When building followers tends to favor new technologies like social media and mobile advertising, it’s easy to skip the old fashioned tactic of sweepstakes. But why haven’t these contests fallen out of style? Indeed, the tactic that turned a nation of homemakers into active brand advocates still remains a highly effective marketing strategy.
The Golden Age of Contests
The popularity of ‘sweepstakes’ surged in the 1950s, when advertisers discovered that contests lifted sales and helped drive brand recognition more than traditional advertising campaigns. During this so-called “Contest Era,” brands like Colgate, Dr Pepper, Heinz, Kleenex and Quaker Oats all were able to leap towards market dominance thanks in part to these competitions. By providing a fun and easy way for shoppers – at this time primarily housewives – to actively participate with the brand, they drove both sales and engagement.
Dial soap was only five years old when it launched a sweepstakes effort that put its name on the lips of every homemaker in America. In 1954 Dial enticed consumers with the promise that they could win an oil well, which would provide up to $25,000 in profit each year. All consumers had to do was mail in the wrapper from a bar of Dial soap along with an original two line jingle touting the brand. Not only did sales of Dial increase, but the company also received free advertising in the form of crowdsourced jingles.
While today’s marketers are reinventing sweepstakes to keep up with our digital age, the motivations behind sweepstakes — to build brand awareness, customer engagement and audience loyalty — aren’t actually that different from 70 years ago. Digital marketers employ the classic contest on a larger scale, while simplifying the process for online shoppers.
1. Sweepstakes Make Consumer Engagement Easy
Brands in the 1950s had to target consumers with carefully placed display cases in grocery stores and shopping centers, but the brands of today are able to reach anyone, anytime, anywhere. Plus, while 1950s consumers had to mail in a sweepstake entry to demonstrate their brand fanaticism, today all it takes is a few clicks.
Richard Jones is the CEO and co-founder of EngageSciences, a digital engagement platform that helps Fortune 500 brands in 76 countries activate their audiences online across all digital channels, networks and devices through User-Generated Content. Richard is a regular speaker and contributor on social media topics.