ProMedia, LLC is one of the leading producers of sportsman drag racing events in the marketplace, and is the producer of the NMRA Ford Nationals, the NMCA Muscle Car Nationals, and the NMCA West Street Car Nationals series. Steve Wolcott is the CEO of ProMedia, and a member of the SEMA Board of Directors. As one of the founders of ProMedia, he has kept his finger on the pulse of changes in the racing market to maintain the success and growth of its sanctioning bodies. This is particularly challenging, given the changes in the economy and the racing industry over the past few years. Following are excerpts from a recent interview with Wolcott, conducted by Chris Vopat of the Emerging Trends & Technology Network (ETTN) Select Committee at SEMA, PRI's parent company.
Part 1: Shifting Demographics
While ProMedia is in the business of sanctioning drag races, its goal is to produce events that appeal to a family audience. Wolcott explained that in the early days of the NMRA and NMCA, the target demographic audience was the 18-34 segment, for both spectators and racing participants. This group was seen as the traditional age range for automotive enthusiasts.
ProMedia conducts surveys of its spectator and participant audience, and has found that in recent years, particularly among racers, the demographic has shifted. While younger people still have a presence, more and more racers represent the baby boomer crowd. These are people who have more disposable income, and more time to devote to racing at the sportsman level. This has helped to tailor marketing efforts to this market.
Just as important as monitoring and marketing to the racers who compete in the NMRA, NMCA and NMCA West is keeping pace with the types of cars that they compete with. The recent popularity of factory muscle cars, like the 5.0 Mustang, LS-powered General Motors vehicles such as the fifth-generation Camaro, and the late-model Chrysler Hemi has translated into the racing market. With high horsepower from the showroom floor, these vehicles can be modified to produce the power levels of legitimate race cars.
To capitalize on the popularity and power of these newer cars, ProMedia has developed racing classes in the NMRA and NMCA specifically for them. This gives the enthusiasts and tuners of these modern muscle cars a venue in which to compete, and also helps the spectator audience identify the connection with these cars, which are very similar to standard models.
Part 2: New Strategies
In looking at how ProMedia has changed its marketing strategy to keep pace with its audience, Wolcott explained that different event markets call for different specific methods. However, in general, the traditional means of promoting events involved advertising in enthusiast magazines keyed to the type of event, and in enthusiast web forums. Certain markets also called for local radio advertising.
However, these methods resulted in what Wolcott terms "renting" a contact—reaching them once to inform them about the event, but without any follow-up to keep them engaged. In order to own a contact, to be able to engage and keep them interested in upcoming events, ProMedia has shifted its marketing tactics.
Enthusiast magazine advertising is still a key part of the marketing mix for NMRA, NMCA and NMCA West events. Publications such as Muscle Mustangs and Fast Fords, for example, directly target the Ford performance enthusiast base that would be interested in NMRA Ford Nationals events. However, rather than simply advertising in these magazines, ProMedia now forges partnerships with publications that participate with the events and provide event coverage, giving further exposure to potential event participants.
In addition, social media has become a key part of ProMedia's event promotions. By building a network of followers on Facebook and other social media outlets, fans can be kept up to date about upcoming events, results and special information. Email blasts to ProMedia's extensive contact list are also an effective way to reach race participants and spectators. Geo targeted emails, specifically to people within a reasonable radius of an upcoming event, are also being utilized more recently.
ProMedia continues to explore new methods to reach event participants and spectators as effectively as possible.