Welcome to the last guide to competitions you’ll ever need to read.
You might want to put the kettle on.

The last guide to competitions is, as the name suggests, designed to be your one-stop shop for everything competition and giveaway – from strategising, creating and designing your competition to launching, promoting and managing a real live giveaway. I set out to write this guide to as your ultimate competition guide, busting myths, setting the competition record straight and gathering all of the essential information in one easily navigable place, with practical, actionable steps and takeaways plus a healthy dose of sass, sarcasm and personality.

If you’re here, I’m assuming that you already know what a competition is, why you’d want to run one and that you have indeed decided you’re going to run a competition, so enough with the intros, let’s get to the good stuff.

Here’s what you can expect (FYI, this also doubles as a handy checklist):

Spoiler alert…

Competitions actually require work. Simply reading this guide will not magically get you more followers, adoring fans, millions of dollars in revenue or make your brand an overnight success. No, this guide gives you all the tools you need to create the conditions perfect to achieve that, but to actually get there – that’s all you.

Competitions, when planned carefully and executed with thought and precision, are about building true and meaningful engagement, long-lasting customer relationships and genuine connections with a targeted audience. 100,000 Facebook fans who don’t give a crap about you, or even know what your company does, are pointless. They’re never going to convert to paying customers and with Facebook’s algorithms, they probably won’t even see your posts. Even 100 highly engaged fans who buy, love and practically promote your company for you are more valuable to your business. This guide aims to help you create the types of competitions that will attract exactly these awesome customers.

Competition strategy.

The key to a successful competition is a well-thought out strategy.

Set your competition goal.

What do you want to achieve?

Why is setting your goal the first thing on the list? Because setting your competition goal is the single most important part of planning a competition. It’s a small decision that has a huge impact on the success of your competition.

Just as you wouldn’t set off on a road trip without a destination in mind (and fuel and snacks, of course!) you shouldn’t launch a competition without an end goal in mind. Essentially, your goal should be what you hope to have achieved when the competition’s all wrapped up and the winner’s chosen. Having a clear goal will keep you, your budget and your marketing focussed.

Goals usually fall into one of the following categories:

  • Promoting your business, product or service
  • Growing or engaging followers, likes or comments on social media
  • Getting feedback or input from your target audience
  • Generating leads or sales

But if yours doesn’t, awesome, you’re thinking outside the box and doing what’s best for your business!

Do it now: set your goal.

1. Grab a notebook and jot down all of the ideal outcomes you’d love to see from your competition. It might be more social media followers, more email addresses or feedback on your latest product. Don’t think to much, just scribble it all down.

2. See if you can group any similar aims together e.g. ‘collect email addresses’ and ‘grow subscribers’ or ‘increase followers’ and ‘encourage more comments’.

3. Ideally, you want one key focus for your competition, so rank your ideal outcomes from least important to most important to you and your business. Your most important aim should be the primary goal of your competition.

Is your competition goal SMART?

Now you have a clearer idea of what you want to achieve with your competition, it’s time get SMART. This is my favourite, tried and tested formula for setting competition goals (and life goals for that matter). SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-bound. Look at your goal and re-write it as a single sentence which covers what you want to achieve, how you will measure your progress, how you plan to put it into action in a realistic way and by when you’re going to achieve it. This is your goal, your map and compass.

Here’s an example:

“To increase our Facebook fans to 5,000 dog owners, by running a pet photo caption competition from July to September to promote the launch of our new dog grooming range.”

Your goal is going to determine pretty much everything else about your competition, from your entry method to your prize. If you’re focussed enough to have a goal and you’re serious about achieving it, the good news is that every decision from here on in is going to be a hundred times easier.

Still not sure on your competition goal? Stop reading this and read ‘How to decide on a competition goal’.

Get accountability

Goals are pointless if you’re not held accountable. Everyone can write a goal down, not everyone can achieve said goal. For the best chance at achieving your goal, get someone to check in with you and hold you accountable – pop your head in our Competitions Creators’ Facebook group, say hi and post your goal – we’ll make sure you get shit done.

Find your ideal customer.

Who do you want to enter your giveaway?

Ultimately, you’re only going to stay in business if you make money. Your ideal customer (or avatar, or buyer persona, or target audience, whatever you want to call them) are the people who are going to keep you in business by giving you their money. You could design the best competition in the world but if you run out of cash to keep your business going, it’s all been for nothing…

For this reason, you need to design your competition to attract those people who are most likely to spend their money with you, whether they hand over their cash straight away or in two years’ time. These ideal entrants will give you their details in return for an entry, details you’ll use in your marketing efforts to turn them into paying customers over time.

