Make Sure You’re Wearing the Marketing Maillot Jaune

tour-de-yorkshireThe eyes of the world’s sports fans strayed momentarily from Brazil to good old Blighty last weekend as the stars aligned to bring the British Grand Prix, the Wimbledon finals and the Tour de France to England all on the same weekend. Of all of these, the Tour de France was by far the most momentous.  The men’s final at Wimbledon may have been a five set nail biter, but a version of that happens on the same court every year. It was the Tour de France, incongruously transported from the fields of France to the Yorkshire Moors for one year only that made it so special…and the warm Yorkshire welcome it received that made it more special still.

OK…let’s be honest, ‘warm Yorkshire Welcome’ goes slightly against the dour stereotype.  But stereotypes are made to be disproved and, last weekend, Yorkshire really did just that. An estimated 2.5 million spectators lined the route to cheer on the cyclists as they tackled some of the toughest terrain England could throw at them.

It was the culmination of months of excitement that has seen yellow signs – and yellow Jerseys – building the excitement and celebrating the event across streets, stations and school classrooms.

The point here is not that Yorkshire has done a great job of hosting Le Grand Départ this year; it has, that’s a given.  The point is that this was an opportunity to sell everything from cream teas to wedding venues and Yorkshire has embraced it wholeheartedly as the best international marketing opportunity it has ever had.

It’s unlikely that most businesses will ever be handed a global audience on plate in quite the same way, and an audience of cycling enthusiasts would probably not be top of most B2B companies’ target demographic anyway. However, Yorkshire’s success in capitalising on the buzz surrounding the Tour de France, both over the Grand Départ weekend and for months before, is as much about effective communication and boundless enthusiasm as it is about the event itself.

Yorkshire leveraged all the brand power of both Le Tour and the Yorkshire landscape to demonstrate why the location was ideal for the first two stages of the race and why people should get involved.

It’s a useful lesson in the importance of identifying key opportunities and focusing on making the most of them.  So whether that’s an anniversary, a new contract win, a VIP visit or a manufacturing milestone, make sure you win the race to make it count.