The polls have closed and the winners have been announced in “Denver’s Channel 7 Top of the A-List” yearly contest. I know most major cities around the country have a similar contest but if you are unfamiliar with the contest let me explain how it works. Businesses are divided into categories and then split into specific types of services and products offered. Then for somewhere between 4-6 weeks the polls are opened to the the consuming public to vote for the best of each type of business. So for me, in 2010 when I had my own business, I was in the wedding florist list of “A-List Businesses” along with 65 other local florists. At the end of the allotted voting time the top five are listed and awarded with the title and the opportunity to have a special badge added to their website. In theory this is a wonderful opportunity for past and current clients to praise the business and for a businesses who truly offer outstanding customer service and products to be recognized. In practice this is not the case and I would like to share with you my experience with this contest as a former small business owner in the hopes that I will help you to see the forest for the trees and not waste your very precious time.
In 2009 one of my clients made me aware of the “Top of the A-list” and that he had nominated me and I should promote the nomination to my clients. Well of course I want to be named as the best of the best. So I put together a fancy mass email PDF and sent to everyone I had ever worked with, friend, family member, and email contact I had in my laptop. At this point there was only a few days left in the voting and needless to say I did not make the top 5 or top 10 or even top 25 but I was determined to make the top 5 the next year.
Nine months later I received an email from the “Top of the A-List” that the 2010 voting was to open soon and to start planning my marketing plan! Oh boy did I, I put together a sure fire plan. I emailed out an email to my entire contact list at least twice a week, daily facebook and twitter updates, blogged about the nomination, called every family member I could think of all in an effort to have them and everyone they know to vote for my business! Every day I was checking the current standings and for the entire time voting was open I remained in the top 5 and for about a week was in the number one spot. Any time I fell down a spot I would send out an email blast reminding people to vote. All in all I would guess that I spent on average an hour a day completely focused on this goal of becoming the Top of the A-List. The polls closed and success I was one of the top 5!!!!! I did it…. now what?
I expected a flood of new clients, brides begging for me to do their flowers and being the go to designer of Denver’s social elite. I wish I was being a bit dramatic but that was pretty close to what I thought was going to happen. Not so much, here is what happened I received the badge for my website, everyone I ran into asking if I won 1st place, and not a single phone call. Not a single email. Not a single new client. The return on my invested time and resources was $0. Was it worth it, NO. Considering at that time I was billing my time at $25 an hour and I spent give or take 50 hours devoted to becoming top 5. Yep that’s $1250 in labor for a $0 return. I have great friends and very supportive family but they are not paying the bills.
For all the business owners that have participated and won, congratulations! By no means am I trying to take away what you have accomplished, I am sharing my story and my experience.