Do it now: find your ideal customer

Before we continue, let’s do a quick exercise: describe your ideal customer, who would they be? What do they value and what challenges do they face? What kind of personality do they have and where do they hang out online?

Now describe your ideal competition entrant using the same prompts, who are they? Were these two people one and the same? If not, why not?

Your ideal customer and ideal competition entrant should ideally be the same person.

—> [getting to know your ideal entrant/customer]
—> [download the workbook with ideal customer worksheet]

Craft your competition messaging.

What do you want to say?

Communicating a clear message throughout your competition helps create brand awareness, familiarity and trust in your brand. If your company has one, your tagline, vision or mission can be a great place to start when creating your messaging. Incorporating your tagline or brand messaging also helps attract your ideal client.

Let’s look at an example

Say you own an adventure travel magazine with the tagline ‘Thrillseekers wanted.’ And your goal is to collect emails and build a database of adventure travel enthusiasts to market your newly launched magazine to. You give away the ultimate thrill seeker’s adventure holiday bungee jumping and white water rafting through Victoria Falls, Africa.

Using your tagline in your competition marketing will help you get entries from your desired audience, couch-potatoes or beach-lovers simply wouldn’t enter as the tagline and prize just don’t appeal to them. Everything about the competition is targeted to attract entries from excited, engaged and relevant potential customers who enjoy adventure travel and are likely to subscribe to your new magazine, whilst at the same time creating brand awareness for your new venture.

Do it now: get your message straight

Grab your notebook again and scribble down some ideas for your competition messaging. If you have a tagline jot that down, if you don’t, have a think about the one message you want your competition entrants to take away from the competition that will help them remember your company, what you do and how you can help them.

With a trio of a clear goal, well-defined ideal entrant and targeted messaging, your competition will attract exactly the type of customer your business needs to thrive.

Work out your budget.

How much do you want to spend?

When’s a good time to talk about money? Well, probably never, but when it comes to competitions, the earlier the better. Being able to set (and stick to) a budget created in advance, is one of the HUGE benefits of using competitions as a marketing tool over other tools such as AdWords or remarketing campaigns – plus your return on investment is hella easier to see.

 

How much should you spend on your competition?

It’s really up to you and your bank balance. The biggest cost is going to be the prize and the legals and licences, followed by advertising (if you choose to incorporate paid advertising).

If you’re putting up your own product/service as the prize and you decide to run a game of skill competition to see how much traction you get without paying for advertising or boosting posts… then really your only costs are your time and maybe the cost of postage if your prize is physical.

On the other end of the scale, you might decide to give away a solid gold, diamond-encrusted, unicorn-tear powered private jet every minute of your three-month long competition and pay every single advertising channel to simultaneously and continuously broadcast an advert for your competition… But let’s be sensible, where are we going to get unicorn tears from?

OK so I may have (slightly) over-exaggerated there, but you get the picture, it’s really up to you how much you spend. You could spend as little as the cost of the prize or as much as your bank balance will allow.

Do it now: create yourself a budget

List out all the costs you’ll need to cover during your competition – don’t forget to include your prize, delivery or your time if you have a service-based business, terms and conditions, licences and paid advertising.

We’ve created a handy [budget sheet] download for you to use.

—> [budgeting for your competition]
—> [calculating return on investment from your comp —> debrief]

Establish a timeline.

What are your key competition dates?

You probably already have an idea in your head as to when you want to launch your competition, but before you lock it in, let’s take a look at a typical timeline for a competition.

  • 2 weeks to prepare – you need time to read and work through this guide (of course) and prepare your marketing materials.
  • 10 days to 1 week for countdown teasers – competitions launch with more entries on day one if your audience is primed to expect your imminent launch.
  • 2 weeks to 3 months competition duration – from launch day to close, make sure it’s long enough your audience have time to enter, but not so long that they get sick of hearing about it.
  • 1 week to several months for winner management – this includes choosing the winner, notifying them, announcing the winner to your audience, arranging redemption of the prize and sourcing testimonials/images. If you can’t get hold of your winner, they refuse the prize (that’s never happened by the way) or they are ineligible (happens more than you think) then you’ll need to allow time to redraw and contact new winners.
  • Time to followup with your new audience – you have all these new followers/subscribers/sales, make sure you have time to nurture them!

Competition timing is a balance between giving yourself enough preparation time, giving your competition enough time to gain momentum, but stopping just before competition fatigue hits your audience as well as leaving yourself enough time to manage the winner make the most of the results from your competition.

Do it now: set your key dates

Don’t panic, we’re not setting anything in stone, just creating a provisional schedule for your competition. Start with your ideal launch date and competition duration. Then add at least 2 weeks before your launch date to allow yourself some prep time and at least a week after your competition closes to wrap up your competition.

