Imagine you’re the organizer of one of the world’s most demanding athletic competitions, an event attended by the best athletes in the sport and viewed by media hordes and a teeming crowd in excess of 30,000 spectators. Now imagine that all these people are notified of the event no more than 48 hours before it begins. One mistake and all is lost, so finding a dependable way to get the message out is not just desirable, it’s absolutely essential.
If you’re Keir Beadling, Managing Partner of Mavericks Surf Ventures LLC, this is not a hypothetical scenario, it’s the reality you encounter every year as one of the hosts of Mavericks, the world’s most celebrated surfing competition. Every year surf enthusiasts from across America and around the globe converge on Half Moon Bay for what one might regard as the Super Bowl of surf – if no one knew when the Super Bowl was scheduled until two days before kickoff and the competing teams had to travel from places like Asia and Australia to the shores of California. It’s there, half-an-hour south of San Francisco on the windswept coast of Half Moon Bay, that tens of thousands of people converge at what amounts to a moment’s notice.
Unlike most other sporting competitions, Mavericks is conducted only under ideal weather conditions, specifically when the winds off Half Moon Bay whip up some of the world’s most daunting waves. This occurs during a 3-month window in the winter months, but the exact date is known only to Mother Nature. As a result, Mavericks Surf Ventures keeps surfers, fans and media supplied with periodic weather reports and surfing-related updates before providing the official contest announcement on 24 to 48 hours notice.
Mavericks has long favored email as the way to keep the surfing community informed because, “it’s the most efficient, timely and cost-effective way to reach that volume of people on such short notice.” For years, Beadling issued updates through his personal email account, a practice that developed into a logistical nightmare.
“In the past we’d try to reach all of the aforementioned people from my own Yahoo! email account,” Beadling recalled. “That created enormous time and effort constraints stemming from the ineffectiveness of alerting these people through private email and also caused a large portion of desired recipients to miss the alert.” Those results sent Mavericks in search of a more practical, scalable solution.
Discovery While evaluating ESPs, Mavericks considered a number of companies before settling on VerticalResponse, Inc., a San Francisco-based provider of self-service email and direct mail solutions. Beadling was impressed by the firm’s reliability, pricing structure and reporting, but positive testimonials from existing customers helped seal the deal.
“In a virtual world it becomes easy to outsource operations such as an email campaign to relatively inaccessible firms. “VR is locally trusted and came recommended to our tech professional via other Bay Area users,” Beadling noted. “There really is no other feasible way, whether from a cost, time or logistical perspective to reach the volume of people we need to on such a short notice.”
Beadling’s faith was rewarded and Mavericks now provides its large database with a steady stream of surfing-related updates detailing events like The Mavericks Live Tour Concert Series, television broadcast VIP Parties, press releases and more. And when the time is right for the next edition of The Mavericks Surf Contest, the call will once again go out to the world via VerticalResponse.
“Our fans and supporters have come to rely on the VR method to access information about the contest, with the principle benefit to us coming from the fact we can rely on VerticalResponse to get that information through every time without fail,” Beadling explained. “And we know instantly how many people we’ve reached and can garner a number of key pieces of information from the accurately measured results.”
“In specific terms of ROI, the cost of sending VR emails to our fan base is completely negligible to the value of even one of those people attending the contest, surfing in the contest or covering the contest for the media.” Beadling added. “It’d cost a great deal more to outsource this messaging responsibility to a reputable PR agency.”