Giveaway has everyone talking about where they would go on their dream vacation


Sean Ireland

Sometimes the simplest marketing ideas are still the best, even ones as old as chance drawings, where businesses offer chances to win a coveted prize and receive positive actions and attention for their brands.

A Texas newspaper demonstrated the power that prizes have when it boosted its circulation revenue by $20,000 with the help of a contest for a vacation giveaway. Customers starting or reactivating a subscription, extending a subscription or switching their accounts to EZ Pay were entered into a contest to win a $3,000 vacation package.

The Galveston County Daily News set a goal of 600 actions for the circulation promotion. Circulation Director Yvonne Mascorro was overwhelmed when the target was reached halfway through the two-and-a-half month program. "We are so excited about how successful this promotion was for both the community and the newspaper," she said. "We generated buzz, subscriptions and lots of goodwill."

The promotion ended with the newspaper earning nearly 900 new actions and nearly $20,000 in revenue from new starts and reactivations of lapsed subscriptions. The Daily News added 273 new EZ Pay customers, the easiest to keep as subscribers. It also created positive feedback from The Daily News's existing customers while being equally inviting to potential new ones.

"When you give 'everyone' an opportunity to win, you create a positive atmosphere all around," Mascorro said. "Existing subscribers are not irate that only new customers get all the good deals, and non-subscribers can engage with our brand in a unique way, while still being directed toward a long-term subscription."

The contest began May 1, and the original prize was a voucher for a vacation cruise – a natural incentive since Galveston is home to a growing cruise port. Upon reflection though, Mascorro and The Daily News wondered if the prize would appeal to everyone. "It was decided to instead offer something more broad – and the dream vacation was born," she said. "This could be used toward a cruise or flying to New York or driving to San Antonio, Texas, with the family. It just made more sense."

It was promoted through virtually every avenue the newspaper has: published house ads in the daily paper, TMC products and online; bounce-back cards in single-copy papers; promotional emails sent to the newspaper's non-subscriber and subscriber databases; newsstand cards and dealer cards; Post-It Notes on the daily newspaper; flyers in coffee shops; the recorded voice loop on the paper's phone system; posters at both Daily News office locations for customers to see; flyers on renewal notices and entry forms in reception area.

A single action by a customer earned them a chance to win the $3,000 dream vacation getaway. Here are the actions the newspaper got during the promotion:

New starts that prepaid for six months: 84
New starts that prepaid for one year: 63
Total new starts: 147

Existing subscribers who prepaid for six months: 321
Existing subscribers who prepaid for one year: 150
Total subscription extensions: 471

New EZ Pay subscribers: 273 (With 88 making advanced payment)

Total actions: 891

The newspaper's retention department talked up the contest during sales calls, and there were even ceiling danglers hanging in the circulation office area as a reminder to staffers to push the contest. Employee buy-in was critical to the campaign's success. "Communication is crucial," Mascorro said. "Before the promotion kicked off, everyone was shared the details and could ask questions. Building anticipation with the team is important so that when it kicks off, they are excited."

Galvestonians were certainly excited. "It seemed that all everyone was talking about was where he or she'd go if they won," Macorro said. "It was just a pleasant promotion. We often talked to participants about their dream vacation destination to interact with them on a more personal level. When I called the winner and told her she'd won, her first response was, 'Where am I going?' I told her, 'You get to go anywhere you want. We are giving you a $3,000 check to go on your dream vacation.' It felt great to say that."

Later, by email, Mascorro announced the contest winner to all of the entrants and offered them a coupon for a classified ad just for participating. A second email was then sent to the paper's entire database to congratulate the winner.

Then, "the story hit the front page of our newspaper and a follow-up column was published a few days later," she said. "Sometimes we forget to toot our own horn."

For more information, contact Yvonne Mascorro at The Daily News at (409) 683-5264.

Galveston, Mascorro, circulation retention, promotions
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