Don’t stress about all of the other dates yet, we’ll get to that in the promotion section.

—> [competition timing]

Decide your prize.

What do you want to give away?

Some would argue that the most important part of the whole competition is the prize. In a way I would tend to agree, if you don’t have a strong prize you’re not going to get many entries. On the other hand, a modest prize can suddenly become incredibly appealing with the right marketing and promoting. In truth, it’s all about offering a relevant and valuable prize for your audience – not necessarily dollars, but perceived value.

Good prizes are:

  • ideally your own product or service
  • relevant to your audience
  • attractive to your audience
  • in-line with your competition goal
  • valuable to your entrants (regardless of dollar value)

Crap prizes are:

  • not at all relevant or appealing to your audience
  • generic enough that anyone would want to enter (i.e. win an iPad)
  • completely out of line with your competition goals or business goals in general
  • offer little or no value to your entrants

 

The best prize is always your own product or service

When you’re starting out or growing your business, ideally you want to keep the focus on your own product or service so you’re creating awareness for your brand and amassing a following of people interested in what you do or sell. You can always create a package based around your business and include other products in there, but make sure yours features prominently!

 

What about vouchers as competition prizes?

Personally, I think vouchers are a bit of a cop out. You’ve chosen them because you think vouchers are easier (and cheaper) for you to organise than any other prize or you can’t be arsed to think of a better prize. So let me show you why I don’t think vouchers are as powerful as actual, well-thought out, relevant and specific prizes:

See what I mean?!

Just because it’s easy for you, doesn’t mean it’s easy or appealing to your target audience. If they then need to physically go to a store to redeem the voucher, or your voucher is for $50 and your minimum spend is $80, it’s likely to be forgotten or expire before it’s redeemed. Put their preferences first and make your prize so irresistible, your target audience has no choice but to enter.

Do it now: decide your prize

Again, this doesn’t have to be set in stone, but jot down a few prize ideas and circle, asterisk, highlight or post-it the hell out of your favourite ideas.

Just make sure they meet the good prize criteria above.

—> [how many prizes should I give away]
—> [how much should my prizes be worth]
—> [what are some popular prizes?]
—> [is there anything I can’t give away?]

Work out your entry method.

How will people enter your competition?

There are hundreds of different entry methods, which is both a blessing and a curse. The key is choosing the entry method that best fits your competition and business. You can see our [complete list of competition entry methods here], complete with good old pros and cons of each method so you know exactly what to expect.

 

What’s the best competition entry method?

How did I know you were going to ask that?! Well, you can probably anticipate my answer… it depends. Probably the most annoying answer of all, right? But it’s true, it depends on:

  • What you want to achieve with your competition.
  • The type of entries you want to get (e.g. long-form answers or likes).
  • Whether you want to run a game of chance or game of skill.
  • How many entries you want to get (more difficult entry process mean fewer entries).
  • Who your target audience is.
  • To some extent, your budget too (can you afford to develop a game for the entry process?!)

There is no one-size-fits-all answer, but don’t worry, I’m not the kind of person who would leave you hanging to make the decision all by yourself. Here’s a quick flowchart designed to get you thinking about what entry method suits your competition. It’s not meant to be a definitive answer, just a prompt to help you decide.

Do it now: decide your entry method

1. Remind yourself of your competition goal.

2. Check out our [complete list of entry methods].

3. Shortlist your favourite entry methods.

4. Check your entry methods are compatible with your goal and cross off any that won’t work.

5. Look at the options left – cross of any that won’t work with your target audience (e.g. if they don’t use Facebook, cross of ‘like Facebook page’), cross off any that don’t fit your budget and narrow it down to just one entry method.

—> [complete list of entry methods]

Creating your competition.

The hard work’s done, this is the fun part – making your competition idea a reality!

Decide where to host your competition.

Website vs social media

Now you know your entry method, it’s time to decide where you will host your competition. The two main contenders are on your website or via social media. I deliberately got you to decide your entry method first, so this next decision would be easier. Obviously, if you’re running a ‘like to win’ competition, hosting your competition on social media is a no brainer, but if you’re looking to collect emails, for example, how do you know which platform to choose?

 

Hosting a competition on your website

Hosting your competition on your website is a great idea if you’re trying to drive traffic back to your site, already have high visitor traffic or want to increase brand awareness or encourage purchases. That’s not to say if you host your competition or giveaway on your site, that you shouldn’t promote the hell out of your competition on social media – and we’ll cover that in just a second, it’s simply that your site will act as the ‘hub’ for your competition.

