Experience.com Offers Students 'Experience of a Lifetime'

Experience.com, a career advice/job listing network targeting 20 to 29-year-old job seekers, will soon launch the second wave of its “Experience of a Lifetime” contest in hopes of drawing visitors to its fledgling Web site.

The site, which specializes in providing students and young professionals with nontraditional job opportunities, offered the chance to gain professional experience from minor celebrities or big name companies.

Winners of the first wave of the promotion, which concluded last month, could choose to hook up with director John Landis, famous for films such as “The Blues Brothers” and “Animal House,” for a day while he is on the set of his new production. They could also choose to meet with Tim Forbes to discuss the magazine industry, work with Grey Advertising and CoverGirl on an advertising campaign/photo shoot or have their business plan reviewed by Polaris Venture Capital.

“The 'Experience of a Lifetime' gives them an incredible opportunity to meet people or do things they would never have been able to do,” said James Gardner, vice president of marketing for Experience Inc., Boston. For example, the Grey Advertising opportunity will allow them to “get a total perspective as to what goes on in the world of advertising and how commercials get made from start to finish.”

To enter, participants were asked to provide their name, e-mail address, resume and a 200-word essay on why they wanted to win. A new crop of mentor-type opportunities are currently being collected for the second offering of this contest.

The objective of the contests are to get consumers to register at the site and upload their resumes. Experience.com is new to the game having launched in late April. It had approximately 25,000 members' resumes on the site.

To promote Experience.com and the contest, the company is using its Experience Magazine which currently has a circulation of 1 million students. It is distributed through career offices at 350 campuses. “The magazine placed a fairly large emphasis on the contest,” said Gardner. “It’s a huge promotion vehicle.”

The site was also heavily marketed in approximately 30 campus newspapers last month. “We’re primarily advertising before they leave campus,” said Gardner. “It’s a frantic season now when every student is or should be looking for a full-time internship or job.”

Online, the site has made banner ad buys at several sites such as Lycos, Yahoo and Hoovers.com. It also made several keyword buys. It is currently looking into hiring an ad agency and will likely run radio and print ads in the future to further generate traffic.

To attract employers and boost its database of job listings and internships, the site has been advertising to businesses. It has been running ads in publications such as Forbes and has placed banner ads in the employer-targeted sections of Lycos and Yahoo. It currently has more than 7,000 listings.

The company is currently in the midst of a small but intensive direct mail campaign targeting college career centers. Operating under the tagline “Let Experience Be Your Guide,” it is mailing out long walking sticks to the top 2,000 career centers. The offer is an enter-to-win contest where recipients can win a trip to Colorado.

Three hundred mailings have been sent out. The response rate for follow-up information has been an extremely high 40 percent. The reason is simple: “No one’s doing creative marketing to career centers these days,” said Gardner. The mailing will conclude this month.

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