Posted by Editoress on 07/2/04
Women's Cycling Summit Conference Nature Valley Grand Prix, June 2004
On June 11th, women cyclists and their supporter gathered at the 3rd Yoplait Women's Cycling Summit Conference held during the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival at the Park Inn in Bloomington Minnesota. The Yoplait Summit, whose mission is to advance women's cycling at all levels, attracted more than 50 participants, most of who were in Minnesota to participate in the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
The first session was an open discussion of strategies to stretch small budgets. Race selection is often driven by budgetary issues. Sponsor's goals and the expense of a given race were the two most consistently cited factors in race selection. Strategies for stretching budgets included host housing, using local staff and have team members distributed around the country.
Giving more value to your sponsors was the subject of a panel discussion in the second session. Teams need to understand that, while a sponsor may like the sport, their sponsorship is intended to advance their business goals. Sponsorships are often intended to help craft the sponsor's "brand image". Brands are more than just identifiers. Modern branding focuses not just on the qualities of the product but includes a wide variety of other associations, images and experiences that shape the way that a consumer perceives the brand. Sponsorship provides an excellent strategy for crafting brand image since the brand becomes perceived as having a positive association with a cool sport and an active lifestyle.
The final session was devoted to working with the media. The mainstream media is not particularly interested in bicycle racing, but they can be highly motivated by compelling stories. Lance Armstrong made the cover of Esquire magazine, not because he's an outstanding athlete, but because he's a cancer survivor who made an amazing comeback from a potentially fatal disease. Every athlete on every team has a compelling story and the teams need to collect these stories and provide them to the media relations coordinators of the events that they attend or to the media directly. Effective media relations was discussed in detail.
The full Proceedings can be found at www.WomenCyclists.com
The next Yoplait Women's Cycling Summit Conference will be held at the Interbike trade show in October.
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