KickoffLabs Blog:

Finding Your True Audience with a Contest

By Josh Ledgard

Jul 21st, 2015

Finding Your Audience

Are you struggling to find your audience? Perhaps you have a product or service that can appeal to a wide variety of customers, and at first that sounded great. But now, you’re having problems targeting your best customers– you know, the ones who’ll buy your offerings again and again and then turn around and refer you to their friends.

If that sounds like a familiar problem, we’ve got the perfect solution for you: contests. Sounds weird, right? How can a contest help you find your true audience?

Psst. Be sure to download an extra resources guide for this article, available here.

3 Ways a Contest Can Help

You may already know that running a contest can be an effective method for marketing, but did you know that running one can also help you discover your best, most engaged demographic?

Let’s look at the three awesome ways contests can help:

Find Out Who’s Most Interested In What You Offer

While some contests are all about rewarding customer loyalty, you can also create a contest to find customers before they buy from you. A key objective for this type of contest should be to discover those who are interested in your offerings.

See Which Customers are Most Motivated to Refer You

You can also create a referral contest that grows your customer base while at the same time shows you who your star referrers are. Why does this matter? Being able to identify the types of customers who refer you gives you powerful insight: They are your true audience. You can use this information to target this specific demographic.

Discover Which Products Get the Most Buzz

It’s not enough to find your rockstar audience, you also need to know which one of your products or services they gravitate towards. And then, as the saying goes, “If you build it, they will come.” Sometimes, and especially if you have a lot of different products and services, you may not know what’s attracting the most interest. You can create an identical contest to promote each offering and then see which one gets the most traffic.


How to Craft the Perfect Contest

Now that you know that a contest can locate and engage your true audience, here’s how to create a contest that does just that:

Cast a Wide Net

Especially when you’re not clear on who your audience is just yet, you should cast a wide net for entries. In terms of running a contest, this means you should lower the barrier for entry. Don’t force your audience to jump through a lot of hoops to enter your contest. This is the difference between asking for video submissions (high barrier for entry) vs. asking for votes (low barrier for entry).

Think of it this way: the more you ask your contest entrants to do, the less entrants you’ll receive. Why? Because people like contests that are quick and easy. If you have a contest that requires multiple steps, or where people have to return to submit additional information, it will narrow the scope of your contest. This is a great strategy for a lot of contests, but not for this type of mission (discovering your true audience) where too many stipulations may alienate them.

Select the Perfect Prize

Here’s my favorite secret for finding your ideal audience: finding the right prize. I see a lot of brands make the mistake of giving away a wonderful, but totally irrelevant prize. While you’ll definitely attract a wide group of contestants with a free iPad (who doesn’t want that?), you’re going to be too overwhelmed by the crowd to know who’s really valuable and who’s just there for shiny prizes.

Again, if the scope of your contest is to grab a lot of followers on your social platform (a worthwhile strategy), having a random prize is fine. But, if you want to really define your audience, don’t forget this tip:

Choose a prize from your own product or service offerings. A prize that’s tied to your brand will weed out those just wanting a free ipad. No, you won’t attract everybody– but that’s the good part. You’re going to attract those who naturally want or need your service. And by luring them with a prize that’s highly relevant to your brand (and what could be more relevant than what you offer), you’re also distilling your contestants to those most relevant.

Consider a valuable prize that people are willing to pay for. Perhaps it’s a coaching session or a premium product that you offer. Let that be your grand prize. You can also set up special discounts or coupons for a limited trial for all entrants. From that, you may entice those who are on the fence into trying your product at a reduced rate.

Create a Killer Referral Incentive

Another great way to find your ideal client is through a referral program. The best strategy here is to target the customers that are already most valuable to your brand. They have friends who think like them and share their same wants, desires, and pain points. While you may not be able to reach them with your own marketing efforts, your current customers can. Let the power of referral marketing bridge the gap to your next customers. Consider this strategy “2 for the price of 1.”

Create a referral incentive that energizes your customer base. A popular strategy, if your offer is a subscription service, is to give an additional free month of service in exchange for each successful referral. You can also cap it to a maximum of 12 months free, for example.

Use this option to create a viral loop that gets the word out about your contest.

Final Thoughts

Create an irresistible contest that they can’t ignore. You can find and engage your audience with a simple contest that’s affordable and easy to set up. In fact, just give us the parameters, and [we’ll do the rest](https://kickofflabs.com.

Not sure of what type of contest to run? Be sure to check out this list of extra resources for running a contest here.

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