UPDATED SEPTEMBER 2019
Deciding to run a competition is the easy part. Coming up with ideas on what to give away? That’s the not-so-easy part.
How do you know what will work best for your business? How do you know what will appeal to your audience? Maybe you have too many ideas and can’t decide which one would work best?! Let your #fairycompmothers step in and help – with 18 giveaway ideas that will work for your business – and 4 you should avoid at all costs…
1. #runahashtagcompetition on Instagram.
Let’s get the obvious ones out of the way first.
Hashtag competitions and tag a friend competitions on Instagram are great for a number of reasons, they work really well for growing your audience (especially if you’re just starting out), encourage brand awareness and usually gain lots of traction because they’re so easy for your audience to enter.
Simply decide on a unique hashtag for your competition, post an announcement/competition post to your Instagram account and promote the heck out of your giveaway. When it comes to picking your winner, simply search your unique hashtag and all of your entries are there. There are even tools to help you pick your winner.
Remember that tag a friend competitions aren’t permitted on Facebook, so stick to Instagram and when picking your hashtag, tread carefully…
We’re looking at you, Susan Boyle and your album party #susanalbumparty. True story.
2. Collect user-generated content.
What is user-generated content? As the name implies, it’s content (photos, text, songs, videos, essays etc) created by your users/entrants as part of the entry process.
This giveaway idea comes with a multitude of perks: it’s a game of skill so you won’t need a licence, it’s fun and engaging which makes it really attractive to your target audience, this type of entry method favours quality over quantity, so you get highly targeted leads and finally, with your users generating your content for you, your marketing material is sorted for at least the next 6 months. Win win.
3. Package your prizes.
Something odd happens when you offer a prize package as opposed to a single prize, even if the two prizes are worth exactly the same dollar amount.
A $1,000 capsule clothing collection paired with a $500 handbag and $650 stylist consult is logically worth $2,150 but emotionally, it’s a complete new look, new wardrobe that the winner knows will all work together and contain items that complement each other, including a key accessory to complete the look.
Not only that, but a consult with an expert who can help them maximise the use of their new minimal clothing collection and ensure they choose pieces that work for their shape, skin tone, style and lifestyle.
The emotional meaning to the winner and compound effect of the prizes working together to create a desirable lifestyle, psychologically feels like it’s worth a lot more than a couple of thousand dollars.
4. Partner up with other businesses.
Hands down one of my all-time favourite methods for creating a really successful competition.
Let’s say you’re a specialist 4×4 dealership and you want to celebrate the opening of your latest showroom. You want to create a real buzz around your event and come up with a competition that gets people through the doors and test driving your newest vehicles.
You could reach out to local mechanics, body shops, accessory sellers and even camping shops to get them to sponsor the event or contribute to the prize pool.
In exchange for supporting your event, they have access to their target audience during the event and you could even share the entries you collect – just make sure you make it clear in your terms and conditions how you’ll be using entrants’ data.
Partnering with non-competing businesses who don’t directly offer the same products or services as you do but who have 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 multiple, warm and engaged existing audiences your partners have been nurturing.
This means you can grow your audience 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.
Four prizes seems to be that magical number (sorry 3, you’re no longer the magic number) that gives the perfect balance between entrants perceiving 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.
Try offering a number of ‘runner up’ prizes along the way, weekly mini-draws or tiering your prizes so that you have multiple winners at the end of your competition.
6. Make it experiential.
Incorporating an experience into your competition is another clever giveaway idea.
Think about an item of clothing you truly love. Now think about why you love it. Do you love it because of its size or colour? Because of its material or shape? I guarantee you, the main reason you love it is because of how you feel when you wear it.
Your favourite piece of clothing will make you feel like a million bucks for a special dinner date, or it’ll make you feel snuggly and warm on a cool winter evening, or it’ll be that perfect pair of jeans that makes you look tall and slim and goes with everything. Nothing to do with the physical material of the item itself, but the way it makes you feel – how you experience the item.
Help your audience experience your product or service and how it makes them feel, give them a fun experience searching for ‘easter eggs’ around your website, offer mini consults so they can feel the benefits first hand, or ask existing customers to tell you why they love your product so much and re-use the answers in your marketing material.
Create an emotional experience/connection to your brand and you’ll create a customer.
7. Run a travel giveaway.
Travel prizes are one of the most desirable prizes you can offer.
As we’ve just established in point 6 above, travel prizes are wholly experiential and strongly emotional. A lot of studies have been conducted over the years into how motivating travel incentives and prizes are.
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 want to tell you all about how amazing it was the second they land and are allowed to take their phone off flight mode…
Our clients MTBD recognise the power of travel prizes and asked us to help them create a competition that would send one lucky winner to the Cairns World Championships. Not only did they get a phenomenal response to their competition, they generated an 11x ROI and got some pretty awesome pictures from the winner.
8. Offer a behind-the-scenes experience.
Think of your favourite food or drink – how much do you wish you could do a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory style tour behind the scenes of your favourite brand?!
You’re imagining it, aren’t you?
