Q&A with our August Luncheon Presenter, Zach Harsin

1.) Who or what influenced you to start Pink Gorilla Events?
As with many small business, Pink Gorilla Events spawned not from a desire to build the best running event company in the Midwest, but rather a passion of our founder Ben Cohoon to fill a void in the marketplace: create a fun running event that took teams of 8 runners from Omaha to Lincoln (the Market to Market Relay). Fast forward 10 years, and Pink Gorilla Events now hosts 25,000 runners annually across eight events in two different states.

2.) I saw that you host various running events in the community, is there an event that you look forward to every year?
While we host eight events a year, our two signature events are also our team’s favorites to produce; the Market to Market Relay Nebraska and the Good Life Halfsy.

These two events fall within 3 weeks of each other on the calendar, yet nearly half of our 25,000 annual participants come from these two signature events. They each hold challenges of their own, but are very rewarding for our entire team to see these two events come to fruition each fall.

3.) How does marketing play a big role in what you do?
As our industry is ever changing, marketing continues to play an ever increasing role in our company’s success and future. Three years ago, we operated with one part-time marketing role and assistance from our operations team. Now we have have three full-time seats in our marketing department, plus two other seats strictly allocated to sponsorship sales and fulfillment.

4.) What was your very first event that you put on? What were some of the challenges you faced and how you overcame them?
The first event our company ever produced is the 75 mile long team running relay event, Market to Market Relay. Now in its 11th year, it is still a beast of an event for our team to produce. It is basically the equivalent of putting on 20 successive 5Ks from Omaha to Lincoln. The event requires hundreds of permits and permissions from private landowners, thousands of work hours and all the unknown obstacles that come along with any road trip you have ever been on, which is why the event has earned its nickname, The Running Road Trip.  The single best thing we have done to overcome the challenges of this event is to create repeatable procedures from top to bottom within the event. From recruiting and training the same volunteer groups year after year, to standardizing the equipment packing lists.

On the marketing side, we have been able to create a highly in demand event that sells out nearly a full year in advance. This allows our team to be free to market and create other events.

5.) What are some key topics you’ll be covering at the luncheon?
  • What to look for in a Sponsors
  • Creating a Cohesive Campaign
  • Leveraging Social Media
  • Maximizing Each Touch Point

6.) What do you hope your audience will gain through your presentation?
As industry thought leaders in brand activation through running events, it is our hope that attendees learn how sponsorships doesn’t need to be a looked at as a money pit where marketing dollars go to die or where you simply are ‘donating to the cause’, but rather a vibrant part of any healthy marketing mix that can deliver real ROI when implemented properly.