Are you searching for ways to get your brand seen by more people? Do you want to make more connections in the outdoor industry? Are you seeking corporate sponsorship so you can keep riding, climbing or surfing?
If you answered yes to any of these, then you probably already know about outdoor industry shows like Interbike, ICAST and Outdoor Retailer. The recent OR Show in Denver was fantastic and we can't wait for Interbike in Reno this year!
Although these industry events are a great place to network, if you're a small startup brand or an athlete seeking sponsorship, you probably can't afford the steep entrance and exhibitor fees.
Well we have a suggestion- save some cash and have even more fun by attending adventure sports events and festivals.
Be outside, instead of talking about it
When I show up at networking events, I’m not there to hand out business cards, grab a glass of wine, maybe score a free sticker and roll out. I go to learn about new products, make connections, practice my pitch and find potential clients.
As a small business owner, my marketing budget is tiny. I need to be careful about which events I attend, and so going to industry trade shows like Outdoor Retailer is a huge chunk of change. I'd also much rather conduct business while pedaling 50 miles anyways.
Speaking of pedaling, when I ride my mountain bike I feel awkward, heavy and slow. Very turtle-like. But I'm still smiling at the end of every ride.
So why travel to an event like the Sedona MTB Festival where it's all about riding in the dirt? Yes, I'm always 'looking' for a new mountain bike, but that's not why I went.
I work with athletes and outdoor brands, and even if I do not have an athlete in tow, or a brand exhibiting at the event, I still find huge benefits in attending. Here's my top 5 reasons why I attend adventure sports events and festivals, and why you should be there too!
Top 5 Reasons to Attend adventure sports events and Festivals
1. Adventure Travel
So our main goal, and one of the reasons for starting Top Rope Media, was to spend more time outdoors enjoying wild places. Being able to work from the road is a huge advantage of owning your own company.
Yes, I often find myself working on the weekends, or creating a client's email campaign after dinnertime. However, I make time during the day for exercise and I have the opportunity to explore- whether by hiking, biking or rock climbing while on the road.
Are you searching for an event where you can participate in, or even just the place itself is a destination you've always wanted to travel to? Well here's some upcoming adventure sports events and festivals in beautiful places:
2. preview and demo outdoor gear
Events and festivals not only have an expo area where vendors actually have time to talk with you, you can typically demo their latest gear right there.
Of course, if you're in the market for a new bicycle, you can take a few different ones out for a spin at a cycling event. In addition, there's also outdoor brands like Osprey Packs, who not only let you touch and feel their newest backpacks, you can take one out on your next ride!
3. Brand awareness
Attending adventure sports events and festivals are helpful if you are:
- A new face or new brand in the outdoor space
- New at your company, even if you have worked in the outdoor industry for years
- A journalist, blogger or new media
- Seeking corporate sponsorships or distribution partners
Most of my clients and corporate partnerships have come through people I already have relationships with. I'm a one-woman show, and not many people in the outdoor industry have heard of Top Rope Media, so I always need to be out there sharing my story.
4. Opportunities for Networking and Corporate PartnersHIPs
Compared to Outdoor Retailer, where you often need to score a meeting in order to get some face time with the brand manager or sponsorship coordinator, at an adventure sports event or festival you can roll right up and shake their hand.
At the Sedona MTB Festival, I had the opportunity to meet Adam Miller, Founder of Why Cycles. They're one of the newer brands, but Adam is not new to the industry. In addition, with all the brands to choose from, I probably wouldn't have found Why Cycles, especially because I do not live near Carbondale, Colorado, where the company is based.
I didn't even bring pedals, shoes or a chamois, but I did bring my helmet! I fell in love with Why Cycles R+ titanium gravel bike and just kept pedaling. The Founder of EnduroBites, Brian Maslach, joined me for the ride and probably had no idea what he was in for.
The wide-eyed looks I got from fellow mountain bikers were pretty hilarious. When I pedaled up past the tourists climbing to Devil's Bridge, then shouldered the bike to get to the very top of the bridge, that was epic.
Maybe I need a gravel bike and not a new mountain bike after all? Maybe both? Hmmm...either way, that was fun.
5. free food + beer + MUSIC
One thing we noticed at the Sedona MTB Festival was the opportunity to sample coffee, beer, craft cocktails and even pizza, all the while learning about a new product.
If you've ever been to Interbike, you'll know that trying to get a beer during happy hour at the show is nearly impossible. It's also a big expense for exhibitors to distribute beer at their booth.
Of course there was plenty of food trucks at the Sedona MTB Festival, however the more creative brands had partnered with a local coffee roaster, or craft beer brewery. Having Bad Sea Coffee brew me an espresso while I was standing in the TASCO tent, oh and it was 45 degrees out, well that felt luxurious. This also kept me energized and engaged, and in their booth longer.
There were also local bands playing on-site throughout the day. If you tried to get out to any of the music shows at Outdoor Retailer, you'll be thankful to hear that most of these outdoor festivals bring the music to you!
What's the saying, "people may not remember what you said, but how you made them feel." Well, when I'm happily fed, with a good beer in hand and some music, I'm definitely more likely to stick around. And to come back next year.
Until next time, happy adventuring!
- Meredith McConvill