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    A Contest Can Make Your Business a Winner

    Wednesday, September 14, 2011

    Hand-drawn sweepstakes ticketLooking for a creative way to drive traffic to your Web site, maybe introduce your product to new customers? Of course you are. One idea might be a contest or sweepstakes, offering the chance to open your product to new markets.

    The advantages of having a contest are many, including driving people to your Web site where they will learn more about your company. Most contest entries require an e-mail signup as well, giving you an expanded list for marketing purposes. A contest also humanizes a company and can lend it the rosy glow of being fun. It establishes your brand and gives you a wider audience.

    To prepare, consider the type of contest you are running, and the prizes being offered. Your contest should be related to your product, of course. For example, if you manufacture vacuum cleaners, your main prize might be cleaning related and might be anything from your top-of-the-line vacuum to a month of cleaning service. Naturally, your budget will determine the size of the prize, and your company's purpose will determine the audience. If you run a family theme park, for instance, your prize should be family oriented, but if you are a prestige liquor distributor, your prize would be geared more toward adults.

    Next, write the text to announce the contest on your Web site. This shouldn't be just an explanation of the rules. Use it as a chance to project your company's personality. A contest or sweepstakes should be exciting and fun! Your Web copy should capture that excitement, while also providing the essential facts about how to sign up.

    Follow that friendly information with any legal requirements and contest rules, such as requiring winners to participate in advertisements. You'll want to establish those rules before you post the contest, so that there isn't any confusion later on. Fortunately, the Web is full of contest examples both good and not so good, so that you can best prepare your own text. Oh, and check with your IT people to make sure your system is set up to receive the responses and the increased traffic.

    Remember, too, that a main purpose of having a contest is to spread your brand awareness and draw more people to your site. So make sure the rest of your site is inviting, that menus and text links make visitors want to explore and learn more after they've submitted their contest entries. In effect, your contest is a Welcome mat, but your true goal is to show visitors around the rest of your home. If you need to do a bit of "housekeeping" to prepare your site before launching the contest, that's time well spent.

    Finally, when you do launch your contest, keep the duration short, or people will forget about it or lose interest. Announce all winners and make sure the prizes are delivered in a timely fashion. Generally it's better to run several small contests at intervals than to attempt one long one—even with a bigger prize.

    Here's hoping your contest goes well. Let us know!

    —Joyce Lee

    Photo by jma.work