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Lessons From an Ugly Bathroom

Holding a competition is a great marketing tool. But it can also be tough. Here’s what I learned from first-hand experience

July 18, 2017
An entry in Custom Design & Construction, a remodeling company, ugly bathroom contest

Custom Design & Construction's ugly-bathroom contest was a great way to bring attention to the business. 

We called it our “ugly bathroom” competition. The idea was that people would submit a photo of their “ugly” bathroom along with a couple of sentences explaining what they’d change to turn it into their dream bathroom. The eligibility requirements were pretty standard: the home had to be within specific ZIP codes, and the submitter had to be the actual homeowner, be over 18, and had to agree to photos and videos of their property being used for marketing. 

You Don’t Need to Host It Yourself

Hiring a third party worked well for us. I’ve noticed in past raffles that when your contest has specific requirements, it can be a challenge making sure winners stay within those parameters, and that can lead to some pretty awkward conversations. I didn’t want to have those conversations with our clients, and so having the third party was a good way to take that responsibility out of our hands. Also, our host had a much more pronounced social presence, specific to our target demographic, and so exposure for the competition increased under our host’s management. 

You Should Be Proactive

Ultimately, putting on the competition was worth the effort, but if I had the chance to give my pre-competition self some advice, I’d definitely stress the importance of staying organized and proactive above all else. When you’re dreaming up the idea, it’s easy to overlook issues you wouldn’t anticipate, such as timing or how difficult it can be to please everyone involved. 

Consider all the stakeholders in “Ugly Bathroom”: the design team, the contestants, and the vendor partners that donated products. Each person or group had input, each had an agenda, and, specific to our partners, each, understandably, had wishes about how their products were being used. Juggling those issues as they arose made for a much trickier planning process. Anticipating them would have made for far less stress. 

You Get More Than Just One Happy Customer 

The other day, well after “Ugly Bathroom” had wrapped up, we had someone come in saying that they had tried to win the contest, didn’t, but still needed their bathroom remodeled. Our contest ended up acting as the catalyst for that person to finally decide, “this needs to happen.”

About the Author

About the Author

Barbara Gallella is director of marketing at Custom Design & Construction, based in the Los Angeles area.



Thanks for sharing this idea. What third party did you find to run the contest? What prize did you give away to the winner?

Thank you for the questions!

We used a local glossy magazine to our area who has a strong social / online presence. Their name is Moontide Media and the magazine is South Bay Magazine. They basically hosted and advertised the contest per our direction. 

The prize was a pull and replace bathroom specifically described as:

1. The Grand Prize winner may select the following installed remodeling products for their existing bathroom: (1) professional design of space by Company, (2) professional painting of remodeled room, (3) up to a 50 square foot CAMBRIA natural stone countertop, (4) $500 credit at Fergusons, (5) $150 in Emtek Bathroom Hardware from Alpine Door & Trim, (6) $250 toward a bath light fixture with Lightopia, and (7) $10,000 in list price of Kohler products. The Grand Prize winner may only select products for an existing bathroom.  The odds of winning the Grand Prize is determined by the number of entries received prior to the time of the Grand Prize drawing. The maximum retail value of the Grand Prize is $17,000 including the cost of labor. The cash value of the Grand Prize is $17,000 including the cost of labor. Any costs in excess of the stated maximum retail value for a prize shall be the sole and exclusive responsibility of the Grand Prize winner. All expenses not specifically provided for are the sole responsibility of the Grand Prize winner.

I was able to get all of the prize material donated to the contest.

Thank you so much for sharing this contest info! I am just curious, how did you get all of the prize material donated?!! Thats a bunch of material! Would like to try to pull something like this off but just thinking through the logistics. THANKS!

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