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The easiest part of running any competition is deciding to *actually* run a competition.

The hardest part of running a competition is deciding *what* that competition is going to look like! What will you give away? How many prizes should you include? Where will you host it? How will you promote it?

Let your #fairycompmother (that’s me) take care of the hard work for you and with a wave of my magic wand, I give you 18 giveaway ideas perfect for your small business…


1. Give away your own product or service.

Drum roll please for the number one giveaway idea and my absolute favourite…

Yes, you should know by now if you’ve listened to previous Competition Curious episodes, read pretty much *any* of my blog posts or been following me on Instagram, it’s the thing I love banging on about most – giving away your own product or service.

There are literally *so* many reasons to give away your own products and services when running a competition, but the two main reasons are:

  1. You are promoting your *own* business, your *own* products and your *own* service and not wasting your time, money and effort promoting someone else’s or gathering leads for a business that isn’t yours.
  2. Every single entrant to your competition will be a potential customer or lead for your business because they’re entering to win *your* products or services (and therefore in theory would also want to purchase them!)

I’ve covered this at length in other posts, such as How to choose your competition prize, so I’m not going to bang about on about this too much here, but I did want to cover it as my number one giveaway idea because it is so crucially important and beneficial for your business.

2. Collect user-generated content.

What is user-generated content (or UGC for short)? As the name implies, it simply means content created (or generated) by your entrants (or users) as part of the entry process.

Examples of user-generated content from competitions includes photos, videos, essays, 25 words or less answers or slogans.

This giveaway idea comes with a multitude of perks…

  • They are far more engaging than simple enter your email to win competitions which means more attractive for your audience to enter.
  • They also create engagement (e.g. likes and comments) on social if you’re asking people to enter via social media or resharing entries to your social accounts.
  • UGC competitions get far higher quality entries as opposed to high quantities of entries – and the entrants are higher quality too.
  • It may surprise you but content created by your users can often perform much better than professional shots taken in a studio with a model…
  • The final benefit is that your entrants are *literally* creating your marketing content for you – saving you hours of trying to come up with content yourself. Win win!

3. Package your prizes.

What I mean by this is instead of just giving away one prize, you put together a couple of products or services to create a prize package.

Something really exciting* (*at least for me as a competition nerd) happens when you package your prizes – your audience perceives the overall value of the prize to be much, much higher than the literal dollar figure value of the sum of its parts.

Let’s say, for example, that you package up a capsule wardrobe of clothing valued at $1,000, a handbag valued at $500 and a stylist consult valued at $500, logically this prize is worth $2,000 in total…

… But the emotional and psychological perceived value of the prize is so much more.

Not only are they getting clothing, they’re getting a whole range of new looks and outfits, they no longer have to worry about what they’re going to wear because it’s all been chosen for them – plus they’ve got an accessory to complete the look.

They’ve also got a consult with an expert who is going to help them feel confident using that prize, putting together the different outfits, accessorising, understanding colours and understanding why that clothing has been chosen for them.

So the value that the prize delivers to your entrants psychologically is so much more than $2,000; and for your business, it means you’re going to get a whole lot more entries for your competition.



4. Partner up with other businesses.

This is one of my favourite things to encourage my clients to do.

What this means, is finding another business that has the same target client as you (or the same ideal entrant) and you both pool your products or services together in a prize package as we just discussed above.

The big benefit of this to your entrant is a bigger, better, more attractive and more engaging prize.

The big benefit to your business is that by partnering with someone who shares the same ideal client, you’re going to attract the right people for both of your businesses and you’re also going to be able to leverage each others’ audiences to expand your reach.

To give you an example, we could look at a copywriter and a web designer.

If they partner up to run a competition, they can offer their audience a brand new website design package, complete with copy written for them. They are targeting the exact same audience, but they’re not competing as they’re offering completely different services.

Partnering with a non-competing business that doesn’t directly offer the same products or services as you do but who has the same target audience as your business, is the competition sweet spot. You’ll create a prize package that’s more compelling and engaging (see idea 3 above) but also gain access to a warm and engaged existing audience your partner has already been nurturing.

This means both businesses grow their audiences with qualified, quality, engaged potential clients who are more likely to convert into paying customers.

