How I Beat Tyler Cruz Against All Odds – Strategies Exposed

January 16, 2008 - Written by Gyutae Park  

100-contest-banner.jpgIn my most recent blog contest, I faced off against Tyler Cruz in an intense competition to see who could garner more votes from the blogging community. The loser then had to pay $100 cash prizes to 3 random voters of the winning blog. This entire event was a very risky decision for me because Tyler clearly had the advantage over me in terms of subscribers and traffic. To illustrate, the comparisons of our blog statistics are below. 1,000+ RSS subscribers & 28,471 Alexa rank
Winning the Web: 300+ RSS subscribers & 70,873 Alexa rank

As you can see, this was a David and Goliath match up from the start, but that didn’t put me down or discourage me one bit. In fact, with some positive thinking and effective Internet marketing strategies, I was ultimately able to come up with the victory against all odds.

This is a perfect example of how even the little guys can come out on top if they market themselves and plan their attacks appropriately. The numbers don’t mean anything and I really hope that this contest motivates all of you to reach higher and become better webmasters, bloggers, and marketers. In the end, it’s all about providing value to your users.

First I’ll discuss the effects this contest had in helping Winning the Web accomplish its goals. Then I’ll go in depth into the strategies I used to put Tyler Cruz down and take the prize.

Contest Results

From a logistical standpoint, the contest was extremely difficult to manage and ambiguous rules led to some disagreements between Tyler and myself. But when all is said and done, the contest did bring in good results for both of our blogs. Winning the Web received over 114 links, many of which are relevant and bring in good traffic and its Technorati ranking halved, going from 50,000 to just under 25,000. Pretty good if you ask me.

Strategies I used to defeat Tyler Cruz

Over the past month or so, I’ve become notorious for being that guy who spends a boatload of money promoting his blog. While I am serious about this project and am willing to spend money to increase my exposure, money isn’t everything in Internet marketing. You still need to be able to spend that money wisely by minimizing risk as much as possible and by making the best investments that will yield the highest returns. That being said, I still think that this would have been a successful campaign had I lost the contest. $300 for 114 natural permanent links is just $2.60 a pop. That’s a better rate than anyone anywhere can offer.

In the end however, I will only have spent about $250 promoting this contest – buying and shipping WTW t-shirts that I was going to create anyway. So really this “expense” was an investment in disguise that worked to help me win this contest while promoting my brand at the same time.

Alright, so without further adieu, here’s the good stuff you’ve been waiting for – the strategies I used to win the contest and put Tyler away.

Feature the contest in highly visible parts of your site
A blog isn’t exactly the best medium to run a contest. The contest post is pushed down on the page as new posts are published and users will easily forget that it even exists on your site. To prevent this, it’s important to feature the contest in the most highly visible parts of your site. On Winning the Web, I used the top stripe bar, the feature box, and the feature section in the sidebar to make sure that all visitors saw the contest and knew what was going on.

Use the same contest post
Another on-page tactic I use is to utilize a single post for the contest rather than giving updates in separate posts. Multiple entries make the contest more difficult to manage and lessens the likelihood that readers will have the most up-to-date information. By using the same contest post and updating it accordingly, you also receive the benefit of a higher comment count which will give it the impression of higher activity and will help you to receive even more exposure.

Give away free t-shirts
As outlined in a previous post describing guerilla marketing tactics, t-shirts are a great way to promote your brand and build user loyalty. Combine this with a contest and you have a winner. This strategy was the x factor in my win over Tyler Cruz. I got an incredible deal for the shirts at a quality print shop and many of my supporters voted because they wanted the shirt. This is a low cost, high impact strategy – especially if you have a solid brand.

Make it time-limited
Although I had plenty of t-shirts, I capped out the free shirt prize to the first 30 voters, then 50 once the limit was reached. Why? Because this added an element of urgency to the contest. If readers really wanted the freebie, they needed to take action as soon as possible before it was too late. Since many people tend to forget about these things very easily, it’s very important to seal the deal now rather than later. Calls to action and time or supply limited offers work great to accomplish this.

Match Tyler with his offers
Tyler’s incentive for voters was to give away 100 Entrecard credits and links to voters. Since both of these items were something I could easily provide, I matched Tyler and offered them as well. So really, what was the incentive to vote for Tyler at all?

