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Naturally, the first step in running a competition or giveaway is deciding whether or not you are going to run one! This isn’t always an easy decision for a number of reasons – you may worry about how much it will cost, how much time you’ll need to dedicate to it in your already packed schedule, or what will happen if it doesn’t succeed or even how to prepare for a competition going viral…

To help make your small business life easier, we’ve put together a quick step by step guide to help you decide whether to run a competition or giveaway for your business.

Step 1 – Find your motivation.

Competitions are a lot of fun, but they’re also a lot of work, so you don’t want to run a competition just for the hell of it, or because you’ve seen your competitor run one.

Running a giveaway or competition can help you solve a real problem in your business and work towards smashing your marketing goals. Common reasons for wanting to run a competition include:

  • generating revenue to keep you in a job
  • finding adoring fans who will help make your job easier
  • keeping said adoring fans for life so you don’t have to work 10 times harder convincing new people how great your business is
  • making your life easier by talking to people who want to hear from you
  • getting the world to see how fantabulous your brand is
  • getting the feels when you tell your lucky winner that they’ve won and the resulting customer love that comes your way
  • giving away free stuff, because everyone likes free stuff and everyone loves winning, don’t pretend you don’t…

Have a think about what you want more of in your business, or a goal you’re hoping to reach, it doesn’t matter if it’s different to the reasons listed above – every business is different and every competition is unique.

Step 2 – Get specific on what you want to achieve.

The above list is basically a laundry list of every marketer/business owner’s dream scenario, but you don’t get anywhere by being vague, so let’s get more specific on how the above wish list translates into real reasons to run competitions and giveaways:

  • generating sales
  • growing your customer base
  • encouraging repeat business
  • engaging your audience
  • creating awareness for your brand
  • keeping your customers happy

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a more specific outcome for your business, you’ll be a lot clearer on what you want to achieve by running your competition.

Step 3 – weigh up the risks and rewards.

The final step is to work out if the potential rewards for running a competition outweigh the possible risks involved. As with everything in life, right?

To help you weigh up the risks against the rewards, here are some advantages and disadvantages of competitions and giveaways to help get you started.

Advantages of running a competition

  • Competitions are more engaging than regular posts (up to 5.5 times more engaging according to Buffer)
  • They run for a finite period of time, meaning no ongoing commitment
  • Your audience will love you because they want what you have to give away
  • … and if they’re not the lucky winner, they may just love it enough to buy it anyway
  • The opportunity to create a loyal brand advocate in your winner
  • You don’t (necessarily) have to spend a fortune
  • The chance to increase your email list leading to future marketing opportunities and sales
  • Your entrants can potentially create your marketing material for you
  • A perfect opportunity for some audience research
  • They’re super simple to set up and run
  • Increase your brand’s visibility
  • Gain a huge amount of insights into your target audience
  • Competitions have clearly measurable return on investment (ROI)
  • Possibility of your competition (and company name) going viral – just make sure you’re prepared!

We cover 10 compelling reasons you should run a competition in more depth in this post.

Disadvantages of running a competition

  • Competitions are not a ‘set and forget’ activity, they require work on your part
  • They do require some planning, but that’s what we’re here for!
  • You may have to spend a little money to make a little money
  • You do have to give something away, which means you need to have a prize
  • A tiny minority of people are just plain mean and might cheat or make nasty comments so be prepared with a thick skin and a polite reply
  • You might get people who aren’t your target demographic entering, therefore having less chance of converting to paying customers
  • There’s no way to predict what sort of results you’ll get
  • You might get no entries at all… though I’ve yet to see this happen
  • You aren’t eligible to win the awesome prize you’re giving away (booo)

We cover 20 reasons you shouldn’t run a competition in this post here.

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Step 4 – Make the decision.

Now that you know what your motivation is, the outcome you’re hoping for and you’ve weighed up the possible risks and rewards, it’s time to decide if you’re going ahead with running a competition or giveaway!

Just in case you need a little help deciding, here’s a handy little flowchart…

OK, so that was an obvious set up, of course we’re going to suggest running a competition because we’ve seen the amazing results they can achieve and how much fun they are along the way! Only you can decide if a competition is right for your business and if you’ve got the motivation and the rewards outweigh the benefits.

If you still have questions about whether or not you should run a competition – book in a totally free, totally sale-pitch-less 15 minute strategy session with our team of giveaway gurus?