For a small business owner / operator the prospect of running an online contest may seem daunting. Most small businesses don't have a dedicated marketing function, let alone someone focused on digital or social media. Those who have embraced the Internet may still be reluctant to consider launching a photo contest or video contest because of concerns about the time and cost involved with development. That's where Strutta can help. We make it possible for anyone to easily create and manage a contest.
While our contest platform has been utilized by numerous large brands and agencies, I am equally excited, if not more so (but don't tell our big clients), about the application of our contest software to help smaller marketers and independent businesses reap the benefits of increased consumer engagement and, more importantly, new sales.
For a small business, perhaps more so than a large company with marketing dollars to invest in brand building, there has to be a clear and immediate impact on the bottom line to justify running a contest.
Get a Positive Return
So how many new sales leads does it take to justify a $500 expenditure (cost of our Basic contest product) or $2500 for our Pro solution? There are many industries where the lifetime value of a single customer far exceeds the cost of running a contest. A great example is orthodontics.
A goal for orthodontists is to find young people who need braces or other dental work, but they inherently have trouble reaching this audience. Photo contests have proven to be a great way to engage would-be customers, and here's why... Current patients have their picture taken in the office (or at home). These photos featuring kids with freshly installed braces or a smile full of straight teeth are entered in a popular vote contest for a desirable prize such as an iPad. Contestants then appeal to their network of friends for votes. Word spreads quickly about the contest and suddenly parents are talking with each other about which orthodontist they used; a topic of conversation that leads to referral business in many cases.
With each new client representing thousands of dollars in revenue, Burleson Orthodontics needs only one referral to see a positive return on investment.
It is easy to think of other industries that lend themselves naturally to a UGC contest. A contractor sponsoring a "fix up your ugly bathroom"; photo contest or a personal trainer giving away free sessions as part of a get fit video competition (compiling a list of prospective clients in the process).
The value of new business generated must clearly outweigh the cost of any services offered on a free or discounted basis, but with a bit of thought in to how the contest is set up and promoted, this can easily be accomplished. For example, a landscaping company out of Ottawa will be providing their services to Ottawa's Worst Lawn through a photo and video contest. Since launching this campaign, Instant Lawns has seen a significant increase in website traffic and referral business. It has even earned media exposure as Website of the Week in their local newspaper.
Reaching Your Goals
In addition to generating new leads, smaller merchants can also benefit from collecting valuable consumer created content. When I speak to smaller marketers about their campaign goals they are often thinking in the context of some of the highly visible promotions that have been run. In other words, they are benchmarking their success against contests that receive thousands of entries and millions of views. For a small business that probably is not a realistic goal, nor is it necessary to deem the contest a success.
Say you received 50 photo testimonials from customers explaining why they love your business, which could then be used as part of your web or print marketing collateral... What if you sourced 20 high quality entries in a design competition for a product that you could sell in to the indefinite future... How much would this content be worth?
If you are a small or medium sized business interested in running a UGC promotion we would love to chat with you about how you can utilize our contest software to build brand equity, strengthen relationships with your customers and create new sales opportunities.