I (kind of…) like competitions. I’ve got to see and do some pretty amazing stuff thanks to some brilliant brands, and I’ve organised a few so have seen how things work on the other side of the coin. Competitions can be a fantastic way to showcase your brand to lots of people quickly, but you also risk adding a lot of uninterested people to your mailing list, and giving a prize to someone who couldn’t care less about who your brand is, or what you do.

Understanding ‘compers’:

There are two types of people that enter competitions:

  • The casual entrant – the type of person who just happens to stumble across a competition and decides to enter
  • The ‘comper’ – a person who seeks out competitions as part of a hobby, or in some cases, professionally

win all the things

Ideally, you want most of the people who enter your competition to be the first type – people who genuinely like your brand or are interested in what you have to offer. Unfortunately encountering compers is an unavoidable part of running a competition – but we’re not all bad.

I will only enter competitions that have a prize I genuinely want (or I know someone close to me would appreciate) – meaning I do tend to notice the company behind the brand and I do sometimes become a customer of a brand I’ve found through competitions.

Yet while many companies worry about offering people like me the chance to win something from them, the reality is that I am a consumer just like everyone else, and I am still worth marketing to.

However if you want to improve the chances that:

  1. Most of the people who enter your competition are people that could potentially become customers, and
  2. Those that enter your competition notice and remember your brand

Try doing some of these….

Avoid hosting your competition on an external site:

While there are benefits to this (more people find your competition and you’ll get a link or two), if your competition is being hosted by a newspaper or magazine you will only benefit from minimal branding. In fact, anyone who doesn’t read all of the competition description may not realise who’s supplying the prize and may enter without ever being aware of your brand.

Make people have to explore your site to enter:

If potential entrants have to explore part of your site before they can enter they will be learning more about your brand, are more likely to remember it, and (on ecommerce sites) may well see something that catches their eye that they want to buy.

Make ‘liking’ your Facebook page a condition of entry:

If you can get everyone who enters the competition to also like your Facebook page, you’ve got an additional (and potentially more effective) route to market to them once the competition has ended.

Be sure to post regularly during the competition and to keep it up afterwards. Mention that more competitions will follow shortly to help maintain interest.

Offer a very specific prize:

Offer something that is heavily related to your brand and what you do. By doing this you ensure that (most of) the people who enter will have a genuine interest in what you offer.

I see lots of companies offering prizes like iPads and iPhones when their product is completely unrelated. The idea is that they will reach thousands more entrants (and gain thousands more email addresses) if they offer something everyone wants, but what’s the point if only a handful of these people would ever purchase something from your brand?

If you do want to give away a very popular prize however, try one of these tactics:

Make people buy your product to enter:

Doing so will make sure that most of the people entering will have an actual interest in your product. There will be some people that make the purchase purely to enter the competition, but on the plus side you have sold an extra product, and they will (presumably) try your product, which they wouldn’t have otherwise.

You must make sure however that the promotion doesn’t affect the price of the product – if a promotional pack costs more than a normal pack, or you raise the price of the product during the competition, this means your competition will be considered a ‘lottery’ and is subject to different (and stricter) rules than free-to-enter competitions.

In the US the rules are slightly different again. If you don’t offer a ‘no purchase necessary’ route then your competition is considered a lottery (illegal in some states).

Make the competition difficult to enter:

If you want to offer an amazing prize the best way to prevent getting heaps of entries from the average comper is to ask entrants to do something in return for a chance to win. Potential tasks could include:

  • Writing a story (fiction or real-life experience)
  • Taking and uploading a creative photo
  • Making a video

Even if someone who’s gone to all this effort had no initial interest in your brand, the fact they will eventually have had such a significant interaction with you means they are very likely to remember your brand and be drawn to you in future.

Another big advantage to this tactic is that you get some great material to use, without having to do any of the hard work.

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