Why not give your fans and customers the same experience? Maybe just without the whole turning into a giant blueberry or creepy dancing orange clones part…
Give them a peek behind the curtain in an all-access, backstage, behind-the-scenes tour of your business. Besides making someone’s year, think of the awesome user-generated content you’ll have too.
The best part is that the outlay cost to your business will be incredibly low, whereas the perceived value to the winner, of experiencing something no one else gets to experience, is valued extremely highly.
BONUS: also ticks the ‘experiential’ factor mentioned in number 6 above.
9. Leverage influencers.
The right influencer with the right audience can work wonders for your brand. There are some really successful companies that leverage the access that influencers have to their target audience to run successful competitions.
An influencer is – as the name implies – someone who can convince or influence others to take action and their popularity has increased hugely in the last few years.
Done right, your brand can reach a new, targeted, engaged and active audience that will take lead from the influencer and enter your competition. Done wrongly and you could waste thousands of dollars on a useless post that doesn’t achieve a thing.
Our advice? Make sure you read the fine print and negotiate your terms up front with your influencer so you don’t feel disappointed by what they deliver.
If you’re looking for influencers, our friends over at Bright Red Marketing can help you out. If you’re looking to run an influencer competition, together we can create a campaign that reaches the right people for the right reasons. Get in touch to find out more.
10. Give a money-can’t-buy experience.
If you haven’t noticed yet, there are two recurring themes throughout most of our 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. It could be a personalised version of your best-selling product, where personalisation isn’t a standard option. It could be a once-in-a-lifetime trip to see where your product is produced (see behind-the-scenes experiences above) or a chance to get involved in the incredible work your social enterprise or chosen charity does.
It doesn’t have to be something that will cost your business an arm and a leg either, you can offer a chance to contribute something totally unique and unrepeatable to your brand like our clients East Forged.
11. Win a year’s worth of…
We promise we’re not playing favourite clients here, but East Forged’s competition hit the nail on the head with this one too.
Not only are they offering a money-can’t-buy experience to name one of their super cute Tea Pets, but they’re also offering a year’s worth of cold brew, nitro-infused tea for the winner and a friend.
A year’s worth of prizes may cost your business a little bit more in stock or time, but boosting the value of the prize package (as we’ve seen in number 3 above) makes it a lot more appealing to your ideal entrant.
It also gives you a year’s worth of user-generated content (see also: 2. Collect user-generated content).
12. Make your giveaway shareable.
If you’re looking for giveaway ideas that will increase brand awareness and attract new customers as well as existing, why not make it shareable?
Three quick ways to make your competition shareable:
- Include a prize for the winner and a friend and remind entrants that letting their friends know about the competition increases their chance of being that friend the winner shares the prize with…
- Building in a shareable element to your competition – e.g. offering extra entries in return for sharing the competition
- Make it easy for them to share your competition by including shareable links on your landing page and actually using copy like ‘don’t forget to share with your friends’ to remind them to actually do it…
NOTE: encouraging sharing as part of the entry criteria or for extra entries is not permitted on Facebook, so please don’t ask your entrants to share to the competition to their timelines/their friends’ timelines.
13. Upsell the winner.
If you want to use a purchase to win entry method, you’ll need to be strategic.
Offering your product or service as a prize can really slow sales down as people hold off on buying because they have a chance to win what they would spend money on for free.
That doesn’t mean purchase to win is a useless though, oh no.
By offering every purchase the chance to go into the draw to win a bigger, better, upgraded version of the product they’ve purchased; you’ll still get those all important sales, but you also make it worthwhile for the entrants to make a purchase.
For example, let’s say your business is a hair and beauty salon and you offer everyone who books a treatment during a certain month (say, your quiet period) goes in the draw to win a ‘money-can’t buy pamper day for you and a friend’.
See how all of these giveaway ideas are perfect for mix and matching to create an incredibly compelling 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 beau 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!
15. Customise the prize.
Make your winner feel special by offering them a customised version of their favourite product – the only one in the world – just for them!
Take it from me, with a name like Suki, there was never a mug at the theme park gift shop with my name on it, or an option to take back a personalised stick of rock with my name all the way through, back from my holiday.
OK that might be too English a reference there, but the point is, something that’s customised, that’s meaningful to you and ideally that’s unique makes something feel incredibly special and valuable. The key to this giveaway idea is creating a more valuable prize through customisation.
You could offer a limited edition print run of the winner’s design or slogan, add the winner’s name or initials to their favourite product or do a one-off version of your product or service tailored exclusively for the winner.
For those of you who are wondering, this is rock…
16. A giveaway that gives back.
Collect entries for a cause.
Encourage your audience to support a cause you care about, offer a travel or money-can’t-buy prize to further the work of your chosen charity or raise awareness and educate your audience by leveraging a giveaway.
Aware Environmental ran a very successful campaign to educate their audience on the vital work they do in Borneo to protect Orangutans from the palm oil industry, whilst educating their audience on the impacts of palm oil and promote the fact their products are palm oil free.
Not only did they receive a huge amount of entries, but the winner was sent to Borneo with their family to experience first-hand the Orangutans their purchases helped to protect. Their followup emails to entrants showcasing the winner’s trip continued to engage, educate and achieve their campaign goals long after the competition closed.
