Forget “Do you want fries with that?” The newest phrase from McDonald should be “Did you want a high speed internet connection with that order?” As many of you have probably heard, McDonald’s has just unleashed its Monopoly 2007 Game, where you can win prizes by darting between your favorite McDonalds restaurant and your computer to play along a virtual game board. All after giving them your email address, birthdate, first and last name, and full address, of course. Are there lots of prizes to be won? Sure. Will they attract and collect information on new prospects who are drawn to all the hype? No doubt. Could your business do something like this on a smaller scale? Yep.
The truth is, that there really is no notable event between October 2 and November 13 for McDonald’s to highlight, so they are making up their own. And they aren’t the first. Remember the Pespi Challenge? That was another. And this type of promotional event can be done on a much smaller scale. Here in the Northwest, there is a brewery down the street that welcomes the rainy season with the “Moisture Festival” and brings which brings in a big local crowd. Your business can do the same. Here are some tips on how you can make a big splash with a planned event.
1. Decide on the event date well in advance, so you have time to promote it. Start planning at least 3 months ahead, and even earlier if the promotion will be complicated. Draw up a timeline for planning purposes and consult it regularly so you don’t miss any advertising deadlines, etc.
2. Decide on what type of event it will be. Contest, referral promotion, special midnight sale, “make your dreams come true” for a charity, one thousandth customer prize, 10 year anniversary event, be the finder of the magic toilet golden ticket, etc. Be creative, and remember that nearly every company in the country offers a “30% off your introductory cleaning” so to stand out you are going to have to be clever. Be sure to check with your state regulations on games on contests so your big score does not turn into a flop.
3. Be sure the program is achievable. If your plans include an elaborate citywide scavenger hunt resulting in a big prize, there are many elements of that concept that could go wrong and backfire. The result would be a negative one, making your company look like it has no following. Keep it simple and successful.
4. If you can, get your customer’s involved. Like the McDonald’s game, you will need to promote it less and less as time goes by since your clients will know about the event.
5. Include a charity, if possible, in your event so that you can share in their brand recognition. Open yourself up to a larger group of potential participants, and get lots of free press. A small annual event that our cleaning company used to do every year was a food drive. We were already in the home, and although we didn’t have a ton of participants, our clients liked being part of that community contribution.
6. Get partners to participate in the event with you. When I owned my cleaning company a radio station offered a “luxury for a year” sort of prize and we donated “free house cleaning for a year” along with many other participants donating items/services for one year. Choose your partners carefully and lay out all of the rules in writing ahead of time. When your name appears with someone else’s you share a reputation.
7. Be aware that you may not make a lot of money on the event itself, but the “fortune is in the follow-up.” Following the event you can do a press release about the winner (if it was a contest sort of thing) and put notices in your newsletter a couple of times about the results. If you partnered with anyone, organize follow-up promotions with them, have signs made with any news articles or pictures of happy participants, and use collected contact information during the event to do follow-up marketing.
8. Consider making the event an annual event. At the end of your promotional campaign, begin to promote the next year’s event. Tell them to “stay tuned” or “come back for more.” You can even involve them further by letting them make suggestions for rules or prizes for the following year.
No matter what the concept and theme of the promotion, don’t forget to make it fun. Yes, it may take some serious work to pull off, but the result should be something you enjoy doing, and can get excited about sharing with your customers.