How a well-managed competition can benefit business marketing
CEO and co-founder of SEOmoz, Rand Fishkin said “The best way to sell something – don’t sell anything. Earn the awareness, respect, and trust of those who might buy.”
A targeted, well-devised competition is a great way to do exactly that. It can:
- significantly increase awareness of your brand
- earn publicity for your business through word of mouth and third-party publication of news about the competition
- enable greater engagement with your target market
- serve as a data goldmine, competition question content can give you vital insight into your market as customers are susceptible to providing real feedback in a competition entry. If channels are set up accurately it will enable you to understand your major traffic sources and help you understand how you can maximise conversions
- help your business reach other marketing goals – for example, by motivating individuals to sign up for newsletters, follow your social media pages and share content.
What determines the success of a competition?
Four main factors determine the success of a competition in marketing a business:
- alignment with current business strategy
- relevance to your target market
- a suitable time frame
- effective data collection and analysis.
Alignment with current business strategy
It’s important for a competition to align with and reflect the values on which your company’s strategy is based.
For example, many of The Workspace’s clients are South African entrepreneurs. So the decision to focus a competition on entrepreneur development was strategic for this client. It aligned well with the message the company wants to convey.
“One of our core beliefs is that The Workspace is so much more than just a place to work,” says CEO Mari Schourie. “Our objective is to become a mecca for start-ups, entrepreneurs and small business owners.”
Fail to align a competition with what your business is offering and, at best, it’s not likely to have much impact. At worst, it could confuse or annoy audiences and discourage conversions.
Relevance to target markets
Make sure you offer the right prize – is it sexy enough to attract your target market? Also, does it accurately reflect what your business is offering?
For example, The Workspace’s competition offered the entrepreneur with the winning business model everything needed to run a business for a year, including free serviced office space, internet and phone use, free use of professional meeting rooms, on-site business services and more.
The prize made it possible for the company to showcase its main product, as well as other services it offers.
Make sure you schedule a competition to run over a reasonably long period so that there’s time to gain a good volume of entries and to promote the competition properly. Competitions that run over just a week or two aren’t likely to have a major, overall impact.
Even for a simple competition that doesn’t require entrants to make complex submissions, allow at least a month for advertising and attracting publicity.
Effective data collection
Competitions provide an opportunity to collect and analyse customer information – and doing this adds significantly to their marketing value.
Individuals tend to be open to providing feedback in competition entries. Responses to questions in well-designed entry forms, as well as feedback gained through different stages of the competition, can yield invaluable marketing information.
This data may help businesses improve sales lead capture, identify cross-selling and up-selling opportunities, refine their market targeting and fill gaps in the information they communicate about their products or services.
The Workspace’s competition was particularly successful in building brand awareness and engagement through social media. Content related to the competition generated relatively higher levels of reach and engagement per post than other social media content, and contributed significantly to increases in website traffic over the competition period.
The competition had other positive results, beyond attracting traffic.
A competition can provide a vehicle for your company to make a long-term social impact – helping others and earning positive recognition at the same time. The public and staff are more likely to recognise your company as one that’s willing to give back and because people feel good about your brand, they’re more willing to engage with it.
For example, The Workspace’s Entrepreneur Competition focused on skills development of the competition finalists, and the exposure it gave entrants resulted in significant business benefits for the entrepreneurs who made it into the top five.
This isn’t just about getting marketing credit for “doing good”. Make real, positive differences to communities in your target market – in ways that align with what your business offers – and you make it clear that your business can be taken seriously and trusted. These are ingredients for long-term business success – and they can’t be bought purely through increased ad revenue.