Contests: A Great Promotional Strategy

Back when I was a fresh-faced university student, one of the most important things that I learned in my marketing program was how promotions can really enhance a product or service. A concept known as the four P’s of marketing is standard curriculum for any marketing course and students quickly learn that these P’s become the basis of any well rounded marketing plan. Guess what one of these four P’s is? It would be promotion, of course. This P was always my favorite when it came to the four P’s of marketing and it actually became my specialty after college. I think I was drawn to it because it allowed for creativity, fun thinking and it is the aspect of marketing that really helps to win your customers over. The first promotional strategy that I ever remember working on, and one that I feel is very strong in this particular industry, was the contest.

Contests, sweepstakes, and giveaways surround us in almost every product or service that we use in our day-to-day lives. We wake up in the morning and have a bowl of cereal, but not before we go rooting through the box for our free toy. While eating our Special K or Fruit Loops, we study the box, where we learn that we can send in the proof of purchase along with our name and address to be entered into a contest to win an all expense trip to Disney World. Around lunchtime we get a little hungry and decide to head to McDonalds so that we can try to get more pieces for their Monopoly sweepstakes. Later on in the day, we are feeling a little hollow in the stomach and decide to stop at the store for a soda and chocolate bar. If we look under the cap of our soda bottle we have a chance to win one of ten cars, or one of twenty-five mountain bikes. And, just by unwrapping our chocolate bar, we have to chance to win $10,000, or even just another free bar. These are just a few examples of how a smart promotional strategy, such as a contest, can really affect the brands that we use in our daily routines. Contests are not only a great marketing tool for mainstream products and services, but also for the online adult industry as well.

The most popular threads on just about every adult Webmaster message board will have something to do with some form of contest or giveaway that a company is running. The amount of threads announcing things such as “$50 logo design contest” and “win a free DVD player” are endless. The boards themselves even run contests just to get webmasters to post messages, and the chance to win something turns board members into posting maniacs. The bottom line is that people love to get things for free and contests are the best way to give stuff away while gaining the necessary exposure to make the end cost worth while. With a contest you are not technically giving things away for free, because you are really getting something in return.

There are a number of things that you can get in return from a promotional tool such as a contest. Customer loyalty is one very beneficial gain from holding a contest. Say for instance, you hold a contest on your website where members collect points based on the length of their memberships that they can redeem for prizes. This kind of contest is an incentive for your customers or members to stay loyal to your particular site. There are many programs that use this type of strategy to keep their webmasters loyal and it works because we always hear of people winning hot ticket items such as cars and electronics just because they dutifully promoted their favorite Webmaster program.

Another advantage of holding a contest is to gain something that you or your website is in need of. Let’s say that you would like to add some stories to your site, so instead of paying someone to write them for you, you just hold a contest amongst your members. You have them submit their own written stories in return for a chance to win money and the story being published on the site. It’s a trade off, you get what you need and they get money and acclaim. We see this all the time in this industry, with the most popular example being the above-mentioned logo contest. People do not want to pay huge designer fees to have a logo designed, so they instead hold a contest where they get their choice of many logos and it only ends up costing them a small amount of money like $50 or $100. This contest works well for the designers also because they have a chance to showcase their work.

One last return on investment from putting together a contest is information. Many websites hold contests just so that they can collect valuable information such as email addresses. Just by holding a contest that gives away small prizes like palm pilots or video game systems, you can get thousands of email addresses in return, which we all know are valuable commodities in this industry. We see this contest motivation all the time in our day-to-day lives in the form of the ballot. A contest that involves a ballot is essentially a means for a company to collect information about people that they then turn into money, either by selling that information, or email marketing to the people who filled out the ballots with offers and product information.

No matter how you look at it, contests are a terrific promotional tool. They can provide a company with numerous benefits while at the same time rewarding it’s customers. Contests are a cost efficient and rewarding marketing initiative and they work for almost any product or service, even those in the online adult industry.


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