Content Challenge – Are you up for it?


The Stevens Point Area YMCA recently kicked off its third annual Ironman Challenge. This is a six week event in which participants challenge themselves to complete the distances in a traditional Ironman triathlon.

This year’s Ironman Challenge nearly doubled in terms of registrants.

How did the YMCA do this? We got the attention and trust of our members through strategic content marketing.

In the past, we marketed by simply posting our brochures and flyers for the event around the YMCA and on our webpage and Facebook. This year, we used mostly the same pathways for marketing, but we did not stop at simply posting our brochures and flyers.

This year, we encouraged participants to “Escape the Clutches of Winter, and Start Sprint with Success!” Content that we created to promote this event included:

  • A Facebook post with our brochure and Ironman image that directed people to our website and registration form that was viewed by about 520 people.
  • A Facebook post that highlighted a feature on our cardio machines that allows members to “travel the world” while they complete their Ironman. We posted a video online from Matrix explaining how to use the Virtual Active feature while it is still cold to go outside. This post promoted safety and comfort for participants and was viewed by about 250 people on Facebook.
  • An image that the SPYMCA made for its Ironman Challenge that was displayed on TV monitors around the building.
  • A story posted on Facebook about a member who had participated in the past two Ironman challenges that included a picture of his last two shirts, as well as a story to motivate others to participate in the Ironman Challenge. This post was viewed by about 285 people on Facebook.

Ironman Image

Content that we still intend to implement as the current Ironman Challenge moves along includes:

  • Displaying a “congratulations” image on monitors around the YMCA and on our Facebook page to recognize the first-place male, female, and team finishers.
  • Videos of “Ironman Challenge stories” on our Facebook and YouTube pages of past and present participants sharing why they compete in the challenge.
  • Weekly emails and Facebook posts with tips for completing the Ironman Challenge and safety precautions.

In the future, we hope to add:

  • Videos and text of “success stories” about past participants BEFORE the Challenge begins to share how the challenge has affected the lives of those who have participated in the past, as well as what makes them come back.
  • Photos of participants throughout the challenge to show them at work posted to Facebook and our website.

The content that we added to promote this year’s Ironman Challenge, as well as what we intend to implement in the future, will help instill trust and increase engagement with our brand mostly in two ways:

First, participants will see that we are giving them numerous ways to complete the challenge both comfortably and safely. We try to show members that ANYBODY can complete an Ironman triathlon (who cares how long it takes). Getting everybody involved and engaged in activities like this helps us build on the already strong community and relationships that we create at the YMCA. Our stories and focus on success show members that we care about how our event is affecting them as an individual and not just getting more participants.

Second, after the harsh winters that we typically endure in Central Wisconsin, members see something that says “Escape the Clutches of Winter, and Start Spring with Success,” and it fuels their desire to get “back in shape” after winter. Our members know and trust that the YMCA will always be there to meet their needs and wants.

The same reasons apply when asking if this content will get people to sign up for the event. If people see that our stance is that we believe everyone can succeed and we will help them meet their needs and wants, they are much more likely to sign up for the event than if we simply posted flyers and brochures selling our event.

From a financial standpoint, the content that we use to promote the Ironman Challenge is not costing us much money as it is created by staff and interns within the organization. A tremendous ROI was already seen this year as we went from about 55 registrants last year to well over 100 this year. As I mentioned in my ROI strategy, more participation in YMCA events means a greater ROI.

Ironman Content Marketing Strategy

Ironman Challenge Dates: March 2nd – April 12th

Registration Dates: February 1st – March 8th





Draft Due

When to Publish




Intern/Graphic Designer

3 weeks before registration

2 weeks before registration

Webpage Brochure



Graphic Designer

Email ahead of time

1 week before registration

Facebook post with brochure link




Before posting

1 week before registration (after webpage brochure)

Image and Info on TV Monitors



Graphic Designer

Email ahead of time

Feb. 1st

Pop-up on Cardio Machines (maybe)




Work on ahead of time

Feb. 1st

Staff Emails (key staff, part-time)




Feb. 1st

Success Stories/Interviews (maybe)




