So far, we’ve been exploring how to maximise revenue with fees, sponsors, discounts and more. But there are even more options if you know what to look for. In this final instalment, we look at ways to maximise revenue without charging for entries.

Looking past paid entries: Tips on maximising revenue

While paid entries, along with program sponsorship, are often the bread and butter of program revenue, there are other ways to draw revenue from your program. Here are some ideas.

1. Gallery display options

Recognition is a driving factor for awards program submissions. Providing your entrants with an option for a paid feature display on your gallery is a great way to provide increased visibility and recognition. You could provide free placement to all finalists and winners and paid placement for all other entries. The fee could also be scaled to allow finalists a cheaper option. 

2. Trophy purchase options

Trophies can be expensive, especially for programs with free entry. Consider offering winners the option to buy their trophy. As a winner, they’ve earned the privilege of receiving a trophy but need to pay a fee for its manufacturing and shipping. It’s not as uncommon as you might think!

3. Solicit donations

If you are running a not-for-profit program, you still have overheads, financial challenges and charity causes. Consider free entry with the option for your entrants to donate when they start or submit an entry. You can achieve this by setting up several prices in your program, setting the default price as free (i.e. $0) while other price options could include $1, $2, $5, $10 etc. All donations will include a tax invoice, making it easy for people to include their donations in their tax returns. 

4. Sell merchandise

You could also offer entrants the option to buy merchandise associated with your program or organisation. There are some basic options you could use in your Award Force account to sell merchandise, however, there are other dedicated online solutions available such as Shopify. You could provide a link from within your Award Force platform or email notifications, as well as other marketing channels to point people to your ‘online store where they can purchase t-shirts, caps, pens, lunch boxes and more. 

Example: Golden Bean Coffee Roasters Competition

5. Sell event tickets

If you’re not doing this already, consider selling tickets to award events such as the award ceremony, industry dinners or live-gallery events. There are plenty of online tools you can use to help sell and manage tickets to events, such as Eventbrite. Where possible, try and feature a well-known industry personality or two as a guest speaker as well as networking opportunities and great entertainment. The more you can offer your industry professionals, the more likely they are to want to attend.

Using your program data to power revenue streams

You may consider yourself very familiar with the program you manage, however, have you stopped and considered the value your program offers your winners, finalists and participants? 

Are you tracking how many new registrations and returning entrants you’re getting per season? Do you know which categories are most popular and if this popularity trends across seasons? Are you aware of how many judges return each year? Are your competitors running similar award programs and, if so, are they running in the same season? 

Data analysis is extremely important in ensuring your program continues to grow and be competitive. Decisions you make regarding your award program should be supported by the data you collect. Using your Award Force platform, you can export spreadsheet reports loaded with customisable rich data, perform various analysis and make informed decisions about how to grow your program and maximise revenue. 

For example, if you already charge for entries, you could explore the value behind each of your award categories. If you have one or two particular categories that generate most of your entries, consider increasing the price of these categories while reducing the price of less popular categories to drive and distribute competitive interest. And if the popularity remains high even with a price increase, then you’re generating more revenue and data for reassessment next season. 

In conclusion

Using your awards program to help generate revenue is not only possible it’s a reality! And countless programs are taking advantage of it. Along with outreach, community-building and sponsor relationships, implementing an entry fee strategy, making effective use of discounts, leveraging marketing campaigns and providing purchasing options can help build sustainable program revenue for years to come.

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