor relationships. At the 2017 Running USA Industry Conference, Schooley will lead a Race Camp on Sponsorship, leading discussion on forming meaningful and lasting partnerships and how to best build a race's sponsorship portfolio.
Running USA (RUSA): What's your current role in the industry and what does your day-to-day work look like?
Troy Schooley (TS): My team and I work on all non-registration revenue for P3R, meaning sponsorships, race consulting/management, expo vendor sales, and merchandise. We work closely with our current sponsors to ensure each is getting the most out of their partnership with P3R.
On a day-to-day basis, I am talking with sponsors, potential sponsors, and other race directors that we consult for. The race management partnerships are becoming a larger portion of business for us. We are currently working with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Pirates, the Pittsburgh International Airport, and several other regional organizations that are putting on races.
RUSA: How did you first get into the running industry?
TS: I was working in sports media sales. I knew nothing about the running industry, but wanted to transition to the business side of a sports organization. This was the perfect fit. I have put a lot of time into learning the sport along with the business side of the industry and how P3R can capitalize on new opportunities within this business.
RUSA: You'll be moderating the 'Sponsorship' Race Camp. What's one trend you're seeing in sponsorship right now, good or bad?
TS: Social Media is becoming increasingly important to P3R’s sponsors. They want to reach participants and their potential or current customers via our social media channels in a genuine way. We work hard with our marketing team to get sponsors presence on our strong social channels in creative and non-commercialized ways that the runners will respond to.
RUSA: Where do you believe the biggest opportunity in sponsorship lies in 2017 for those in the running industry?
TS: I’ve said this at past events, and I truly believe that in the running industry we have the advantage of a participatory sport. Our “fans” are participants. They aren’t just watching from the sidelines. As an industry, we need to continue to spread the power of the finish line and how dedicated runners are, not only on race weekend but also throughout their training journey. It creates a 7-9 month season of touch points that are very appealing to potential sponsors.
RUSA: At P3R in Pittsburgh, you talk with those in the sport all the time. What's one area race directors should really start educating themselves on when it comes to sponsorship and their relationships with partners?
TS: Listen to what potential sponsors need, not what you want to give them. Often times in our industry, potential sponsors are given a listing of packages and their prices. Without opening up dialogue with a potential supporter, you are losing the ability to give them a sponsorship package that is useful to them. Listen to the needs and interests of the client, then create a package around what that particular client wants to gain from the partnership.
You don’t want to be pitching strong social media presence to an accounting firm who doesn’t have a Facebook page, or pitching an on-site activation space to a company that only wants to focus on their employee wellness program. Open up discussions first, and it will lead to mutually beneficial relationships.
RUSA: What's your favorite part about attending the Running USA Industry Conference?
TS: It is so valuable to spend quality time with the many well-respected people in our sport who attend the Running USA Industry Conference. I only have the opportunity to see many attendees once or twice a year, so it’s great to enjoy the time with everyone together.
To learn more about the 2017 Running USA Industry Conference and see Troy Schooley speak, please visit: http://www.runningusa.org/running-usa-annual-conference