17. Gamify the entry process.
Gamification may have become a bit of a buzz word, but it definitely has a place in the competition world.
You could argue that by definition a competition is already gamified as you’re competing with others to win the prize, but you can add extra gamification elements to create a super engaging competition.
An example of gamifying your competition could include introducing a leaderboard that’s regularly updated with the standings – how many votes an entry has or the most popular t-shirt design submitted by an entrant for example.
This giveaway idea promotes friendly competition and encourages repeat traffic as your entrants vie for first place and the coveted prize. In addition, it also encourages engagement as entrants congratulate or commiserate each other, spur each other on or make their case for their favourite to win.
18. The best giveaway idea ever?
Drumroll please… the best giveaway idea you can possibly offer is…
Your own product or service.
There are countless reasons why you should give away your own products or services, but for brevity, here are our top three reasons:
TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS
Why would you pay to promote someone else’s product? Offering someone else’s product or service as your prize is essentially paying to promote them, so use your competition as an opportunity to promote your own business.
TO REDUCE YOUR OVERHEADS
The outlay is much, much lower when offering your own services or products. If you’re a product-based business, it’ll cost a fraction of the retail price, plus shipping and if you’re a service-based business your prize will only cost you your time.
TO COLLECT QUALITY ENTRANTS
You’ll attract quality entrants, leads and customers who are entering because they’re interested in winning your product or service – and if they’re interested in winning it, you can bet they’ll consider purchasing it.
Enjoying our competition inspiration?
There’s a lot more where that came from! Subscribe to our monthly newsletter more ideas, inspiration and tips just like these.
The 4 giveaway ideas to avoid at all costs…
We’ve covered some great giveaway ideas for businesses… but what about the competition ideas you should absolutely avoid at all costs?
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there too.
There are 4 types of giveaways to avoid at all times…
WIN AN IPAD/IPHONE/MACS OR ANYTHING ELSE APPLE
Unless you are Apple, do not give away an iPad, iPhone or anything else ‘i’ from these tech giants.
You. Are. Not. Apple… So don’t pay to promote them! Besides the missed opportunity to promote your own business or service, Apple products have such wide appeal that you’ll inevitably attract a large audience, most of which won’t give two hoots about you or what you sell.
What you will attract is everything from little 7 year old Timmy whose parents refuse to buy him an iPad up to 80 year old Glenda whose grand-daughter keeps tagging her in iPhone competitions because she wants to FaceTime dear old Granny.
GIFT CARDS/VOUCHER GIVEAWAYS
Ah gift cards. The prize of choice of lazy businesses everywhere.
Sorry if that’s you and you’ve given away gift cards before, but honestly, it’s the business equivalent of getting your other half a voucher for their birthday because you have no idea what they like (and you never bothered to ask).
The easiest fix is to go to the effort of purchasing prizes with the gift card instead. Let me ask you what makes for better marketing material for your promotion – a picture of a credit card shaped piece of plastic with $5,000 written on it, or a picture of the Eiffel Tower glimpsed through the window of the 5* suite you’ve reserved for your winner with the same amount of cash and just a little more effort.
SPOILER ALERT: I guarantee you that you’ll receive more entries for the picture of the 5* suite – talk about making a competition emotional and experiential.
Cash is a double edged sword.
On the one hand, it’s incredibly appealing to a very wide range of people. On the other hand, it’s incredibly appealing to a very wide range of people.
Cash prizes are a favourite of prize pigs who laugh all the way to the bank with their newly-won fortune. Ask a prize pig if they remember the name of the brand who gave them the money and I’ll bet my piggy bank they won’t be able to tell you… or they’ll consult their little black book listing all the competitions they’ve won and their corresponding prizes in alphabetical order.
You laugh but I’m totally serious.
If your ideal entrant is ‘everyone’, go for gold with a cash prize, but if you’ve done your homework nailed down your ideal demographic, spend the same amount of cash on promoting your competition giving away your own product or service, purchase prizes to contribute to a package or consider a travel prize or money-can’t-buy experience designed to attract your demographic instead of a demographic of prize pigs who literally enter competitions for a living.
Anyone who knows us will know our opinion on loop competitions, so I won’t get into everything that’s wrong with loop competitions here.
Suffice to say that they’re a huge amount of work (for both you and your entrants) for very little ROI or reward.
Instead of running a loop competition, consider creating a central landing page, packaging all of your participants’ prizes into a package (bonus) and simply sharing the email list with all of the participating/contributing businesses.
Just make sure your terms and conditions clearly explain how entrants’ data will be used and shared.
So let’s recap – what are the best competition or giveaway ideas for businesses? A prize with high perceived value, a competition that incorporates an experience and ideally, offering your own product or service as the prize. It really is as simple as that.
If you can incorporate all of those aspects, you’re on to a winner… sorry, it was just too easy!
If you’re not inspired by this epic giveaway idea post, you’re probably just overwhelmed. Don’t stress, we can help! Book in a totally free 15 minute strategy session with our team of giveaway gurus and leave with a crystal clear idea of the best giveaway to run for your business.