Contests that help brands reach out to their customers -- be that consumers, retailers, clubs and dealers -- may not be new but as the economy changes, they can help a brand establish a bond and create loyalty.
Cybex, SportsArt and Vision are in the middle of or just completed contests, in two cases using the opportunity to gather stories about using their equipment they can use in promotions and in others to reward retailers.
"One reason we do these programs or contests is to have a reason to reach out to our existing customers," said Scott Logan, director of marketing for SportsArt, which has done outreach campaigns for several years. "We want them to have that Saturn or Nordstrom experience. If we put enough fun, or informative things in front of them, we hope that they actually look forward to the emails they receive from us."
Here is a look at what three manufacturers are doing:
Cybex: "Share your Cybex Fitness Story"
The program's launch coincided with the unveiling of the company's latest website redesign and was a way to reach out to the end-user, mostly those in clubs and other fitness facilities, said Heather Corbitt, marketing director.
"The more important part (of the program) was an opportunity to give the end users of our products a chance to tell their story," Corbitt told SNEWS®. "Often we hear from the club purchasers, many of whom are also users, of course, but people are motivated and inspired from ideas and stories from others. It seemed more like an opportunity lost if we don't regularly reach out to those using and benefiting from Cybex products."
The entry period ran for four weeks and closed May 23. It asked users to tell the company in 200 words or less how Cybex has made a difference in their lives or in the life of someone they know. To get folks to the website, all entries had to be submitted through www.cybexintl.com, where contest details were also posted. (Click here to see it.)
Corbitt said the company is still going through entries and has plans to announce the winners by July 1. The winner will earn a Home Arc Trainer for him- or herself and a commercial Arc Trainer for the facility (or charitable organization) of their choice. "It is an exciting way to hear what our users are saying and for them to share their stories with us. We are already receiving some fantastic entries and look forward to more that will come," said Marybeth Mawson, director of distributor operations, in a statement.
SportsArt Fitness: "SportsArt Fitness Love Story" and "Healthy Homes" programs
This year's contests for SportsArt are multi-pronged, with the kickoff happening on Feb. 14 with the "Fitness Love Story" phase. Yes, that was Valentine's Day!
The company's programs tend to reach beyond fitness and into life, for example a past slogan and campaign was "Fuel for the Fun Stuff" (that is, workouts enable you to do other things better), while it has also, as other companies do, asked for stories about how workouts changed users' lives.
"Whether you work out on fitness equipment so you can hike longer, rock climb higher, kayak longer, play 36 holes instead of 18, or just to have more energy for chasing your kids or grandkids, we encourage customers to think about those benefits," Logan said. "If focusing on those things helps them be more consistent with a fitness program, then all the other ancillary benefits -- such as weight loss, better appearance, fewer doctor visits, lower blood pressure, etc. -- fall into place."
In the "Love Story" phase, users were asked for inspirational stories that are now being used for the rest of the campaign. Phase two will be the Healthy Homes program and web pages -- coming soon -- which will try to help consumers create a space in their homes for better health and well-being and become a resource. Amber Maechler, marketing manager, said the pages will include to-be-announced tools and information on health and fitness, as well as the stories from the first phase.
The third and final phase won't launch until the fourth quarter and will include additional tools on the website geared to let consumers have a long-term interactive relationship with SportsArt.
"We basically want our customers to be customers for life," Logan said.
Vision Fitness: ExerPrizes and Sprint 8 for retailers
The ExerPrize program began late in 2007 and encouraged retailers to earn points and prizes by selling Vision product. The top 100 (of 400 in the previous phase) then went on to gather more points through January, with the top 10 and one wild card from each of the five sales regions winning an all-expense-paid trip to China for themselves and a guest.
The winners in mid-May went to Shanghai where they toured the city and Vision manufacturing facilities. They were Lorne LaPorte, Fitness In Motion; Chris Folkinga, Physique Fitness Stores (Canada); Crystal Bishop, Physique Fitness Stores (Canada); Anthony Lagrotta, Fitness Source (Canada); Rob Warwick, Spartan Athletic Products (Canada); Alan Pedinoff, Leisure Fitness; Mike Leach, Fitness Source (Canada), Scott Williams, Leisure Fitness; Brent Johnson, Advantage Fitness Products; and Eric Baj, Total Fitness.
Wild Card winners were Muriel Grittner, Fitness Warehouse (Canada); Joe Dalzell, Reps Fitness Supply; Mark Windham, Fitness Unlimited; Lisa Ragsdale, Home Fitness Exercise Equipment; and Alfredo Lopez, Coast Fitness.
The Sprint 8 Challenge for Vision's retailers was the second time the company ran this campaign (Click here to read a SNEWS® report from last year, including stories from winners). It encourages retailers to use for eight weeks its built-in "Sprint 8" interval program for three to four days a week. They then submit their results and training log. Judges, including Sprint 8 creator Phil Campbell, selected a grand prize winner, 10 first-prize and 20 second-prize winners.
The grand prize winner, who earned a flat-panel 46-inch flat-screen LCD HD television, was Wade Rhodes, of 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, Madison, Wis. First prizes of a Vision 200 series product went to Emily Gunville, Mortl's Sports Center, Iron Mountain, Mich.; Ryan Wendt, Fitness Unlimited, Houston, Texas; Jessie Clawson, 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, Chesterfield, Mo.; Jason Stewart, Fitness Systems, Knoxville, Tenn.; Mark McMahon, BGI Fitness, Indianapolis, Ind.; Christopher Labbe, Leisure Fitness, Dulles, Va.; Joan Ludwig, Physique Fitness, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Nathan Freebourn, The Exercise Store, Erie, Penn.; Michael Harlow, The Fitness Superstore, Albuquerque, N.M.; and Craig Kelly, Spartan Athletic Products, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada.
Second prize winners, who earned an 80 GB iPod, were Lisa Ragsdale, Home Fitness, Wichita, Kan.; Rob Warwick, Spartan Athletic Products, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada; Randy Ives, 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, Forest Lake, Minn.; David Wachtel, BGI Fitness, Indianapolis, Ind.; Tara Larocque, Akfit Fitness Superstore, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada; Charles Kopplin, 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, Mequon, Wis.; Becky Ruth Smart, Mortl's Sports Center, Iron Mountain, Mich.; Eric St. Clair, 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, Madison, Wis.; Kevin Kravitz, BusyBody/Gyms To Go, Pembroke Pines, Fla.; Adam Kaminsky, Fitness 4 Home Superstore, Tempe, Ariz.; Steve Hagen, 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, Fargo, N.D.; Michele Newman, HealthStyles, Denver, Colo.; Michael Pae, G&G Fitness, Woodmere, Ohio; Justin Jamison, HealthStyles, Aurora, Colo.; Rich Mortl, Mortl's Sports Center, Iron Mountain, Mich,; Shannon Bach, The Exercise Store, Erie, Penn.; Jane Beatty, G&G Fitness, North Olmsted, Ohio; Rob Mikes, Leisure Fitness, Timonium, Md.; Ronald Johnson, 2nd Wind Exercise Equipment, Wheaton, Ill.; and Lance Reed, BusyBody/Gyms To Go, Kennesaw, Ga.