Building a Database Through Contests


Matt Coen, President and Co-founder of SecondStreet urges all business owners looking to expand their brand to get active in their marketing, and grow an email database through well-planned contests. Coen argues that in a social media driven world, “growth is built best on promotion.” The bottom graph is a great representation of social media shifting a trend. As the internet increases business/consumer interaction, traditional media dollars are plateauing, while promotional strategies continue to rocket skyward.


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Contest Planning

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Coen breaks down the promotional strategy process into three stages: building a team, choosing a promotion (and the details that go with it) and developing new found interest into revenue.


Building a Team

  • Having the essentials such as a Facebook, Twitter, and website
  • Using Facebook or an outside strategy to grow an email database
  • Having a task force dedicated to promoting the contest itself

Choosing a Promotion

Many factors go into choosing a promotion, Coen suggests starting with environmental forces (time of year, target user demographics, promotional niche market) and choosing a contest that will be broad enough to generate user input that might not have previously existed, without diminishing the companies core values. Once a promotion is generally decided, the next step would be deciding how long to run it (shorter time might be seen as more exclusive, but one would lose in overall viewers) and what prices the company could use to entice users.

How to Monetize contests


Here is an example of a "cutest baby" promotion, and the benefits a well executed contest could bring to a company
Here is an example of a “cutest baby” promotion, and the benefits a well executed contest could bring to a company


One of the main things Coen urges businesses to consider when looking to capitalize on their contest is to run it through as many forms of media as possible. As a business, your success lies in a boom in either your system database, or potential users of your product or service. Relying strictly on Facebook or Twitter to run your promotion, although marginally effective, still limits your database strictly through the users of those sites. A contest-savvy business runs a traditional advertisement, and then drives readers to their digital media preferences on every level (smartphone/laptop/tablet.)


 Top Contest Ideas

Top contest ideas


Matt Coen is the President & Co-Founder of Second Street.
Matt Coen is the President & Co-Founder of Second Street.

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Matt Coen

Matt Coen is the Co-founder and President of Second Street, the leading provider of online promotions platforms and partner success services for the media industry. Coen also teaches entrepreneurship at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2006, Coen Co-Wrote and Produced the award winning documentary Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore? Coen began his career in media technology at Pulitzer Technologies as Director of New Business and Product Development. Coen is a native of Rhode Island who loves spending time with his family, sports, politics, travel, and serving on a number of community boards.
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