Everyone loves to be a winner… which is why everyone loves contests and games of chance. Just ask Las Vegas! Contests are a great way to spice up your regular marketing. They are fun, easy, and if done correctly, very effective.
The first thing you want to do when planning a contest (or any marketing effort for that matter!) is to identify the purpose of your contest. Contests can have many different purposes…
- To attract new customers,
- To gather customer contact information,
- To drive traffic into your store,
- To increase social media followers,
- To provide social proof,
- To strengthen core strategies like “fun” or “community.”
The purpose (why you are doing it and what you hope to accomplish) will determine what kind of contest you should have.
For example, if you want to drive traffic into the store and get customer contact information you could have a “guess the number of items” type of contest. Fill your store window with a large number of items – balloons, socks, cloth diapers, spools of thread, footballs, plastic Easter eggs, dog toys, styrofoam balls, plastic spiders (Halloween!), a pile of denim jeans, or any other creative ideas you can come up with. To enter, people must come into the store and fill out a slip of paper with their guess about how many items are in your display – and their email address so you can contact them if they win.
Voila! Traffic plus contact info.
Promote the contest on your social media (it will make a great image), through your email list, and on your website. Because you’ll put the visual part of the contest in your window, you might even get some new customers who are just walking by. Your prize could be a gift certificate for a shopping spree in your store, or a product possibly donated by a vendor. The prize doesn’t have to be big, but it does have to be desirable.
A couple of caveats about contests… First, make sure that picking the winner is either an objective measurement (like getting closest to the actual number in your display) or a random pick. You don’t want to “judge” your customers and prefer some to others. Second, make sure the contests you do are legal in your city and state. For some big raffle type contests, for example, you may need to get a permit. It’s usually easy to do, but you’ll have to plan ahead.