We know that drag racing is breakneck exciting and very accessible to your fans. We know that those who experience it love it. We know that you work hard to grow the fanbase and the brand that the late great Wally Parks created. Yet, still, drag racing pales in comparison to the NASCAR fan storm, and you ask why?
I think there are a plethora of things that the NHRA is missing out on marketing-wise to grow the sport and develop the kind of fan-following that NASCAR enjoys. And it begins with your DRIVERS.
The fans like following personalities. They like cheering on their favorite drivers. NHRA has that, but not in just their star John Force. They need to promote not only the series alone, but each of their drivers. Create friendly rivalries amidst fans for their favorite drivers where each match up, from qualifying through the final round is exciting. PROMOTE your DRIVERS, and help the teams promote themselves too! Here are a few of my ideas:
The Driver Blogs on NHRA.com are great, but they are sporatically updated and lack all the true “blogging” technology. Why do they not take advantage of RSS syndication, which is the biggest growing trend in online readership? Allow a fan to subscribe to their favorite drivers. And where are those drivers selected? Feature your stars, but also leave room for other drivers who have blogs to submit their blog also. Ron Capps has a blog, and its not even listed there. How many NHRA fans would love to know that and subscribe? And allow us to comment! Opening up discussion makes the experience personal.
Driver Profiles: The NHRA series takes advantage of this idea. Give casual fans a way to learn about the drivers they are watching and choose their own favorite. Sure, I like seeing the career and season stats, and the few headlines, but why not make them much more personal? Let me get to know the driver as a PERSON too?
Driver Twitters: I discovered Twitter not long ago, and admittedly, I didn’t “get it” at first. But I’m seeing the advantages that this micro-blogging has to fans and newcomers. The premise: a quick (140 characters or less) glance at what they are doing right now. They can be sent via text message and updated to blogs, websites, etc. During the season, it will be an instant update tool for me to send out instantly at the track to fans and update the race situation as it happens.
Video Podcasts: Wouldn’t it be great to have a free subscribe-able Race Recap you could get on your ipod or mobile phone on Monday after the races? A highlight reel of sorts… throw in some driver interviews (more DRIVER promotion, hint hint!) and some bloopers and you’d have another way to reach fans away from the weekend.
Chat Sessions: Why not host a chat room where you can announce a time and place that a driver will come in and chat online in 1 hour segments. I’ve taken part in these over at ProModSource with various Pro Mod drivers all the time. It only takes an hour of a driver’s time, and with all the drivers, there could be one per week. Have it on a Wednesday to build excitment for the race weekend. Its fun and very popular.
The key in all this, is that NHRA needs to offer these FREE to their subscribers. Media now is geared more toward the reader than traditional media. NHRA doesn’t need to charge for these services (Audio Cast, etc.) their money can be made in advertising from the viewership alone! These are just a few ways that the NHRA could really connect to their audience and build a new fanbase. And the best part, they don’t cost a fraction of what the ESPN coverage does!
Just my marketing outside view! What else do YOU think can be done to help promote drag racing?