A cost-effective element in your marketing plan for increasing brand awareness, customer engagement and broadening your overall reach are contests and sweepstakes.

Obviously, consumers are attracted by words such as “free,” “win,” and “prizes,” (aren’t you?) and are more than likely to pay more attention to those messages than a standard day-to-day branding message. Yes, you still need to make sure your consumers understand your product, quality and the value you provide for their dollar, but that is only one side of your marketing equation. You also need them to know your product not only exists but get them to try it.

Win, Free Grabs Attention

Chance to Win grabs attention

In todays over rich environment of media that inundates your prospects and customers with messages everywhere you need to come up with more and more ways to attract and gain their attention.

Half of American Adults Enter Sweepstakes

Contests and sweepstakes is one of the incentives that works quite well and is extremely popular today. As a matter of fact the Federal Trade Commission estimates that more than half of all American adults have entered a sweepstakes within the past twelve months.

As a matter of fact, I have several friends that love to try their luck in sweepstakes to win great prizes. Some have won items as simple as a T-shirt or tote bag while one friend even won a cruise. The “reward” just needs to be in line with your marketing strategy and budget.

In the social media sphere today, sweepstakes are particularly popular. The primary reason being that you can develop a sweepstakes and release it fast, get equally fast responses that are measured (what’s my return on investment (ROI) this week?) and can be relatively low cost.

You achieve multiple benefits by giving away appropriate prizes in the social media genre. For example, your new product is the sponsor of a big event and as a sweepstakes you can ask people to enter to win (and capture their email addresses, growing your database). You can pick as many people as you’d like to go and of course you have a VIP area for the winners so you can take pictures to tweet and blog for more exposure of the event and your product. Of course at the event you are also giving out free samples of the new product which is being blast out on social media (tweets, facebook, pinterist, Instagram, youtube and more). Another opportunity for even more exposure is to have an additional contest going on for people at the event (and elsewhere) using your product to takes pictures and post them for votes as best usage. As you can see the opportunities go on and on.

Just remember that while the words “sweepstakes and contests” are routinely used interchangeably they are actually quite different (yes, really). A simple way to remember the difference is that a contest requires some skill to be completed and a sweepstakes winner is determined typically by a random drawing.

Of course there are risks involved with any sweepstakes or contest so you need to be clear about all the rules and regulations not only of your program but for your state and industry. Once you finalize all your rules, be sure to stick by them and follow them implicitly. In addition, we recommend that an attorney who specializes in sweepstakes and contests review all your official entry forms, rules and any other materials that are related to the promotion.

Danette Gossett

Danette brings more than 30 years of experience developing advertising campaigns, direct marketing programs and sales promotions to her clients. Prior to starting her companies, she worked for New York advertising agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi & Lowe Marschalk.

Her corporate marketing experience included National Advertising Director for Avis Rent a Car Systems, Inc., and Director of Marketing Services for Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Read More

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