If you have just won a 52” television or a brand new game console, then you could probably care less about the post you shared with your friend to enter or the personal details you handed over. However, those shares and details are exactly why any business should be interested in competitions.

Running your first (or hundredth!) contest can be difficult, so we have provided a five-step process to make it as easy and effective as possible.

Establish a goal

Competitions are all about hiding the ulterior motives that inspire them. Businesses never just have a spare BMW lying around; they just want something so bad they’re willing to swap a BMW for it. This means that the first thing you need to do for your competition is establish what you want from it.

If you want the contact details of your market audience, then build a competition around getting email addresses. If you want to improve your social media reach, hold it on a platform like Twitter and Instagram and have sharing be a key element to entry.

Decide on your prize

To compare competitions to fishing, nothing is going to bite if the bait isn’t attractive enough – the same is true here. You want people to be interested, but at the same time, it’s important to capture the brand well too.

For example, a dishwashing company shouldn’t do a giveaway for a new car spoiler, as that doesn’t enhance the brand and could just lead you to associating the brand with something irrelevant. This is why Amazon vouchers or cash prizes are generally popular, as they give the entrant the freedom to decide what they want to win.

Define the competition

An entry should be kept as simple as possible to maximise the number of people that enter. There is no ‘ideal contest’ as it changes on a case-by-case basis, but below are a few ideas that could help:

  • Caption contest
    • Simple, fast and has the potential to spawn shareable content which can result in even more shares and reach.
  • Suggest a new product
  • Trivia contest
    • Maybe now you realize why the questions for daytime television contests are always so easy – you want the most amount of people as possible entering. This is why a trivia-based competition can be so effective, as it can stroke the ego of the entrant but also result in a lot of easy entries.
  • “Share for a chance to win.”
    • This technique is very effective at maximising the reach of your brand and the contest and is perfect for a platform like Twitter where it is so easy to share a post.
  • Follower landmark giveaway
    • In this example, you encourage people to join or like or follow a post or your brand with the promise that there’ll be a giveaway at a certain landmark. This is good at getting numbers up and can be effective if you are trying to buy some time before you run the real competition and use one of the other techniques above.

Be bulletproof

For the one entering, the terms and conditions are probably the least interesting part of the entire competition. However, for the competition organisers, these are arguably the most important. Communication here is vital in making you bulletproof in order to fend off any legal action.

Major companies have made mistakes before that have resulted in the loss of millions upon millions of dollars, but major companies can bounce back. If you’re an SME, you might not be able to. While carefully written terms and conditions are effective, it, however, may sometimes be necessary to recruit promotional risk management from outside the company.

Promote the competition

Now your contest is ready; the promotion process can begin. This is where a strong social media presence can come in handy; however, they are not essential to a successful competition. In fact, competitions are very popular amongst startups because they don’t have that strong social media presence. Here are a few ideas to help you out:

  • Share it across all social media platforms
    • Promotions like sponsored tweets and Facebook ads also effective
  • Feature it on your blog/site
  • Contact your email list
  • Contact public directly
    • For example, put on an automatic alert for people that mention the product you’re giving away on social media
  • Convince other companies to share the competition online

Then, the aftermath…

Picking a winner has to be fair and follow the guidelines established earlier, and the prize must actually be delivered! Encouraging people to take a picture with whatever they won can also help with future competitions, while the promise of future competitions can help excite people that didn’t win. If you did everything according to plan, however, you’ll be the real winners!

About the Author: 

Jack Bird: As experts in fixed fee & promotional risk management for brands and agencies, Team Umbrella specialise in helping companies with the legal side of their promotional campaigns and competitions. With offices in England and Australia, the team consists of experts in sales promotions, response handling, shopper marketing, global promotional risk and much more; all their awards and recommendations are testament to this expertise.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash