And the Winner Is: Your Business

Contest promotions have been helping businesses sell products and generate “buzz” since the dawn of modern-day commerce. Conducted effectively, they’re a unique marketing tool that can reap far more rewards than just one lucky winner.

If sales are flat or your business needs a boost, perhaps a contest is in order. Here are five tips to consider to make the most of yours.

1.     Define a goal

Are you having difficulty selling a particular product? Generating traffic? Does your Facebook page lack “likes”?  If you’re considering a contest, think of your goals first and create a contest that meets them.

Reasons might include:

  • Market Research – Entry forms can solicit lots of information about current and potential customers
  • Relationship Building – Contests create bonds between companies and customers and give your business the opportunity to affiliate with desirable sponsors
  • Promotions – Lucky winners make great testimonials and are less expensive to use in ads than paid actors. In some cases, they’re also more believable
  • Growing Lists – The names and email addresses generated from one well-executed contest can create a database you can solicit for years
  • Drive Traffic – If you want more Facebook or website traffic, a contest is a sure-fire way to increase visitors

2.     Check with legal

You don’t need a team of lawyers to pull off the typical sweepstakes, but you do need to minimize risk. If you have access to legal counsel, get input on rules and regulations on the front end. If not, several online resources, such as, provide free boilerplate language for entry forms and guidelines.

3.     Consider a firm

Paying a firm to conduct your contest will cost you, but it may be money well spent. A good promotions firm can take care of everything from front-end goal setting to back-end analysis. This includes advertising and public relations, administration, legal oversight and overall planning and coordination. If you don’t have the employees or expertise to do this on your own–or simply don’t want the headaches–outsourcing may be the key.

4.     Make it worthwhile

Put yourself in the contestant’s shoes when you consider the giveaway, and ask yourself if the prize is worth the effort of entering. Bigger is usually better, but if you don’t have the means to give away a blockbuster that will draw sheer numbers, give away several, smaller prizes with broad appeal.

5.     Learn from it

Once you’ve awarded the prizes and collected the data, use the information to refine your marketing efforts–or plan the next contest.

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