A carving party kicked off HomeMasons pumpkin carving contest.
courtesy HomeMasons A carving party kicked off HomeMasons pumpkin carving contest.

What do a company’s logo, pumpkin carving, and love stories have in common? They are all HomeMasons contest themes. The Manakin-Sabot, Va., company engages its clients with contests, including one for the most creative use of the company’s logo.

The winner of the “Show Us Your HomeMasons” contest was a family photo Christmas card showing the family members in Santa hats in front of a Dumpster in their yard with a HomeMasons sign on it and decorated with lights. Though that photo was an existing image with the sign already in it, the company also offered clients electronic versions of its logo and some of the 12 entrants added the logo to digital images.

Last fall, the company, based outside Richmond, Va., in Manakin-Sabot, held a pumpkin carving contest and a carving party to kick it off. After the party, staff photographed the entries and uploaded images of the carvings to the company’s website. About half of the total number of entries were from the party. “Everyone is always super-busy,” president Mason Hearn says. “We have to make entering these things as simple and as fun as possible.”

HomeMasons used Facebook and its website to promote the pumpkin contest and to post images of the carvings. To drive traffic to its website, the company encouraged entrants to send their friends to the HomeMasons site to vote for an entry. The winner was the person who drove the most people to the site.

Remodeling Romance

A few years ago HomeMasons worked with a local radio station and another local business to ask people to call with real-life love stories, and listeners voted for the most romantic tale. Hearn says that these fun contests tap into the same creativity the company asks clients to harness during the remodeling process for their projects. “We look for things to exhibit the creativity of our clients, which reflects back on us,” he says.

One of the pumpkin carving winners was Dawn Rasmussen with “Pug-kin,” a tribute to her dog.
courtesy Dawn Rasmussen One of the pumpkin carving winners was Dawn Rasmussen with “Pug-kin,” a tribute to her dog.

Winning Formula

Contest winners receive eight hours of free handyman service. The winner of the “Show Us Your HomeMasons” contest, one of the company’s trade partners, opted to donate its prize to an elderly friend. “We transferred the gift certificate and ran a touching story of the winner in our e-newsletter,” Hearn says. “There is buzz and promotion before, during, and after, all of which we want to leverage.”

The “Show Us Your HomeMasons” contest was inspired by a client who sent the company photos of a duffel bag with the company’s logo on it from an African safari and another who took a photo of a HomeMasons hat in front of the Acropolis in Greece. Both photos were unsolicited. “We have folks who are thinking about us, that we stay in touch with, and [with whom] we’re on friendly terms. I think that’s the sort of relationship that one wants to build,” Hearn says, noting that the company is working on a $250,000 kitchen expansion for the clients who sent the safari photos.

Hearn can’t pinpoint whether he has directly gained business from the contests. “Are people involved in our contests the type to refer people anyway?” he asks. “Or did we stay top-of-mind with them so when someone mentioned doing their kitchen they thought of us?”

But the contests are part of the company’s new marketing plan to take advantage of online media, focus on small groups of clients, and leverage existing relationships. “Whatever we put out there should reinforce our unique value and selling proposition,” Hearn says. “We believe that, whether they participate or not, when our fans see this they think, ‘HomeMasons is doing something unusually creative — again!’”

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.