5. Give away multiple prizes.

Just like the magical effect packaging prizes seems to have on engagement and entry numbers; offering multiple prizes is another psychological trigger that encourages entries.

Unlike prize packaging where you have one winner, winning multiple prizes; here, you’ve got multiple winners, winning multiple prizes.

When it comes to giving away multiple prizes, four prizes seems to be the magic number (sorry 3, you’re no longer the magic number). This means four individual winners win four individual prizes.

You can structure these four prizes however you wish, but commonly with my clients I will either:

  • Create weekly prizes throughout the competition in the run up to the main prize draw and then choose one main prize winner at the end of the competition. In this case, the main prize winner will win a bigger and better prize package than the weekly prize winners.
  • Or at the end of the competition, choose one main winner and three ‘runners up’ who will all be announced at the same time, once the competition closes. Again, you can give the main winner a bigger and better prize package than the three runners up.

So why is four the magic number? Well, it seems to be that people perceive four prizes as giving them a higher chance of winning because there are four prize packages, not just one, but also four prizes doesn’t devalue the prizes and devalue the competition by giving away so many prizes so that the prizes don’t feel special.

So four seems to be that lovely psychological number where people seem to perceive their chances of winning as higher than when a single prize is offered, but not offering so many that the prize no longer feels special or worth the effort.

6. Make it experiential.

An experiential giveaway is when you turn your competition and/or your prize into an experience for your entrants and for your winner.

Think about a brand that you really love – it doesn’t matter if it’s a product or a service.

Now think about the way that they communicate, think about the things they post on social media, think about their website.

I would bet a million dollars that the reason you love this brand has nothing to do with the fonts that they use, the colours that they choose, or the words that they use to communicate with you.

I would wager that the reason you feel so strongly about this brand is because of the way that they make you *feel*.

The way you feel when you wear the clothing from that brand that makes you feel like a million bucks, or the way that you feel after you have that treatment that makes you feel like you’re glowing from the inside out.

It’s the way that they communicate with you, the way that they make you feel connected to them, the way that they talk to you like you’re a human being. Feelings (and the way you experience a brand) have absolutely everything to do with how much you adore a brand.

So help your audience experience your brand and make them feel the way you want your brand to make them feel during the competition.

This could be, for example, asking them to hunt for Easter eggs around your website, so that they experience your brand through your website, you might offer mini or sample experiences of your products or services in person, for example if you attend events or in your shop or salon.

You may also consider asking your existing customers for feedback to identify the words and feelings that they would use to describe your brand, so you can use that wording throughout your competition to evoke a feeling – and experience – of your brand in your entrants.

7. Run a travel giveaway.

There are heaps of studies out there that talk about how compelling travel prizes are and how effective they are at incentivising people to take action.

Part of this is because travel prizes are experiential, they make someone feel a certain way, and by running a travel giveaway, you can connect the way they feel about travel and about holidays, with your brand, products and services.

I mean, show me one person who doesn’t look forward to a holiday, doesn’t come back with that annoying glow that reminds you how long it’s been since *your* last holiday, or doesn’t talk your ear off about everything they did and everywhere they went and everyone they saw on that holiday…

Besides the fact we all love getting away, I have found from my past experience in corporate and also with the small businesses that I work with giving away travel prizes, they get an enormous amount of entries, they have a really high return on investment and – as one of my favourite side bonuses – you also collect really awesome user generated content (as we’ve already spoken about) from the winner, when they actually redeem their travel prize and go on that trip.

Now, travel prizes don’t have to be expensive.

Obviously, if you are a travel brand yourself, you’ll be giving away your own product or service, as we’ve already discussed and if you’re not a travel brand, you can partner with a travel brand again, as we’ve already discussed.

Just make sure that your audiences are aligned and that your values match so that you are attracting the right people by partnering with that travel brand. Finally, to keep your travel giveaway costs down, you can also keep your prize destination local (and support local tourism in the process).

8. Offer a behind-the-scenes experience.

Think for a second about your favourite food or drink brand.

Imagine what it would be like to do a behind the scenes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style tour of that brand…

I’m talking lickable wallpaper, giant marshmallow pillows and rivers of chocolate… OK, so I might be getting a bit carried away here, I mean it probably wouldn’t be like that in real life, but a BTS tour *is* an experience that you can offer to your winners.

