Free Marketing Ideas Part 9 – Host a Contest

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Welcome to the latest edition of my new weekly blog series, “Free Marketing Ideas”. Each week I will identify and explain a simple marketing idea that you can employ at low or no cost. Last week’s topic was Start an Email List.

This Week’s Topic = Host a Contest

Contests are a great way to get exposure for your brand without spending any money. Obviously the details of your contest will depend on your company, so I won’t pretend to give a one size fits all solution here. But I can give you some examples, and tell you how to get the most out of a contest, marketing-wise.

If you’re a retail store you can host a contest and offer a private shopping spree. You can have people enter by telling you what their dream purchase would be and why. If you’re a travel company you can host a contest and offer a free trip anywhere in the world. You can have people enter by posting a video of themselves telling you why they want to visit this place. If you’re a software provider you can host a contest and give away free versions of the software. You can have people enter by telling you how your software would make their lives better.

With all of the examples above, notice how the entry is getting someone to tell you why they want the prize. It signals intent, and it means that even if they don’t win the contest, they are still interested in what you offer. And, if you host the contest online, it creates the ability to easily share the contest and the stories people submit with others, thereby increasing the viral potential of the contest itself.

Remember that Facebook page you created? Or that Twitter feed? You can host a contest using social media channels to connect with people online in places they already frequent.

Remember that press list you started? What a great opportunity to reach out to them and let them know about the awesome contest that you’re hosting.

Remember that email list you created? A contest is a great chance to get more people to sign up. Have them sign up in order to enter the contest.

And if you don’t want to host a contest on your own, you can certainly sponsor someone else’s contest by providing a prize for the winners. That will still get your brand exposure. And all it costs you is the cost of the product or service you provide the winner(s).

Share your thoughts on this idea, and other free marketing ideas in the comments section below and keep the conversation going!