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Struggling with Selecting Contest Prize - Which do YOU think makes the most sense?

I'm struggling with what Contest Prize to give away to add subscribers to my HowieInvent.com Blog.

I'm trying to add subscribers with 2 goals in mind...

1. To EVENTUALLY do an online course helping other Inventors get their products to market.

- That Contest Prize/Giveaway would be geared specifically towards Inventors.

- LIFETIME Inventor Coaching from me to help get their products to market
- I have successfully licensed 5 products to date...and also coach a number of other Inventors

2. To launch my Kickstarter (likely a travel-based product)

- That Contest/Prize Giveaway would be geared towards Inventors, people interested in Travel & people interested in Kickstarter.

- A cool piece of carryon luggage that was wildly successful on Kickstarter ($300 value)

I want to give something that makes people in that market really take notice & want to enroll for the giveaway...and then stick around after that. As well, for others in the industry to want to share the Contest to their audience because the prize is that good.

Hope that makes some sense. Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

7 Replies

Paul Garcia
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Paul Garcia Advisor
President at TABLE
Generally people who subscribe to enter a contest are not interested in the content of your site, are not loyal, and do nothing to move your business forward. What adds subscribers is delivering valuable information to your audience. Yes, ask your current audience to invite/share content, always do that. But if you're running a contest just to add subscribers, you might as well buy them from any service that fluffs up follower numbers. They're worth as little. There are numerous blog/re-blog sites that offer a cataloguing type of service making it easier for people to find your blog by topic (rather than relying on search engines). When you find the right audience for your content and deliver something meaningful to them, it will naturally expand the number of people who you reach. Just like every new mom knows other new moms, every inventor knows other inventors.

Incentivize the behavior you want, engagement, not counting subscriptions. As anyone in the supply chain if they'd rather have 300 qualified buyers who are actively looking or 30,000 people who happen to be in the industry that buys stuff like theirs and they'll take the lower number every time. It's too much effort to sift the good from the useless when you only pursue numbers. Now you may think that by offering a relevant "prize" you'll only encourage actual inventors who want what you offer. But, if you're giving it away, it has the value of $0. Who wants to think what they'd otherwise actually pay money for is worth $0?

Keep in mind you may also need a permit from your State to run ANY kind of raffle or contest.

Look at some helpful services like blogengage.com (you can decide if such is right for you) or other sites that help you to popularize your blog by matching it with readers who are interested in specific topics.

Luggage as a prize has nothing to do with inventing (although Kickstarter does). And if you're planning a Kickstarter, really spend time searching for and STUDYING the most successful Kickstarters and ALLLLLL the steps they went through to engage their supporters. Those details matter a huge amount in the ability to fund a Kickstarter campaign, particularly in the small stepping of rewards. The more steps you can add, with just one more thing, the more likely you are to up (especially smaller) donations one, two, or three levels. Most Kickstarter campaigns rely 90% on your current collection of friends. So unless you have some very popular friends today and a dramatically amazing product that shocks viewers into paying attention, Kickstarter may not work for you. Such campaigns should become your FULL-TIME job while they are running. It's something that often requires 2-5 people to run, not just one person by themselves. Really, don't screw it up for other people in your category by running a cruddy Kickstarter campaign that ends up being mostly to your friends who will silently hate you. Campaigns take about 2-3 months to plan every step in advance, no different than building a real sales team and strategy and training (yourself) how to interact with future customers and run a regular marketing campaign in a big company. I cannot emphasize this enough!
Randall Plitt
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Randall Plitt Entrepreneur
General Manager at Advanced Bending Technologies
Hi there.

Mostly plus one on Paul's comments. I would recommend you check out Fizzle.co. They do some great work with online business and blogs in particular. If you check out their podcast, you'll find some great content for free, and they offer their oddest members a free trial of their member site, which has a good road map for what you're talking about. Offering a prize to existing qualified members to help you out with something can work (I've done it), but for general public to get subscribers you'll get mostly junk.

Howie Busch
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Howie Busch Advisor
**Check out HowieInvent.com to Learn How to Get Your Invention to Market & Save Thousands of Dollars**

Thank you for your responses. Paul, I agree with much of what you say, but it seems you just don't believe in the value of giveaways. In that case, we can agree to disagree as I have seen them work tremendously well firsthand.


