Ballot Promotion Expands Paper’s Relationship with State Fair & Other SMBs

by Marty Carry Arizona Daily Star

The Background

The State Journal-Register is a daily paper in Springfield, Illinois that runs both a deals program and contests (take a look at my model for how to succeed with football pick’ems). The Illinois State Fair is a huge deal in our market, and we had previously partnered with the fair for several promotions. In 2013, we wanted to take our involvement with the fair to a new level.

The Idea

We decided to create a State Fair Top Ten ballot that would allow our readers to share their favorite things to do at the fair. We came up with 10 categories to ask the entire region, and we were blown away with the response.

The Execution

The categories on the ballot were as follows:

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People could either vote for their existing favorite in each category – we pre-seeded the ballot before it launched – or, if they didn’t see their choice, they could add a write-in vote.

Those who registered for the ballot and voted on their top choices were automatically entered in a sweepstakes for several prizes. The grand prize winner received 2 Mega Passes to the Illinois State Fair, as well as 2 tickets for grandstand seats to a performance at the Fair featuring REO Speedwagon, Styx, and Head East. Three additional winners each received a $50 gift card to Qdoba.

The Results

We received more than 1,000 registrations from an area covering several states and as a result of the ballot we were able to secure new partnerships with a local bank and the Springfield Mass Transit District as well as many other small businesses and vendors.

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Furthermore, we were able to dramatically increase our level of partnership with the Illinois State Fair by using the information we gathered from the ballot as part of the content for the State Fair Guide that the State Journal-Register puts together to release before the fair (you can see the cover of the guide on the right). This improved partnership in turn led to us being able to secure more fair concert tickets to give away through sweepstakes contests on our Facebook Pages.

These sweepstakes enabled us to increase the number of Facebook Likes on the State Journal-Register Page from 9,500 to 12,150 – a 34% increase – in 60 days, and to grow the number of Likes on our Greater Springfield DailyDeals Page from 300 to over 3,000 in just 6 weeks!

Why It Worked

  • The ballot helped build anticipation for the Fair (and the special section we release around the Fair).
  • The valuable prize we offered enticed people to take the time to register for the ballot and make their selections.
  • We allowed both traditional votes and write-ins on the ballot.
  • Our partnership with the Fair resulted in additional tickets that we used to extend the life of the promotion.

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