Holding contests has proven to be a very effective marketing tool for many small businesses. They are often fun, interactive, and get people’s attention. Bert Seither, The Startup Expert™, offers a few contest ideas to increase your customer base and get more eyeballs focused on your business:
— Give away a desirable item to get foot traffic into your store
If you operate a retail store and are looking to bring more people through your doors, why not hold a contest to give away a certain item you have in stock? It could be anything from a flat-screen TV to a handmade quilt to a tasty dinner for four. A great way to do this is to have people fill out a form with all of their contact information, such as name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address. You’ll then be able to use this information for future marketing purposes.
— Give away an item on social media to drive web traffic
Bert Seither, The Startup Expert™, explains that social media contests are wildly popular these days with millions of people jumping on these sites daily on all types of devices. If you have a Facebook page for your small business, encourage people to “like” your page, “share” a post with their friends, or answer a trivia question as a “comment.” You could then select a random winner and contact this individual through the private message feature. These types of contests will increase engagement and get people interested in your page for future marketing communications with them.
— Give away a free service for a year
If your business is more service-driven, it might make sense to do one of those “free something for a year” contests. Perhaps you run an auto shop and offer free car washes for a year to a contest winner. Maybe you’re a computer tech and could give out free tech support to a client for a year. Or you might run a mom-and-pop bakery and offer complimentary bagels for a year to someone – within reason, of course. This kind of contest gets people coming back to you and increases brand recognition, even though you’ll likely take a bit of a loss on whatever you’re giving away at no charge.
— Holiday-related contests
Holidays are a great time to celebrate with family and friends – and the perfect time to rejoice in winning a cool contest. Bert Seither, The Startup Expert™, says to circle some dates on your calendar that fall on holidays. These are excellent times at which to hold marketing contests. For example, for July 4th, have people submit photos of themselves standing next to an American flag on your Facebook page. Then pick the best photo and give the winner a prize. Or, for Thanksgiving, have in-store customers fill out a questionnaire about what they’re thankful for, and make sure to collect their contact info to alert the winner and add their e-mail address to your customer contact list.
— Must-be-present-to-win contests
If you have a retail outlet for your small business, you could do a contest where a winner must be present in order to claim a prize. This not only gets people in the door initially, but also it gets them to either stick around or return at a given time when a winner is named. While only one person might win, everyone else might be interested in buying your products when they’re in the store or could even refer others to your business after seeing the types of items that line your shelves.