7 Marketing Lessons from “Cheese Plate” Giveaway

This blog is about sharing our marketing lessons with other small food businesses, in a spirit of helping each other.

For the past 3 weeks (March 24 to April 18), we ran our first giveaway with 10 partners ($250 Cheese Plate Giveaway). It was exciting, rewarding AND successful! And we learned a lot.

Here are 7 key marketing lessons we learned:

  1. Setup goals: It is crucial to know what your goals are, so that you truly understand if your marketing campaign (giveaway in this case) is a success. For this giveaway, our goal was to reach 1,500 entries (and consequently collect 1,500 emails for future promotions).
  2. Have partners for your giveaway: As a small food business, you may not have the existing base of followers on social media, or a large email list. And you may not be ready to spend $500 for a prize. By having partners, you have the opportunity to reach out to more people (their followers) and to offer a prize that will get more attention. For our “Cheese Plate” giveaway, we had partners with tens of thousands of Facebook followers, and we were able to offer a cheese plate worth $250 to 2 winners. The only downside is that it takes much more time to coordinate. There is no doubt that time versus money is often the trade when it comes to running a small food business! One other word of caution: you need some credibility as a food business for other companies to accept to partner with you. It is not something you can do if you’re just a start-up. We had existing relationships with most of the partners who got involved and all partners knew us from seeing our products on the retailers’ shelves.
  3. Experiment with ads: Running a giveaway is an excellent opportunity to experiment with some Facebook ads (or other social media). Over 48 hours, we spent $14 to reach 1,000 people on Facebook, carefully targeting them for their interest in cheese, and we were able to compare the effectiveness of different images and the interest level of different target groups.
  4. You cannot control the giveaway going viral: We had purposely not listed the giveaway on sweepstakes directories, because we believe that the quality of the emails we collect is more important than the quantity. It is not worth much to collect 1,000s of email addresses, and have contestants immediately opt out when you send your first email. However, one blogger used the hashtag #giveaway when sharing it on social media and it went viral! We even found out that someone listed it on a sweepstakes directory! Now we are hoping that the people who participated liked cheese!
  5. Analyze the results: It is important to spend a little time to analyze the giveaway results, to understand better how engaged participants were, how many started following partners on social media, how many shared the giveaway. We also use the various sub-groups to segment our later communications (enewsletters) and to understand their long-term engagement with our brand. In this case (see below), almost half of the participants simply entered the giveaway and only a minority actually shared it!
Number of contestants
Just entered the giveaway 2,550
Entered the giveaway and got 1-2 bonus entries (could be simply visit our website or follow one partner) but did not share 1,720
Entered the giveaway and got 3 or more bonus entries (followed a number of partners) but did not share 1,240
Entered the giveaway and shared (referral entry points) 280
Total participants 5,790


  1. Understand the total cost of the giveaway marketing campaign: Time was definitely the major cost for us, as we had to coordinate finding partners, getting products for photography and products for the winners from 10 partners, doing the photography (different formats for each social media), setting up the giveaway in ViralSweep, following up with partners and cheese bloggers to get everyone to promote the giveaway, setting up Facebook ads, monitoring participation, emailing results and shipping the prizes to the 2 winners. Additionally the chart bellows show our out-of-pocket costs:
Our products for the 2 winners $20
Facebook ads $20
Photography In-house studio
ViralSweep platform $50
Shipment to the 2 winners (packages 18 lbs each) $110
Total cost $200


  1. Success will only be confirmed later: We increased our email list by 5,800 people and our Instagram followers by 800, but ultimately success will be measured by the number of people who stay on our list (don’t quickly opt out) or continue to follow us on social media. And obviously, this also needs to translate into online sales!

In conclusion

A carefully crafted giveaway campaign can be a great way to rapidly increase awareness for your brand, and increase your email list (crucial). However it requires a lot of efforts in time (and some money) to make it attractive for people to participate in.


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