* MTBO – A Marketing Idea

In the ongoing controversy within the Israel Sport Orienteering Association (ISOA) over the future of mountain bike orienteering (MTBO), the concept of marketing has been tossed around. I think some dissenters are confusing marketing with advertising (and the expense of the latter). Marketing may require expenditures, but a lot of marketing can take place without any cost. Non-professionals can do it. All it requires is a passion for the product you want to promote and a willingness to devote your time to the effort.   

Listening to the discussion at the ISOA general assembly this week, I heard a lot of good marketing ideas. Too bad they got lost in the heat of the debate. Driving home, I began to formulate an idea, inspired by Varda who said, “why don’t you go where the bikers are?” Yes, indeed, we need to bring MTB orienteering to the bikers. Like the hostesses at supermarkets who offer shoppers a sample of new foods, we need to give bikers a flavorful taste of MTBO.   

What: MTBO Promotional Event (to be repeated weekly)
Who: Passionate MTBO volunteer organizers
Where: Entrance to Ben Shemen forest at Mitzpeh Modiin
(or any location where hundreds of bikers have parked their cars and are preparing to ride)
When: very early Friday morning and/or Saturday mornings
(1) Set up MTBO course: (controls must be in place by 6 a.m.)
Preferably offer 2 courses: difficult (lots of singles) and easy (main trails)
Use all or part of the course from the MTB WOC – “Ride a World Championship Course!”
(2) Set up the O club gazebo with flags and signs (in place by 6 a.m.)
(3) Provide an MTBO course map (FOR FREE) in exchange for contact details: name and email address. Print the MTBO 2010-2011 schedule on back of map.
(4) Offer use of map holder (FOR FREE), in exchange for driver’s license/ID card until returned.
(5) Talk to riders before and after their MTBO ride. Get feedback. Find out what they liked and didn’t like. Timing is optional.
(6) Repeat, repeat, repeat. In the same location. Using the same map. Get 40-50 different riders to try MTBO every week. If a rider returns for a second try, well then, you’ve enlisted a new MTBOer.   

I suggest manufacturing 20-30 simple map holders that have rotational capability. I have done MTBO with and without a map holder, and I believe this piece of equipment is vital to the MTBO experience, whereas a compass is rarely needed. My husband Yuval, a mechanical engineer, has already designed and produced several of these holders; to produce a series of would cost about 200 NIS each. This would be a wise investment for an O-club, like Modiin, since the holders can be loaned to riders and reused continuously.   

I am willing to participate in this marketing experiment and help make it succeed. But it needs a leader to take charge. You know who you are. Who’s going to take the initiative? I’m waiting for your call.

Yuval Mishli with rotational map holder for MTB orienteering