We’ve said this before, everyone likes something for “FREE” and that’s what giveaways are, a free gift. If you’ve thought through your branded gifts then the recipient says “thank you” for your advertising. How often does your advertising promotion get that kind of positive recognition?

Is Your Giveaway Relevant?

When you are considering giveaways as part of your marketing program you want to make sure that you are going to get a good return on your marketing investment. Don’t just give way for the sake of giving something. Have a plan that makes sense for your brand.

There are many promotional purposes for using a free giveaway: Building brand awareness, to attract new customers, increasing your social media followers, to hank a client for business, promote a special event, new product or product enhancement to name a few.

Everyone Has A Branded Item

expand your brand with giveaways

Who doesn’t have a Grocery Tote? A branded giveaway that is used over and over again

A trade show is a great example of when you need to pay attention to your brand with a giveaway. You’ve spent money for your booth, your signage and your collateral materials. You have staff spending time at the booth, introducing the company to potential customers and discussing how you can improve their business or lives. Don’t forget to spend the same amount of time thinking about your giveaway.

 The item is typically used as either a thank you for stopping by the booth or to entice someone to your booth.

Ask Yourself Key Questions

For any giveaway you want to ask yourself these questions: What do I want to accomplish? Who is the audience I am trying to reach? Does the giveaway reflect our brand essence? Is it a quality item? Does it make sense for us? Will it be kept and used?

 Again, you want to make sure that you are getting the best return on your marketing investment (ROI).

 If you sell tires you may want to give away a tire gage to reinforce what you do. Or you could consider a giveaway that will sit on their desk (tire shaped stress reliever) or they will use in their car as a constant reminder (travel tumbler). But don’t give away a jump rope because it just doesn’t make sense (and I’ve seen this!).

In addition to using branded items and giveaways for the various reasons stated above, you can also use them to expand your brand awareness.

Gift Cards Have Broad Appeal

Gift Cards reinforces great behavior

Gift Cards reinforces great behavior

For example, using a gift card has become quite popular in recent years. One of the reasons these are so popular is that it is much easier to satisfy different age groups, gender and needs with a generic “credit card” style gift card.

However, instead of using a generic card, you may want to consider a branded gift card. We have a client that uses this type of card for their employee incentive program giveaways. They get them in denominations from $10 to $25 to $50 so they can use them as instant gratification when an employee is seen doing something above & beyond the “call of duty” by a peer or supervisor.

Branding Extends the Message

brand building and giveaways

Always make sure the giveaway or contest extends the brand

It is part of their overall marketing plan to increase their employee performance. And it’s paying off in increased sales and decreased turnover. Since it has the added bonus of being branded when the employee uses the gift card they remember why they received it!

Of course, many companies will use department store branded gift cards as part of their giveaway programs, but you lose out on that added brand reinforcement.

Magazine sweepstakes have been utilizing gift cards to increase the likelihood of continuing a subscription or following one of their advertisers on social media. I’ve been solicited via social media, email and regular mail by several publications to enter their sweepstakes for the chance to win a wide variety of giveaways. I am sure it is part of their marketing plan to help their advertisers increase their overall exposure and interaction with their potential customers.

Contests and Giveaways Need to be Relevant

As you can see, giveaways can be integrated in a wide variety of ways into your marketing programs. Many companies of course, are trying to maximize their social media reach by utilizing contests and sweepstakes.

I saw a contest on Pinterest promoting a Messy Desk Contest. It caught my eye, because, yes, I am a messy desk person. I try not to be, but I have so much going on at one time, I just move from one thing to another. But I have to say, I am an amateur compared to some that were highlighted for this contest.

contests to expand brand

Messy Desk Contest Was Relevant and Successful for their Brand

I’m a “stacks” type person with files and papers stacked in piles on my desk. Some of those entered were way beyond piles! However, I thought the concept was great. I am sure they increased their followers (they got me) across all their social media channels. They gained some new and interesting content and the winners (two were particularly impressive in their “messiness” so they had a tie) received an iPad and the company’s app that helps to organize paperwork.

 And even though I didn’t enter the contest, I was intrigued by the outcome enough that I had to check out the company’s app! As you can see, the contest and giveaway were relevant to their marketing plan!!

We Love to Compete And WIN

Because winning is a big draw you see that call to action strategy used often. “Enter for a Chance to Win”. Or, “you are Eligible to Win”. Or even “There are many chances to win, so enter now”!

 As you have probably seen, contests and sweepstakes seem to be the go-to strategy for many marketers on social media. Why? Because as humans we seem to be wired to compete. We love contests and we of course, love to win. And we can’t win if we don’t enter or play so the company that is sponsoring the contest wins.

Gain Information That Helps You Target

 Typically to enter you are required to provide some form of personal data. Sign up for a newsletter, follow them on social media, share the contest on your own social media or liking a particular event or product. They want to know who you are so they can target you in the future. That’s their ROI for whatever giveaway they have used for the prize that enticed you to begin with.

 And the prize doesn’t always have to be a big-ticket item. Because we love the idea of having our “messy desk” all over social media. We want to trend! Its another kind of winning and a topic for another article.

 I am amazed at the large number of sweepstakes and contests available to enter on a daily basis. So much so that there are apps and subscription-based services and directories that will help you find the best ones to enter!

Does Your Sweepstakes Keep Audience Involved?

In a quick search I quickly found a number of interesting sweepstakes to win a car or cash.

sweepstakes and contests

Engagement is primary reason for many sweepstakes and contests

Or there are the ones that offer the chance to win for the best recipe or counting the number of sprinkles in a bowl. Now, at first glance I thought, really? But that one was for the Food Network so it makes sense for them to keep their audience involved.

 Some are what they call single entry opportunities and others you can enter as many times as you want. Some require a good amount of work. For instance, L. Ron Hubbard has an ongoing contest for a “Writers of the Future Contest”. It requires a science fiction story of 17,000 words or less. So, if you’re an aspiring science fiction writer this could be for you!

 Obviously, most companies are developing sweepstakes and contests that will attract you to visit their website, follow them on social media so you can be the first to hear about the next contest and be engaged with the company.

Are You Getting Return on Engagement?

That’s where return on engagement steps in. Many marketers have long been tasked with keeping tabs on the return on investment but return on engagement is relatively new. When I say new I mean within the last decade or so.

 Return on engagement looks at the brand strength increased due to a particular action or strategy. Hence, it is relevant in regards to your social media presence and why so many contests and sweepstakes launch every day.

 It’s also why continued engagement with your target audience is important. We’ve discussed before the importance of the positive mentions on social media about your brand. Getting the engagement and having more and more people “like” you or “retweet” you or share your Instagram posts makes your brand influence stronger. Which in the long run should result in increased awareness and sales.

Giveaways Help to Increase Engagement

As you can see, giveaways are an integral part of your marketing strategy. Be it an actual branded item or a giveaway that helps to increase your engagement.

Most companies you will need to utilize both strategies for long term success. Because giveaways are great for increasing exposure, loyalty and followers, just make sure the giveaways makes sense for your brand!

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