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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Standardbred Marketing; NEW FOCUS for HarnessHorses.info

Well kids, it's time we take a long look at the game and find ways to make it more attractive to sporting fans, the general public, and young people in particular. Handle is up on a per race basis in 2009 (Canadian data), but with less races it's working out to a wash, so far.

I invite readers to post any ideas they may have on improving the racing, the betting products, and the marketing and promotion methods used to bring people to the races.

Here are a few ideas to get the ball rolling:

#1 - Pick Six with guaranteed payout, plus 5 of 6 payout

Guaranteeing a minimum pool of $15,000, $25,000 or whatever amount is suitable for the track and card in question entices players into taking a shot at a big win, much as lottery sales go up when the grand prize is large.

Paying out a portion of the winnings to those who picked 5 of 6 creates a far greater pool of winners. Progressive tracks are already implementing these types of bets, and we'd love to have someone from one of these tracks post some before and after numbers.

Another innovation is offering a smaller takeout (eg. 15%) from the Pick 6 being promoted, a clear sign to bettors that this promotion is really worth participating in.

#2 - Promote Alliances with Other Sports

As much of the North American harness racing industry is located in the Northeast, it's not surprising that the most successful racetracks are located near NHL hockey hotbeds like Toronto, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia etc.

Here are ideas for promotions tied to other sports:

A - XYZ Hockey Team Night

2 local hockey stars plus 3 top drivers will be available for signing autographs and all season ticket holders will mailed invitations with betting vouchers and food coupons.

B - Golfers Night

The members of all top local courses will be invited out for an evening at the track, with door prizes and draws for golf clubs, plus weekend and week long golfing trips.

C - Softball League Night

If there are a number of softball leagues within reasonable driving distance of your track, create a fun night with lots of incentives and you'll get some brand new mailing lists from the league managers, and find some new lifetime fans.

#3 - The Helmet Cam

Until we get microphones and cameras on driver's helmets, we won't have full entered the 21st Century. There will be some controversy about whipping, but a bright light will cause offenders to think twice and also to be easily proven guilty, so in addition to adding more excitement to for television and Internet viewers, helmet cams may also reduce any unnecessary or abusive whipping.

#4 - Lottery-style Betting Cards

I think it would be fantastic if I could just drop by the local variety store and place a horse racing card in the lottery machine, and walk home with a triactor box and a superfecta box, but first we need to take some baby steps. Let's create these machines for use at tracks and off-track locations first, then after we've proven the technology is proven and live, we can push for having them located in more gambling (eg. casinos) environments and eventually, the OLC chain of distributors (Ontario Lottery Corp).

If any company is interested in a test-run of this type of betting methodology, I have designed some prototype cards and systems and am available for consulting on how these can be integrated for multi-track usage.

Readers are invited to post any proven promotional ideas, plus suggestions for new directions in racing, wagering, marketing and sales.

Let's get to it!

Joe Trainor
Toronto, Ontario

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