A Step-By-Step Guide to Your Media Company’s First Contest or Promotion

November 4, 2014 Katie Carlin

running-up-steps-stairs-330669-editedOur media prospects always come to us looking for new ways to increase revenue. We have written many blog posts about how media companies can utilize inbound marketing strategies to increase subscription revenue and generate more ad dollars.

Very recently we have been hearing a lot of buzz about contests and promotions. Newspapers, magazines and radio stations are coming to us looking for tools to run contests and promotions, and many of them are also looking for a starting point.

Now this is exciting to us! Of course it is refreshing to hear media companies looking for new revenue streams. But we'll be honest with you, despite this recent buzz around contests and promotions, these are nothing new to us or our customers. In fact, we give props to our customers like KTAR and The Press Enterprise that are practically experts at contests and promos.

Here is an example of a contest for free Nutcracker tickets that The Press Enterprise held during the holiday season last year. 


Over the years, we have found that contests and promotions are incredible ways of satisfying advertisers while learning about the interests of audience members, and growing a business’ database. It is a great way to bridge the gap between your two best assets and, ultimately, increase digital revenue.

And according to research conducted by Borrell, the implementation of contests and promotions will be worth your while. Digital promotions spend is predicted to double by 2017, totaling $80.3 billion dollars

If you are looking to run your first contest/promotion, here is what we recommend:

Step One: Answer This Question

Sit down, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and answer this question:Why have you decided that you’d like to run a contest? If it’s because you are looking for additional revenue streams, ways to prove ROI to your advertisers, or strategies to develop your audience, then keep reading! You’re in the right place. If it is something else, probably also another great reason we are not thinking of, we’d love to know.

Step Two: Pinpoint the Right Advertiser

This step is important. Do you have an advertiser that has a product or service your audience members might be interested in? Does this advertiser have a value of a lead? A regional business may be a good starting point.

Our clients have seen great success with car dealerships, restaurants, tickets to sporting events or shows, and home remodeling to name a few. At the end of the day, once you have clearly articulated the value of running a contest or promotion with you, they are all going to want to sign up.

Step Three: Plan

Now it’s time to get creative. By now you have a good-fit advertiser in mind. Not only does your advertiser want leads or email addresses but also, your audience members would be interested in the products/service that the chosen advertiser provides. Let’s plan. Think about what their goals might be for the contest. Try to answer the question “what would success look like?” from their perspective.

Maybe it’s a local car dealership and they would like 500 names and email addresses of readers of yours that enter to win a free car. Maybe it is a home remodeling company that generates qualified leads from your audience members that enter a “kitchen remodeling sweepstakes.”

The home remodeling company figures, locals entering to win a kitchen remodel are qualified leads, and you can provide their email addresses and phone numbers. Think about what a successful contest would look like from an advertiser’s point of view.

Step Four: Sell

This step might seem obvious, but we have some ideas here! Now that you have a prospective advertiser to target and a plan of what a successful contest could look like, create a one sheeter to arm your sales reps with.

Then - create a blog post. Yes, a blog post geared at attracting local businesses looking for help with digital marketing! For example, you might create a post titled, “Why Contests and Promotions are the Most Effective Way of Driving Revenue to your Boston-Based Business.”

Or you could go more specific - “Why You Need Contests and Promotions to Drive Revenue to Your Boston-Area Car Dealership.” The goal, of course, is to capture businesses in your area looking for ROI based marketing solutions.

Step Five: Execute

This is where you might need some tools. For your first campaign, you need to be able to set goals for the contest, drive traffic to the promotion, create the necessary assets, and report on the success of the campaign. To make this easier, you need to manage your campaign in one place.

Next, you need to create the assets of the campaign - at the very least, you need to create a landing page and thank you page, and calls-to-action to place throughout your website. To drive traffic to your offer, you need to create email promotions and organize social promotion across multiple channels. And then, you need reporting so you can analyze the success of the campaign.

Here is an example of a Campaign Dashboard from HubSpot, notice how it brings all of the elements of the campaign together, integrated in one place:


Step Six: Analyze

Well, how did it go? Did your audience members enter to win that great prize? Did your database experience growth? Did your advertiser say that they are ready for the next contest? We certainly hope all of the above happens! It is crucial to analyze the effectiveness of your first media campaign. We will help you look at the traffic generated, conversion rates, social promotion, and quality of leads acquired. From there, we will likely tweak, refine, and do it again.

Inbound Marketing Assessment for Media Companies


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