April 13, 2023 Michael Bickerton
I truly like to write, and talk, and write and talk… seems I like both.
Yet, if I’ve learned anything over the last 10 years or so, we have come to know that less is more. This sentiment is so very important when we discuss marketing.
Our business is sweepstakes marketing or contest marketing, and we are a very unique agency that specializes in this one niche area. We work with marketers internationally and have had the opportunity to review and see many programs running in real time.
We work directly with brands as well as their agencies, other marketing firms, specialty agencies, pr agencies, social media agencies, and paid search agencies. I think you get it, we work with clients of all types and sizes.
Seth’s (one of the leaders in marketing) blog is one that I follow. I recommend you consider a follow as well. You likely know that he’s a specialist, a disruptor, but a specialist. Seth’s commentary isn’t flawless, but it’s always insightful and thought provoking. Seth’s recent blog “Promo Creep” really resonated with me, as we see so many of these client reactions and measures.
Truly, I dislike giving clients and customers too much commentary and certainly bad news, but we see it again and again and again, and sometimes marketers need a reminder about underpinning and overreacting to programs. Seems to me at times that marketers are running against the current “marketing norms.” A lot of effort is put forth on programs where the marketer is swimming upstream along with everyone else. Seem to me that it’s time for some consideration about not only the programs but the strategy and tactics that support those programs.
Seth noted these tactics:
Run more ads.
Make the logo bigger.
Add more blurbs.
Push the press release to irrelevant people.
Do one more ad.
Use AI to create faux intimacy.
Get the word out.
Get more attention.”
Fact is that at times marketing can just be more of the same … simply adding more noise in a very crowded space is counter production.
Consider this, what space is crowded? ALL OF THEM! Email, social media, radio, TV, sports. Marketers really think that the more money they spend and the more noise they make equates to the more successful they’ll be, but that is not the case.
Here are a few things to consider before running your next sweepstakes or incentivized marketing program. (Any program or campaign for that matter):
Overall there is not enough of anything. There is …
NOT enough planning; there is
NOT enough discussion internally, and there is
NOT enough discussion as it relates to the target audience.
Very often I’m asked, “What should prizing look like or what kind of prizing works best?”. What clients are asking to be exact is: what kind of prize works, what value should the prize be worth, and how often do you want to award it (daily, weekly, monthly)?
This question tells me that our marketers are not asking the right questions. Your client demographics and psychographics should paint a picture and provide the answers to questions such as:
Are they fans?
Any co-op partners?
How often do they buy?
Where are they located?
What is valuable to them?
How much does our target make?
Do we have any stakeholders that might benefit?
What is valuable and what will excite your target?
How often do they interact with our social media channels, email list and sales teams?
The list is endless, but notable that a $25 gift card for a target that makes $200,000 annually is NOT motivating.
Exactly how much work and time would a target spend to earn a $100 gift card? How about $1,000 or even $5,000?
These are the kinds of questions your marketing team needs to discuss and review.
Marketers often ask us when it might be a good time to engage with THEIR audience.
Seriously? You should know your sales cycles! Marketers should know the down times and the busy times. You need to work around your sales cycles and not around what the sweepstakes marketing agency thinks. We have opinions; we know that Feb-May and Sept-Nov (Black Friday) are strong, but marketers know that too. If your prime selling time is January, then we don’t run the program in January. Just common sense dictates when a program should run.
Interesting to note that our team provides our clients with many custom programs (campaigns), and we’re happy to build exactly what our clients want because after all, marketers should know their target audience best.
Yet, while many are successful, we still find with regularity that the simplest of programs are still the best. If folks can’t figure out how to enter, join or register for your program, that’s going to be a problem.
For your consideration, I suggest to you that Sweepstakes and Contests ARE MARKETING programs and quite often LEAD GENERATION programs. However, THEY ARE NOT sales programs. It seems that marketers are often not fully focused on the task and try to push a marketing program as a sales program. I think it’s important to appreciate that all stakeholders need to review the program and decide exactly what they are hoping to accomplish.
I suggest that, as Google outlines in its philosophy, “It’s best to do one thing really, really well.” My recommendation is to stop trying to do everything with one simple marketing program. It is an awareness program, an engagement program, a lead generation program, a social sharing program. Making decisions and working with that decisions is critical to the success of any program. As they say, “just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.”
And now this, I refer to the term “heavy lifting” when I speak about marketing.
Some brands, many in fact, have done the heavy lifting as it relates to marketing. They have good website traffic, and they have large, high quality email lists that have been encouraged and rewarded for their participation. These same brands make use of social networks that are engaging for a specific audience. They leverage public relations and distribute releases to encourage media pickup. And they use their agencies to ensure that the overall culture of communication with their customers is strong. What I mean is that their email lists and social networks have not been bombarded with communications that focus on buy now, buy now, buy now. As such, good marketers know good marketing and have a much easier task of building awareness and engagement for a sweepstakes or contest.
Smaller marketers, startups, and especially lazy marketers face bigger challenges like getting their audience to engage. As such, if your team has already done the heavy lifting, they should certainly expect a more favourable outcome. However, if you have not done so, then the program might be a bit of an uphill battle, meaning that the results will not be as favourable. Notable that one of the reasons to run a sweepstakes or contest is to reward your customer.
In my opinion, this statement covers the issue completely, “The secret is to create something that those you serve want to tell others about.”
The fact is that it requires a plan; good programs with good results almost always have a plan and are well thought out. In order to do this, it requires customer insight, a strong customer-focused program and relevant prizing. Often it also requires appreciating where your team is at with consumer engagement.
I often say to our customers, “Having someone on your email list is a privilege, and marketers need to respect that the consumers hold the power to continue or to leave every time you engage with them.”
This applies to social media as well, as it’s important to provide VALUE; it’s important to make it engaging, interesting and valuable enough for your subscribers to share with their friends.
The outcome is friend to friend marketing, and with that outcome, marketing looks easy.
A better plan leads to better outcomes and results; you can scream that from the hilltops, something we all need to be reminded of.
In the face of all this choice and clutter, consumers realized that they have quite a bit of power. So advertising has stopped working. – Seth Godin
Michael Bickerton, April 2023