Horizon Featured Article

Ideas for Contest Prizes

Northsail Appreciates the Importance of Exciting Your Customers with Contests.

When you're searching for custom software development, you need a company that relentlessly pursues quality. One that is so committed to ensuring every project is successful, they will turn down projects that aren't the 'right fit'.

You need Northsail. We guarantee that your project will be completed on-time, on-budget and on-spec. In fact, we're so confident in our ability to do this, every project comes with a 6-month warranty!

Northsail is also committed to building long-term, meaningful relationships with all of our clients, and we work tirelessly to find new ways to stand out in your marketplace.

Running a successful contest or promotion are a great way to do this; though not all contest ideas will be equally effective. Thankfully, Northsail has put together some helpful information and tips to inspire some great contest formats and prize ideas for your next promotion.

What Makes a Good Contest Prize?

Finding the Right Contest Prize Ideas Means Understanding Your Customers

There are few other promotional tactics quite as effective at engaging and exciting customers as a well-designed contest.

In the world we live in today, almost nothing is free. So, offering your customer base the opportunity to win something beyond their purchases is a great opportunity to create brand awareness and begin exposing your products and services to new customers. Not only that, but it can also help you grow your list of loyal customers across a wide array of platforms.

But not every contest is created equally. An online contest prize for an e-commerce business may work well, but fail spectacularly when it's attempted in a brick-and-mortar location.

The more important element to understand here are the motivations of the range of people you're servicing in each medium. If you can't get your clientele excited about the idea of winning your contest, they most likely won't take the time to enter.

You need to take the time to understand the driving forces behind what motivates customers in each situation.

Your contest needs to draw attention, as well as create excitement, urgency and enthusiasm from your target market. Otherwise, your contest could be doomed to fail before it's even begun.

In an effort to help you decide what to use for your next contest prize ideas, we've compiled some examples of different prizes that have been tried, tested and proven to be effective across an array of mediums, targeting a variety of different types of clients.

E-Commerce Contest Prize Ideas

Customers supporting e-commerce businesses can be especially difficult to engage, because they are always in such a hurry.

No one likes to waste time, and the whole internet is just a few quick clicks away. In order to draw their attention, you need to create enough excitement through online contests, to keep them from clicking away before they take action.

One tactic that often makes for a successful contest is offering customers something they simply can't get somewhere else: exclusivity.

Early Access to Products or Services

There are few things that can be considered quite as exclusive as being given early access to a product or service that other people simply can't get yet. If they want to apply for early access, all customers have to do is give you an email address, and you can pick your target audience from there.

Whether you're giving a person access to new software or services before they reach your normal marketplace, or the opportunity to buy new products ahead of regular release, the effect is the same.

By giving customers early access to a digital product are excellent opportunities to build strong Brand Loyalty, you're creating excitement for the customer, generating awareness about your business and building brand loyalty with that client.

One-of-a-Kind & Custom Prizes

From the same perspective as early access, using custom products as contest prize ideas is a great way to engage customers online in a way that encourages them to get enthusiastic about your business.

This could be a one-of-a-kind prize that provides the same kinds of benefits your regular products/services offer, with added features not present in your other offerings.

For example, if you're a business that sells baby clothes, you could arrange a baby photoshoot as a prize. If you're running a business in the fitness industry, you could offer gift vouchers for your premium services (like yoga classes), or think outside the box and partner with a local personal chef to offer health-minded cooking classes.

Unique coloring, custom engraving, or bonus service features that may not be available through your normal catalogue are great ways to offer exclusivity, without having to spend a lot of time or money to offer unique, custom contest prize ideas.

In-Store Contest Prize Ideas

While a large portion of most businesses has begun to shift into the digital marketplaces, there's still something to be said for the traditional sales tactics utilized in marketing products through brick-and-mortar locations.

'Door crasher' sales, exclusive in-store offerings, and of course, the opportunity to interact directly with staff are great ways to continue bringing potential customers through the door; even if they would normally have preferred the digital route.

The real key factor is to make sure you're always offering your clients something that they simply can't get from your online marketplace. If you can do that in a way that excites them, they're sure to make the extra effort to visit your physical locations to reap the benefits.

A business that sells make-up and perfumes might arrange a free professional cosmetic treatment contest. This is the perfect prize for customers who don't often treat themselves to a trip to the salon, and you could even offer Bonus Entries [link out to Bonus Entry Contests page] for in-store purchases of certain cosmetic products.

Giveaways & Bonuses

Who doesn't like getting something for free?

Odds are, we've all been eager to get our names into a contest draw at some point in the past. The concept of being able to simply put your name into a draw to win free products or services is nothing new, and yet it remains as exciting a promotion idea today as it was 50 years ago.

