Monday, April 8, 2013

How To Use an Online Contest to Grow Your Business

By Deborah Sweeney, CEO,

For the established and brand new business alike, one can never discount the power of a contest or a giveaway to reel in new fans and get existing customers involved. Contests today have come a long way since the days where you mailed in a form to a P.O. Box number and never found out how your entry stacked up against others – today, contestants are engaged online and encouraged to spread the news through word of mouth. Most importantly, online contests make the entry process simple, fun, and open to as many applicants from all walks of life as possible. The company I own is currently holding a contest in which all we ask is that you tell us what makes your business brilliant with a short video, but prior to that we also had several successful giveaways through Facebook that really helped grow our following base online too.
What made these contests a success and how can a business new to the contest scene hold a giveaway sure to turn heads? Take a few of my tips into consideration!

Make the Prize Buzzworthy
Contests need to have grand prizes in place that spark not only discussion about how you could really use the prize once the contest ends, but also as motivation to enter in. Some contests have a series of smaller prizes like iPods or gift cards that lead up to a grand prize which, in the event that you want to drive more participation in for your contest, are great to offer up. But if you worry that your company is still too new to the scene and may have a hard time just getting a solo winner, you might want to stick to one grand prize. Make it buzzworthy, no matter what, and try to make the prize something that fits within your industry. If your business sells candles and decides to give away a new car, it could be tricky trying to figure out just how that prize fits in with what you do. A brand new Macbook Air, significant cash prize, and even gift cards for your business included along with the grand prize are just a few winning areas you can never go wrong with.

Utilize Social Media for Engagement
It’s very easy to hold a contest with the only major rules being “like us on Facebook for a chance to win!” and leave it at that. The purpose of social media lies within its name – social – and the best kinds of contests are the ones that continue to keep fans on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and through blog posts updated about what’s going on, any changes made in dates for submission, and chatting with fans who may have questions or are unsure of what they need to do to enter. Strike up a conversation and don’t be afraid to follow your fans on sites that allow for it either – social media elitism is never the best look on a brand.

Build Your Contest Link Back Into Your Website
You may be wondering how exactly you’ll get newfound fans entering in your contest to visit your company website if they’re entering in on third party sites. Rather than just putting your URL for the contest on a third party website, I recommend building it into your main site to better bring in higher foot traffic. That’s what we’re doing with our Brilliant Business video contest right now – all entries are redirected for submission at which keeps it within the site and allows applicants to explore the website once they submit their entries in.

Get Personal with Video
First time doing a video contest? I love this infographic from Andy Jenkins’ blog on “How to Run an Online Video Contest” to get anyone’s video contest started on the right foot. Outside of just getting videos set up and in place, being able to showcase videos adds life to a business particularly if the brand is in an industry we tend to preconceive as being dry. Videos also add credibility to your company and come with a strong sharing ability – they’re easily shared with a wide range of people outside of your network who may wind up becoming customers later on!

Author Bio:
Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @deborahsweeney and @mycorporation.

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