15-Month Contest Secures $37K from Children’s Hospital

by Chad Beck St. Louis Magazine

Case Study Highlights

  • $37,500 revenue for magazine
  • 15-month campaign with children’s hospital
  • 1,500+ opt-ins in first month
  • Lead-gen questions drive prospects for sponsor

The Idea

St. Louis Magazine is a St. Louis, MO based publication printing 40,000 copies each month. The success of our recent promotions had us looking for opportunities to do even better. After hearing about the success other media companies had securing recurring revenue from their advertisers, we wanted to create our own annual campaign. Beyond increasing our revenue, we hoped this campaign would grow our email database and engage our audience all year long.

The Execution

Adding recurring revenue campaigns to our calendar was important because we liked the idea of our sales reps focusing on big dollars and annual deals. Initially, we brainstormed a lot of potential ideas. Since kid contests have always been popular with our audience, we picked this as our first theme to turn into an annual opportunity. While we knew a traditional cutest kids contest would work, we wanted something more unique that would yield a bigger dollar sale and a longer campaign.

We landed on the idea of the St. Louis Incredible Kids contest. Each month, we’d ask our readers to nominate the incredible kids in our community. Entrants would share a photo and a brief description about what makes this child a standout in St. Louis.

After we decided on our contest, we needed to lock in our sponsor. We reached out to St. Louis Children’s Hospital. The local children’s care center seemed like a perfect fit. After hearing the details of the contest, the hospital was excited to sign on as the exclusive title sponsor of the annual campaign.

The Sponsorship Package

We created a robust package leveraging all our magazine’s assets priced at a monthly sponsorship investment of $2,500. The exclusive title sponsor would receive prominent branding on all promotional materials; digital exposure including exclusive emails, an email opt-in, and site ads; lead-generation; exposure in our print publications: St. Louis Magazine, St. Louis Family, and Private School Handbook; and we also promised to deliver lead generation for the hospital.

Our contest setup includes a two-week nomination period followed immediately by a two-week voting period. We send emails to kick off both rounds to encourage our readers to enter and then come back and vote. In addition, we leverage print ads within our publications and multiple ads on our site.

At the end of each monthly contest, we announce the winning Incredible Kid in many ways. They’re featured on our website and in our print publications. We also announce the winning Incredible Kid in an email to our database. This winners’ announcement email also includes a health and safety feature from our sponsor, St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

On our registration form, we include email opt-ins for a few of our newsletters and a specific opt-in for our sponsor. To gather potential leads for the hospital, we are including lead-gen questions. Since we expect many return participants, the hospital will use different lead-gen questions each month. This means we can gather more data using 15 different questions throughout the course of the campaign.

The Results

While we’re only a few months into our contest, we’ve been very pleased with the results of our first annual campaign. We’ve secured $2,500 a month for 15 months for a total of $37,500 in recurring revenue from St. Louis Children’s Hospital. This means we’re bringing in sponsorship revenue month after month, while our sales team is freed up to keep selling other things!

Beyond revenue, in just one month, we secured over 450 email opt-ins for the hospital’s database and over 1,000 opt-ins for our newsletters. Based on the first lead-gen question, we also identified nearly 400 people who don’t currently have a pediatrician.

The Incredible Kids contest has really resonated with our St. Louis Magazine readers. Each month produces a fantastic feel-good story to share with our readers. We can’t wait to see how the rest of the campaign goes.

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