Contests Create Community

Few things have the marketing potential of a good old fashion contest.

People love to compete and will go to great lengths at times to win something as simple as a little recognition.

Staged correctly, marketing contests have several very powerful things going for them:

  • They can become viral very quickly
  • The media is a sucker for a contest
  • A contest presents multiple buzz opportunities
  • Contests are great referral vehicles
  • Contests build community

Let me point out two pretty high profile examples:

The Washington DC metro system held a contest to pick a voice to deliver the “door is closing” message played at every Metro station. About 2000 people submitted audition tapes. The real payoff though was that I read about it in the New York Times and heard a feature story on NPR’s Morning Edition.

MasterCard is taking their decade old, successful marketing campaign and adding a contest. Visit and fill in the blanks for the ad – you know, hot dog $3.00, peanuts $2.50, sitting in GA with your high school buddies on Opening Day? If your ad wins, you can plan on seeing it thousands of times a day and you might even get a call from Letterman or the like.

So, what can you learn from these examples – where’s the game in your marketing?


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