A Guide to Using Contests to Market Your Soap Making Business
I saw a question posted on a soap making forum that I have seen quite a few soap maker business owners ask about. It’s marketing… but more or less, it’s about indirect marketing. It’s not blatant, but it’s there, and it gets publicity in a more cost efficient manner than most advertising can get you.
Whatever could I be referring to? Online contests of course!
If you’ve ever thought about running a contest on or offline for your business, you definitely have the right idea. I have a lot of experience in this department, and I can tell you that if done correctly, it could very well be one of the smartest things that you’ll ever do for your business! (besides make awesome soap, of course).
What About the Legalities?
The legalities of the contest depend on how you execute it. There are two ways to think of a contest – large scale and small scale. Depending on your ability to handle orders, I would plan my contest accordingly.
As far as legalities go, if you choose the small scale route (receiving anywhere from 1-700 entries) there really isn’t much legal aspect to it, except to follow through, and to make sure your entrants know that they are not guaranteed a win. (if you have legal business consult available, please do speak with them about this, as the laws vary from state to state).
On a large scale contest – I’d recommend looking online for a good “contest agreement” or contest terms and conditions, and using that as a base for a solid agreement that entrants must agree to when signing up to win whatever it is you are giving away.
Large scale campaigns have propelled many small business owners to success, and they are a lot cheaper than most would think. Most of the time, they’re actually free.
A Grand Soap Marketing Idea that Costs NOTHING!
Have you ever seen the products that they give away in magazines (such as Vogue, Cosmo, cooking mags, and so on?) A lot of those products were donated by the maker/business to give away in the magazine. Why? It’s COMPLETELY Free attention/publicly (minus the costs of the product). Not only would you have your product in a widely distributed magazine, you’d also be gaining the the ability to say you earned some type of press coverage on your company’s website. Just imagine being able to put on your website that you were featured in Vogue? Or Elle? Or Modern Housewife? (is that even a real mag? lol)
Remember, something like this should be very targeted.. if you’re targeting the natural/organic market, make sure to approach that as if you were walking up to the person them self. I have a few past clients who have gotten great attention by doing things like this for contests. When doing this, the magazine also takes care of the legalities within the contest.
Important! Make sure your website can handle lots of traffic, or sudden influxes of traffic. Many servers crash when faced with a quick onset of traffic, and that would definitely be bad for sales. Check with your host and let them know that you may be expecting a sudden rush of web traffic. I recommend using MediaTemple, Godaddy, RackSpace, or BlueHost for reliable hosting. I’ve had good experience with all of these.
You can also choose to run a contest on solely the internet, and there are many blogs/directories that you can submit your contest rules to so others can apply (Google ‘contest blogs’, and you’ll come up with tons). Simply email the site owners and let them know to add your contest to their blog/tweets, and so on. It’s not only a way to get good back links to your site, but also to gain more product attention, in addition to hopefully gaining a new loyal customer in that contest winner.
Something else to remember is to really think through what you’re giving away. Having a solid brand and a good niche helps a lot. My best advice would be to not get ahead of yourself in your marketing. You should have your business aligned and prepped for growth. If you are giving away a stress relieving soap, try networking in mom-based forums, parenting forums, and local mother meet-ups. Each contest should directly target exactly who that product would benefit. This is the best way to ensure time, products, and efforts aren’t wasted.
I’ve discovered that contests are actually one of the BEST free marketing methods around (especially in this economy). There are also many websites that will review new as well as up-and-coming bath and beauty products… and they are mostly willing to review for free with only a small sample of your product. Presentation also gets extra points with these types. Nice packaging (even on the samples) will take you far.
These people usually need things to write about. (because they usually run blogs in which they post daily, or even twice/three times daily).. and are pretty good about reviewing honestly and fairly. And again.. it will give you more incoming links to your site, which will help your website rank higher for certain keywords that pertain to your niche.
Stay Tuned Next Time – I’ll be continuing a series on Marketing with “How to Run a Hard-Hitting Marketing Campaign For Your Soap Making Website!”
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