This is Bob. We are heading to the RunningUSA Conference this weekend, and this is the question I will be asking over and over again. We want to try to get feedback on the value of a participant as part of designing the next generation CRM we are working on this year.
To help give context to this question, we came up with this visual model.
Mission – The Balance of Value
There has to be a balance between what a participant receives and what an event gives. However, the main driver of this is the Mission of the Event and how people feel tied to it. a local 5K might be quite different than the Semper Fi Fund Charity Bib program for the Marine Corps Marathon. The 5K receives less $ and connection to the mission of the race than fundraisers for the Semper Fi Fund.
Direct Participant Value
Events can make simple calculations for the value of a participant. For the Scott Coffee Race we hold each year we get about 1,000 participant who pay $30 each and we fundraise and get sponsorships for about $25,000. Our expenses are about $25,000. Therefore our direct benefit from a participant is $30 on average.
Total Participant Value
A participant has several factors that can serve to multiply their value. First, there is the loyalty – the number of times they come back and repeat. In the Scott Coffee, 62% of participants are repeat with a breakdown of # of years like this:
Doing a bit of math, that averages out to $85 per participant over a lifetime value.
A second multiplier effect is the Viral Effect of an individual. Malcom Gladwell called these people “Mavens” in his book “The Tipping Point“. These are the people who organize teams, or who are top referrers.
For the Scott Coffee Race, we have social teams who get a free pair of socks if they have over 20 members on their team. This attracted 22% of participants. So you could also put a 20% multiplier on the value of a participant.
Referrers are also a good multiplier effect. Overall, 7% of participants come from referrers. Some races put a lot of effort into encouraging participants to be referrers – sending them drip campaigns and giving both referral refund rewards and swag rewards. Those top ones have rates as high as 20% of participants coming from referrals.
Average and Maximum Value
For the Scott Coffee Race, the average total value of a participant over a number of years is likely a bit over $100. The maximum value is likely $500 – a “maven” who has convinced a number of people to join the race or their team.
Of course, these numbers are different for every event, and get multiples for fundraising types of events.
The reason these numbers are important is so your event can understand how much effort and money to put into their marketing and CRM efforts.