Aaron Dwyer is the owner of Web Smart Central, a Brisbane based web hosting and development firm, committed to small business online success. He came up with an idea to run a competition to drum up publicity for his business, establish credibility and produce some valuable content (a case study) that he can further leverage in marketing materials both on and offline. Here is the story as written by Aaron…
As the owner of a small web hosting and web development business and a budding entrepreneur, I have been thinking for a while about how to promote my business for free and at the same time build awareness and help others with their business websites. The holy grail of promotion because it costs little, improves my credibility and brings in more customers. My target market is small businesses that already have an online presence.
Joan Stewart from http://publicityhound.com (which if you are new to publicity and PR like me, I highly recommend you get her newsletters or read her blog) recently wrote about an annual Ã¢â‚¬Å“Oldest Furnace ContestÃ¢â‚¬Â run by a US furnace company which generated a lot of free local publicity. This sparked my interest and I thought I could do something similar.
I later read about a US web development firm that did an Extreme Website Makeover contest. That clinched it for me. I figured that doing something like that for Australia only (to niche it down to my target market) would work, and not only get free publicity for my business but actually help business website owners at the same time with their websites.
WebsiteRenos.com was born. It is an online contest looking for failing Australian business websites, with the internet public voting for who they deem to be the most deserving for a renovation makeover. The winner will be awarded a complete website renovation to the value of $2,000. The contest runs this month (February 2006) with entries being accepted for the first half of the month and then voting for the winner in the second half. I may run it again, pending the response to the first one.
The difference with this contest compared to others is that the whole process will be documented and posted to the site so that everyone can benefit. I don’t understand why people choose to hide this sort of information. Most people crave information but will still pay someone else in the end to do the work. It is an effective marketing strategy even if you are worried about giving away your “insider secrets”.
No matter how much website information is out there, there are still business owners especially small business owners creating their websites (either DIY or paying a web firm or friend) that not only fail to offer their visitors a positive experience, but even worse, succeed in turning potential clients away.
Being in the web industry I talk with business owners and responses like this are very common.
“A Website? Yeah – We Got One Of Those Three Years Ago, and it Hasn’t Helped One Bit”
“The Internet Sucks – We Don’t Get Any Business From It”
Invariably they are not approaching their internet presence with any defined goals other than to have a website to keep up with their competition or just to say they have a website. They’ve ticked the box on the to-do list, and moved on. No wonder their websites are failing to be profitable for their businesses.
So why do a contest like this? Simple, to build awareness of your business in such a way that is news worthy and piques peoples interest to get publicity. You need to have something of value or uniqueness to offer the readers or viewers of whatever medium you’re going for. You also need to have a good reason for doing it, be passionate about it and try to make it fun. That way when the journalists call to get the story straight then that will stand you in good steed to win them over and get your story told.
This is truly a marketing exercise that has given me lots of areas to learn and grow and push my boundaries. From concept, to setup, to writing news releases that actually work, and to making contacts with newspapers and TV stations and fellow internet businesses, whom I normally wouldn’t do business with.
I’ll leave you with this. To avoid business website suicide, there are only 3 goals you need to focus on and achieve from your web site. You want as many people as possible to visit your site to:
Without achieving at least one of those results you’re missing out on opportunities everyday.
Anyone can take a spin on this sort of contest and make it apply to your business, offline or online. Get to it and take action.