Pick A Day To Call Your Own

Jeff Zbar

Did you know that the second week of January every year marks National Home Office Safety & Security Week - and "America's Safest Home Office Contest"? Or that the Friday before Father's Day is National Work@Home Father's Day and the "Why I Work@Home: A Dad's View Contest"?

Before 2001, none of these existed. But in each case, I realized how ignored - and potentially lucrative - the two respective markets (home office security and work-at-home dads) were. So I created the dates and market the heck out of them. It's really as simple as that.

For consultants, experts and speakers, creating events to wrap around ourselves is an ideal way to gain positive exposure - and attract sponsors. With sponsors come additional fees, prizes to give away, and exposure through their promotional machines.

Here's how to create a date and contest of your own:


  • Find a niche. What expertise do you have that consumers and marketers would find interesting? Work@Home Father's Day and Home Office Safety Week are unique takes on emerging trends in the home office arena. Both provide companies looking to hit these audiences compelling and newsworthy topics to which to attach their names and brands. Be sure to give your event or contest a catchy name so it grabs journalists' - and readers' - attention.


  • Pick a date. Peruse Chase's Calendar of Events at your library's reference desk, and register your date for free. The book lists more than 14,000 local, regional and national milestones or annual events. Entries range from the birth (or death) dates of celebrities and historical luminaries, to such obscure events as Sinkie Day (annually the day after Thanksgiving), which was created by the Association of People Who Dine Over the Kitchen Sink to celebrate people who do so. Obscure? Sure. Interesting to the news media? You bet. Just make sure your date is a logical fit (since January begins the year, I figured it was a good time to put a safety bug in people's minds), and that it doesn't conflict with a larger event that could overshadow your own.


  • Create your rules. Protect your sponsors and yourself. Some rules you'll set ("Open to U.S. residents 21 and older who work from home. Family of organizers ineligible to enter…"). Other rules are required by law for all sweepstakes or contests ("No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited by law…"). To learn more, read some of the rules on sweepstakes you frequently see around you (like with package goods or fliers in the paper), or visit contest-planning site Ithlon.com.


  • Write a proposal, set your fee and sign up sponsors. What are the key promotional and marketing benefits of your event? Why should a marketer participate? Tell them what it will cost and what they'll get from their involvement.


  • Promote it. Creating an event doesn't create news coverage. Using my Web site, my electronic magazine, my ability to write press releases, and all my contacts in the news media, P.R. and work-at-home community, I have distributed word of my contest to scores of people, who, in turn, hopefully will tell thousands.

    What has been the result of my two contests? As is often the case with marketing efforts, it's hard to measure. At the very least, I've gotten media exposure, and built marketer relationships. I've created two projects that have established my role as an expert in the home-office community. Optimally, the exposure will result in greater sales of my products, bookings for speaking engagements, and other additional revenues.

    Besides, contests are fun to create - even if as a relative of myself I'm prohibited from entering.

    © 2003 Jeffery D. Zbar Inc.

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