Before posting

Feb. 14th

Virtual Active Promotion




Before posting

March 2nd

Tips and Safety Precautions





Before posting

Weekly: March 2nd – April 12th

Photos/Quotes from participants (maybe)




Before posting

Throughout challenge

First-place Finishers



Graphic Designer/Intern

Before posting

When finisher from each category is documented

Mini Style Guide for Content

Those who wish to be administrators on the Stevens Point Area YMCA’s Facebook and YouTube pages must first be approved by the head administrator, Pete Matthai. Once approved, all admins are welcome to post on behalf of the Stevens Point Area YMCA. Please abide by the following tips when creating content to promote YMCA events and programs:


  • Use clear, understandable language or “layman’s terms.”
  • Be concise and to the point. Readers want to get the message early on in a post.
  • Use a conversational and educational tone. Speak as if you were talking directly to the customer rather than simply relaying information.
  • Follow Y Graphic Standards from the Y-USA if creating graphic content:
  • Align posts with the YMCA mission, vision, and values. Posting with these values in mind ensures that posts enhance the connection between the YMCA and its members.
  • Create content in the following formats:
    • Video, text, news, audio, interviews, and other forms approved by the head admin.
    • Include videos or images when able to enhance written content.
    • Post content that can be cited and related to factual data from reliable resources.
    • Remain neutral on controversial topics. We want to be sure everyone knows they are welcome at the YMCA.
    • Speak as if you are the brand – voice brand opinions, not your own.
    • Have content reviewed by other admins if you are not sure it meets these guidelines.


  • Use vulgar language, jargon, slang, or words/phrases that may offend members.
  • Voice opinions or post inappropriate or controversial topics.
  • Do not sound arrogant. Content should be created to bring members and the brand to the same level.
  • Be too chatty. Keep posts brief, and stay on subject.
  • Use YMCA logos and phrases in inappropriate ways or in ways that do not follow the Y-USA graphic guidelines.

Remember content is king, and it should reflect our brand in a manner that represents how we would like to be seen and trusted by our members.



  1. Sid,
    Wow, oh Wow! What an excellent and detailed rich ( which is good) content marketing strategy and calendar.

    A few paragraphs/quotes I like:

    “How did the YMCA do this? We got the attention and trust of our members through strategic content marketing”

    This is key because the YMCA didn’t just look to get the attention of their members, but also earn their trust. Trust in the brand’s services and products are key.

    “Our stories and focus on success show members that we care about how our event is affecting them as an individual and not just getting more participants.”

    Again, the YMCA is demonstrating with their content marketing strategy that they are more than just concerned about the numbers (participants) but individuals as well. This personalizes the experience for your members. Personalization garners trust.

    ” Our members know and trust that the YMCA will always be there to meet their needs and wants.”

    Very nice. Instead of saying “The members.” You begin the sentence with “Our Members.” Once again, the YMCA is also focusing internally with getting its message across to its team. Your internal branding program should is essential. If your employees and team trust the brand, it is easier for them to convey this message to your individual members and group participants in events and services.

    Style Guide

    EXCELLENT! Most people think of content as written only. Your style guide covered all types of content used, written, video, audio, digital (games) and more. Your style guide’s language wasn’t off putting or demeaning to your staff. It demonstrated that you trusting them as adults to do the right thing, especially if they too trust and admire the brand they work for. And the style guide is a way of providing written guidance in addition it serves as a “you knew it piece” for managers and directors if any employee would do something that is offensive to the brand and its members, the employee cannot say they “didn’t know.”

    I would suggest getting employees to sign off on a sheet of paper that would go to HR noting they have read and understand the style guide.

    You did your research. Great job!


    1. Thanks Cheryl. This assignment was actually perfect for where I’m at in my internship right now. My supervisor loved the calendar, and we plan on using the same ideas for other projects for the YMCA. The whole idea of using social media more effectively is catching on at the YMCA, and the supervisor who manages the page (UWSP alum) is interested in your class :-). I’ll be writing with him some on the social media policy assignment as well. Should that one be similar to the style guide, but more elaborate?


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