by Bryan Boettger, Chief Creative Officer
Yeah, I’m a Wheel Watcher. I’m not a card-carrying member or anything, but when I got the chance to audition for the show last week, I wasn’t about to pass it up. Chances were high they wouldn’t pick me (TV shows typically don’t like Ad People getting on), but there was no way I was going to pass up the behind-the-scenes look. Plus, weren’t the chances good that I’d learn something?
Lo and behold, I certainly did learn something. Five somethings, in fact.
Lately, we’ve been getting more and more client requests related to promotions, contests, talent auditions, etc. at The Buddy Group – especially in the social media space. Wheel of Fortune (WOF) helped reinforce some of the more important parts of a good contest because, after all, isn’t an audition nothing more than a talent contest?
1. HOPE FOR THE HOPEFUL, HELP FOR THE HELPLESS
The last thing you want is someone calling you out for being unfair, impractical or impossible. This is especially true in the “I’m gonna tell my closest 5,000 friends how much you suck because I feel wronged” Internet.
So, make your requirements very clear!
When I received the email inviting me to audition for WOF, they made it very clear that it is hard to get on (“Be honest with yourself. Don’t spend time and money coming to the audition if you will not be able to show us your enthusiasm!!!”) and that you would be disqualified if you met certain conditions (“You are not eligible to play Wheel of Fortune if you work for or are related to anyone who works for Sony Pictures Entertainment Inc., Sony Pictures Television Inc., …”).
Most people can handle being passed over for something. Conversely, hardly anyone can handle finding out they don’t qualify after putting their time, energy and money into something. If someone doesn’t have a chance, it’s best to communicate that up front. At least then the helpless know they are a long shot and the hopeful know what it will take to win. Don’t feign inclusiveness if there is legitimate challenge to what you are asking.
2. CLEAR DIRECTIONS, AN EASY-TO-FIND LOCATION
In the WOF audition invite email was a simple, one-page Word doc with directions from all four points of the compass, directions from LAX and a map. I really had to work hard to get turned-around (which I did since I was on a business call while driving). But, simply pulling out that one-pager, I found my way again.
Make sure people know exactly where to go and provide them easy directions on what they need to do.
Your lawyers will require pages of rules when you do a promotion or contest, but that doesn’t mean you can’t boil the most important points down to a few bullet points. And, you might market your contest in a dozen places, but you should have one go-to location where people can find all the info they need. Once again, make it easy to find! Embedding your contest in Facebook? That doesn’t mean you can’t still purchase a vanity URL for your contest and redirect people automatically!
3. MAKE PEOPLE PROUD JUST TO BE NOMINATED
From the moment all of us walked into the audition room to start solving puzzles, we felt like we had already won. Music was playing, people were sharing stories and a miniature version of the wheel was up front. From the beginning, we wanted to win but knew we’d be happy no matter how we walked away. The experience was the cake and winning was the proverbial icing.
Make it fun for people to participate and give them a good story to tell.
There’s no fooling anyone, you do promotions and contests to get people thinking about your company and talking about it with others. Embrace it. Do a contest that’s fun for people to put together their entry. Make your own energetic video to get people excited about participating. Leave people proud of their experience so they tell others about it.
4. A SINCERE THANK YOU IS THE BEST PARTING GIFT
I can still remember the host of the auditions (no, Vanna and Pat weren’t there) sincerely telling everyone how much everyone’s time was appreciated, what a great job everyone did and, tongue in cheek, saying he hoped the people that didn’t get on would “still watch the show once in a while.” That last line reminded us all that we loved the show and, no matter what happened, we could still play the show from our couch.
Tell the non-winners they are special and remind them that they think your company is special, too.
Your company is made or broken by the same people who participate in your contests and promotions. Make sure to give them a proper thank you when the contest is over. Let them know how they can still interact with your company now that the promotion is over. Have a coupon code, upcoming sale or special new insider info? Let the contestants be the first to know about it – And, let them know you are giving them the inside scoop.
5. THE END OF THE CONTEST ISN’T THE END
Here’s the one place I feel WOF dropped the ball. The audition ended, but that wasn’t the end of the story. The story ends when the people I auditioned with get on the show. It was a shared experience and I would love to see my fellow auditioners when they get on the air. I would have enthusiastically given WOF my email address if they promised to email me when someone in my audition class got on the show.
Give people a chance to see the winners, how the prize affected them and share in the emotions of all involved.
Sure, you are going to announce the winners. But, are you going to tell the story of the winners? Whether you hire someone like The Buddy Group or purchase a Flip Mino to shoot video yourself, make sure to capture some of the emotion of the winner. You could just mail the prize out to the winner. But, how much marketing value will you get from filming the winner being prized?
You might not have the following of a Wheel Of Fortune, but with a little extra effort, your promotions and contests can have all the flair of a Wheel audition. And, you too, won’t even need to have Vanna or Pat there.
• Unfortunately, no, I did not get picked to be on the show.
• Proudly, yes, I did solve the puzzle when I had to play against other auditioners.
• Sadly, no, I didn’t win any actual money.
• Ironically, yes, all I got was a free shirt for solving the puzzle.