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Marketing is hard. If it’s not your speciality and you haven’t found your marketing groove yet, it can be totally overwhelming and suddenly ‘do marketing’ (whatever that means) slips further and further down your ever-growing to do list.


What if I told you there was a miracle cure? I hope you’d call BS and so would I, because the truth is there is no miracle cure or marketing hack that will turn you into a marketing mogul overnight (unfortunately) but the great news is that running a cheeky little competition for your brand can teach you a whole lot about the magic of marketing in a totally manageable, not at all overwhelming, ‘I totally get it’ moment-filled microcosm tailored to your business – plus you get all the perks of running a competition. Sound good? Of course it does, so let’s find out what competitions can teach you about marketing.


The importance of goal setting.

If you think goal setting is just for New Year’s Eve, as you drunkenly promise your friends you’ll make more of an effort to keep in touch and drink less (between sips of bubbly) then think again. Goals are a massively important part of marketing – and owning a business in general.

Think about the last time you took a trip, you set out with a goal destination in mind, right? In order to get to that destination you had to decide whether to travel North or South, you filled up the car with petrol, you set your GPS and maybe even grabbed some snacks for the road.

On the other hand, if you had just jumped in the car with no specific destination in mind, you wouldn’t have known when you had arrived and (heaven forbid) you may have run out of snacks on the way because you weren’t prepared!

With any marketing campaign, setting a goal helps keep you and your budget focussed and competitions are no different. Set a goal or outcome you want to achieve by the end of the competition, work out how you’re going to measure it and what you’re going to need to achieve it, then work your arse off to smash that goal.

Read more about setting a goal for your competition here.


How to research, understand and cater for your demographic.

Ever heard the phrase ‘if you’re targeting everyone, you’re targeting no one’? The idea is that if ‘everyone’ is your target audience, your branding, messaging and even images are appealing to no one in particular – emphasis on no one.

It may be true that your product has broad appeal, for example if you sell blankets, everyone sleeps (except for maybe you, in the early days of launching your business…) so therefore everyone may need a blanket. Think about it though, who needs your blanket? Is it made to last with specially formulated fibres that could withstand nuclear fallout; or is it pink with unicorn appliqué and a secret pocket perfect for storing fairy dust?

OK so I used a little creative licence to make the examples extreme, but you can see that these two imaginary blankets are aimed at two very different target clients and therefore careful research and understanding of these very different target demographics is necessary in order to cater the marketing to them.

I’ve put together a handy table that gets you thinking about who exactly you’re marketing your competition to and why, feel free to print it out and go crazy. Yes, you do have to give them a name…

Read more about understanding your target demographic here.


Why you need a clear, targeted message.

Once you know what you want to achieve and who you want to buy your product or service, it’s time to tell them. So obviously you don’t go around saying ‘hey, I have a goal of selling 20 of my fairy sparkle blankets by the end of the year, so you should buy one!’ but you would need to write some copy or text to use on your website and social media, that shows people how amazing your blankets are and why they should buy one.

If the text you write is consciously written with your target client or demographic created in the section above in mind; then you will naturally engage and attract that specific person.

Think about this blog post that you’re reading now, my target audience is startups and small business owners, mostly female, who work really bloody hard to make their business dreams a reality. I like to think my target audience has a great sense of humour, appreciates being spoken to like a human and likes a good story. Does that sound like you? Well, if you’ve read this far I’d imagine something resonates with you and for those who don’t identify with my style, they click away after reading the first paragraph because my style is apparent straight away.

The same applies to your marketing in general, as well as when marketing your competition. Once you know who you want to enter your competition, write your entry page, your thank you for entering text, your social media posts etc in the style that resonates with them to encourage them to enter.

You can read more about working out your messaging and design here.


How to budget your marketing efforts.

Most business owners are reluctant to spend money on marketing. It can be difficult to measure the income return you’re getting on your investment as some marketing takes a while to produce results. This is where the importance of setting a marketing budget, sticking to it and monitoring the results comes in mighty handy.

I’m going to share a quick ‘top down’ method for setting marketing budgets (though there are many, many others). Let’s pretend you’ve set aside $1,000 to run a competition, the next step is to research the costs that need to come out of that budget and divide up the budget between those costs.

For example, you’re giving away one of your pamper packages that will cost you $300, factoring in $50 for postage, that’s $350 of your budget used for the prize. You’ll also need T&Cs and licences, which will cost approximately $150 in total and you’ve decided to use a competition app to help manage the process at $50. That’s $550 of your budget accounted for, leaving you with $450 to spend on promotion such as paid ads and boosted posts.

Although we’ve looked at a competition example here, this applies to any marketing campaign or tactic you may wish to use. By setting your budget in advance, you’re more likely to stick to it and you can then look at how many potential leads you’ve gained or even sales generated to work out what you get back for your $1,000 investment.

You can read more about budgeting for competitions here.


How to create and manage a marketing calendar.

If you’re anything like me, when you don’t have a set marketing calendar, your blog posts and social media posts are sporadic. In the months and quarters I’ve set myself a strict posting schedule, I’ve stuck to it and my engagement and followers have steadily increased. When I don’t stick to a schedule (or don’t post on Instagram for 2 months – ahem -) then my engagement with my audience stagnates and I slowly started to lose a follower or two here and there.

The good news is that it’s not as hard as you think to set a schedule and stick to it and because competitions last for a finite period of time, running a competition is a great way to learn how to create and manage a marketing schedule – hooray!

Once you’ve decided the duration of your competition, you can print off this handy schedule and pop in your key dates: when your competition opens, when it closes and when you’ll announce the winner. Around these dates, you then put in your competition countdown posts, halfway posts and closing soon posts. If you wish to write blog posts promoting your competition or run ads, you can pop these into the calendar too – and in three easy steps you’ve planned out the marketing for the duration of your competition!

You can read more about managing your competition timeline and content schedule here.


I hope that’s given you just a little taste of how competitions can ease you into the world of marketing and give you hugely valuable marketing information specific to your business and your audience. The good news is that this is just the beginning, there is so much more that running a competition can teach you about marketing, so if you’re keen to learn more, check out our free guide The last guide to competitions you’ll ever need to read – or download the free ebook version!


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