Business Building Contest Ideas for Small and Midsized Businesses

Posted on 10. Nov, 2010 by + in Business Publicity

Who doesn’t love a contest? I’ve been even more inspired to enter contests after knowing Tara. She seems to have a knack for winning contests! She recently won admission to Sandy Krakowski’s conference in December (including conference fees, airfare, and hotel). She’s won tickets to see Keith Urban (twice!) — and that’s just scratching the surface!

Contests are fun, and they can be great publicity. Here are some contests that I thought were just incredibly cool and that are feasible for small to midsized businesses:

The “Destroy Your Printer” Video Contest

What annoying, frustrating catalyst is driving your prospect to seek out your products and services? Expert Laser Services Inc., a company that repairs and services laser printers, is keenly aware of why people call on them for service judging by their “Destroy your Printer” video contest. I don’t know about you, but my experience with printers is about the same as my experience with vacuum cleaners — it seems I’m buying a new one every year! I currently have two print/scan/copy/fax machines — because it takes two to be able to perform all of the necessary functions.

It seems like I’m not the only one. These contestants were frustrated enough to pull out their video camera and blow up their old printers with dynamite, run over them with tractors, toss them out of windows, crush them to death with heavy machinery, and more for the chance to win a new laser printer from Expert Laser Services. The results? Some very funny original viral content which naturally results in lots of inbound links!

What catalyst brings your customers to you?

Pear Tree Greetings “BOO-tiful Halloween” Photo Contest

Here’s another great example of a company that knows its target audience. Pear Tree Greetings, creator and retailer of creative holiday photo cards and announcements, appeals to a demographic that is creative, fun, and that likes to share that creativity with others. Their BOO-tiful Halloween photo contest asked people to take photos of their cute kids in their cute Halloween costumes to be voted on. The owner of the photo with the most votes would not only win bragging rights, but also a $100 Visa gift card.

The result? A page of wonderful photos of super adorable kids in costumes and families all across the nation emailing friends, relatives, and neighbors with a link to the Pear Tree Greetings blog asking them to vote. (Take a look at the 861 comments!) Curious to see the winners? Here they are!

Shoffee’s Good Coffee, Good Life Contest

In the company’s contest press release Joe Simonovich, co-founder of says, “The idea of getting a chance to spend a weekend living like a celebrity is the perfect prize for someone who enjoys these fantastic coffees.” Boy does he know his audience! A coffee junkie myself, the idea of winning a weekend trip to Beverly Hills, including round-trip airfare for two to LA, transportation to and from the airport, a two night stay at the famous Beverly Hills Hotel, and dinner for two at one of Wolfgang Puck’s Beverly Hills restaurants, is enough to get me clicking and filling out my most personal info. They didn’t ask for much — only my name, email, address, and phone number – likely so that they can send me offers — which will be welcome since I’m always interested in coffee. And even if I weren’t a coffee nut, it is likely I would at least “like” coffee or know someone who does (hint from a coffee fan, interesting coffee is a great gift for the holiday!)

The result? A mailing list full of new people who willingly handed over their information that they can now introduce to new products.

More Fun Business Contests

Your Turn!

Have you won or entered any contests? What would be your idea of a great contest for a small business?

8 Responses to “Business Building Contest Ideas for Small and Midsized Businesses”

  1. Mandy

    10. Nov, 2010

    While I was on Facebook I came across this super cute contest that’s presented by Clorax – it’s called, ‘My Toilet Tale Contest’ – you just have to tell them your funniest toilet moment in 1000 characters or less with a photo (that’s optional) it could be a toilet paper disaster or potty training accidents. I’m currently potty training my littler girl and we have had so many disasters that I just had to enter this contest. Winners can win a trip for four to New York City and a $5,000 bathroom makeover (not too shabby for just sharing a story)!

    Although this is presented by a huge company, the contest idea is so simple that it can really get small to medium businesses thinking – your sweepstakes or contest doesn’t have to be over the top – simplicity is key!

  2. Christine OKelly


    10. Nov, 2010

    Oooh!! That is a GOOD one!! I could share some stories… like the time I walked out of the bathroom and into the restaurant with the back of my dress tucked into my pantyhose. Someone I know flushed while on the john in a grocery story bathroom –it overflowed, spilling into his pants and he walked out through the entire store with no pants and his jacket tied around his waist to cover up. I would LOVE to read some stories — do you have the link?

    And you’re right… the contest itself is so simple and virtually “free.” While a small business may not be able to offer such a grandiose prize, people would likely contribute and share for even a much more modest prize!

  3. Mandy

    12. Nov, 2010

    Those are some great ones! Yes, here is the link:

    While searching for the link, I found another Clorox Contest – seems like they do lots of contests, check it out:

    Best of luck with your entry! :)

  4. Amber K

    12. Nov, 2010

    One Sunday afternoon while watching football, a commercial caught my husband’s eye: use your Visa card between now and the end of the year and automatically be entered for a chance to win Super Bowl tickets for life. The more you use your Visa, the more chances you have to win. Needless to say, my husband’s wallet hasn’t seen so much as a $1 bill since. EVERYTHING goes on the Visa.

    This is another example of a big company giving away a big prize, but the premise is SO simple – the contest couldn’t be easier for people to enter. Smaller companies could do something similar.

  5. Christine OKelly


    14. Nov, 2010

    Lol Amber! It’s amazing how companies and individuals can influence our behavior with a contest. I can see why though — Superbowl tickets for life?!? Wow!

    Mandy – thanks for the link to the Clorox contest — there are some really funny stories here. Warning – do not follow that link unless you’re ok with losing 15-30 minutes of your day! For the cost of one bathroom makeover, they are doing some incredible brand and relationship building with this contest.

    Thank you both for sharing!

  6. Nathan Dube

    16. Nov, 2010

    Glad you enjoyed our Destroy Your Printer Contest!

    Here is the winner of this years…

    It is annual event here at Expert Laser Services.
    Nathan Dube recently posted..MPS- Jabooda and Barcelona

  7. Elland

    12. Jan, 2011

    really love your articles very informative..

    Small Business Consulting Services
    Elland recently posted..Tasty Ideas to Maximize Online Marketing for Events


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