I may not have been clear, which I apologize for. But I am not trying to add subscribers to add subscribers. Nor am I planning to offer a giveaway to the general public. Rather, I am planning a more targeted approach to adding relevant subscribers who are likely to have an interest in the subject matter (inventing and/or travel/kickstarter).


While unncessarily condescending & confrontational, I do agree with some of your more general points and appreciate the time you took to answer. As most online marketers know, giveaways are a tried and true method of marketing. Of course there will always be people who will come just for the giveaway and then not engage, but that is part of any marketing. There will always be "waste" involved in advertising/marketing.


I was asking about the value proposition of the two prize options. As with app and online gaming companies who offer free gaming & get millions of users, it is the 10% of loyal users who pay for a heartier experience that create any revenues at all. Using a giveaway to get relevant users/readers has elements of that as well.


Again, using a giveaway to gain a larger audience among a specific target market who might be interested in the subject matter is a relevant strategy...particularly to reach people who might not otherwise ever hear of you.


All that said, your points are noted and considered. Thank you again for taking the time.



Paul Garcia
0
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Paul Garcia Advisor
President at TABLE
Not at all what I'm saying. Giveaways are fine, but the need to be relevant to your brand, mean something to the consumer, otherwise they're valueless trinkets and prizes that do not hold a connection to your company.

Understand that tone is very difficult to impart in email, so take my advice as succinct and efficient, not judgmental. Hopefully you were prepared for some degree of disagreement in an open discussion forum.

There are certainly two schools of marketing co-existing today. One that was created by Josiah Wedgwood over 100 years ago, and then the one that's successful today. The difference between the two is that marketing before was good at selling so companies could spend more on marketing, a self-feeding loop and why we're saturated with advertising. Today marketing is about making something worth talking about, something of authentic value. So the tactics of old marketing, prizes as an example, and interruptions like online ads, are the kind that you're referring to where you need to get 100 customers to get 10 that stick with you and pay for the other 90 useless ones. The tactics of new marketing talk to those 10 good customers and ignore the 90 useless ones, because the resources spent on the 90 useless customers could instead be spent on creating champions out of the good 10.

The tried and true are also the worn out and dying simply because none of them stand out anymore in the volume of advertising that is now present. So it's time to dump them and be fresh. Yes, everyone has seen the giveaway work well, but those are memories, they're not looking forward at what will work next, now that the audience is increasingly blind to old tactics.

I'll recommend Seth Godin's book "Free Prize Inside" for a more detailed and much more fun explanation than I could write here, specifically about the giveaway and what MUST evolve about promotions and perceived value. Because the audience has so much choice now compared to even 20 years ago, consumer/user expectations are accelerating and too different from what the 'tried and true' delivered, which means to experience the same kinds of success MadMen found, today's marketers have to leap forward and shed the previous habits.
David Austin
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David Austin Entrepreneur
Entrepreneur
Howie -
Since you have a ton of expertise in the area of inventing (your 5 successful products is more than enough pedigree) then why don't you spend some time to put together a book, or better-yet ... a series of 7 email lessons, telling the "5 most important things for budding inventors", value it at $50 and then offer it for free to new subscribers. That's the kind of give-away that will bring in the customers you want.
Paul Garcia
1
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Paul Garcia Advisor
President at TABLE
David, the whitepaper/email suggestion is an excellent idea. It's a gift-with-purchase (reward for behavior) idea that's both relevant and has immediate value to the ideal audience demonstrating why someone should continue to be a subscriber. It doesn't put the new subscriber into a lottery, so guarantees value.
Howie Busch
1
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Howie Busch Advisor
**Check out HowieInvent.com to Learn How to Get Your Invention to Market & Save Thousands of Dollars**
Hey guys, thanks for the thoughts. They're all appreciated.

And I'm absolutely open to disagreement and other ways of thinking...I welcome any and all input.

David, ironically, I already have a free giveaway on my landing page giving an Inventor Resource guid...that said, they have to know about the page to find it. Therein lies the trick....lol

Thank you again...you guys are awesome!
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