Email commentators of the blog
Another big strategy that I used was to personally email each and every reader who left a comment on Winning the Web in the past 3 months. I asked for their support in this contest and that made all the difference. Thanks guys!

Use the momentum from a previous contest
Coming off of a successful contest where I gave away a John Chow review, marketing with contests has become my specialty. Because of this new reputation, many people believed in me and were curious as to what I could come up with next. Find something you’re good at, stick with it, and use the momentum you build to catapult yourself forward.

Establish an early lead to sway readers
In a contest like this where only voters of the winning blog have a chance to receive the $100 prize, it’s important to get off to a fast start so that momentum is on your side and readers have more reason to vote for you. That’s exactly what I tried to do in this contest and I unleashed the brunt of my attack in the beginning of the contest.

Use underdog status as an advantage
Alright, so I was the underdog in this whole thing and people love stories where the underdog defeats all obstacles and is successful in the end – just like in the movies. If you read some of the page copy in the original contest post, you’ll see that I try to use this to my advantage to gather votes.

So those are the 9 strategies that I used to defeat Tyler Cruz and become the new champ. Who’s next?

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Posted in Articles, Contests, Internet Marketing
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21 Responses to “How I Beat Tyler Cruz Against All Odds – Strategies Exposed”

sylv3rblade on January 16th, 2008

Congratulations on winning although I was already expecting it since the very beginning. You’re good at people-talk and I think that’s-if not for your other informative posts- what won many of your voters over.

Oh and sorry if I didn’t get to vote, I’d be another step out of my niche if I did. =(

Emma Nelson on January 16th, 2008

Congratulations Gyutae, you are a good marketer.

Tyler Cruz on January 16th, 2008


“Email commentators of the blog
Another big strategy that I used was to personally email each and every reader who left a comment on Winning the Web in the past 3 months. I asked for their support in this contest and that made all the difference. Thanks guys!”

Hehe, I did this too, but I used a plugin which e-mailed all the registered users of my blog (Around 500-600 or something I think). Sure beat hand-emailing everyone 😛

The plugin let me remove certain usergroups, and since Gyutae is actually specified as “Contributor” since he used to guest post for me, I made sure to not send the e-mail to that usergroup so Gyutae wouldn’t get any ideas.. 😉

Jay F.H. on January 16th, 2008


In a few months, I’d take you on. Seriously. :o)

shy guy on January 16th, 2008

Yeah.. I think you’re awesome…

Allen on January 16th, 2008

Congratulations! I learned something new again today just by reading this post. 🙂

Affiliate Confession on January 16th, 2008

Great tips Gyutae. In fact it was the personal email I received from you that got my vote. Congratulations again on “Winning The Web!”

Rob Schultz on January 16th, 2008

Well played. Your tactics proved to be well thought out and played at the right time. Are you sure that you’re not the poker player? 😉

Collin LaHay on January 16th, 2008

I agree with Affiliate Confession, that is why I voted for ya.

Jonathan Volk on January 16th, 2008

Pretty good tactics. 🙂 Good job!

Date Sweetie on January 16th, 2008

Congratulation, Gyutae. Thank you for sharing the strategies and tips to win in this contest. Are you going to email each of us for our postal address? Thanks in advance!

David Chew on January 16th, 2008

Most of your strategies is excellent.

Alan Johnson on January 16th, 2008

Congratulations to the both of you for a great contest. A win-win situation for all parties involved, with Gyutae’s inspiration of offering an incentive right from the start making the difference. Good idea with the t-shirts btw, be sure to give them out on other occasions as well since it’s a great way to promote your website.

Best wishes,

Alan Johnson

James on January 17th, 2008

Congrats Gyutae, an easy win 😛

Anthony on January 20th, 2008

Hey this is a test, delete

Kyle on January 17th, 2008

You should totally have a link somewhere on the site to a place where you sell shirts. “Winning The Web” just has a good ring and for $20 including shipping I’m sure you could make some sort of profit. Hell you should send me a shirt for coming up with the idea for you! 🙂

himbeerfuchs on January 24th, 2008

“And of course I will link out to all of my voters once the competition is over”

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