People love the prospect of winning a prize and that is why contests are a great way to gain publicity. Another reason that contests are great for publicity is that you can create buzz for your business before, during, and after the contest. You can use a contest to gain exposure for a product or service that you offer, or to create general traffic to your website.
When deciding what type of contest to have, take a look at the type of business you have and who your target market is. If your goal is to create traffic for a website devoted to cooking, you can hold a “worst cooking disaster” contest where entrants can write in about their biggest kitchen mishap. If you have an information product on a subject related to babies, hold a “pretty baby contest” where contestants can send in a picture of their infant.
You can also do a search on the internet for unknown holidays or other events that are taking place that may have something to do with your business. For instance, June is National Iced Tea Month. In using the above example of a cooking-related website, you could hold an Iced Tea Recipe Contest. June 18 is National Splurge Day. You could create a contest that asked the contestants to name their favorite “food splurge,” such as ice cream, cake, etc. Or you could create a contest asking entrants to describe the biggest splurge they made on a cooking appliance, such as a Panini Press.
You do not have to offer an expensive prize for the winner. If you are creating the contest to gain publicity for an information product that you have created, perhaps you can give a free copy to the winner.
Another option is to find sponsors to help contribute prizes to the contest. Find some websites that offer complimentary products or services to what you are promoting. For instance, if you have a website that provides information on how women can start their own business, you can find a virtual assistant, transcriptionist, life coach, etc. who may wish to donate a couple hours’ of time as a prize. In exchange for their donation, make sure you give them lots of publicity on your contest page and in your communications with the media.
Send in press releases to the media several weeks before the contest will begin. Follow up with a press release while the contest is in full swing. Then send in another release after the contest is over and the winner has been announced. You can also ask your sponsors to send in press releases to their local media and to the winners’ local media.
Don’t forget to follow up with the people that entered the contest but did not win. Send them an email and let them know you appreciate their efforts. You can make them feel like a winner by offering them a special discount on one of your information products, for instance.
Julianne Alvarez-Wish is a military wife, mother, business owner, professional writer, blogger and legislative advocate. She is the Colorado State Leader for the National Association for Moms in Business and the owner of The Wish Place. She is the Colorado Springs Stay-at-Home Mom Examiner for Examiner.com. She also blogs at A Wishful Thought. Her passion, purpose and goal is to help parents work from home so they can be home with their children.