Log on to social media or do a search online and notice how many different challenges there are out there. There are weight loss challenges, exercise challenges, being present challenges, even savings challenges. Challenges are a very hot commodity these days as people want a quick-hit solution to their problems. They’re good for the person attempting them but they’re an even better for the business creating them.

Businesses use challenges for two reasons. People seem to enjoy them and it’s a great way to get data from potential customers. This article will show you how you can create your own business challenge, energize your online community, provide a good resource for them, and receive their contact information in exchange.

Reasons to Create a Challenge for Your Audience

A challenge is no different than creating a downloadable checklist, ebook, gated video or any other free resource. And they are as hot right now as that meme of the crying girl and the white, righteous cat. You create them in exchange for information. Challenges can span three days up to a month. So not all challenges require a large time investment to create them. But they do fit a need.

People have problems in life. They have things they want to change about themselves personally and professionally. A challenge provides a way to help them while showing that you have the solution to their problem. In creating a challenge for them, you insert yourself into their lives as a professional who can help guide them to solving their problem.

This is a very powerful role. If they enjoy your challenge and it helps them begin to see some forward movement toward solving their problem, it may be easier to sell to them in the future. You’ve helped them once and they trust you. Even if they’re not ready to buy, you have created the beginning of a relationship by giving them something they wanted.

Challenges also help you qualify leads because you can tell who completed the challenges versus who didn’t. Those who completed the challenge, are likely in a better position to be the type of clients or customers you want to work with.

6 Things You Need to Create a Business Challenge

The following components are necessary for every challenge. I’ve left out the specific steps on how to create the content because that’s highly individualized to the type of challenge you are offering. But this structure can help you create a successful framework. To create a strong challenge your audience will flock to you need:

1.    A problem

Just as the name suggests, in order to create a business challenge for your audience you need to solve a problem. What is it your audience is struggling with?

If you’re physical trainer, the answer is easy. You can focus on weight loss, strength training, a thinner waist, bigger arms…well, you get the idea.

But if you are part of a business where the answer is not as obvious, think about the things your audience is struggling with. It doesn’t have to directly affect your business. If you position yourself as an expert who’s ready to help–as long as it’s not something that is completely unlinkable to your business–you can benefit. For instance, if you are a CPA you can create a “7-day non-spending challenge” or a “30-day increase your savings challenge” that shows people how to decrease their spending and increase their savings.

The problem you choose to solve doesn’t matter as much as your ability to give people advice and build know, like, and trust.

2.    A time frame

The time frame in your challenge depends largely on two things: 

  • how long it will take to see some measurable change or positive movement towards solving the problem
  • how many resources you want to prepare as a business.

For instance, if you are creating a 30-day fitness challenge in which you are trying to guide people into becoming healthier, you will have to create resources for every day of that 30-day challenge. At the minimum that could look like 30 videos or descriptions of exercises. 

On the other hand, a 3-day detox challenge could require only three days of recipe suggestions.

Don’t offer a challenge that you can’t adequately provide resources for and don’t provide a challenge that won’t show or make them feel some sort of results. A 3-day fitness challenge isn’t even long enough to establish an exercise habit. But a 3-day sleep challenge to getting 8-hours of sleep each night is long enough to begin to feel the health benefits of good sleep.

3.   Goals for the challenge

A challenge is great for potential customers but there are also obvious benefits to your business.  Consider what your goals are for the challenge. Are you trying to convert new customers? Or are you offering a new service or product and you’re trying to root out support for it? Your goals for the challenge should flavor the challenge itself and the follow-up afterward.

Once you establish your goals you should create the resources for your challenge.Keep in mind you want the format to be one your target audience would enjoy.

4.    Delivery method

In any challenge you will need a delivery method for your content. Some businesses use email while others create a private Facebook group that they deliver daily content to. Your method will likely depend on how often you plan to run the challenge. An email challenge allows people to enroll in the challenge at any time that’s convenient for them. The challenge can begin immediately the moment they sign up. Other businesses make a big production around having in monthly set start date. That means regardless of when you sign up for the challenge, everyone starts on the same day. This allows everyone to be on the same step at the same time building more of a community.

Some people will use email to provide the resources (so people can start at any time) and then create a private Facebook group for people to connect and share. With that option you’re making potential customers part of your brand community and respecting their desire to start on their schedule..

5.   Post-challenge follow-up or call to action

Creating a business challenge to set you up as an expert and then leaving off the follow-up or potential for continuing on/increasing services defeats the purpose. By creating these resources for your audience you are priming them for your services in the future. If you don’t create some sort of call to action at the end that converts them into a sale, or at least tries to, you are missing out on a very ripe opportunity.

6.   Marketing

How you market your challenge is almost as important as the challenge itself. Creating an interesting title is not enough. In your marketing you want to be very clear about:

  • what’s in it for your participants
  • what they will learn or receive
  • how things will be delivered to them
  • what kind of contact you’ll maintain and the details about the interaction possibilities

If you’ve had success with some sort of consulting or course creation in the past, use the statistics and testimonials from that.

If you’re creating this challenge for the first time it is good to run it through a beta group of people you know who are willing to help you try out your challenge before releasing it. You can use the results from that beta group in your marketing when you go live.

Creating a business challenge does take some work. But once you create it, you can use it over and over again. Challenges are a great way to get information from potential customers and qualifying them takes very little effort on your part past the initial creation of the challenge.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses and chambers of commerce how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and WritersWeekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com.  

Christina is an introverted writer on a quest to eradicate boring copy and bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.