Just make sure you avoid turning them into a giant blueberry.

In reality, what I’m talking about is an all-access, backstage pass to touring your business or brand.

Obviously, for product based businesses this is quite easy, you could offer a tour of the factory where your products are made or they can come and visit you in person in your store and get a behind-the-scenes tour.

For service based businesses, this might be something like a VIP day or an in-person experience where they get to sit with you and watch as you create something truly special for their brand.

The best part about these types of competitions are that the outlay is so low because it is your own product or service – these competition just requires your time, but the experience for your winner, on the other hand, is absolutely priceless.

By running a BTS-style competition, you’re also going to generate some of that amazing user generated content that we discussed earlier. It, of course, also ticks that experiential box that we also discussed, as well as the higher perceived prize value for your winner – even though for you it’s just a regular day at the office.

9. Leverage influencers.

An influencer is someone who – you guessed it – has influence over other people and can convince them to take action.

In the context of competitions, this could be encouraging people to engage with – and enter – your giveaway.

Done right, you will be able to reach a brand new audience that is highly engaged. They will then enter your competition and potentially become leads for your business.

A couple of tips for working with influencers for giveaways:

  • Find an influencer who is aligned with your brand – someone who shares the same values, messaging and ideas that your brand promotes.
  • Look for influencers who have super engaged audiences, not just big audiences. It doesn’t necessarily matter how large their audience is, if that audience is engaged – and they’re your ideal entrants – they’re likely to enter your competition.

10. Give a money-can’t-buy experience.

If you haven’t noticed yet, there are two recurring themes throughout most of these giveaway ideas: perceived value and experiences.

Money-can’t-buy experiences tick both the value and the experience box.

So what is a money-can’t-buy experience? Usually it’s something that (you guessed it) your customers couldn’t ordinarily purchase – a one-off creation just for your competition.

Money-can’t-buy experiences are usually slightly higher value than your normal products or services, but they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg, your money-can’t-buy prize just needs to be something that is unusual and unrepeatable to make it a truly money-can’t-buy prize and special experience for your winner.

It may be, for example, offering the opportunity to name a brand new product that you are offering or help shape a new service that you are putting together.

Just be careful that you don’t end up with a name like Boaty Mcboatface…

11. Win a year’s worth of…

‘Win a year’s worth of…’ competitions are where you give away a year’s supply of your product or service.

Now, this may cost your business a little bit more in terms of time or money in the short-term, but it does give you a number of benefits, for that entire year:

  • Firstly, there’s the potential for user generated content from your winner and the prize delivery for the entire year.
  • Giving away a year’s supply can help to boost your overall prize package value, especially if your individual products or services have a fairly low RRP (recommended retail price) giving your prize a much higher value and potentially attracting more entrants.
  • As we’ve already seen bigger prize packages also have higher perceived value which is much more desirable, engaging and will likely result in more entries.
  • You’re also going to potentially create a long term fan for your brand too. One of my clients gave away a year’s worth of their products and their winner was such a fan that they actually came to attend their events and brought friends along with them!

12. Make your giveaway shareable.

This is effectively asking your audience to do the hard work for you and increase your reach by sharing your competition.

There are many ways to do this, here are three common ways that you can encourage people to share your competition…

  1. The first is to create a prize for the winner and a friend. So this means that they are most likely going to encourage their friends to enter, so it increases their chance of getting the prize as well.
  2. The second way is to include a shareable element of the competition. Now, you do have to be careful here because Facebook doesn’t allow you to encourage people to share posts as part of the competition entry, so make sure you do not do this on Facebook. There are other platforms and other ways that are permitted to include a shareable element as part of your entry method.
  3. The third way is to actually make it easy for them to share your competition by giving them shareable links and shareable marketing material and collateral to actually promote your competition for you.

Finally, you can also include copy such as ‘don’t forget to let your friends know about our competition to increase your chances to win!’ in the promotional material for your competition to encourage shares naturally.

13. Consider a purchase to win competition.

This is where someone needs to make a purchase from you, in order to gain entry into your competition.

So to give you an example, imagine that you are a beauty salon and everyone who purchases a certain service during a certain month (for example, during your quiet months) will go in the draw to win ‘an ultimate pamper day’ for them and a friend.

