Ultimate 5K Run Marketing Guide

May 30, 2017

If you’re planning a 5K run, you need to effectively market your event to attract the most runners and revenue. The following presents detailed advice for so you can develop a powerful and proven marketing strategy for your upcoming 5K.

 5k run marketing

What makes your 5K special?

Before you consider what marketing tools you’ll need and marketing channels to explore, start by listing anything that makes your 5K special. If you can’t think of anything, consider adding a unique twist that will help your 5K stand out from competing events. You want your 5K to be more than a run – it should be an experience your guests look forward to, share, and recruit friends to join them in.

Ideas include:

  • Charity benefit – if you’re raising funds for a popular cause you should promote this on all your marketing materials
  • Location – if your run is in a unique location, such as along the banks of a lake or in the foothills of a mountain range, that locale can be a big attraction to runners who are tired of inner-city flatlands
  • Theme – Color runs, mud runs, bubble runs, obstacle runs, night runs, glow runs, zombie runs, and other themes are turning typical 5K into fun family affairs, and continue to increase in popularity as organizers come up with new creative ways to infuse fun into runs
  • Personal goals – Runs that are part of larger programs, such as hospital-sponsored wellness events, and runs that serve as qualifiers for competitive events are popular for those seeking to achieve personal goals

List everything that makes your 5K unique and be sure to include it – along with date, time, and registration details – on your event marketing materials.

 color run

Create an early-bird incentive

One of the most difficult parts of organizing a run is not knowing how many people are going to show up. This is especially true if you’re buying shirts, sunglasses, bandanas, color packs, wristbands, numbers, and other items. The last thing you want to do is order 100 shirts you don’t need and can’t sell!

This is where early-bird incentives can help. Give something to those who sign up by a set deadline to encourage early registrations, which will inform you how many additional items you need to buy. Doing so will also help you determine whether you need to boost your marketing investment or whether you’re in good shape to reach your goal number of runners.

Incentives include:

  • Deadlines before price increases
  • Deadlines for shirt sales
  • Deadlines to receive post-race drink tickets, yogurt, or other items
  • Deadlines to receive free entry to an accompanying festival


Create powerful marketing materials

Now that you have a unique way to market your 5K along with at least one early bird incentive, you’re ready to create your marketing materials. They should include:

  • The name of your 5K (come up with something memorable)
  • The theme of your 5K
  • What cause, if any, your 5K supports
  • The date, time, and location
  • Costs
  • Early sign-up incentives
  • Registration options
  • Website URL
  • Social media pages
Consider the following marketing channels for your 5K

Print marketing

Print marketing helps you get the word out to both mass audiences and targeted individuals who are likely to want to participate. Ideas include:

  • Postcards sent to past 5K runners and those who subscribe to running and fitness magazines
  • Flyers distributed in many public locations as well as targeted locations, such as gyms and health clubs
  • Posters placed in prominent public locations
  • Banners placed in high-traffic areas, intersections, and along roadways
  • Refrigerator magnets to help remind runners of the event
  • Brochures, especially if your 5K is part of a larger festival or event

Online marketing

  • A website with registration is a good start. Services like Red Podium and Race Entry make this easy
  • Social media – Facebook, in particular – is a great way to boost your 5K to local runners, earn shares, and use targeted ads to reach a well-defined audience (services such as Ad Espresso can help you optimize your ads)
  • Email, if you have a list of past attendees or can acquire a list of likely runners
  • Event websites – in particular, local event listings and websites that list 5K’s, such as Active, Runner’s World, and Road Race Runner

PR and advertising

  • Submit press releases to local media
  • Consider advertising in target publications as well as local newspapers, entertainment magazines, radio, TV stations, and local event blogs
  • See if you can get interviews with local media to discuss your event

 5k run flyer

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About Brian Morris

Brian Morris serves in various capacities as a freelance writer, content developer and public relations specialist for growing small businesses. When he’s not writing, he can be found on the racquetball court - usually getting his tail kicked by guys 20 years older.

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