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Why on earth would a company who helps people run competitions and giveaways for a living write a blog that includes more reasons *not* to run a competition that reasons to run one?
Well, I’m a really big believer in being transparent and honest with people for starters, but I also think it’s important that businesses go into running a competition with eyes wide open, fully prepared and with all of the information they may need.
That’s why I’m sharing ten reasons that you should run a competition… and 20 reasons why you shouldn’t.
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10 reasons you should run a competition.
1. To generate leads for your business.
Competitions are a great way to generate leads.
Especially if you’re giving away your own product or service as your prize (which is what I *always* recommend).
Why? Because everyone who enters your competition to win your product or service is essentially saying, “I want what you’re offering”.
This means every single entrant to your competition is a potential lead and it’s up to you to have the processes in place to follow up with those leads and turn those leads into sales after – or even during – the competition.
2. To engage your audience.
Competitions are incredibly engaging.
Did you know, for example, that according to Buffer, competition posts are up to 5.5 times more engaging on social media than regular posts?
This is definitely something that I have seen with my clients as well. When we run a competition, we of course pin the main competition announcement post to the top of the page. This will naturally increase its engagement as it’s the first post that people will see when they visit your Facebook or Instagram profile.
Competition posts do generally tend to get a huge amount of engagement and comments by nature because people just love to be involved in something as fun as a giveaway.
Which brings us neatly to number three…
3. Because your audience will love you for it.
I *still* talk about the colouring competition that I won when I was nine years old… there I go again, talking about it again now almost 30 years later.
Everyone loves the feeling of winning – and your winner will associate that feeling with you and your brand.
Not only that, but generally, your winner will become a huge brand advocate for you and your business as well.
4. To gather social proof.
Gathering social proof for your business via competitions and giveaways can be done in one of two ways.
Firstly, if you run a competition that requires people to submit something as part of their entry – for example, a 25 words or less style competition, or a testimonial or a photo of them using your product or service – then this gathers content that you can reuse in your marketing.
This user-generated content can often actually be more powerful than professional photos or photoshoots for marketing your brand.
Secondly, is via your lucky winner. Once you have drawn and awarded your prize to your winner, ask your winner for a photograph of themselves with the prize and a couple of words about how happy they are to win.
This, of course, then makes for amazing social media, marketing and email content. Not only that, but it makes the rest of your audience love your brand because they see that you have actually awarded the prize to real life person.
5. Because they’re not that expensive to run.
When you think of running competitions, you may think that you need to have an absolutely huge ad spend or hire an expensive graphic designer or create huge amounts of marketing collateral to go in your store – and that’s just simply not the case.
A competition can be as big or as small as your budget or your imagination allows.
You just need a prize and your time to dedicate to actually creating, managing and running the competition.
Now, an important thing to remember here is that the dollar value of the prize isn’t the true “value” of the prize. The value of the prize is in how much your audience wants that prize, how much of a difference it’s going to make in their lives, how sought after your prize is and also just how well you explain and market your prize.
I have seen competitions with prizes valued at $5 that have gone viral and competitions with $20,000 prizes that have got far fewer entries than the competition with the $5 prize.
It does not matter how valuable in terms of dollars your prize is, it’s about how much your audience values what you are offering.
6. To get quality marketing material.
… Or indeed any material from your audience.
So let’s say, for example, that you own a t-shirt business and you are looking for new slogans to print on your t-shirts.
You could – as your entry method – ask your audience to come up with a slogan as part of the competition.
You can then potentially use all of those entries as new slogans for your t-shirts and the ten best slogans could win their t-shirt printed (or even framed as part of a bigger prize package).
There is no better way to get marketing material and inspiration for your business than directly from your audience – the people who know, love and purchase your products or services.
7. Because competitions have really clear ROI.
I mean really, *really* clear ROI (or return on investment).
Because you set your budget in advance with a competition and because all of your costs are pretty much known up front, you know exactly how much you are spending on competitions as a marketing tactic in advance.
Something I always encourage people to do with competitions is to keep track of how much you spend on the competition, then at the end of the competition, once you’ve done what you need to do to convert those people into clients (usually with some kind of offer after the competition) you will be able to see exactly how much you’ve made from your entrants versus how much the competition cost you to run.
And from that, you can work out your return on investment.
