Using Contests to Generate Buzz

We all find inspiration in unlikely places. For Nathan Dube, Chief Social Media Marketing Engineer at Expert Laser Services, his inspiration was borne of his frustration in the office.





“I experienced multiple occasions of extreme frustration due to various devices (namely a particular copier) not doing what I expected of them. Eventually, this frustration lead to a desire to take a sledgehammer to the copier,” says Dube.

Because he couldn’t actually smash the copier, he pitched the idea of holding a contest — The Destroy Your Printer Contest. Four years later, the company’s contest, which involves submissions of videos of people annihilating their printers with cars, fire and heavy objects, has garnered attention on multiple blogs, trade publications, three different marketing books (including ours), the New York Times and more. Dube says the contests have directed thousands of new visits to Expert Laser Services’ website, as well as opened the door for new business.

Turning a Gimmick Into Sales

“I have used the buzz from the contest as a conduit of conversation with new prospects of whom I think will resonate with the idea. Many of these prospects have eventually become retail customers and I have also gained a contract with a local fiber-optics company via our Facebook page, which had it not been for the contest would not be an on-going element of our marketing efforts. As for actual numbers I have garnered around $12,500 in retail/contract sales from our social media efforts namely, the contest.”

How to Use Contests

Contests can be a successful way to get more web traffic and increase sales. Dube says it’s important to get the public excited about the contest so that they vote and share entries. And you don’t have to offer a million dollar prize, if the contest is exciting enough. Here are Dube’s tips for starting a successful contest for your business:

1. Focus on using the contest as a catalyst to transmute negative emotions into positive ones.
2. Get non-contestants involved by opening the contest to a public vote.
3. If possible incorporate the need for contestants to create and submit content which can be re-used in future marketing endeavors.
4. Make the contest itself a rewarding experience so regardless of interest in the prize, people will still want to enter.