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Contests can build your brand and engage customers. Here's two examples.

By  Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna's Promo Talk

Contest GirlToday the heart of social promotions are contests since they are a great way to create buzz and increase engagement from followers and key customers while building brand awareness. The most popular type of contests today require some type of user-generated content to be submitted based on the contest theme and judging criteria such as a photo, video, essay, recipe, or design. Submissions are then judged or evaluated and in some cases open for public voting. If you run a contest that invites participants to submit a photo or video you have a surefire way to get them to share their submission with their friends and family.

When you run a contest you most likely will receive fewer entries then from just a random-draw sweepstakes since you are asking people to do some work. I tell clients that if they want to just grow their database and fans, sweepstakes are the way to go. But if they really want to reinforce a brand or attributes of a product or service and target a specific audience, contests are the best tactic. Here are a couple of contests we've helped clients do exactly that.

Ruger LogoRuger & Co. is one of the nation's leading manufacturers of high-quality firearms for the commercial sporting market and the only full-line manufacturer of American-Made firearms. To commemorate the 50th anniversary of their 10/22® rifles they launched this design contest.  Their goal was invite their customers to share their customized 10/22® rifle designs for Ruger to use as a base for creating special edition 10/22® rifle.

They invited participants to submit up to three photos that consisted of only their customized rifle, no people in the photos, along with a few other stipulations. Participants also need to provide a brief description of the design along with an itemized list of the parts used including vendor names if applicable. Submissions were accepted October 7 - 18. Ruger then selected ten finalists which they posted on the contest website and invited visitors to vote for their favorite design (one vote Rugers-Circle-Designper person, per day). The contest just ended on November 1.

The grand prize winner is Gary from Michigan who will receive a production version of his rifle, a trip to the Newport, NH plant to watch the production run, and $5,000 worth of Ruger® product. The remaining nine finalists each are receiving a Ruger® firearm of their choice. The winning design submission is featured in this photo.

Zenni OpticalZenni Optical just launched this video contest. They are an online seller of high quality, affordable, and stylish prescription eyeglasses. The contest invites customers to upload a video  that could possibly be a Zenni Optical commercial featuring Zenni RX eyeglasses. The video must be exactly 28 seconds in length. Submissions will be accepted up until December 22.

We are hosting the contest website that is accepting the video submissions, however, the Sponsor did not want to showcase any of the submitted videos on the site. They will judge all the submissions based on the following criteria: Creativity, 50%, and Brand Relevancy, 50%. A total of $45,000 will be awarded in prizes to the following winners: One Grand Prize, $20,000, one First Prize, $10,000, two Second prizes, $5,000 each, and five Third Prizes, $1,000 each.

ZenniThe Sponsor is expecting a high number of submissions.  As I mentioned  when you are asking for content to be created in order to participate, you will most likely see a lower number of entries than when just requiring filling out an entry form. Video submissions especially are harder since they require more skill than just snapping a photo. However, in this contest the incentive of winning one of several high cash prizes is very powerful. So we will see. You may have a very strong promotion, but if you don't get the word out about it, the results may not be very favorable.

These two contests are both great examples of how to engage with your customers and build your brand. The designs submitted to the Ruger contest all appeared to have great knowledge of the brand. We're yet to see how the Zenni Optical video submissions compare.


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Donna DeClemente

Thanks for the compliment.


Carol Bryant

I always learn from Donna and have for years - great post. TY!

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