8. To increase brand awareness.
Sometimes clients will come to me with the idea of running a competition purely to gain brand awareness and I will usually encourage them to pick another goal, simply because you get a huge amount of brand awareness for your business by default, simply by running a competition.
This is because during your competition, you will of course be promoting the heck out of it and plugging the competition a lot harder and a lot more often and in a lot more places than you normally would promote your brand.
In addition, any competition marketing material you produce will be chock full of your branding – in your colour schemes, with your fonts, hopefully featuring your products or services as prizes, maybe even your face if you’re game.
So the brand awareness that you gain from a competition is so huge naturally, that it doesn’t even need to be the main goal of your competition. It is just one of those amazing side benefits that comes from running competitions and giveaways.
9. Because competitions are incredible learning opportunities.
You can learn so much about your audience through running a competition.
Whether it’s looking at the type of people who visit your competition and enter your competition versus the type of people you thought would, or whether it’s looking at the types of comments that people leave in a comment to win competition or simply looking at your analytics and your insights and the data that you gain during your competition.
There is so much information that you gain from running a competition that you can use to market your business further in the future.
10. Because competitions are actually a lot of fun.
Competitions might sound like a lot of work, especially when I start talking about ROI or organic reach percentages… even the definition of “competition” comes across quite dry, but I promise you, competitions are actually a lot of fun.
They’re fun for your audience, who will absolutely love entering your competition, love engaging with you and you will see a whole different side of your audience during your competition.
But they’re also fun for you – if you’re well prepared in advance and choose an entry method that brings you the kind of information that your business needs to grow, you will get as much out of your competition or giveaway as your audience will.
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20 reasons why you shouldn’t run a competition.
All right. So that covers the ten reasons why you *should* run a competition… what about the reasons why you *shouldn’t* run a competition?
What if there are things that you really need to know about before you decide to run a competition? Let’s delve into 20 reasons why you shouldn’t run a competition.
1. Competitions require work.
I always say that competitions are not set and forget.
That means you can’t launch a competition, post about it on social media, send it to your email list and then forget about it until close day.
If you want the best results possible from your competition, you need to be out there every day looking at the entries, seeing what’s happening, looking at your analytics, engaging with your audience, posting to promote your competition, plus looking for new ways and new opportunities to get people to see – and enter – your competition.
If you want to make the most of your competition, it does require work.
2. You need to allow yourself time to prepare.
I’m going to be honest with you, you can’t really decide at 6pm on a Sunday night to run a competition, post about it at 7pm and then hope for the best.
In reality, to make the most of your competition, you will need to plan in advance – and I would usually say to my clients about three weeks before you want to launch is when you need to be looking at preparing for your competition.
The reason I say this, is because there are a few things you need to prepare before you launch your competition and go live…
Namely, these are:
- your terms and conditions
- your licence applications (which can sometimes take up to 21 business days to be granted)
- your marketing material
I do also advise clients to do a bit of a countdown before the competition goes live. This is to warm your audience up to the idea that you’re running a competition, this way, they’re expecting it and they know exactly when it opens and when they can enter.
If you plan ahead and you give yourself time before competition launch to tease your audience, then you’re going to get a much better result and more entries on day one.
3. Competitions can come at a cost.
Yes, I did say in the reasons you *should* run a competition that they’re not that expensive, but whether you’re a service based business or a product based business, there will always be a cost involved.
This might be the cost of your product or the cost of your time to deliver the service or even postage to send the prize out to your winner.
Competitions are rarely ever 100% free, so you do need to bear this in mind in advance and perhaps make room in your marketing budget or put a little bit of money aside in advance if you know you are soon to be running a competition.
4. You actually do have to give something away…
So there’s a couple of points to cover here.
The first is, of course, that you must actually give your prize away. If you’re running a competition, you can’t make it dependent on whether you reach a certain fundraising goal or whether you get a certain number of entries as to whether you will actually give the prize away. If you are running a competition and you are advertising a prize, you must deliver that prize whether you get one entry or one million entries.
The second point is to always try to give away your own product or service. So if you are a new business or you are in the process of launching, then it may be worth waiting until you can actually deliver *your* service or you have *your* product in-house and ready to give away before you launch your competition; so that you are promoting your own product or service and not someone else’s.
