Case Study: Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo

Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo is the rodeo that started it all for me so I am excited to share with you what I have been able to accomplish for them. I should also preface that any work done with a rodeo committee does not happen overnight. There are generational hoops you have to jump through and sometimes even after jumping, you don’t land where you think you will. I have spent 10 years on this rodeo committee and have used this as the foundation for the rest of my work in the rodeo industry. Let’s dive in!

About Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo

First, let’s give you a little background. Lost Dutchman Days is a four-day event that takes place the last weekend of February, every year in Apache Junction, Arizona. Within those four days, there is a plethora of activity throughout the town, but the greatest thing is the comradery that takes place between all of the events and the community. Within the last several years, the rodeo has been sanctioned by the GCRPA in an effort to draw more contestants. We just completed our event for 2022 and had a record year, I will share more details on how we did that below.

Lost Dutchman Days Marketing Overview

So when I came on board 10 years ago, Lost Dutchman Days’ marketing consisted of a coded website, flyers around town, a couple of ads in the local paper, and word of mouth marketing. One of the first things I did as a volunteer was take over the social media platforms, so I started with Facebook and Instagram. Slowly I started picking up more responsibility such as taking over press releases and radio advertising. I will tell you now though, these are not the things in your marketing strategy that make you money. Don’t worry, I will map out a marketing strategy below for anyone looking to make sure they have all their boxes checked. Now for the last four years, I have not only taken our marketing to the next level, but I have also picked up managing our sponsorship program and updating our vendor program. All of these things I now offer as a service to rodeo committees through the Rodeo Heritage Foundation.

Traditional Rodeo Marketing & Advertising

Every rodeo, including Lost Dutchman Days, should still have some traditional marketing tactics in place. There are a couple of reasons for this, 1.) traditional marketing efforts still reach a certain demographic that digital marketing can’t reach, and 2.) someone on your committee will want to see the rodeo in the newspaper. Below are the following avenues you should be using for traditional rodeo marketing.

Print

When you’re implementing print advertising for your rodeo, whether it be an advertorial, editorial, or regular ad, I highly recommend adding a promo code for each individual channel. I will also tell you, that depending on your town and demographic, you will not see an ROI (return on investment) through those avenues. On average, I would say that my budget for print is about $4,000 and when the promo codes are implemented, I didn’t even see 1/4 of that cost on the back end. Every rodeo is different and you do still need print marketing, but it is the most expensive with the least return.

Radio

Radio advertising is also essential for your rodeo, including Lost Dutchman Days. We personally work with some of the smaller radio stations in town to manage our costs. In addition, we also do a trade-out for a portion of the advertising, which not only helps us but also helps the radio station because they receive a sponsorship for the trade-out. I will dive into that more in a rodeo sponsorship article.

Localized Marketing

I can’t stress this enough, use your community to support your marketing strategy! In my experience find the people that are the most ingrained in your community, as those will be the best ones to be your “boots on the ground” folks. Use your local chambers of commerce, networking groups, and clubs to garner support for your event and sponsorships.

Digital Rodeo Marketing & Advertising

Now, this is where it gets good. Utilizing digital marketing in your rodeo marketing strategy is KEY. Regardless if you are selling tickets online or not, having an online presence in this day and age is crucial to the long-term success of your event. If you want more information on where to start, I offer free audits and would be more than happy to get you going in the right direction. But let’s dive into everything that is digital marketing when it comes to rodeo.

Social Media

Listen, I get it, no one wants to do it. BUT it is a necessary evil. Gone are the days when a single person can be in charge of a “rodeo phone”. Trust me, been there, done that! People these days don’t want to call to ask a question, they want to look online and find their answer on their own. And if they can’t find the answer, they still don’t want to call, they’d rather send a message. So the easy fix to that is automating questions that people ask and having an auto-responder give the answer. The way I implemented this was to gather all of my frequently asked questions and loaded them into Facebook. This last year, my chairman commented on how slow the rodeo phone was and the decrease in emails he got about the rodeo. When you make information readily available, people are more likely to attend when their questions are answered.

Now that was just on auto-responders. You should have a whole social media strategy in place in addition to that. By strategy, I do not mean having your cousin’s niece who’s in high school manage and post to your page. Is it a viable option? Sure, IF you have a professional guiding them on what to post. Below is a short list of content ideas you can start implementing today. In addition, I always recommend rodeos to at least be on Facebook, Instagram, and Google My Business. Those are the three platforms where you will get the most traffic with the least amount of effort.

Types of Rodeo Content You Should be Creating and Posting
  • FAQs
  • Any type of video
  • Behind the Scenes
  • Athlete Interviews
  • Committee Highlights
  • Sponsor Highlights
  • Rodeo 101
  • What to do in Your Town
  • Event Details
  • Rodeo Royalty
  • Stock Contractor Highlights
  • Giveaways
Paid Digital Ads

This is where it gets good. If you’re a rodeo committee member and your biggest concern is Return on Investment, then you need to HIGHLY consider adding digital paid ads to your strategy. If you aren’t sure where to start, feel free to reach out and I can give you a crash course. I recommend starting with Facebook ads and going from there. You can set your budget, campaign goals, demographics, and geographic target location for each ad. Additionally, you can easily identify which ads are doing well and which ones are not.

Depending on where you are on the committee, you can still bring any or all of these ideas to the table and chances are, you’ll have someone that can help you implement them. If you are looking for some guidance on how to start the conversation, please let me know!

Rodeo Website

More to come!

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