When housing your competition on your website, normally you would set up a separate landing page which contains the entry form, key information about your competition (why they should enter, what they can win and how to enter), attractive images of your prize, a link to your terms and conditions and links to the actions you want them to take next (follow you on social to find out if they’re the lucky winner, go to your sales page, go back to your home page etc).

—> [checklist for hosting a competition on your website]
—> [check out our app reviews]

 

Hosting a competition on social media

If your competition goal and entry method are more suited to social media (such as like to win, follow to win, comment to win etc) or you have a good, solid, engaged social media following you want to convert to subscribers, you might want to consider hosting your competition on your social media pages or profiles.

If you’re using the in-built mechanisms of social media as your entry method – that’s entry methods such as likes, follows, comments, posts, tweets etc – then your competition is going to be pretty easy to set up. If you have any other entry method in mind (voting for a photo, submitting videos or essays, collecting email addresses) then you may need a competition app that plugs into your social media page to help you collect entries. You can check out my reviews of [20 or so competition apps to help you run your competition here].

Whether you choose to host your competition on your website or on social media, you’re going to need to make sure you have a super shiny*, easy to use, bloody convincing entry page/post, to convert as many potential entrants to definite entrants as possible.

*Your entry page/post doesn’t actually need to physically shine… but it does need to be easy to use and bloody convincing though.

If you need a little more guidance before deciding where to collect your entries and host your competition or giveaway, check out this post about the [pros and cons of both websites and social media hosting].

Do it now: decide where to host your competition

It’s time to decide. Weighing up your goal, your entry method, where your audience hangs out and whether you’ll need an app, decide where you’re going to host your competition.

—> [competition apps]
—> [pros and cons of website vs social]
—> [competition design service]

Set up the entry page.

This is where they’ll actually enter

Now it’s time to create your entry page. Like the ultimate life partner, you want your entry page to have both brains and brawn, good looks and substance.

Entry page design covers both the look and feel of the page and the messaging and content on the page. Design is a key element to successful engagement. If your ‘enter now’ is a tiny line of text right at the bottom of your landing page or your messaging is incredibly confusing and all over the place, it’s going to put potential entrants off. Getting people to your entry page is half the battle – the other half is convincing them to enter once they’re there, so here are my top tips for creating effective entry pages:

  • Don’t be afraid to heavily brand your entry page, with your brand colours, logo, font, imagery and messaging – you want them to know exactly who is providing this kick arse prize.
  • Include the title of your competition and a very short introductory paragraph so your entrants know they’re entering the right competition.
  • Try to keep your entry form above the scroll line, so someone in a hurry can find your entry page, type in their details and click ‘enter’ in a minute or less.
  • Cover the essentials of your competition and prize on the page – what can they win (an exact, bullet point breakdown is best), why should they enter, how can they enter, what the prize looks like and when they can expect to be announced as the winner (and other key dates).
  • Give your business a little shoutout too – let your audience know who you are, what you do and how you can help them.
  • Include a link to your terms and conditions – very, very important!
  • Once your page/post/form is drafted, look at it through an entrant’s eyes – how does your competition look when they arrive at your entry page/form? How easy is it for them to enter? Does it actually work when you hit ‘enter’?
  • Finally, make sure your entries are heading somewhere safe and accessible. If you’re using a [competition app], the app will store your entries for you, though you may need to pay to retrieve them. If you’re hosting on your website, make sure your entry form is linked to storage in the back end where your entries will be stored safely and you can download them easily once the competition is over.

For a more detailed guide to landing pages, check out both [setting up a competition on social media] and our guide to [entry page design].

Do it now: create your entry page

Don’t hang around, this is the centrepiece of your competition, so get it done now – or at the very least, drafted out on a piece of paper/in a notebook/on the back of a napkin. Whatever floats your boat.

—> [literal landing page layouts sketched out (website landing page modelled on orangutan/mtb, app layout like short stack and post layout]
—> [tools to help you design your page (hubspot’s 29 free online design tools post)]
—> [if you need a hand, this is a service we provide]

Design your marketing material.

How are you going to promote your competition?

Now that you have somewhere for your entrants to enter, it’s time to create some promotional and marketing material to help get them there to enter!

Types of marketing material you might want to consider for your competition:

  • A landing page on your website (even if you’re hosting on social media) to contain all of your competition info.
  • Countdown to launch/teaser posts and countdown to close posts – for example ‘launches in 1 week!’, ‘3 sleeps to go’, ‘closing tomorrow’ etc.
  • Content for social media during your competition (posts, photos, quotes, tweets, videos etc) reminding your audience your competition is open, what they can win and where to enter.

