Contests and sweepstakes are a great way to get people to notice your business- be it a small or large one. It gives someone an incentive, even if just for a moment, to engage with whatever you are selling.
Although there are plenty of people who don’t care about your brand who will participate in a contest or sweepstakes just to win the prize money, there are some best practices to follow to engage a targeted audience and potentially convert the participant to a brand user.
1. Make the prize worth it
Giving away money? That’s great, but only if the dollar prize is worth the amount of effort it takes to be involved. Highly complex contests with low dollar prizes will not attract anyone to your contest. The general rule of thumb: keep the contest or sweepstakes entry simple and make the value of the prize high. If you want a more complex contest, be prepared to give away a higher value prize.
2. Make the prize RELEVANT
Not necessarily relevant to current “trends”, but relevant to your business. If you are giving away door prizes at a Grand Opening event or Conference, make the door prize something valuable that will encourage participation with your company. Tickets to an NFL game are great, but make sure you buy 4 tickets. 2 for the winner and 2 for you and an associate. A prize like this gives you a lot of time to build a relationship with a potential client. Plus, relevant prizes tend to weed out people who don’t care about your business or product at all.
3. Don’t forget to ADVERTISE
Putting flyers on cars in parking lots isn’t going to cut it. With the vast amount of free advertising available via social media (twitter, facebook, linked in, google +, etc), you need to make sure you are actively getting the word out there. In addition, there are tons of contest and sweepstakes boards out there where you can post the contest. You might also consider trying to partner with a local non-profit to raise additional awareness in the greater community.
In addition, paid search campaigns are well worth the dollars spent. Just make sure that if you aren’t sure how to set up a google ad words campaign, you choose a professional to help. Call google or call a small, local agency (like us). Don’t go with a large online conglomerate who is promising you a return on investment. Promised returns = scammer.
4. Have an online entry form
Giving participants the opportunity to enter online will vastly increase the number of entries. Many consumers don’t want the hard sell up-front. They want to take their time getting to know your business online. Giving them the opportunity to explore your business at their own leisure will make them more friendly to your business and more likely to come and see you.
5. Know the laws
Rules, registration and bonding are all important parts of your contest or sweepstakes. It is very important that you be specific. How many times can they enter the contest? Is there a per diem? If it’s a contest, how will it be judged? What are the judging criteria? Is the contest open to everyone? If it is, have you considered how to register your contest? Do you know if it needs to be bonded? Be sure to do your research online. Or better yet, talk with a sweepstakes or contest specialist. A lot of local agencies are familiar with how to administer contests or can put you in touch with companies that specialize in the field as well.