Contests and promotions are a great way to get people excited and talking about your business. They can be a refreshing addition to your usual advertising. And, when done right, they’ll encourage word of mouth marketing, serve as a way to give back to your fans, followers and customers, and promote levels of happiness all around you (or maybe that’s just your intelligence and good looks). In either case, the following contests/promotions had me smiling and eager to participate. Check them out and you may even be able to leverage some of their strategies for your own business!

Let Your Customers Do the Talking

Who: GoPro (VerticalResponse customer, woot!) offers the world’s most versatile camera; their motto is “Wear it. Mount it. Love it.”

The Promo:  They use promotions to show the professional quality of their products through customer footage. Not only do they give away one of everything they make daily, all of their commercials are provided by customers. GoPros ongoing promotion asks customers to submit footage using their GoPro camera for a chance to be featured in a commercial.


The Benefit  No cheesy advertising ploys, they let their product sell itself. Product giveaways are a great way to allow individuals who may have never otherwise tried your product to test it out. This can be done in the form of a promotion where the prize is a gift certificate, free trial, or waived setup or installation fee. Not only will you garner new customers, but you’ll show confidence in your product or service. Giving something away for free says, “we’re so confident in our product/service that we want you to try it for free because we know you’ll be hooked.” In addition, what’s better advertisement for your product than showing customers having an awesome time as they use it? (Take Apple’s dancing product users as an example). This is not to say everyone has to feature customers in their commercials. Testimonials and customer case studies can be an effective substitute.

Take Advantage of Trends

Who – ModCloth is an online indie retailer that provides “retro, indie, and vintage-inspired clothing styles that are distinctively and uniquely ‘you!’”

The Contest – ModCloth put on a “punny” contest called “Fashion Faux Pas-t” where entrants were asked to post a photo of themselves rocking their favorite fashion misstep of the past with the hashtag #fauxno to Tumblr or Instagram. Three random winners received $100 ModCloth gift certificates.


The Benefit – ModCloth used social media to promote their contest and made people laugh while they were at it. It doesn’t get better than social media when it comes to getting the word out about your contest or promotion. ModCloth hit the nail on the head with this concept by using not one but two social media sites to publicize their contest. As a result, they were able to leverage their loyal customer’s friends and followers each time someone entered the contest via Tumblr or Instagram. They also knew their audience demographic, as many individuals who are fans of indie, retro and vintage inspired fashion are likely to be younger and therefore likely to be users of Tumblr or Instagram. According to a study done by consumer behavior research group Experian Hitwise, “over half of the visitors to the Instagram website are under the age of 35.” Facebook on the otherhand saw their two largest user age groups were between 25 and 34 and 55 and over.  So, know your audience and select your social media accordingly.

Goodwill Goes a Long Way 

Who: Bare Escentuals is a retailer of mineral makeup with the philosophy that “products can actually be good, makeup can be fun, business can be personal and companies can behave more like communities.”

The Promotion:  Bare Escentuals’ “Force of Beauty” promotion sought out models who were more than just pretty. They sent out a survey to models and actresses and went through a selection process based on survey responses to choose five well rounded individuals to represent Bare Escentuals in their Force of Beauty campaign. Their goal was to find women to feature based not only on their looks, but on their accomplishments, personalities, and inner beauty as well. The casting was blind, so Bare Escentuals chose models without even seeing their faces.


Bare Escentual’s “Force of Beauty” Commercial

The Benefit – The promotion generated goodwill and established beauty as more than something that is skin deep. Bare Escenuals not only helped to diminish the stereotype that cosmetic companies are just looking for a pretty face to sell more of their products, but they also showed that they want their business to be represented by individuals who can serve as role models for young women. A good deed goes a long way, so reward those who truly are deserving. Run a promotion or contest to find those who are helping in the community or using your product or service for good. Giving back represents that you are interested in more than making a dollar and as a result you’ll earn more respect and more of your customers will stand behind your promotion and your business.

Bonus Takeaways

Here are some key takeaways from these promotions and other successful ones like them:

1. Make your contest or promotion easy to enter – if people can’t figure out how to enter your contest or find it difficult to submit requirements, they are unlikely to participate at all.

2. Relate to your company’s product, brand or philosophy – you’ll want your promotion or contest to relate to your product or brand so that the momentum it develops will easily relate to and come back to your business.

3. Make it a positive experience – whether it’s fun, funny, or heartwarming, your promotion or contest should leave participants and observers feeling good about entering, regardless of whether they win.

Have you run any contests/promos that you’re proud of recently? We have! Check out VerticalResponse’s recent Teen Tycoon contest. Share yours as well, we’d love to hear about them!

© 2012 – 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

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