This is particularly important for new businesses because it means if you’re giving away your own product or service, all of the entrants you get as part of your competition are people saying, “I want what you sell”, so they’re all potential customers and potential leads ready to support your new business.
5. Competitions might not work for your brand.
I’ve yet to come across a business that competitions won’t work for, but of course there is always an exception to every rule.
Think carefully about whether competitions are the right strategy for you and your business. There’s always a time and a place for a competition and if there’s another way that you could potentially achieve your goal without having to give something away or incentivise behaviour, then you may wish to try that first, before you run a competition.
6. Competitions can attract trolls.
Unfortunately, like anything in life, and especially on social media, there are people out there who like to make life difficult and occasionally – but very rarely – we come across trolls who comment on competitions.
That’s why it’s important to monitor any competition posts that you put out there, reply to any comments in a timely manner and maybe decide in advance how you’re going to deal with any potential trouble makers – whether that means a very polite reply that makes you look even more grown up than the troll, or whether it’s simply to delete nasty comments.
It is, as I say, very, very rare – but it does happen. So I do want to warn you!
7. The wrong people may enter.
Speaking of trolls, another reason you may not want to run a competition is that competitions don’t always attract the people you hope to attract and the wrong people may enter your competition.
Where and how you promote your competition is going to determine who is going to enter and what kinds of people are going to see your competition in the first place, so it’s important to think about where you’re going to promote your competition and what kind of people hang out on those channels in advance.
Why is it important to get the right people to enter instead of just anyone to enter? Isn’t more entries better than less? Well, it depends on what you’re going for with your competition, but in general, no.
The aim of a competition is to collect people who are most likely to purchase your product.
So of course, if you are advertising your competition in the wrong places or promoting it in places where your ideal customer isn’t, then you’re not going to get the kinds of people who are going to turn into paying customers.
Occasionally, you may get your competition posted to a competition website, and that may attract what I call prize pigs. These are people who enter competitions for a living. They have no idea who the business running the competition is or even sometimes what the prize is. They’re just in it for the win or to sell the prize to pay their bills or their mortgage.
It’s important going into a competition, knowing that you won’t always attract people that are 100% your ideal client. However, careful promotion and careful strategy and thinking hard about where your people hang out and where you’re going to promote your competition, is definitely going to make sure that the right people see your competition and hopefully enter your competition.
8. There’s no way to predict how well (or not) your competition will go.
Competitions are not for the faint hearted.
The results are an unknown until we actually launch the competition and start getting some data, so there isn’t a way to predict *exactly* what kind of result we’re going to see.
Now, that said, I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I know that if we have a few important statistics about your brand, we can make *some* predictions about what kind of results we’re likely to end up with…
There are some competitions that really struggle to get entries and there are some competitions that absolutely smash the competition out of the park and have a party on the broken pieces of the goal. It’s absolutely impossible to predict how a competition is going to perform in advance – and for some people, this is just not appealing.
9. You may get no entries at all…
This is something I’ve never, ever personally seen happen, but it is something I have definitely heard of happening.
The success of your competition really depends on where, when and how you promote it.
So whilst it’s very unlikely that you will get zero entries whatsoever for your competition; it is still a very real possibility and it is something that I do just want to make you aware of. You could put all of this time, energy and potentially money, into a competition and you could see zero entries as a result.
10. You can’t win your own prize!
OK, OK, so this may sound like a little bit of a silly one – you *obviously* can’t enter your own competition and under no circumstances would you ever *win* your own competition.
However, it is important to point out, that actually your immediate family and relatives can’t enter your competition or win your competition either. This goes for step- relatives and grand- relatives as well.
11. Competitions demand your time.
As I said at the start of this list of reasons why you may not want to run a competition, competitions are not set and forget. This means that you need to be ‘on’ during your competition.
You need to be checking your comments, replying to comments, checking your emails, looking at your statistics, looking at your entry numbers and taking measures to fix things if they slow down – or to put more fuel on the fire if your competition is going amazingly.
You do need to be prepared to give a fair amount of your time to your competition whilst it is live.
Now there is a sure-fire way for competitions to demand absolutely *zero* of your time and that is to work with a competition expert such as myself.
