Every Monday, I profile some cool promotional idea I run across and why I think it’s effective. Have a cool marketing idea your company is putting in place? Contact me, I might write about it!

When I think of 1-800-DENTIST, I think of happy but generic looking people on the phone helping me find a dentist. Not exactly something new.

I was contacted by Jill, one of their marketing folks, about the video contest they are holding which I do find interesting.

The basic idea is that contestants upload a 1-2 minute video talking about why they need a smile makeover. The winner gets up to a $30,000 smile makeover. You may remember that Office Depot had a similar upload your video to win contest for small businesses called ‘Survival of the Smartest’ that ran this summer.

Here’s why I think the campaign is interesting:

Contestants are not asked to do crazy video editing.
What can one accomplish in 1-2 minutes? The good news for an online video contest standpoint is not much. Giving too large a time frame is basically asking people to become great video editors…and also basically asking for way less submissions for the contest. 1-2 minutes says, hey, we expect it to be amateur, which is good for the majority of people who aren’t super comfortable with video as a format.

They had example videos on the site.
After watching the sample videos, here was my first thought: “Hey, I can do that!” The samples gave me an idea of what the officials are expecting, and an idea of what my competition may be like if I were to enter.

They aren’t ignoring social media…
Not only is 1-800-DENTIST talking about the contest on Facebook but every Tuesday on Twitter they have Toothbrush Tuesday (almost as good as Too Cute Tuesday!) to give away a Sonicare toothbrush.

Also they are reaching out to bloggers like me about the contest. This creates some nice inbound links to their site (for additional search engine optimization) in addition to getting their message seen by each individual blogger’s network…and many of us have really great online networks to tap into!

They aren’t using the internet to replace traditional media.
1-800-DENTIST is still running television commercials and sent out a press release on the contest, which I saw almost word for word on multiple websites. Just because it’s an online contest doesn’t mean other media outlets should be ignored. Hearing about the contest from multiple places only makes it seem more legit and interesting. Also, many sites are hungry for content, especially about good news like free contests.

My one complaint is that watching all these videos, I felt kind of sad. Sure some contestants are definitely more deserving of others but does there only have to be one winner? Can there be another pool of money for several runners up? Or a way for users like me to donate a few bucks to help out some more of them out?

In the end, 1-800-DENTIST gets some positive PR via helping someone needy and the contact information for everyone who entered or follows the contest on social media. Not bad for $30,000 plus staff time and an advertising budget!

Anyway, if you or a friend are in the market for a more rocking smile, you can enter the contest until November 10, then voting is until December 1st. Awww, just in time for Christmas! Coincidence? I think not.

Visit the official My Smile Bites contest website…

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