By Christopher Cudworth
Businessman Jim Varga has a history of innovation with data and product fulfillment. His company Neofill built its reputation creating consumer connections for radio and other industries. The company has earned an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Jim Varga is also a runner, and along the way to the finish line he dreamed up a really nice use of competitor data to provide races a way to recognize participants for their efforts. Varga took the classic “white oval” concept and its “26.2” and “13.1” and “140.6” designations to a new level. His use of variable data enables races to output and send out ovals with the exact results of each competitor’s finish time in any type of event from marathon to half-marathon, triathlon, Ironman or Half-Ironman, Century ride or any event that captures competitor data.
That’s a pretty nice way to say “nice job.” It’s also a good way to extend the brand of an event throughout the year. Plus, sponsors can get additional recognition because the marketing piece that carries the white oval is a great way for companies to build connections with race competitors.
Think about it. While the traditional goody bag is a nice touch at many races, the marketing message for that space in time is dependent on the attention each runner gives to the contents. Varga has shown that there is more to a race than living in the moment. White Oval marketing enables sponsors to drive traffic back to their stores, websites or other commerce connection with a followup message that contains a highly personal––and thus high-value––connection.
Big picture. Direct response.
The model is somewhat similar to the difference between brand marketing by auto manufacturers and the direct response mailings done by dealer groups across the country to bring customers into the showroom. Because it’s not enough to simply brag up your car or truck on TV or the auto show and hope consumers flock to their local dealership. People need reasons to buy and that’s where direct response often comes in. Agencies such as Aspen Marketing in West Chicago, Illinois conduct massive direct marketing campaigns to drive customer buying decisions.
Jim Varga looks at race marketing the same way. His use of variable data to drive customer response is exactly what race sponsors are seeking; a tangible way to build relationships with an otherwise fleeting audience.
A shoe company or retail store can add its logo to a designated white oval. The marketing piece that carries the oval can be custom-designed to offer coupons or any other method of driving business or store traffic. The business that helps race directors market their events is found at WhiteOvalMarketing.com.
Every competitor counts
Of course Varga doesn’t stop there. If a race does not offer white ovals to participants, runners or riders can actually create their own version online by entering personalized data. And it’s free at White-Oval.com.
The flat-out fact is that White Ovals and their colorful relatives are part of the running and riding dialect these days. People work hard for their finish times and the methods by which Jim Varga delivers that capability to personalize white ovals is unique and special.
The data may be variable, but the message is universal: You matter and so does your achievement!