Top 5 Reasons Why Our Contest Sucked (and how to avoid these mistakes)

Two weeks ago I threw a contest to gain traffic for our newly launched blog. I’ve seen it done many times before and have even entered contests myself. In fact, one time I even won. However, this contest was not what I expected. No one entered.

Why?

5. A Mediocre Prize

I offered $75 ($50 for you, $25 for your favorite Charity) and some recognition. Obviously, this was not enough. Had I done it over, I would’ve contacted other businesses to contribute prizes.

4. Friends Won’t Take Your Money

I have friends who said they were going to enter but didn’t want to “take my money.” I’m guessing that if the prize was donated by another business and wasn’t coming out of my pocket they would have entered.

3. Confusion

Don’t ask for more than one thing. There should not be a “Part A” and “Part B” for entering a contest. Make it dead-beat simple. The more entries the better. The goal is to create buzz in your target market.

2. Preparation

Before I launched the blog (I probably shouldn’t be telling you this) I asked a few trusted friends to comment on some of the posts. I was banking on “the law of social proof” that people would be more likely to comment if they saw other people had commented as well.

I could have made a similar request for the contest but would have asked a different group of friends.

WWU Students

1. Our Audience Is Not Our Target Market

We have so much appreciation for everyone who supports what we are trying to do. At the same time we have a specific group of people we are trying to reach, people who will benefit from SuperNack the most. At this point, the people supporting us are not the group we are trying to reach.

SuperNack’s target market is the 25-34 year olds who are in the blogosphere and are interested in social media, entrepreneurship, and branding themselves as a leader in their field. Most have graduated college, have a steady income, and because they no longer have homework, spend time reading blogs and participating in social media.

The main way we reach this market is through Twitter.

However, being the age that we are, we have a much larger network of friends on Facebook. From launching our Facebook page we created a substantial audience but only 7% of them were in our target market. The majority of our fans (75%) were between the ages of 18-24. Remember, at this age, people rarely read blogs.
Confused? Think about this. Our contest asked viewers to recognize someone online who puts out really great “content.” The only way you would be able to recognize great content is by consuming a lot of it (blogs, social news, twitter, etc).

If 75% of our audience does not consume content why would they enter our contest? Exactly. They wouldn’t. It’s like asking nursing home residents what their favorite iPhone app is.

I could have asked a different question like, “what was your favorite college class this quarter?” but I wouldn’t have been speaking to the right people. The right people would have left and never came back.

Simply put, we had a large enough audience but our targeted-audience (25-34 yrs old) was too small.

tree in field

My Advice

If you are thinking of throwing a contest please learn from our mistakes. You must have a targeted-audience.
Wait until your blog has gained traction.
Wait until your blog has a solid readership.
Wait until your readers are the people you are targeting.

How Will I Know?

If you are seeing the right people consistently subscribe to your feed, comment, and retweet your posts, you are ready to throw a contest.

If you can’t wait that long, well, I look forward to reading your next post, “Why I should have listened to SuperNack.” :)

These are the 5 reasons I came up with but if you can think of more (I’m sure there are many), please leave a comment below. Thanks. -RR

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SuperNack

Hey, Ryan Rotz here. If you'd like more info about me, SuperNack, or if you'd like to get in touch, please visit the 'About' page at the top. Thanks for reading!