In April 2017, the World Masters Games was held in Auckland for the first time. As the biggest multi-sport event in the world by participant numbers, the games are open to sports people of all abilities, with the minimum age required to participate is typically 35 years.
To be judged a success, more than 28,000 individual athletes, officials, supporters and volunteers from all over the world have to be persuaded to pay their own way to Auckland and compete in 28 different sporting disciplines over 10 days.
This makes the marketing challenge complex, as the potential market was hugely varied in its geographic, demographic and psychographic makeup. Marketing budgets had to be spread across domestic and international markets and 28 different sporting interests, requiring a multitude of different messaging combinations to resonate.
Apart from the most obvious difficulty of forming an entire organisation from scratch, there were plenty of other obstacles faced by the marketing team. Inherited lists from previous games participants were large but very poor quality so they needed to acquire and convert fresh international prospects. With no database infrastructure in place they had to integrate an effective website, marketing automation and BI platform. Add to this the need to design and build an online registration and payment platform with registration only allowed to open 14 months before the games commence.
Initial focus was on building up and engaging a rich database of 65,000 prospects. With the race on to collect registrations, the team developed a strategy, calling for best practice marketing automation, to progress every database prospect to registration via multiple alternate journeys.
Including smart algorithms, engagement scoring systems and dynamic segmentations to determine which prospects are ‘hottest’ and which of the 28 sports each was most interested in, it delivered 54% of the required registrations and ensured the event was a sell-out success.
In addition, organisers also exceeded some broader commercial objectives including increasing non-Government revenue, incremental GDP and additional visitor nights in Auckland, while delivering positive news coverage and scoring 85% on overall satisfaction across athletes, stakeholders and the public.
The International Masters Games Association President, Kai Holm went on to declare them, "The best games ever", at the closing ceremony.