If you’ve been following our Best Of contest series with Todd Lemke, you know that his magazine is running a 30-year-strong, $1 million Best Of contest feature. Whether you’re already doing a Best Of, or you’re considering one in the future, we want to help you maximize its value. Here are 3 Best Of contest tips to make your publication's annual business awards feature as successful as possible!
Tip #1: Professional Voting Software Is Vital
You can go two routes with your Best Of contest voting mechanism: custom software or a turnkey solution. In Todd’s case, he hired a programmer to create a custom option that met his publication’s requirements (Todd is available to consult with you on this, if you have questions). There are, however, wonderful ready-made solutions that many magazines and newspapers use.
“There are some turnkey options like SecondStreet that make voting in these types of contests simple and easy to configure...Steer away from generic polling and survey tools.”
The key to using voting tools effectively is your setup, which we discussed in our article about building a credible magazine contest voting system. “The tools are there. It’s up to you to make your contest legitimate...Consider the options your software gives you and think it through. Put in the [voting] safeguards to have a legitimate contest. You’ll grow every year.”
Tip #2: Get the Businesses Involved
Your contest should be all about the businesses in your community and the people who want to support them. So, naturally, you should take steps to get them involved in promoting your Best Of contest. Todd adds:
“Get individual businesses out there to campaign for their votes. It drives up your numbers, and it gives you a broad spectrum of passionate voters. Add other channels, like TV and radio, help even further.” For Todd, this has worked out over the years. Best Of Omaha now sees more than 200,000 verified individual voters thanks to the sheer number of channels promoting the contest. Here are some tips to help them get the word out:
- Invite businesses to get the word out about your contest via email, social media, and other owned media channels.
- Create a winner’s package for your contest that includes stickers, banners, and other collateral for businesses that win each category.
- Allow your Best Of contest logo to be shared. Giving up control of your branding can be hard for many publishers. Let it happen! Todd says, “Whether they spend a dime with you or not, make it easy for businesses to tell the world about your Best Of.” Read on for an “asterisk” about this point, though.
Tip #3: No Logo Tampering!
Wait, didn’t we just suggest that you should let businesses freely use your Best Of contest branding? Yes, we did. However, there is one big caveat we have to mention. You should ensure that your award branding displays the year of your contest—and that it’s not tampered with!
It sounds simple! But if previous winners remove the year from your logos, they have far less incentive to defend their title in future contests. So, be generous in brands’ ability to use your Best Of branding as they please, but be firm with the fact that the logos cannot be tampered with. Much like proper enforcement of your voting rules, you should be ready to contact any businesses that violate your rules. As you enforce, word will spread that you mean business.
Best Of Contest Tips to Connect With Your Community
A well-run Best Of contest serves everybody involved. It helps businesses get recognized by the patrons who adore them. It spurs friendly competition in your community that gets people excited year after year. And, for publishers, it can be an amazing way to create recurring ad revenue with a huge local impact. Use these Best Of contest tips wisely, and watch it grow!
Be sure to check out Todd’s Publishing Success video series on Best Of contests, nonprofit advertising strategies, and more. And don’t forget to subscribe to Publishing Success for new, innovative ideas tailored for magazine and newspaper businesses, week after week!