5 Minute Read

[June 19, 2023]

Customers are the number one, absolute most important thing for the success of any business. Without customers, everything else is moot. You could have the best product or service on the market, offer the most personal of customer service and/or have a can’t miss opportunity, and none of it matters if there isn’t someone on the other end willing to pay money for it.

So how does a business get customers?

Seems simple enough. You have a storefront, put out your shingle and the folks just come streaming through the door, right?

Only if you’re extremely lucky (or have a killer foot-traffic location). Most likely, you’ll need to attract customers, and that takes marketing.

That need is amplified ten-fold if your product or service has a long lead time, as that will require nurturing those potential customers. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before you can ever nurture a lead into a customer, you first have to find that lead.

There are several ways to fill your funnel with contacts that you can then nurture till your heart’s content.

By far the best way to persuade people to provide their information is by offering something in return. The possibilities here are endless, but really break down into two major categories: Content Marketing and Contest Marketing.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of valuable content that your target audience will not only find interesting and useful, but will also be worth the exchange of information to receive. This could include blog posts, infographics, e-books, white papers, webinars or any other created content that will provide value to your desired audience.

While labor intensive at the outset, content marketing actually serves two purposes that pay off big in the long run. Not only does it get people to provide their name, email and other information that can be used in lead nurturing later. It also ensures that the people converting on these forms are interested in the content you are offering, making them ideal candidates to purchase your products and services in the future. This is all assuming you are providing relevant information to your business, which, is a must to ensure quality contacts.

An AKC Aside

At AKC, we’ve seen great success with Content Marketing, especially when it involves large purchases and long lead times. By providing a PDF of the most popular barn layouts, we have been able to help one client generate more than 260 submissions in the past year, despite utilizing this piece for several years. This evergreen piece of content was a hefty up-front effort that has been paying dividends ever since.

Contest Marketing

Contests and giveaways are everywhere, and there is a reason why. Humans are naturally inclined to participate in contests. It’s often a fun, easy and low-risk way for people to scratch that competitive itch and maybe even win something.

Contest Marketing is not nearly as labor intensive as Content Marketing. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to create and promote the contest, but you are doing that for Content Marketing as well. The biggest difference at the start is an investment in capital as opposed to hours of writing, research and graphic work. You are essentially “buying” these entries. Or more accurately, enticing them to provide their information for the small chance of winning whatever prize your contest is offering.

An AKC AsideAt AKC, we’ve seen tremendous success with Content Marketing. In 2022, we helped a client generate more than 12,000 form submissions as part of a contest to win The Ultimate Farm Truck, of which nearly 80% were desirable for future marketing.

Sure, giving away a truck may seem easy and not everyone has that kind of money laying around, but smaller, more strategic contests can be just as effective comparatively.

For the same client, we hosted a tournament encouraging contestants to vote for their favorite show. The prizes were a variety of gift cards and a backpack full of swag. Not exactly breaking the bank, but it still resulted in 2,200 submissions. We attribute part of this to the prizes, but a not insignificant amount can be attributed to the fact that we ran a tournament during the height of March Madness. By capitalizing on the craze that was sweeping the nation, we were able to parlay that into contests in a quick, efficient and cost-effective manner.

Which Approach is Best?

There are pros and cons to each approach and there really isn’t a clear winner here. It ultimately comes down to what your individual goals are, what your budget constraints may be and how long of a life you need this funnel-filling mechanism to last.

Let’s take those three things one-by-one.

If your goal is strictly to fill the funnel, regardless of type of contact and with a hefty budget, Contest Marketing will get you where you want to be. Not only will potential contestants be motivated to fill out a form for a chance to win a prize, they will likely do some of your marketing for you! Contests are largely shared amongst friends and family, helping you cast a wider net with minimal added effort or expense.

If you value quality over quantity or are hampered by budget, Content Marketing will likely be a better choice. Those engaging with your created content are much more likely to be interested in related products and services. Content Marketing is also an investment of time over money, making it (potentially) more affordable.

What about that last caveat? Life-span should not be overlooked when deciding between Content and Contest Marketing strategies. Contests, by design, have a short shelf life. They have a clear start and stop point so that a winner, or winners, can be selected. There is some value in that, but if you need something that will consistently add contacts to your funnel, day after day, month after month, Content Marketing is probably the best path forward.

No matter which approach you ultimately select, it can be successful as long as it is well-thought-out, creative, compelling and has clear goals. Not sure where to start? Fill out the form below and talk to an AKC Marketing professional to see what we can do for your business.