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International Gay Rodeo Association
Rodeo Production Guidebook

MARKETING YOUR RODEO

What is Marketing?

"Marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion, and distribution of ideas, goods, services, organizations, and events to create and maintain relationships that will satisfy individual and organizational objectives." Contemporary Marketing Wired (1998) by Boone and Kurtz. Dryden Press

How does this transfer to rodeos? First let's recognize that there are two distinct business models utilized by IGRA Rodeo Associations. These are determined by the founding "purpose" stated in the association bylaws and by necessity due to differing societal and legal conditions in various areas, as well as factors like membership size and geographical location.

Primarily Charitable: These IGRA associations have as their primary purpose the raising of charitable funds for their communities. Some of these associations have 501c-3 tax status and they usually utilize their rodeo as their primary annual fundraiser.

Primarily Social: Other IGRA associations operate as social organizations and stage a rodeo as a social and sporting event, even though they often donate large sums to local charities as well. These associations often carry a 501c-4 tax status.

Whichever group your rodeo association belongs to, your rodeo is the "goods or service" you provide to generate funds. Educating about and promoting the western lifestyle, generating greater awareness about our sport, and increasing fundraising is a goal all associations share.

These are some pointers that may assist your organization on to the next level.

  1. Create a bond with the charities you are donating funds to:
    This is a year long process and you should actively involve these charitable organizations in creating awareness of each rodeo association and the benefits it provides to the community. You can request they be in attendance at all functions and fundraising throughout the year. Being included in their newsletters will reach an audience we may not have access to. Give them tickets to sell! They can sell tickets to the rodeo all year long! They are as equally responsible in putting fannies in the seats as we are. Request they be in attendance at the rodeo itself and part of the grand entry. Be sure to include them in your rodeo programs! We want to know about them and where our donations are going.

  2. Reach out and get to know your local press:
    Creating an alliance with all available media, both mainstream and gay is crucial to getting the awareness you want. Local television, newspaper, and other print periodicals can be great allies in creating awareness and involvement of the rodeo associations. Establish who in your association will be a spokesperson. This person may also be the person to send out press releases and media alerts. What is a press release or media alert? These are articles sent to all available press. Most press releases are sent out to the media throughout the year creating an awareness of your organization. As rodeo time draws close, a three month release is sent out, then one month, then weekly thereafter. Three days before the event a media alert is sent. Your spokesperson should be knowledgeable about IGRA and its associations, as well as fully knowledgeable about your rodeo event and its key players. This Resources Guidebook includes all the information you need such as who and what we are, press release guidelines, and our animal welfare statement. There is also a comprehensive list of gay and lesbian newspaper/magazine references along with member association newsletter contacts. The companion CD includes high resolution copies of al the International logos. Use it to your best advantage.

  3. Marketing your rodeo and your association in a year-round endeavor:
    Many associations maintain a busy year-round schedule of public events. Local talent and royalty also spend endless hours donating their time and energy to generate funds for chosen charities. Raffles, dances, special events, dinners, and so on are all great ways to constantly create awareness, increase memberships, and generate funds. Don't forget to step outside your comfortable haunts and into the community! Ask local restaurants that you frequent about creating events. In addition to local talent and royalty, consider asking your local competitors to do a "meet the cowboys and cowgirls of the rodeo" night. How many people know who your regular competitors are? They can and should be celebrities in their own rights and should be promoted. The possibilities throughout the year leading up to your rodeo are only limited by your imagination. Exchange ideas with other associations, stay involved and seen! Going back to the press release, each and every fundraising event should be released to the media in your community. This will let them know you are involved year round in creating a better community in a wholesome way.

  4. Membership drives.
    These can and should be a part of every event you have. Something as simple as a table set-up with a volunteer, membership forms, and information on your rodeo association can increase membership greatly and get a potential member to act on joining immediately. Approach your local college's gay and lesbian groups to acquire younger members and competitors. Approach other organizations with similar interests about trading booth space, both at events and rodeos. Get to know who your new members are and what talents they possess and are willing to share. All too often a core group works extremely hard all year long to make everything happen. Expand and get others involved!

  5. Develop your relationship with IGRA and local Sponsors:
    Your IGRA International sponsors have invested heavily in your success. Make sure you are familiar with the sponsorship contracts. Full compliance with the terms of these agreements is your association's responsibility to the sponsors and to IGRA. It's a good idea to appoint one person as "compliance officer" to assure your rodeo keeps its obligations. This guidebook includes summaries of these contracts for your use. Also, refer to the IGRA Rodeo Trustee Checklist. Each of the International sponsors is eager to help your rodeo, so establish open communication with them or your local representative.

    Every rodeo also needs local sponsors to survive. This can be as easy as asking local merchants that you frequent to help out in some small way to approaching national corporations for sponsorship. Your association's mission along with IGRA's mission is crucial. Start by creating a brief document or flyer explaining who you are and what you do. Include information about IGRA and our rodeo. Also create a list of what you have to offer a sponsor and use that to make your pitch. Don't let a few rejections get your morale down. There are many businesses, organizations, and corporations that will eagerly assist you. Remember the better relationship you develop with them, the more rewards you will both reap.

  6. Make your rodeo exciting!
    Many associations have this down to a science, but this cannot be stressed enough to continue growth and interest. Announcers, background music, the entire environment you create can make the difference whether people attend your next rodeo and perhaps bring someone new with them, or not. Keeping your Grand Entries short and sweet or so spectacular that no one leaves the stands is also important. Invite your local politicians, celebrities, and so on. Showcase your competitors. Ensure that your vendor and dance area are entertaining for all attendees. Your audience must feel they got some bang for their buck on their donation or they won't return.

  7. Assist your local competitors with sponsorship:
    Your cowboys and cowgirls spend a lot of time and effort along with their own money to make it to the rodeos on the IGRA circuit. Do what you can for them to buffer or completely alleviate this financial burden. This can be incorporated into events and also in your search for sponsors. A sponsor may not be able to assist your association as much as you'd both like but can greatly assist a competitor in making it not only to your rodeo but to the next rodeo on the circuit. Events such as "meet the cowboys and cowgirls" mentioned earlier are also a great means of generating sponsorship for them.

  8. Printed material or "collateral":
    One of your strongest tools throughout the year can be a simple brochure your association creates. Exciting photographs, your mission, IGRA mission, who and what your charities are, and any other pertinent information can go a long way in many areas. Provide them at all events, to sponsors, local businesses that you support and support you.
First posted May 16, 2015
Last update Jan 1, 2016