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  • By Ilse House

Who really wins the contest? Awards & Competitions – Powerful Marketing Tools Part 1

Human beings love to win. It is the ultimate high when you have worked very hard and you are selected as the best. Competitions are generally looked at from a contestant point of view. But let’s look at the other side, the entity putting the competition together. What they win can be a huge marketing success.

I have looked at several different scenarios for competitions and written several blogs at what I have gleamed from my experiences.

In this first blog, I am going to look at a non-profit organization that is a “club.” I belong (or have belonged) to several “clubs” that are geared to the creative professional/employee. Let’s call this example organization Creative Example Association (CEA.) This group has monthly meetings and a spring conference. During the conference, there are awards that are given to deserving creatives for their printed and digital efforts. It is this competition that fuels the efforts the rest of the year. This competition brings in the revenue necessary to bring life to the organization. It is a tool used to market the organization and make it bigger. And it provides a pool of speakers for the rest of the year adding value to the membership.

Entry fees are a standard expectation for most competitions. Some are small, some are quite pricey. For this example organization, let’s say the entrance fees are $50.00 for members and $75 for non-members. The membership dues are $100 per year. Right off the bat, if you have two projects you want to enter, you save half on your dues. Might as well join, right? That is the one of the marketing keys that makes this beautiful. Your competition grows your membership. The more members you have, the more valuable your organization is, the more valuable the trophies will be. The more valuable the trophies are, the more people enter, the bigger your membership gets, and so it rolls on.

The money made off the competition help fund the rest of the year. Some of the members will not submit, others may submit one entry, but some may submit upwards of 10 entries or more. Let’s say 75 members (which grew to 100 because of the competition)entered 103 entries. Give or take. So they make $5,150 for their contest. Plus another $1,875 in new member dues.

Now this organization also offers sponsorship for the contest. There are three levels of sponsors; $100 Silver, $250 Gold, and $500 Platinum. Let’s be conservative in the sponsor numbers of our little group. 5 Silver, 3 Gold, and 1 Platinum. Another $1,750 in the pot. So we have a revenue stream of $8,775 for this contest. You have some costs for flyers and plaques but you can see how this can be lucrative. And this is a small group.

Another key benefit from this model is the fact that the future speakers are drawn from the winners of the contest. Other creative professionals want to know how they do what they did to win. The winners love to talk about how they won. Beautiful relationship.

The competition gives your marketing voice something to talk about when you write articles, posts, and interviews. It gives you a story that is not a sales pitch. People love stories of success and really hate it when people try to sell to them. The winners talk about winning which is essentially talking about the organization. When I won, I posted it right away in all my social media outlets. I called and told my parents, friends and colleagues. It was posted at my work and was written about in my company newsletter. It is positive for me and it was positive for the organization.

But beware. Like any product, service, or entity, you must work to keep your core values pure. Honesty is always the best policy. Keep gossip at bay. This particular group has judges from another group evaluate the entries. The judges fill out score and comment cards signing just their initials. This eliminates a lot of politics that can spoil the competition.

Look at your industry. Is there room for a competition? Whether it is contractors or dog groomers, there can be a race or competition that can add value and a story. Everyone wins when competitions are done right.


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