Not only is this going to generate revenue for you immediately because they need to purchase to actually enter the competition; but it’s also going to be worthwhile for *them* because they are getting a product or service in return, but they’re also going into the draw to win a bigger, better, more desirable prize package.

With this particular example, you’ve also got that shareable element by making the prize for the winner plus a friend as well. It’s also experiential and it’s a bigger prize package than the original product or service that they purchased.

I don’t know if you’re detecting a theme here…

There are certain elements of competitions that are going to get you far better results from your giveaway. These elements are really going to add rocket fuel to your competition, make it so much more attractive and engaging to your ideal audience and going to get you far more entries for your competition.

14. Attract attention at events.

What about if you’re planning on running a competition or giveaway at an event or conference?

The best way to make a splash and get the attention your competition deserves is to run a competition that attracts attention and crowds.

Our photography clients Mezic Studio did this at a recent wedding expo – asking brides-to-be to snap a selfie with their bride tribe or partner and pin it to the gorgeous wedding arbour that made their stand… well, stand out.

Not only did they get the chance to chat to potential bookings whilst visitors waited their turn to enter, they attracted a crowd which pulled more visitors over and got some fantastic snaps for their socials as well as a visual reminder in the form of hundreds of polaroids to help them pick their deserving winner!

Mezic’s gorgeous stand at a recent wedding expo, photo courtesy of Mezic Studio.

15. Customise the prize.

This will most likely be a one-off prize created just for your winner, the only one of this prize in the world.

Take it from me, as someone with a name like Suki who could never find her name on a mug in a theme park gift shop, these personalised prizes are so, so valuable – and they’re also, as we discussed earlier, so much more valuable than the actual dollar figure it’s going to take you to create this prize.

Plus it’s going to have a much higher perceived value for your winner, because they receive a special prize that no one else has.

It’s also going to be a great way to encourage your winner to create user-generated content because *obviously* they’re going to want to share their custom creation or their custom service created just for them on their social media…

16. A giveaway that gives back.

Use your competition to collect entries for cause that you care about, or encourage people to support a cause that you care about.

You can do this as part of your prize, for example, giving away an experience with that charity or not for profit or social enterprise, you can also collect money if you’re running a purchase to win competition with a certain portion of all of the purchases to enter the competition given to the charity, or you could give a donation for every single entry that you get into your competition.

People love to support a great cause and they love to support a brand that supports a great cause.

So showcase your connection and your caring to those charities and not for profits by creating a competition that gives back.

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17. Gamify the entry process.

Gamification essentially means turning something into a game-like structure. This could involve adding rules or adding points or adding leaderboards or other competitive elements.

Now, you might argue that a competition is *technically* already gamified because it does involve that competing-for-a-prize element with other entrants… But you can add extra gamification elements, for example leaderboards, to encourage people to stay engaged with your competition, encourage engagement between the entrants and with the leaderboard example, it’s going to bring people back to continuously enter because the leaderboard positions are going to change depending on the actions that the entrants take.

Gamification is a really great way to engage your entrants and keep them engaged for the entire duration of the competition, not just at the moment that they enter your competition.

You could also see some great user generated content and interactions between the entrants as they compete with each other complement each other and congratulate each other.

18. Run a #hashtag competition on Instagram.

This giveaway idea involves creating a unique hashtag that no one else is using on Instagram –  that is relevant to your brand – and asking your entrants to use this hashtag in their entry posts. You can then search for this hashtag on the platform and find all of your entries.

This is a great way to expand your reach (especially if you’re just starting out), because obviously these entrants have to post their entry on their profile, using your hashtag which their followers will see, so it’s potentially a great way to reach new people on the platform.

Just be aware that if someone’s account is set to private, their entry won’t show in the hashtag list when you search for that hashtag.

So let’s recap – what are the best giveaway ideas for your small business? Prizes with high perceived value, this could be a customised, money-can’t-buy or packaged prize and a prize which involves your own product or service. If you can incorporate all of those aspects, you’re on to a winner… sorry, it was just too easy!

Inspired by these giveaway ideas? Competition cogs turning in your brain? Why not take your ideas and start shaping them into a real-life competition with my FREE Competition Kickstart Plan, a quick and dirty guide to making your competition idea a reality!

Originally published June 2019, updated and reposted for 2023.