by Allison Banko
It was a concept built on dreams. It was a raffle — supersized. But, the Tucson Medical Center (TMC) Mega Raffle touted prizes that far surpassed the run-of-the-mill fruit baskets and buckets of bubble bath products.
The contest was designed to entice imaginations with more than 2,800 prizes up for grabs including a Porsche, a romantic getaway to Paris and a new home accompanied by a Mercedes and $100,000 cash. Perhaps more meaningful than the glamour on the other side of a ticket was what the purchases would help fund.
TMC, a nonprofit regional hospital, would apply the net proceeds to patient care, medical education and research. While most health care organizations rely on gravy poured from the spoons of philanthropic funds and donors, this raffle allowed the public to support the hospital in a fun way with the potential for great rewards. But the proclamation of a one-in-20 chance of winning with the purchase of a $100 ticket was bound to lead to some skepticism.
"Nobody had even remotely heard of a $100 ticket," explained Kathy Rice, Director, TMC Mega Raffle. "At the time, everything for different events was a $50 ticket or less."
The TMC Mega Raffle was the first ever large-scale raffle in the Southern Arizona market, so banishing that skepticism and bolstering awareness was a key task at hand in addition to selling tickets.
The project also had to be marketed in half the time frame than previous Mega Raffles had been in other areas. The TMC team had 10 weeks to turn dreams into realities.
In a three-month span — March 12 through May 22, 2013 — the TMC team ran a multichannel campaign to sell a mass quantity of tickets while introducing the Mega-Raffle concept to the Southern Arizona market. It was promoted via:
- Direct mail
- Social media
- Online banner ads
- On-air interviews
- YouTube videos
- Hospital events
Rice explained the importance of marketing heavily in the spring due to the large number of snowbirds in the area during the pre-summer months, migrating away come April.
"We didn't get into the market until the end of March," she recalled. "So we really had to get noisy quick."
Step #1. Determine cutoffs and drawing dates
The TMC Mega Raffle was divided into three drawings and entry cutoffs, which revolved around specific prizes:
Special Appreciation Drawing
- Entry deadline: March 26, 2013
- Drawing: April 10, 2013
Early Bird Drawing
- Entry deadline: May 1, 2013
- Drawing: May 8, 2013
Final Mega Raffle Drawing
- Entry deadline: May 22, 2013
- Drawing: May 29, 2013
The Special Appreciation section was designated for the raffle's "VIP" bunch, targeted at TMC's previous donors and staff. This group of about 30,000 people (a list provided by TMC) would have the opportunity to enter two weeks early for the chance to win a set of about 10 special prizes.
The public launch would occur with the Early Bird Drawing, marking the start of the public launch: TV and radio spots, direct mail pieces, newspaper and magazine ads and more. The final drawing would consume the rest the campaign, providing one last chance to win the remaining prizes including the two biggest: new homes.
Step #2. Create the campaign centerpiece, the brochure
Because the TMC Mega Raffle was a newborn in the Southern Arizona market, generating awareness comprised the key, initial baby steps of the campaign.
The more than 2,800 handsome prizes equipped the team with a perfect magnet. Some examples of goodies included:
- Diamond tennis bracelet
- Sony Blu-Ray Home Theater
- College Sports Package
- 2013 Lexus ES 350 plus $12,000 cash
- Wine Country Getaway
None of the prizes were valued at less than the price of a $100 ticket.
To reel in consumers, the TMC team decided that a high-end glossy brochure
was the ideal way to present that full scope of prizes to incite excitement. It was designed as a 16-page catalog to serve as something consumers could hold on to while also standing out from masses of junk in mailboxes.
"I wanted that initial brochure cause someone to look twice, open it up and say, 'Wow,'" Rice said. "And then, let them start dreaming: 'I could win a house. I could win 15 cars. I could win trips to destinations all over the world, the latest in electronics, season tickets.'"
The brochure was set as the core of the campaign to drive people to the website where most information about the raffle lived alongside the ticket purchase portal. Tickets were also available over the phone.
"When you introduce it to the market, you initially want to give everybody the chance to get the catalog — see it," Rice said.
"Then, it is going to be reinforced with a tremendously large media buy and some of the additional print pieces that we send out throughout the project just to reinforce the deadlines," she explained.
Step #3. Launch campaign and distribute promotional materials
The deadlines and centerpiece of the campaign were comfortably nestled in place, paving the path for the multichannel campaign's launch.
"I wanted people to be able to look at that brochure, look at a postcard, look at a billboard, see a commercial and have no doubt in their mind who this raffle supports," Rice explained.
First up was the Special Appreciation (VIP) list. This set of about 30,000 people was mailed the brochure, complete with a special page inside of the VIP prizes. The brochure was delivered in an envelope along with a special letter from Michael Duran, Vice President, TMC.
