Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Contests that generate leads for business marketers, too

and a fun competition for marketers, too ...

You may have seen the new contest launched on Monday by Freakonomics, the extremely popular economics blog, asking for the best six-word slogan for the United States. That should excite all you marketers.

More about that later ... But the contest I love at the moment is the monthly competition run by a business to business Web site selling lab equipment, LabX, called Guess Which Molecule. Every month, there is a new molecule to guess. Rebecca Snodgrass guessed it was caffeine in the November contest and Theresa Shafer guessed Viagra in January.

Surely not many people would enter? Well, using the wonders of live chat, I asked a service rep that question this morning:

"Thank you for contacting LabX. A site operator will be with you in a moment.
You are now chatting with 'Andrea'

"Andrea: Hello, my name is Andrea. How may I assist you?"

"Me: Can you please tell me how many people usually enter your molecule contest?"

"Andrea: Our recent 'Guess the Molecule' contests have had participation in the area of 300 people."

"Me: Great. Fantastic. My chances of winning aren't great then. Have a nice day!"

"Andrea: Have a good day."

Did you get that? 300 people enter each month. That's not bad for a niche Web site. And the prizes aren't fancy --- some tee shirts, some baseball caps, etc.

LabX also uses the contest to keep in touch with prospects, who can sign up to hear the results, and build bonds (all contest winners are displayed on a Web page.) The take away?
Even serious business marketers can use contests to keep buyers coming back
and it is possible to frame a contest around something that isn't entirely frivolous. The molecule competition is a way of educating buyers. And you can have fun using viral marketing while generating new leads and return business.

Back to Freakonomics. The contest launched Monday by Stephen Dubner, one of the freaks behind the economics, for a new motto for the United States has already got nearly 700 entries. That shows the power of contests and a popular blog. It gives me blog-envy just to think of all those hits.

The American contest was inspired by a very funny article in the New York Times recently about the Brits' search for a national slogan, or a statement of values.

With their distaste for overt nationalism, many Brits reacted in horror to the idea of a national statement of values, and The Times (of London) asked for readers suggestions.

They came up with:
“Dipso, Fatso, Bingo, Asbo, Tesco” (Asbo stands for “anti-social behavior order,” a law-enforcement tool, while Tesco is a ubiquitous supermarket chain);
“Once Mighty Empire, Slightly Used”;
“At Least We’re Not French," and
"We Apologize for the Inconvenience.”

The winner, favored by 20.9 percent of the readers, was “No Motto Please, We’re British,” said the article in the New York Times.

    And more on yesterday's post on whether every company needs a blog

    Debbie Weil, famous for writing about business blogs, replies:

    "The question isn't Does every B2B company need a blog? It's does every
    B2B company need a next-generation interactive Web site? The answer is
    yes -- if not in 2008 then by 2009."

    Debbie is a corporate blogging consultant and author of The
    Corporate Blogging Book (Penguin Portfolio). She blogs at and you can read more from her at

    One last aside: Debbie's suggested slogan for the United States: "Where Anything Is Possible... Go Giants!"

    Posted by Internet Marketing Report editor, Julie Power, on Wednesday February 6 at 10 am.


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