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The big moment is here, you’re about to make someone’s day (or year depending on the prize)… But it’s also up to you to ensure that the drawing of the winner is all above board and legal as per your terms and conditions. Depending on your entry method and where you hosted your competition, drawing your winner may be as simple as hitting a ‘pick a winner’ button, or it may be as painful as collating thousands of entries across 50 different social media posts on 4 different platforms.

We’ve drawn more than our fair share of winners over the years and have put together a pretty comprehensive step by step guide to help you pick a winner.

 

Step 1 – Prepare your entries.

The first step is to collect all of your entries in one place. If you’ve encouraged entries on multiple social media posts or platforms, the easiest way to collect all of the entries together is to copy and paste each entry onto a new line in a spreadsheet. Not only does this keep all of your leads/entries in one place, making it easier for you to analyse your results and follow up with entrants, but it also makes choosing a winner much, much easier.

I’ll admit it’s pretty tedious if you’re copying and pasting Facebook comments, but super easy if you’ve used a third party app or collected your entries in your email platform as you can simply download a CSV file (excel file) of all entries. You may want to clean the raw entries first by removing all entries that don’t qualify – for example if they haven’t uploaded a proper proof of purchase or they’ve entered multiple times when only one entry is permitted.

TIP ALWAYS SAVE A BACKUP COPY! That way if you accidentally delete something, you can refer back to your original. Not that I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way or anything…

 

Step 2 – Pick a winner

Most third party apps will have an objective, fair and legal way to automatically pick a winner, so if you used an app, check out their ‘pick a winner’ functionality; otherwise the process below is for you.

TIP I normally record the winner draw. It’s not legally required, but it’ll come in mighty handy should anyone dispute the winner or accuse you of favouritism or foul play. It’s never happened, but I’m a back-up plan kind of girl.

 

HOW TO PICK A WINNER – STEP BY STEP

Showing is far easier than telling, so let’s look at an example. Imagine I have just run a Twitter competition asking people to like or mention me in exchange for an entry into my competition.

1. I’ve collated all of my entries into a spreadsheet as mentioned above. Each entry appears on a separate line and contains all of the important information I need:

 

How to collect competition entries from a fictional competition - pop them in a spreadsheet, each entry on its own line.

 

2. Using a fair and objective, random computer-generated selection tool such as random.org, I put in my parameters for it to draw my winner. Notice how line 1 contains the words ‘Handle’, ‘Name’ and ‘Entry’? Obviously these are column titles, so our valid entries start on line 2 and end on line 4, so I pop these in the random number generator:

 

You can use Random.org to draw your winner by putting in the number of the the first line in your spreadsheet your entries appear on and the line number of your last entry and random.org will pick a winner between these parameters.

 

3. When I’m ready, I hit ‘generate’ and the tool will pick a number at random between the set parameters. The number chosen corresponds to a line number on my spreadsheet. In this example, I hit generate and the winner is… line 2 Joe Bloggs!

Random.org will pick a random number between your min and max, the number it generates corresponds to the line number of the winner in your spreadsheet.

What are the chances? I have two entries and a fictional guy still beats me.

4. If you have multiple winners, or the winner you have chosen is ineligible to win, you can repeat the process until you have drawn all of your valid winners.

And voila – you’ve picked your competition winners!

IMPORTANT If your prize is valued at over $10,000, you may need an independent scrutineer to oversee the draw and complete a declaration. More information about this can be found in the relevant state’s licensing site – you can find the links here.

 

WHAT ABOUT GAMES OF SKILL?

Games of skill require entrants to submit photos, ideas, stories, or other creative entries for a chance to win. Ideally, you should be shortlisting your favourites throughout the competition to make your life easier and quicker when it comes to picking your winner.

Don’t worry if you haven’t done this already, you can still scan through your entries and shortlist your favourites now. Once you have your shortlist, you need to pick your overall winner(s), which you can do either by judging how well they met the entry criteria you set out in your T&Cs or on your entry page/post; or enlist the help of your staff or other trusted group to help decide the winner.

Try to be as objective as possible and choose an entry that embodies the spirit of the competition and/or embraces the ethos of your business.

 

Step 3 – Notify your winner

It’s time to notify your winner. This is my favourite part!

Contact the winner privately first to let them know they have won – either via phone, email or private message – using the information they entered your competition with.

If your winner gets in touch with you within your specified timeframe to claim the prize, congratulate them again and remind them of any important details – what they’ve won and how it will be delivered. You should also let them know that you will be publishing their name as the winner wherever you have stated you would in your T&Cs.

 

What do I do if my winner doesn’t accept or I can’t get hold of them?

Allow your winner plenty of time to get in touch. If your winner does not claim the prize within the timeframe set out in your T&Cs, you will need to conduct a redraw of the prize.

According to some state licensing laws, you legally need to retain the prize for a period of 3 months before conducting a redraw and if you applied for a licence, you may need to seek permission to conduct a redraw if you did not specifically state in your T&Cs the circumstances and timeframes under which you will conduct a redraw.

See why those pesky terms and conditions are so important now?

 

Step 4 – Announce your winner

Once they have confirmed they are happy to receive their prize, you can make the announcement publicly.

Again, respect their privacy and don’t go publishing their personal details, normally a first name and surname initial is enough. For prizes valued at over $500, the winner must be publicly announced by law in print (in a newspaper for example or online via your website or social media), so ensure you do actually publish the winner’s name!

 

How to announce your winner on social media - use their first name and the initial of their last name.

 

Step 5 – Send the prize!

Once your winner has claimed their prize, you need to actually send your prize out if it’s a physical product or contact them to arrange when they will redeem their prize if it’s a service-based prize. I advise you to do this ASAP, the last thing you want is your winner chasing you for their prize!

You are recommended to deliver the prize within 6 weeks of the draw date by licensing boards, however, that doesn’t mean they need to have completed their prize within this time frame. For example, if you are giving away a city break, you need to contact them to book it in within 6 weeks but they could have up to 12 months to actually complete their travel – these are the standard terms we offer in our travel prize packages.

 

Step 6 – Follow up

This is the step most people miss and arguably, it’s the most important of all.

Once your winner has received their prize, ask them to send you a sentence or two about how happy they were to win and request a photo or two of them receiving/redeeming their prize.

This makes for great material for social media and another brilliant chance to create engagement with your audience. If they’re happy to, you can profile them on your site and post out to social media as a PR bonus. Everyone loves to know a winner has actually been drawn and received the prize – so shout about it! You’ll be surprised how many of your followers jump on board to offer congratulations too.

 

So that’s how to pick a winner for your competition. If you still have questions, feel free to pop them in the comments below and our giveaway gurus will get back to you. Otherwise remember that we offer a FREE 15 minute competition strategy session!

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