The public launch came onto the scene directly following that two-week effort. This included marketing through mediums including TV, radio, billboards and print. A few days after the public launch, the brochure was mailed to the masses. TMC's marketing vendor (that headed all promotional materials for the campaign) purchased a list with the general parameters of anyone over the age of 21 within the geography of Southern Arizona.
The Early Bird deadline was then promoted via an oversized postcard sent out a few days before the drawing's second deadline.
"That's when people went crazy," Rice said. "What I've found is people don't want to miss out. They don't want to find out that a deadline came and went and they didn't act. So there’s a tremendous amount of hype surrounding the Early Bird."
Because of the traction and exposure built from previous deadlines, the team decided a direct mail piece for the final cutoff wasn't necessary.
The team ran an email blast
campaign to support the messages delivered through existing mediums. About a dozen blasts were sent out reminding people of cutoff dates, reinforcing the direct mail, TV spots, billboards and more.
At the beginning of the campaign, the team had a fairly small sender list, hovering around 3,000 addresses. However, the team grew the list during the campaign via people signing up or purchasing tickets. Emails were sent to purchasers in efforts of encouraging those consumers to buy another ticket or share the raffle with friends and family.
The team treated the email as more of a support piece, according to Rice.
"The email blast campaign worked because of the brochure that people saw and the television [ads] that people saw," she explained. "It is that split-second reminder because our lives are so busy."
The sheer nature of the TMC Mega Raffle allowed for some of the most intimate content of the campaign — real stories.
A portion of the raffle’s website is dedicated to "TMC Stories
" which are video testimonials featuring TMC patients. They show just how people's lives have been changed thanks to the medical center, allowing the market to see how their participation can impact someone’s life. The funding from the raffle would heavily benefit patient care, hitting home for most.
"They know their neighbor who had surgery there," Rice said. "They know their other neighbor who had a baby there. Patient care really touches people at an individual level."
While a number of patient care hospital programs were featured throughout the campaign, some specifically highlighted through patient stories and media coverage included:
- Women's health care and free mammogram services
- Labor and delivery or midwife services
- TMC Hospital to Home — a program that helps patients transition from their stay at the hospital
"I remember my father told me, a long, long, long time ago, 'When you have the ability to tell the story, you're taking a piece of yourself and you're putting it out there,'" Rice said. "That's exactly what this raffle does."
While emails and other mediums were utilized for promotion, Twitter and Facebook allowed the public to see how the TMC Mega Raffle was playing out. The outlets showcased timely updates as well as congratulatory messages to winners
throughout the drawings.
"It's a feel-good project, and I think the social media allows that to play out," Rice said.
By pumping its message through a multitude of mediums including Web, TV, print, social media and direct mail, the inaugural year of the TMC Mega Raffle fostered the following results:
- Grew email database by 89%
- 62,000 unique visitors to website
- Top email open rate of 73%
- Top email clickthrough rate of 58%
- 70% of tickets purchased online, 30% by phone
- Visitors spent an average of 3.78 minutes on the site
"It raised not only a tremendous amount of money for health care — specifically in the areas of medical education, patient care and research — but it also raised awareness through the telling of stories which is something I believe very strongly in," Rice said. "It gives everybody an opportunity to really get a sense of who the hospital is."
Rice credited much of the raffle's success to the team's utilization of various channels in its marketing of the project.
"That's where I think some organizations will make the wrong decision: to say people only react one way," she explained. "And that's just not true."
However, beyond the myriad of mediums, Rice said the campaign was able to flourish due to its heart: a community hospital.
"The one thing that we all have in common is you never know when you or someone you love is going to need the type of care that's happening in our hospitals every single day."
Rice said she and her team exceeded what they had set out to accomplish in the first TMC Mega Raffle: covering all costs and establishing a solid foundation for the second raffle.
"With the first raffle, certainly you have some start-up costs involved with just establishing, building a website, etc.," she explained. "But, by the time you get into the second and the third raffles, it is not unusual to have your prizes paid for within the first week of the raffle sales."
The second year of the TMC Mega Raffle is set to launch in January. Due to data collected during the first year, marketing efforts can be more targeted this time. The team observed its market is skewed slightly female with two tiers of ages, including 30 years old and up and ages 50 years old and up.
"I can hardly wait to get started again," Rice gushed.
- Brochure sample
- Early Bird email blast
- TMC Stories
SourcesTMC Mega RaffleTucson Medical CenterPrisma
— TMC's marketing firm
Related ResourcesViral Marketing: Month-long sweepstakes generates 1,170% ROI and 488% lift in email subscribersUser-Generated Content: Video email contest increases site traffic by 13%Cause Marketing: "Likes for Tikes" campaign generates a 39% increase in Facebook Likes for small firmMultichannel Marketing: 6 challenges for planning complex campaigns