List Building for Small Business

by | Apr 7, 2020 | Business Building Musts, Email Marketing

​This week we are tackling a topic that is almost the first thing I say to any audience when talking social media and marketing – LIST BUILDING!

I believe it’s the foundation to any business’ success and growth.

If you’re spending more time on social media than you are on developing email campaigns for your database, then you are leaving “money on the table”.

Email marketing isn’t as glamorous or as exciting as social media, but it has been around longer, and it meets one of the most important aspects of customer relationships – humans interacting with humans!

Social media is great for meeting new customers, but it doesn’t create a nurturing, sustainable relationship like email marketing can.

Do you have a client or customer list?  Is it something you do every day – build your list?  If not, then quite frankly, it should be!  Whether you’re in retail or a service-based business list building should be a priority.

We are looking this week at one solid way to build your client list – that that is through competitions.


Firstly, we all know that the social media terms and conditions can change overnight, yes?

We’ve all woken up to those rule and algorithm changes at some stage.  So as much as the information in this blog is current at the time of posting (April 2020) and most of it is general information, whenever there is mention about the rules of Facebook or Instagram competitions, please be aware that the rules might change. Before running your competition, you need to check the current terms and conditions of Facebook and Instagram to ensure your competition is compliant at the time you go to run it!

So, let’s get into how to run a super freaking good competition on social.

Step 1: Start with the end in mind

Your first step is figuring out why you want to run it – what’s the end goal or my favourite saying “start with the end in mind”. If you can start with the end in mind, all the planning will be much easier, simpler and smoother, that I guarantee!

So, decide what’s the goal for the competition.

Is it to:

  • Increase Facebook page likes
  • Increase Instagram followers
  • Reward customers/clients
  • Create brand awareness
  • Boost low sales
  • Collect user generated content
  • Get feedback or conduct research
  • Increase page engagement

Step 2: Decide on the type of competition

Once you have the goal in mind, you know exactly what you want from the competition, the next step is the type of competition you’d like to run.

Competitions are run all the time on social media, you’ve probably entered loads yourself.  So have a think, which ones engaged you, which ones have worked really well for your competitions or failed.  Don’t be afraid to think outside the box here – what’s something different you can do to stand out from the crowd?

Some suggestions of types of competitions might be:

  • Like/follow to win – increase followers.
  • Create a survey and offer prize for completing – getting feedback/doing research.
  • Get customers to submit photos of them using your product and award prize to best
  • Submission – generate content.
  • Tag and share – (NOT ALLOWED on Facebook, allowed on Instagram – must be a photo they are actually in though – you can’t ask someone to tag themselves on Instagram in a photo they aren’t in)
  • Tag friends – (NOT ALLOWED on Facebook, allowed on Instagram)

With regards to Facebook – the following is currently against their rules to ask someone to:

  • Share one of your posts
  • Post on a friend’s timeline
  • Tag people in posts
  • Change their cover photo

What you currently can you do ask them to do though is:

  • Post on your timeline
  • Message your page
  • Check in at a location
  • Visit a Facebook page (and optionally like it)
  • View a Facebook post
  • Select one of their photos from Facebook

Every time I stand on stage and talk about this, people are up in arms.  But everyone asks people to like, tag and share.  And YES they do, but it IS against Facebook rules and you are breaking them.  You are taking the risk of getting shut down if you break the rules. Simple as that.  (there will be more on Rules at the end of this blog)

Step 3: Decide on your target audience

Who do you want to target with your competition?

This is where it’s important to keep in mind your end goal.

For instance, if you want to get more brand awareness from the competition – then who do you target with that?

Here’s a hint for that question: your target audience for the competition should also be your target audience in general business!

Makes sense, yes?

Step 4: The Prize

Now to the fun bit! The prize!  What are you going to give away?

Some of you might already have the prize – that might be exactly why you want to run a competition, because you’ve landed an awesome prize!

But if you don’t ready have a prize in mind, you need to decide on a prize that would appeal to your target market and either purchase the prize or organise the prize (if say it’s a holiday or something like that).

For people entering the competition, it’s going to be about the prize.  They want that prize!

This is where thinking about what your target market might want – that’s the prize you need.  You want to give this away and reach your objective that we set in Step 1 – so you want to get as qualified a lead as you can.

Step 5: All the legal bits

Whether you’re on Facebook or Instagram doing this competition or other platforms or through you shop front – there’s got to be terms and conditions.

Here’s a run down on the rules for Instagram and Facebook:


  1. Acknowledge that your Instagram contest or giveaway is not sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram
  2. Include the name of the company hosting the Instagram giveaway or contest
  3. Include the dates the campaign will run, including time zone
  4. Include participation restrictions — such as age and location
  5. Write clear guidelines on how to enter
  6. Outline how and when the winner(s) will be chosen
  7. Share details about how and when the winner(s) will be announced and how/when winner should claim prize
  8. Disclose details about how the prize will be delivered, including whether the recipient is responsible for delivery (shipping costs) or pick-up


And for Facebook, all the above applies.

Ensure there is a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant; and acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook.

General Terms and Conditions

Things you need to also put in the terms and conditions are:

  • Who can enter
  • How they enter
  • The prize (and that it isn’t redeemable for cash)
  • The drawing date and process
  • A liability release as I spoke about before – saying it’s not sponsored by Instagram or Facebook etc etc
  • Your details as the promoter
  • Decide whether your competition will be a game of skill (does not require a license) or a game of chance (may require a license if it is open to NSW entrants regardless of value, ACT if over $3k and NT and SA if over $5k).
  • Purchase license/s if required. Remember to allow time for it to be processed and granted.

