Bridge To A Brand YOU World

Car Payment Contest Winner

We have our first winner of the “I will pay your car payment this month” contest. This blog post is an announcement about the winner, and a breakdown of lessons learned along the way

If you were not following this contest [click here for details], I decided that to promote my new blog and newsletter, I wanted to run a contest that would be the kind of contest I would feel exited about winning.

First, a little big about selecting the winner. I think when the contest was first announced last month, a few people were skeptical about why I would ever offer to pay someone else’s car payment. But interestingly, one of the things I learned in a phone call with the winner this morning was, that he used to do a very similar thing to promote his own business.

He did it the old school way – by offering a free dinner for two at a local restaurant, and let entrants drop a business card in a fishbowl for a chance to win. My contest was a digital variation, with one unique twist – and that is each entrant could increase their chances by getting more “business cards” thrown into the bowl, so to speak. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Announcing The Contest Winner – Richard Gardner from Gouldsboro, Maine

Here’s a couple of interesting things to know about Richard:

  • I have never met Richard, but he knows my family and heard about the contest from my sister Teri
  • Richard did NOT have the most chances/points to win, but he DID increase his chances by inviting two other entrants into the contest
  • And lastly – Rich does NOT have a car payment, but per the rules he provided an alternative bill for $446.58 that I will be writing a check for this week

For those skeptics in the crowd, here is a screen capture video of how Richard’s email was chosen by a random drawing, and a little peak inside the software that I like to use to run these contests.

So why again – did I run this contest?

I explained above, that Richard shared with me that he used to do a very similar thing – what people call the fishbowl drawing, to drum up new clients for his business. In my case, I wanted to build a subscriber base of readers for my blog and newsletter. There are a couple of reasons why I want to do this:

  1. The blog is a side project for me. I make my income in the world of digital marketing, so the blog and newsletter is related, but also a passion project. It is a lot more fun to put the time into something when I can get feedback from readers along the way.
  2. Secondly, I want to demonstrate how a “passion project” can be rewarding both as a hobby AND as a unique way to build a side income stream that comes as a result of gathering a like-minded group of individuals, and sharing what you know that they might appreciate.

Bonus Section

I promised to share a little bit about what I learned from this experience, about running the contest and what I can do to make it better. And I do plan to run additional contests. So make sure you watch the blog and newsletter for more updates.

Lesson Learned #1 – Start small

If I were to do it over again, I would have made the prize for my first contest smaller – maybe a $100 prize, or several $50 prizes. My thinking at the time was, what can I offer that I would be really excited about, and would tell others.

The problem however is, people saw my contest and they thought it was some kind of scam, or that I was selling people’s contact information and that was why it was worth it for me to offer a big prize worth nearly $500.

I tried to explain that I was going to put the same amount of money into promotion of the blog anyways, to get it up and running. But I think I scared a lot of people away – and that is evidenced by the 20% conversion rate (4 out of 5 people chose not to enter).


Special note – I do like this prize (the car payment for a month) a lot, because I think it is a kick ass prize. And I think once I have a regular history of contests, happy winners, and photos of the checks that were written out – I can get that contest entry conversion over 50% or higher.

Lesson Learned #2 – A better way to get traffic on the web

The second thing I learned, is that I think I am on the path to a winning formula. The results from this first contest were dampened for the reasons listed above – but still, you can see from the compound conversion rate that nearly every two entrants brought a third entrant into the contest (because it increased their chances) at no cost to me.

UpViral 2

What this means to a digital marketer, is that when I optimize my contest to a compound conversion rate of 100% or more, that means the contest has gone viral and it will continue to spread on its own. Free traffic (attention and clicks) is the holy grail of online marketing because converting that traffic back into $$ is only a math formula (I will be showing more in future blog posts).

Special note – for my work with clients, I have run a number of other contests, but I am a big fan of the UpViral software that I used for this contest, and endorse using it [affiliate link] for any project where you want more traffic on the web. If you are interested in doing a contest/experiment, shoot me a note and my plan is to run a bunch of these in the near future.

Lesson Learned #3 – I am on the right track

Thru the contest, I added 44 subscribers to my weekly newsletter from the entrants, and an additional 17 who signed up for the newsletter but did not enter the contest. This week will be the 4th newsletter going out to the 61 subscribers so far, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

As you can see from the screenshot here, my open rates, unique clicks, and engagement rate for the newsletter is all well above average – which means people are checking the newsletter out and finding useful content. That is something I am psyched about – because I think it is pretty cool stuff, but I did not know what they rest of the world would think of it.


Special note: I am going to let you in on a little secret. This blog post is not the time or place to do a deep dive into the details, but there is a formula that I have been following (and trying to disprove) for several years now, and it reads like this:

IF you build an email list of people AND you feed them good, unique, and interesting content on a regular basis, to the point they look forward to reading your emails – THAT list will become a valuable asset – to the tune of $1 per month, per email subscriber.

I know that sounds outlandish, especially if you don’t sell any products or services and you are only producing email newsletters about your peculiar hobby of collecting used tupperware… but I think I can prove it. In fact, I will be showing you examples of monthly multiples many times higher than $1 per month.

And for those keeping score at home:

$446.58 – Prize money awarded to Richard on the Feb 21st, 2016 drawing


$88.90 – Facebook advertising to jumpstart awareness about the contest


$535.48 – Total hard costs (not counting my own time) of the contest


61 subscribers x $1/month x 12 months per year x 3 years (lifetime value of a subscriber) = $2,196 asset value, as long as I continue to give the best I have to offer, with my tribe of new found friends.