Great promotions play on your emotions and grab your attention.
They may also inspire you to dream of what you might do with a new house, car or a million dollars.
When thinking up a promo tactic, don’t start to plan your promotion based on the value of the prize. It doesn’t really matter what the value of the prize is, it is more important to start by creating a dream for your audience.
They will “play for the dream” just as much as they will play for the prize. When your audience is dreaming, then they will generate great content for you to use on air and on social media.
Of course any competition is more interesting when the stakes are high.
A prize of $50k gives instant gratification, but it may not inspire your audience to dream big.
But maybe a major prize of sports car would inspire big dreams.
Don’t make the promotion just about the sports car, make it about where you could go in that car, what you would imagine doing in it. Will you be driving a Ferrari around the winding roads of Monaco on the way to the casino? Will you be racing it and feeling the adrenalin pumping? From those dreams you can build an inspiring competition which will create talkable content on the radio and sharable content for social.
In a strange quirk of human thinking, analysis of competition responses has found that any number beginning with a 5 is going to generate better response than other numbers, perhaps because people recognise the prize value more quickly than more complex numbers. So, counter intuitively, a prize of $500K is going to get more response than a prize of $750K, even though $750,000 is more than $500,000.
In Europe, radio companies can use insurance type thinking to fund their big prizes for game-of-chance competitions.
For instance, stations collaborate with the promotional company work out what are the odds of a person winning a 6 number combination and charge the radio station insurance based on the probability of someone winning the prize. If there is a winner the company pays out the prize, funding most of the prize. If there is no winner the promotional company is ahead. In Europe, not all big prizes have to be won, so this business model works. In some other countries there are rules for competitions that specify that the prize must be won, so check the rules in your country before embarking on insurance-based game-of-chance prize giveaways.
Emirat, a European company specialising in this type of insurance based promotion, presented examples in a session at RadioDays about how they help radio stations generate the mechanics for such promotions and what type of competitions work well.
When creating a big prize competition, start by asking yourself, what kind of game am I creating and what are the promises?
Then be clear on the purpose of the promotion. Is it to get new listeners or is it to work with an advertiser?
There will usually need to be a visual aspect to the promotion as well as what is heard on air, so use outdoor advertising, social media and emails to reinforce what is heard on air with graphics.
From studying successful promotions they have been involved in, Emirat also suggests that the most effective prizes are ones that give away the prize gradually, not all at once. It creates a better long term link with your radio station than a one-off win. So don’t give away the million dollars in one hit, give away perhaps $10k per month instead.
“Research shows when people receive big dollars, they spend it quickly with new found friends and hangers on.” If you drip feed them the money you generate longer term loyalty and they end up being happier for longer, without the hassles that one big dump of money brings.
Emirat manages and executes promotions for stations and arranges the insurance for them for a one time fee. These are some of the promotions that they have found successful:
Birthday Games – a simple mechanic, a date is programmed into a computer which changes every day. Listeners get through to the show and tell their birthday, if it matches the date in the computer the prize is won.
Pack your Bags – the station packs 30 items into a ‘suitcase’ for holiday travel. Listeners call in, email, or contact the station on social and tell the stations what they would pack. If the items match, the travel prize is won.
Sport tipping competitions – listeners predict winning score margins or other details related to sporting matches. The closest to the actual score line wins the prize.
Lucky bucks – The station decides on a jackpot amount of money. Callers enter and guess the amount, with the host telling them it is too high or too low, until eventually the clues narrow down enough for people to guess the correct number. It is a competition that rewards the people who listen longest, because they will know more ‘too highs’ and ‘too lows’ than people who do not listen for a long time.
Virtual safe – a combination locked safe or prize vault. Listeners guess the combination. This is also a TSL promo where the more you listen the more you know what are the wrong numbers. Secret Code competitions are another variation on this mechanic.
Emirat used their own marketing advice well, with their RadioDays conference exhibition stand featuring a shiny red Ferrari to attract attention and entice people to go to the stand and ask about it. At the stand, you can put a six number combination into a machine to try and win the car.
At the exhibition stand, Emirat staff let you touch the car and ask you where you would go in it, helping to stimulate your dreams and personalise the competition for you. If you don’t win, there is a consolation prize.
Our reporter Steve Ahern tried it. Find out if he won below.
Emirat’s website: www.radio-promotions.de