Creating a Viral Contest for Your Service Business

If you’re after fast growth and want to get some momentum, a viral contest is a great way to get a lot of results fast.

It’s possible to create a contest that compels people to share it. Additionally, this method increases your email list, your Facebook fans, your Twitter followers, and your LinkedIn contacts.

In order to turn a regular contest into a compelling contest that people share (i.e., viral contest), you need two important factors. First, you need the technology to reward people for sharing the contest. Second, you need to give away something of great value.

Example 1: Contest for a Carpet Cleaner

Enter to Win 5 Years of Free Carpet Cleaning (up to twice a year for 5 years)
Value: Up to $2500

Share a link to this contest and get extra entries for each person who you refer who also enters into the contest.

Question: If you saw the above contest from a local carpet cleaner, would submit your name and email for a chance to win? Would you share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and/or email for extra chances to win?

Let’s say they get 500 new contacts. They are providing $2500 worth of services, over a 5-year period, so that works out to only $5 per new contact. Figure they pay someone like me $1000 to set up the contest; they’re still at $7 per contact. This represents a list the carpet cleaner can send promotions to directly and at virtually no cost.

Keep in mind that these people all entered to win local carpet cleaning. This means they’ve qualified themselves. A list like this could make a business.

Example 2: Contest for an Accountant

Win Tax Preparation for 7 years

Example 3: Contest for an Auto Mechanic

Win $1000 Worth of Auto Repair Services

OR – Win Oil Changes and Preventative Maintenance for 3 Years

Get Crazy

The crazier the offer, the more eagerly people will share it. In other words, the more you give away, the more new contacts you’ll get. This will happen partially because some people will need to see the contest several times before taking action. Once 3-5 of their friends have posted something on Facebook about it, they’ll feel compelled to check it out.

To make your offer compelling, make it bigger. Either extend it over a longer period of time, give more in each transaction, or both. There is a bit of gamble in this. Unlike the casino, though, your odds of having a successful campaign go up as you add more value.

In a perfect world, you’d want your target audience to look at your contest and say, “I can’t believe they’re giving this away!” If you hit that level and have the technology in place, it’s hard to fail.

What to do with the Losers

When the contest is over, you’ll have one winner (probably) and 100’s of “losers” (hopefully). It’s what you do with all of the people who didn’t win that will provide your ROI for this strategy. You need to have a plan for staying in contact with them. It can also be effective to send them a special offer to get them in the door for the first time.

A contest is a fun and exciting way to build a bunch of buzz about your business and build a list. While it’s not right for everyone, it’s certainly something to consider.