With the Competition Concierge service, you essentially get an expert on your team for the duration of your competition, all you have to do is come to me with an idea and I will take care of absolutely everything else. From creating the competition from a strategic point of view, mapping out where we’re going to promote the competition, who we’re going to show the competition to, how people are going to enter, through to creating all of the marketing material for your competition, including ads, emails and social media posts, managing the competition whilst it’s live, even taking care of the conversion to purchase post-competition as well.
Alright, back to our list…
12. Competitions make you think.
Competitions can demand a lot of your brain power.
Competitions work best when they are part of a bigger masterplan for your brand, so whatever you want to achieve with your business or with your marketing, competitions should support that goal and be part of helping you get to that goal.
You will also need to think about what you’re going to do with your entrants – your subscribers, your followers, etc. – during and after the competition to turn them into paying customers and keep them engaged with your brand.
13. Competitions can be a steep learning curve.
Unless you’re going to outsource your competition to a professional, you will need to master a number of different aspects of running a competition or wear a few different hats during your competition.
This means, for example, knowing how to design your graphics for your social posts, how to write copy for your emails and how to create Facebook ads, to name just a couple of examples of diverse things your competition will demand from you.
So be prepared to learn new skills or consider outsourcing and therefore paying for these services.
14. You may meet prize pigs.
I mentioned prize pigs – people who enter competitions for a living – a little bit earlier and unfortunately, they are part of competition life.
You can avoid prize pigs like the plague, if you avoid generic prizes such as iPads, cash and holidays – and again, this is another reason why I insist that my clients give away their own product or service to minimise the risk of prize pigs who usually don’t care about the prize or the brand running the competition.
15. You may get hooked on competitions…
Okay, so this is another light comic relief one, but it is true.
The vast majority of the companies that I work with and create competitions for, do go on to run more competitions, so be prepared that you may get the competition bug and you may want to run more competitions after this one…
16. You may learn some hard truths about your business.
Let’s say you run a feedback competition where you get people to complete a review or give you feedback on your product.
Not all feedback may be feedback that you want to hear. It might highlight flaws with your product or your service or the reviews may not be quite as positive and sparkling as you were hoping for.
Competitions may also reveal things like problems in your funnel, or they may reveal broken parts of your website.
Just remember, everything that your competition teaches you is a chance to improve your business, grow your brand and get even more sales.
So even the failures turn into wins when it comes to competitions.
17. You might make fake friends.
You may attract people who subscribe or follow or enter the competition just to win and as soon as the competition is over, you see a sharp drop in your followers or subscribers.
This is most common if you don’t think carefully about where you promote your competition and who you promote your competition to.
It’s really important to be aware of this in advance and to make plans to actually mitigate and avoid this happening, with careful targeting of your promotion and careful nurturing of your entrants once they enter your competition.
18. You must follow rules, rules and more rules.
Yes, it’s true that there are a fair amount of rules involved when it comes to running a competition, which isn’t always fun.
Now, you may think that the rules don’t apply to you in your tiny corner of social media land, but unfortunately, all it takes is a disgruntled ex-employee or a competitor or an audience member who is not happy with the service they received, to report your competition post that breaks the rules and you’ve lost all of the followers on your page.
There are rules to follow when it comes to running a competition and you must follow them.
19. What if your competition works *too* well?!
A bit of a strange one… but what if your competition works too well?
What if you have too many leads? What if you have too many sales to process? What if you can’t pack the orders fast enough and people are starting to complain and ask where their order is?
Of course you can prepare for the extra workload, of course you can outsource if you find yourself growing quickly as a result of competitions and of course, you can just explain to your audience that you have run a competition that has gone so well, that your order times are a little bit delayed.
I mean, it’s not exactly a bad problem to have…
20. You may not actually enjoy running a competition.
When all is said and done, competitions do require an investment of time, sometimes money, effort and brain space – and they’re not for everyone.
It could also be the case that you run one competition and decide never to run a competition again. So don’t feel bad if you do run a competition and decide they are not for you or equally if you run a competition and it works incredibly well for your business, but you just want to hand it over to someone else to manage.
So there you have it – 10 reasons why you should run a competition… and 20 reasons why you shouldn’t! I hope this list has been as enlightening as it has been inspiring and provided you with plenty to think about when it comes to running competitions.
If you are still keen on running a competition, amazing! I would love to support you in the process with my FREE Competition Kickstart Plan – to help you turn your idea into a real life competition.