DailyCandy's contest pays huge dividends for small businesses

To mark its 10th anniversary in 2010 and to support small business entrepreneurs, Meredith Howard, VP of communications at email newsletter and website DailyCandy, developed Start Small, Go Big.

Company: DailyCandy (New York)
Campaign: Start Small, Go Big
Duration: July 13-October 13
Budget: $15,000

To mark its 10th anniversary in 2010 and to support small business entrepreneurs, Meredith Howard, VP of communications at email newsletter and website DailyCandy, developed Start Small, Go Big.

Strategy
DailyCandy partnered with Ink from Chase for the second annual contest, in which the popular site picks its favorite up-and-coming businesses.

Tactics
DailyCandy announced the contest June 13. Apart from outreach via online sites, blogs, and news outlets, DailyCandy held an interview on Twitter between @DailyCandyPR and @StartUpPrincess - a handle with more than 120,000 followers dedicated to helping entrepreneurs - to encourage participation.

Sorting through 3,000-plus entries, DailyCandy's editors chose their favorites in home, health and beauty, food and drink, and fashion, and fans voted online for the winner in each category.

Winners were flown to New York for the DailyCandy Academy, a one-day workshop where they were mentored on how to create a successful brand from top names, including Spanx creator Sara Blakely and Gail Simmons, host of Bravo's Top Chef Just Desserts. The winners also received a year of financial guidance from Ink from Chase and a dedicated email on DailyCandy.

Results
The number of voters on the site totaled 102,000, compared to 40,000 in 2010. The Twitter interview drew 11.3 million impressions. Outlets such as AOL Small Business, Business Insider, Forbes, and NY1 provided coverage.

Stacey Dugliss-Wesselman, owner of Cold Spring Apothecary and the beauty winner, says her website traffic increased 1,000% on August 22, the day winners were announced.

"Business continues to increase," she says. "People are traveling just to come to my store."

Future
"I want startsmallgobig.com to become a year-round resource," says Howard, who also plans to use the website to keep up with past winners.

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