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10 steps to create a winning contest you can use every time

10 steps to create a winning contest you can use every time

April 23, 2009

One of the most interesting aspects of Fahrenheit 212's Best Briefs Contest is their innovative approach to finding out exactly what their prospective clients need. Their idea is simple: create a contest where they offer their services for FREE (Value = $1 Million) to the most compelling proposal about a business growth opportunity submitted to them. Hint: Think about what you can give away for free to generate leads. Here's a 10-step plan to help you.

Step 1: WIFM (What's in it for me?)

Pick a prize that your prospects really want. It's best to offer a prize directly related to your business, but you can always offer an iPod, dinner for two at a local restaurant, concert tickets, $500 worth of groceries, $100 worth of gas, 3 days and 2 nights vacation, etc. For more ideas you can offer go to www.LumpyMail.com.

Step 2: WIFY (What's in it for YOU!)
Clearly establish your contest's goals. Are you using it to generate leads? Qualify prospects? Position your business as a resource? Contribute to your community?

Step 3: Create Rules for Entry
Clearly disclose your entry and eligibility rules.Have them looked over by a lawyer or other legal resource, and make sure the fine print covers any liabilities. Ask for all the prospect information you want to capture beyond the basics'such as buying preferences, top 3 challenges they're wrestling with, their occupation or even lifestyle questions that give you more insight about them.

Step 4: Determine How Entries are Accepted
Almost everyone is online these days, so design a way for prospects to submit entries to your Web site, and use a specific URL (like: www.business/contest.html). This is the fastest, easiest way to capture and track contest entries.

Step 5: Alert the Media
Publicize your contest by sending out a press release, writing about it on your Web site, or use advertising to generate buzz. Creativity counts when it comes to PR.

Step 6: Entry Evaluation
After you collect entries you can review them yourself, or call in a panel of judges to choose the winner based on the contest's rules. These judges may be local celebrities, public officials, or anyone well-known in your community.

Step 7: Announce the Winner
Everyone loves being told they're a winner, so capture the moment with photos, or better still, on video. When you send out a press release announcing the winner include a few photos, along with details on why their entry was selected. Always include a quote from your winner. If you have a video of the event, post it on YouTube and on your Web site.

Step 8: EVERYONE is a Winner
Contact every contestant after the winner is announced and thank him or her for entering. Then give them some consolation prize like a discount on their next purchase, or other low-cost giveaway that helps establish a relationship with them.

Step 9: Evaluate Your Results
Look at your contest's results and see if they met the goals set out in Step 2. Did you get the number of entries you thought you would? Did you get the PR you wanted? Did you capture the kind of information you needed?

Step 10: Do It Again!
After you've evaluated your contest's results, refine your goals if needed. Then come up with a strategy for future contests by tying them into specific times of the year or holidays.

Step 10.5: Ready. Fire. Aim!
Don't get too complicated your first time. Just try it in a small way. You might win, you might lose. But if you tried you will reap your success and that will be a win! Then, go back up to Step 1. Rinse, lather, repeat!