Step 6: Content creation – how you are going to SELL your competition

Next, You need to create some engaging content for your competition so it reaches the goals you have set for it!

It’s coming up to Easter, and so many small business owners decide to run Easter Competitions in stores or online.

Whether it’s an Easter competition or a holiday one or whatever, you still need to come up with an engaging tagline or message and create some copy around it – making sure you include the legal terms and conditions we chatted about in Step 5!

Other than a great tag line/message you’ll need to create stand out images to post on social media – and I recommend that you DO NOT use stock images as they are overused and not great for your brand identity.

Get creative with your copy:

  • Have coming soon posts/images/videos,
  • countdown to launch posts/images/videos,
  • reminder posts that competition is live,
  • paid advertising images/videos,
  • countdown to close posts/images/videos,
  • thank you posts and
  • competition closed post

The more effort and energy you put into this competition the more leads you’ll get with more prospects that you’ll be able to nurture until they are ready to buy from you!

Step 7: Timing

Now it’s time to decide on a launch date, get a promotion timeline going and closing dates. And don’t forget the date for drawing the prize!  That’s the important bit!

How long your competition should be really depends on Step 1 – what’s the goal?  Is it time sensitive like an Easter or Christmas competition or a holiday giveaway?

If you have a goal of wanting 100 new likes to your page or gather 100 email addresses – then think logically how long it will take for that to happen?

Competitions, done well, can be amazing but can be a lot of work and energy.  So the reward for running them should reflect that.

There’s no science to how long a competition should be but you do need to keep in mind your end goal, the quality of the prize and any time sensitive issues, and your target audience.

Step 8: Promotion

Hooly Dooly now it’s time to promote it!

Here’s some tips for promotion:

On your website

  • Add a banner to site
  • Write a blog post to tell people about your competition

On social media

  • Update your Facebook page pinned post/announcements
  • Update your Facebook cover photo
  • Update your call to action button
  • Create some awesome graphics to promote competition (less than 20% text if going to be used in ads)
  • Publish a note
  • Use stories – video, live video, posts
  • Use social media groups to tell them about your competition
  • Update your bio on Instagram
  • Update your link
  • Arrange for influencers to repost
  • Request that friends in similar businesses within niche repost/promote
  • Do some paid advertising if you have a budget for that

In store

  • posters and banners in your windows and at your counter
  • Display the prize if possible
  • You could take photos of people physically entering and post that on social as part of your marketing mix!
  • It might be suitable to use print media or radio advertising for your competition – dependant on your budget and your target market of course!

Don’t forget to use your email list and tell them about your competition or use direct messaging or DMs to spread the word!

Step 9: Drawing the prize and picking the winner

Winner, winner chicken dinner!

This is the best part!  I love, love, love drawing prizes.  It makes my little heart sing seeing the delight people get from winning!

Build up to the draw.  If say it’s going to happen at 5 pm, then spend the day pumping it on social media. This is a place that using the social media “stories” function can really help build the momentum!  You’ll get lots of last minute entries that way too!

I would HIGHLY recommend you draw the prize live.  For lots of reasons, including legitimacy – but also marketing wise!

Of course, you need to notify the winner and deliver the prize!  Make sure you always ask the winner for a photo, a quote and/or a testimonial you can use on your social.

Tag them in any and all posts – if they have a big audience it’s a great way to getting some new engagement and perhaps likes and followers!

Step 10: The next bit

Now you might be thinking, it’s over, done – competition drawn, winner announced, done.  BUT NO – there is still more!

So many people forget the gold that they can still get from the competition.  Yes there’s only one winner of the prize, but consider offering everyone who entered something – perhaps a discount to a product or service.

If your prize was a weekend away, then consider offering everyone else a discount to book or a free bottle of local wine or a free late checkout – think outside the square – make it valuable to them.

The idea here is to offer value to them and to give yourself another excuse to start a conversation with them.  They may not have won, but they are still important to your business!

Step 11: The Analysis

So, you’ve made it to step 11.  Competitions are marketing and marketing is all about testing and measuring.  So, make sure you take some time to gather your data and see if you’re reached the goal you set in Step 1.

Finally, give yourself a HIGH FIVE and start planning your next piece of marketing because we are ALWAYS marketing!

And as a side note: at the end of every workshop I do, we talk about the 72-hour rule – what are you going to do in the 72 hours to move you towards your goal.  So, I thought I’d enact the 72-hour rule for my blog reading family too – so what are you doing to commit to doing, in the next 72 hours, to build your list?

Write it down or to be held accountable, put it in social and tag @smallbusinessmadesimple!

If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave me a DM on Instagram!  The DMs seriously make my day!

Catch you next week, happy list building ……


Jenn Donovan is a marketing strategist and social media extraordinaire, coach and mentor to savvy business owners.  Owner and Founder of Social Media & Marketing Australia.

With a passion for making business simple, because it’s isn’t easy but it should be simple or at least simpler, she’s built a reputation for helping other small business owners simplify their marketing and businesses so they can reach their goals, be more profitable and live the dream (finding the freedom they set out to achieve when they started … the illusive small business owner freedom dream …!)

Jenn believes in giving before asking and that’s why she’s the host of the popular Small Business Made Simple Podcast


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Brilliant – it’s on its way – thanks!


Brilliant – it’s on its way – thanks!


Brilliant – it’s on its way – thanks!


Brilliant – it’s on its way – thanks!

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