Even if you don't want to do full giveaway draws, providing purchase bonuses, or discounts for customers that shop in-store, purchase certain popular products, or buy from you during certain time periods (i.e., holiday/seasonal offerings), is a great way to keep foot traffic coming through the door.

Limited Edition Product Prizes

In the same way that e-commerce customers get very enthusiastic about early access promotions, in-store customers love to be offered limited edition products.

This could be a returning product of which you only have a limited supply of stock, a special limited release of a new product (or a new variation of an existing product) or a special service that you're offering for a limited time, which is not part of your regular list of amenities.

However you choose to arrange these types of contests prize ideas, the goals are still the same. Promote client enthusiasm, create demand through exclusivity and most importantly, give your customers a reason to come and visit your business in person.

Even when the prizes are small, these types of giveaways can create huge buzz around your business, as well as build strong brand loyalty with your winners. If they've won from you once, they'll likely want to visit your business again, hoping to get lucky a second time.

B-2-B & Partnership Contest Prize Ideas

The 'every business for themselves' mindset may have worked 20-30 years ago, but in today's interconnected and oversaturated marketplaces, it's becoming increasingly important to build as many positive connections with other businesses as possible; to assure your mutual success.

Sometimes this can mean partnering with companies servicing the same industries as you are (ie. catering companies partnering with beverage or dessert vendors), or it can mean reaching out to a business that offers complimentary products to your own (ie. a car dealership partnering with a wiper-blade company or a tire manufacturer).

If you find the right kind of partnerships, you create additional value for your customer. They get to benefit from you and your partnership, which can mean anything from discounted accessories to free bonus gifts.

Additionally, you could offer special discounts or bonuses to the staff at your partnering companies, in an effort to help attract their business as well.

Gift Cards & Shopping Sprees

For smaller contests with multiple winners (or that may be held monthly/quarterly), gift cards are a great way to build enthusiasm about your business. This is especially true, because unlike many other types of contest prize ideas, gift cards put control back in the hands of the contest winners.

They aren't confined to only receiving whatever gift you've decided to offer, but rather you're giving them the opportunity to pick something from your inventory (or your business partnership's stock) either for free or at a substantial discount.

This could be something that they've been eyeballing for a while, but haven't wanted to pull the trigger to purchase. Or it could be an impulse buy for something they wouldn't normally splurge on. What they choose to spend the gift card on isn't really important.

What's important is that you've gotten lots of people excited about supporting you and your partner's businesses, and that gift card is just going to encourage more repeat business from your winners.

Larger contest prizes like shopping sprees or massive giveaways may not happen as frequently or have as many winners, but if you make the effort to market the promotion heavily in the months leading up to the draw, you can build just as much enthusiasm for it. You can rest assured, the customer(s) who walk away winners will become champions of word-of-mouth for you.

Memberships & Services

Another great way to engage customers with partnership promotions is to offer free limited subscription or service prizes for contests. For example, as someone who’s selling sporting equipment, you might offer a free course of ice skating lessons through your team or a private partnership.

As a business owner, this is a two-fold win for you and any business partnerships involved. After they get comfortable having your services available to them, it will be that much more likely they'll pay for a subscription when their prize membership ends.

This can be especially beneficial for helping customers see the value of your services by giving them the chance to try them out for an extended period of time (more than the typical 7-day free trial).

Once your subscription-based business becomes a regular part of their daily/weekly life, they will have a harder time letting go when the time comes to renew their membership. Some clients may even justify paying for at least another interval, simply because they got the first one 'free'; meaning it equates to half the cost when broken down over both periods.

Remember: Customers perceive value as more than just money saved. Sometimes simply impacting the client's perception of your business can be a great way to build long-lasting customer loyalty.

Cater Prizes to Your Industry

Northsail Understands the Value in Targeted Contest Prizes

Hopefully this will inspire you to start thinking of some creative new contest prize ideas, which your business can use to begin engaging more impactfully with your clients. One of the most important things to remember with any contest prize idea, is that the prize should always fit the industry.

You should always be thinking of your prizes from your customers’ perspectives. Would you be engaged and enthusiastic to get involved if you were in their shoes? If not, maybe you should reconsider your current plan.

Northsail is committed to continuing to offer our clients exciting new features, tools and services, in an effort to continue expanding our abilities as a custom software developer.

With that in mind, we've begun testing a new service we've dubbed 'Horizon', and we'd love to give you the opportunity to check it out for yourself.

Sign-up below for the chance to check out this new service, 100% FREE! The only thing we'd like is for you to take a few minutes of time once you've tried the 'Horizon' service and tell us what you think.

You get the benefit of trying out a new service before it's widely available (meaning your competitors won't have access to it yet), and we get the benefit of hearing about your experience using this innovative new service. It's a win-win!

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We’ll send you important updates about the early access program and your free invite when we are ready.

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