How I Used an Email List and Contest Premise to Win $127,800 in 5 Hours

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This headline may sound like a 90s ad, but it’s not. In fact, I made that amount in a few hours, using a list of only 5,530 people.

First, a bit of background: I own (or part-own) seven companies, one of which is a dating coaching business with a $7,000 coaching program that made us about seven figures over the past year, based on a list that has seen this offer over and over again.

Since this list was probably exhausted by our emails, we had to get creative. While our competitors were slashing prices, creating Facebook groups and emailing their lists, we instead texted everyone, 5,530 people to be precise.

A simple premise applicable to any offer

The premise was simple: “Due to the pandemic, we are offering a grant of $21,000, or 3 copies of our $7,000 training to 3 people who we believe really need it. To apply, simply complete this survey. (If you think you don’t “need” the grant, you can donate the program if you win it to a friend in need.)”

Remember that it can be any offer, not just a dating program.

One included survey asked for a few simple answers:

1. Name

2. Income (important for later)

3. Why the person thought they should get the grant.

4. Why do they want the program? (again, important for later)

He also invited everyone who responded to the survey to join a five-hour workshop to learn some dating techniques specific to the Covid-19 period: “Long distance dating during quarantine”.

We received 283 applications. As I mentioned, we had bombed this list over and over before, but we still thought the return was okay.

Related: How to start an email list and be successful from day one

We informed everyone that the winners would be announced during a live training on Zoom, which ultimately drew 255 participants. We then started the webinar by showing people what we were going to cover during the training: Basically, lots of great lessons, plus a “Must Have” lesson, which we teased while preparing for the workshop.

Before teaching anything, we announced what the winners would get (essentially a chance to show off our product), then announced the winner one and invited that person to join us, who was thrilled, and everyone applauded. Then we went into training. Halfway through we took a break and I told the participants that I would announce the winner two after the break (a nice open loop to get them back). And of course we still had the amazing “Must Have” lesson to come.

After the break (during which my VP gave a Q&A), we again announced what the winners would receive. But before we say the name of that second person, we let everyone know that even if they didn’t win, they could have the program for $5,000, which was a $2,000 discount… essentially making everyone a winner.

Related: How to Run an Instagram Contest That Attracts More Eyeballs

No one bought, which we suspected would happen. We then announced winner two, whom we invited back into the Zoom, and asked that person to share what they were most excited about in anticipation of the program. Soon, we asked the audience to share in chat which lesson they would most want if they won…reminding them that they could buy the program for $5,000. Again, no one bought. Then we taught another quarter of the training, with another quarter to go.

At this point, we announced that we would share the final winner. Before that, however, we wanted to show how good this training was: we compared our prices to hiring local generic self-improvement coaches (a guitar instructor, a fitness trainer, a hairdresser, etc. ) – detailed that it cost them $6300 and yet it still wouldn’t be world class training by trainers of the kind featured in Forbes Or on The Steve Harvey Show.

We’ve re-informed attendees that they can get this caliber training for this discounted price, but another lucky winner will receive the final $7,000 training. The next step was essential. We said, ‘However…you are all winners, as those who remain are going to take our ‘Must Have’ lesson, which would normally cost loads…for free. So whoever is left is a winner.

The final push plus upsells

We then announced the overall winner, and subsequently lost 100 viewers, but retained 124. That’s when we took it a step further. We hadn’t made any sales of the $5,000 training, so we said, “Listen. We just lost 100 profiteers. If they really wanted help, they would have stayed for the ‘Must Have’ lesson. Instead, these people just wanted free stuff. You’re the real winners here, so we’ll make you a deal: you can join now for just $3,000 (our program works with a high profit margin), as long as you text us before the end of the workshop. “Orders poured in and our sales people were ready, ready to close.

We finished training with $127,800, after upsells, etc. This is where surveys have come in handy; we could see who had the highest income and why they really wanted the training. Our reps have used it to drive upsells.

Related: How Upselling and Cross-Selling Can Increase Your Revenue With Minimal Effort

In the end, it was a very successful promotion and a great way to free up some extra cash from a small roster that had already been sold to the program multiple times.

After all, every $127,800 helps!