Well, I certainly will not compare myself to the great marketing minds, but allow me to offer a few ideas to address the reason why they may not be attending the races.
- Reaching Out to Other Nationalities - Perhaps it is different at your track but when I attend the races I see a sea of white men at the track with a few other people attending. I don't know about you, but with America becoming more of a melting pot, being what Ron Kuby used to call 'Whitelandia' is not what (harness) racing needs to be. There is a need to market to other communities in order to have your racetrack welcoming to other ethnic groups. This may be formal advertising; it may be social media in Spanish and other languages explaining harness racing to them and trying to get them to come to the track..
- Speaking of demographics, what do most men/women of the younger generation like? Available women and men. Men show up but there is usually a dearth of women at the track. Here again racing loses out because we present the same old male-oriented game. Unlike thoroughbred racing, we don't welcome women to become active participants in the sulky. Unless a woman owns a horse, odds are the horse will be driven by a man. If thoroughbred racing can accept women jocks, why can't we accept woman drivers? RUS is another venue to get women involved. The more women who become the human stars of racing, the more interest there will be by women as there will be a connection to attract them to the sport.
- Exchange Wagering - When will the sport accept exchange wagering? Young people don't want to wager on a 10-1 and end up earning $5.20. We need to offer a form of wagering where gamblers have a pretty definitive idea of what they will be earning if they win. Being we are not about to welcome bookmakers back ot the track, exchange wagering is a bet the younger generation understands and wants.
- It's Festival time! In other countries, tracks have carnivals, where they offer their best racing and make a big-to-do of their festivals. Link it to a charity and promote them during the festival and have some non-racing events tied to it. Offer events which will attract younger people, perhaps on a dark day with a built in incentive to show up on a racing day. Here is an important thing people may think is counter-intuitive. Charge admission. Nothing says ho hum as free admission. Charging admission invokes a feeling of worth. Afraid of people revolting? Donate a portion of ticket sales to the charity of interest. Offer stakes racing that week.
- Beer. No, I am not saying the second coming of Kegasus, but remember when you were young and foolish (I mean the feeling of invincible)? Have beer tents with craft beer and food trucks. I am not suggesting selling beer passes, the last thing you want is a bunch of excessively drunken people making a scene, tearing the place apart, you want to keep it classy. If you have an open infield, allow people to be inside the track.
- Speed up the racing. Okay, you may not want to cut the time between the races, but post time better mean post time. Nothing is going to tick the younger generation off more than 'jerking' them around with the start time of the race.
I am sure there are other ideas which can attract young people to the races. Do you have any ideas? Let me know.