Let’s start with a level-set: your Best Of ballot is the top revenue, audience, and data initiative of the year! Because of this, you need to be sure you’re prepped for success by setting goals, crafting enticing and valuable packages, and providing even more added value.
Run a 3 Phase Ballot
It’s been proven that a three phase ballot will yield the most success for your Best Of. Three phases offers three sales cycles, which leads to more advertising opportunities, which ultimately leads to more exposure for your advertisers and more revenue for your organization. The 3 phases of your ballot will include a nomination phase, and voting phase, and a winners phase.
During the nomination phase, you will be accepting write-in nominations. This phase should run 3-4 weeks. Once you have moderated the nominated businesses, we suggest allowing the top 5-10 nominees move on to voting phase. Allowing only the top 5-10 nominees through will encourage engagement throughout the nomination phase, arguably making it just as important as the voting phase. If a business does not receive enough nominations, they won’t have a chance of winning overall in the voting phase.
As mentioned above, we suggest seeding your voting phase with the top 5-10 nominees, and it will not allow for any write-ins. This is the time for your audience to choose who is the best out of the top businesses. This phase should run 3-4 weeks.
We suggest awarding one winner and two finalists per category. You should also leave your ballot up after winners have been posted to serve as an online winner’s directory.
Now that we’ve covered the ideal ballot setup, let’s dive into goal setting. Your YOY revenue growth goal should be at least 30%. Given what we’ve seen from our partners who’ve run a Best Of, this is an achievable goal for any market.
Use our ballot calendar and revenue calculator to keep track of it all. The included revenue worksheet will help set and visualize your goals throughout all 3 phases and make it simple to maintain.
The Sales Package
When crafting your packages, enact the rule of three. Your ballot has 3 phases, so offer a sales package for each phase and provide 3 pricing tiers (ex. Basic, Deluxe, Premier). By keeping the tiers and pricing simple, it will be easy for your sales team to understand and pitch, which will also make it easier for your advertisers to review and invest in. And remember to always include multiple types of media – core, digital, email, articles, social, etc.
Craft sales-one-sheets for each phase that provide:
Dates and deadlines for each round
Value + investment
Option to ‘keep it going to next round’
List of all groups/categories
What ads look like on the ballot
QR Code to a live/test ballot to ‘test drive’ it
Use our sales-one-sheets as a jumping off point for creating your packages, so you don’t have to start from scratch! We have example sales packages for all 3 phases for multiple core media types.
Also remember to show examples and provide definitions of the ad spaces offered in your packages. This goes back to the concept of keeping it simple – it will allow the advertiser to completely visualize how they will be represented within the ballot, and also make it easier for your sales team to communicate the value.
Consider creating a package for a ballot sponsor – an advertiser that will sponsor the entire ballot. A sponsor of this type will be a larger advertiser, one that has the budget to spend on a large advertising investment. This package would provide the sponsor with 12 month exposure with their logo included in the header graphic of your ballot, on all promotional ads, and on the front cover/story of your special edition for the ballot. If you throw a winner’s event, they could also be the Red Carpet sponsor which would include recognition at the event and their logo included on event signage.
Ways to Generate Revenue Year-Round
Take all the work you’ve put into your ballot to and use it to your advantage by adapting data collected to drive revenue all year long. Here are a few ideas:
Craft special advertising packages for winners that run throughout the year
Pitch winners other promotions (like a sweepstakes or photo contest) and offer them at a discounted rate
Curate monthly emails that showcase winners and finalists (and drive people back to your winner’s directory)
Offer ‘Vote for Us’ ads in your Daily Newsletter as an add-on to your packages