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Small Business Blogging Tip #26 – Contests

ContestsA great way to not only market your new products or services, but also get your clients and prospects involved is to hold a contest. You can create a contest that offers great value to the winners, and cost you very little in the process if you leverage your products, services and joint ventures. Just about every business has something it can give away for free or would enjoy the benefits of having given away for free. Like all other marketing, it comes down to understanding your audience, being creative and offering something valuable.

A good contest will build traffic, buzz and possibly many links, building your search engine authority and spreading your brand further across the Internet. Most of the sites that link to you will probably share many of the same readers you are after. Find ways to include benefits for those that link to you and give them the tools to do so exactly as you want them to increase the likelihood others extend your message. First and foremost, create a good contest that others will like to participate in. This means delivering quality prizes, so start with the products or services you can afford to give away. From there, figure out who would most benefit from them and then get creative.

What are some types of contests I can use on my small business blog?

  • Have others do a review of your site and let your readers vote on the winners. Each review is a valuable link to your site, as well as a commercial for your business on another site. If the reviewer is trusted and gives a favorable review, it will also drive some very credible traffic your way
  • Create a subscriber drive contest. Building up your RSS feed subscription can be highly rewarding later down the line. Offer rewards for every 100th subscriber in a specific period of time. Think of other ways of enticing more readers to subscribe by offering your products or services. Many of the winners will talk about your contest and products on their own sites and continue to spread the word far after they have won their prize
  • Start a contest asking prospects to write a post about why they need your product or service and provide the winners with those they need. All the other entries are hot prospects for you to market to, as well

How can I promote a contest being held on my blog?

  • The first thing you should do is highlight it on your blog by giving it plenty of attention in prominent locations. Make a sticky post or dedicate a part of your sidebar for promotion. Write several posts about the contest, including those describing the prizes, those for updates and of course, those about the winners and what happens after the contest is over
  • Write a press release and send it out to relevant sites in your industry. Be sure to submit it to some of the free press release distribution sites around the Internet. If your contest is local in nature, be sure to include your local media
  • Use social network and media sites to build even more buzz around your contest. If the members of these sites like your contest, they will be sure to share it with their friends

What else can I do to improve contests on my blog?

  • Make sure your contest is easy to enter, or at the minimum, offers prizes and/or a rewarding interaction that justifies the difficulty of entry you do choose. All you should really be looking to get are e-mail addresses of qualified prospects. Don’t ask for much more than that if you aren’t prepared to offer substantial prizes
  • One way to offer substantial prizes is to create joint venture deals with other companies. In this way, you can offer their products and services in exchange for the publicity you create for them through the promotion of your contest. Think big. Just about anyone can be a joint venture partner, but some can be great ones. Find them and join forces
  • Transparency is another way to improve your contests. If it doesn’t really matter who chooses the winners, let your readers choose. When at all possible, let your readers set the rules, terms and winners. Be democratic. If there are rules that you must enforce, say so. And explain why. People know you are running a business and some things need to be done businesslike. But not all things. Ask your readers. They know best

Contests are fun and an excellent way to continue building your e-mail list, as well as a loyal reader base. They are also a creative way of getting the word out on your new product and service offerings. Combined some well-thought out joint venture partners and some energetic social media participation, your contest can ultimately return your initial investments many times over. Times have changed. There is value in free. We’re actually coming to a time when it’s expected. Figure out how you can harvest your products and services to create information products or harness them to create prizes for contests. Either way, there is gold to be mined from the willing prospects you can generate from those that want what you have to give away.