Spring is a time of growth and renewal. It’s usually a time of the year to throw windows wide open, head to the beach, or spend time at the parks. Clearly, things are a little bit different this year. While the flowers are blooming (and the allergies are raging) most folks are stuck at home.
Despite the unique challenges businesses and consumers alike are facing, now is not the time to abandon all marketing efforts (though you may need to scale back the budget). In fact, it may be more important than ever to keep your business top of mind for your audience — even if the ability to grow sales is limited by the current circumstances.
One of the most affordable and engaging marketing strategies is a giveaway, which allows you to interact with customers — without asking them to spend money they might not have. And, it doesn’t have to cost your business much at all.
Step 1: Choose a Giveaway Format
Giveaways are an effective way to raise social media engagement, build your email list, increase social media page likes, and, when the time is right, increase sales again. The cost of running a giveaway is low and predictable, which makes it an ideal way to engage your audience without spending hundreds of dollars on paid promotions.
Look for a contest that requires a bit of effort to enter, such as a photo contest, rather than an instant win giveaway that will quickly be forgotten.
Here are three types of contests to run this spring, along with examples to help inspire your own.
Photo contests require contestants to take a photo, usually based on a specific theme, and submit it via a web form or social media account. For best results, choose a fun theme, like cute kids or animals, and then choose the winner based on popular votes to encourage sharing.
For example, KCCI, a Des Moines news website, is running a cute kids photo contest with the winner taking home a $50 Wendy’s gift card. The contest is easy to enter but requires a bit more than just clicking a button.
A photo contest also encourages user-generated content, which is an effective way to build social trust with a broad audience.
Looking for a way to let your audience get creative and make your contest their own? Open-ended hashtag contests, like this one from My Canadian Life, do just that. By allowing entrants to choose whether to share a video, photo, or story, they let their audience to get as creative as they like.
A significant benefit of hashtag contests is the broader social media reach. This is because users share their entry on their social platform and include a branded hashtag — which reaches far a broad audience than just uploading images to your website for voting.
The truth is, not everyone has more time at home right now — but many people do. A video contest might be just the inspiration they need to help their creativity flow. The USD Change Maker Hub, which is a community organization at The University of San Diego, hosted a photo contest where they asked students to highlight themselves being a change maker.
Contest winners were chosen by popular vote (which encourages entrants to share their video with friends and family), with the finalists competing for $6,000 in prize money.
Step 2: Choose a Creative Giveaway Prize
Coming up with creative prize ideas is a challenge in the best of times, so how do you adjust your giveaways to appeal to consumers who are stuck at home and may be unable to engage in many of their favorite activities? Here are a few creative ideas for fresh spring giveaway prizes.
At-Home Date Night Basket
New experiences help alleviate boredom, but they can also help people create fun memories with family and other household members.
Consider creating a ‘date night’ or ‘family night’ basket filled with fun new experiences such as a new movie, a special snack (or three), a board game, conversation starter-cards, or a blanket for a living room picnic. Keep in fun, but also work to keep it on-brand.
For example, a local screen printing company might include a blanket with a recent design. In contrast, a local restaurant might include a build your own cookie cake the family can bake together.
Coupons or Gift Cards
As unemployment rises, many people simply don’t have the money to spend on fun activities — or really anything non-essential. A coupon or gift card to a restaurant or online store may be especially appreciated — and this type of prize also costs your business less to offer if it is to your store.
You could also partner with another business to offer several gift cards to make the prize even more appealing — and increase your contest’s reach.
In normal times, offering electronics as a contest prize isn’t a great approach. After all, who is going to turn down the chance to win a free iPad, right? Contests promoting electronics tend to attract everyone, including people who might be outside your target audience. However, this spring might be the right time to go for it — with a few caveats.
Start by limiting who can enter the contest. For example, you might decide to only take entries from people who live within 50 miles of a location. Then, make the competition more interactive, such as a photo contest. This will help reduce entries from people who are not in your target audience and those who just want a chance to win your prize but don’t care about your business.
DIY kits help us tap into our creative side — and they can be a fun distraction. Remember that a good DIY kit isn’t just a box of supplies and a printed sheet — it is an experience in a box! A great DIY kit can teach people a new skill, help them tap into their creativity, and provide hours of fun.
The type of kit you create will depend on your business, of course, but here are a few ideas to get your creative thoughts flowing:
- Cookie decorating kits
- Gourmet dinner kits
- Origami kit
- Knitting kits (or other hobbies related to your business)
- Hot sauce making kit
- Indoor gardening kit
Remember, a DIY kit doesn’t have to be based on your brand, but it can help keep people interested in your brand. This prize is ideal for restaurants, bakeries, and food or craft-related businesses.
Exercise Equipment or Accessories
Exercise is an ideal way to keep stress in check and stay in shape — which is more important now than ever before. Consider offering supplies to work out at home, such as resistance bands, work out bars, or a kettlebell.
Exercise swag, such as branded jogging armband phone holders or waist packs, may also be popular. Multiple items — including a gift card or snack — can be combined to create a unique gift basket that will be appreciated and keep your brand top of mind.
This type of prize is especially beneficial for companies in the sports or exercise industry, including yoga studios, gyms, sports apparel stores, work out clothing brands, and health food stores.
Portable Power Bank
Portable power banks are useful and can be branded — what is not to love? Consider offering a portable power bank, a contact phone charger, or another phone-related item as a contest prize. Just keep in mind that some accessories may only work with specific devices.
This prize can work well for any type of small business but is ideal for business-related companies such as accountants, bookkeepers, lawyers, and tax professionals.
Despite the unique challenges of 2020, spring is a fantastic time to create an engaging contest to keep your brand visible. Choose an interactive contest style and a creative prize, such as:
- Date night gift baskets
- DIY Kids
- Workout swag and equipment
- Portable power bank