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Lessons From an Ugly Bathroom

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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

By By Barbara Gallella July 18, 2017
An entry in Custom Design & Construction, a remodeling company, ugly bathroom contest
This article first appeared in the July 2017 issue of Pro Remodeler.

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.”


written by

Barbara Gallella

Director of Marketing

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

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