  • A banner for your website’s homepage letting people know you’re running a competition, what they can win and linking to the entry page.
  • Blog posts to give your competition a shout out and point readers to your entry page.
  • Guest posts to publish on partner blogs to drive traffic to your competition.
  • Copy and images for your email newsletters to encourage subscribers to enter.
  • A strong image and convincing copy for any ads you decide to run.
  • Videos to post to social media to encourage entries – if a picture says a thousand words then videos would surely say a million.
  • During your competition you may want to highlight entries here and there – maybe someone has submitted a particularly heartfelt or hilarious entry that’s worth sharing to show others what is needed to enter.
  • A thank you post for your social media channels and/or email list to thank everyone for their entries and let them know the competition is closed. This can also be combined with the winner announcement post.
  • Winner announcement post to let your audience know who the lucky winner is and increase their trust in you that you have actually chosen a winner. You’ll be surprised how awesome your audience will be in joining you to congratulate the winner which is also great engagement for your posts/account!
  • After your competition you might want to do a bit of a roundup of your favourite entries or a shoutout to any ‘runners up’.

When creating your marketing material, think about your company’s usual tone of voice and way of communicating and keep your messaging in line and consistent with this. For example, if you usually use a little humour and sarcasm (ahem), don’t be all stuffy and official in your competition posts, as boring doesn’t fit your brand and it’ll confuse your entrants. Your messaging needs to be aimed at why they should enter, how they can enter (specific, clear and simple instructions) and what happens next. Similarly, stick to your regular branding – colours, fonts and styles and please, for heaven’s sake, use spell check!

Do it now: prepare your marketing materials

Even if you want to read the rest of this guide before committing to anything, just spend 10 minutes creating a list of marketing materials you’ll need before your competition launches.

Try and be as specific as possible to help you manage your time and workload – for example 3 blog posts, 12 social media posts, 1 banner (800 x 500px) etc.

Create your marketing material before you launch, seriously, you’ll thank yourself (and me) later.

—> [common themes of a well-designed competition (20 perfectly designed competitions to model yours on)]
—> [marketing materials checklist]

Create a promotion schedule.

… And stick to it!

You’ve done the hard work and created all of the necessary content for your competition, now it’s time to make sure your adoring fans, competition entrants and future customers actually see it. It’s time to make a promotion schedule. Your schedule is going to be your best friend during your competition; helping you feel like you’re totally in control, knowing exactly what to post and when, to maximise entries. Personally, I print mine out and stick them on the wall so I never miss a post, or an opportunity to get entries to my competitions or my clients’ competitions!

Do it now: schedule your competition content

1. Grab this [content planner right here] or if you love making work for yourself, open up a new spreadsheet. You should know which month you’re planning to run your competition, so fill in the blanks on the planner – you may need to use the two sheets provided.

2. Get the key dates you set in the timeline section and pencil those in on your planner.

3. Now find the list of all your marketing material you just made in the section above and start to pencil in the obvious ones – for example countdown to launch and countdown to close.

4. The rest of the marketing material (videos, posts, emails etc) can be scheduled at regular intervals to keep momentum going during the competition.

—> [promo schedule]
–> [promo service]

Keeping it legal.

Don’t even think about skipping this section. Yes it’s dull, but also essential!

Obey social media rules.

Or risk getting kicked off

If I had a dollar for every time I heard ‘yeah but so and so does it’ when it comes to social media rules, specifically tagging and sharing on Facebook, I would be a very rich lady. I sure as hell wouldn’t be writing this from my pokey office, I’d be on a private yacht, but most likely still writing this guide…

I don’t care if Mark Zuckerberg himself runs a competition on Facebook asking people to enter by tagging and sharing, it’s not an excuse for you to do it too. It’s directly in violation of the page terms you agree to and you risk having your business and personal page shut down. Gone. For good. I don’t know about you, but that’s just a risk I’m not willing to take. In any case, just because you’ve seen some huge clothing brand do it, so think you’ll be fine – who do you think Facebook will shut down to make an example of, the big company who spends hundreds of thousands in advertising on Facebook… or your page with 1,000 likes and a tiny ad spend? Yup, you guessed it – little old you.

Here’s an in-depth look at the rules for each social media platform but for the sake of brevity, here’s a super quick summary of the most popular platforms, Facebook and Instagram:

Facebook

  • Post or link to your rules/terms and conditions.
  • Get your licences.
  • Include the sentence “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.” somewhere in your rules.
  • Do not ask people to tag and/or share your competition to enter or get extra entries.

—> [link]

Instagram

  • Post or link to your rules/terms and conditions.
  • Get your licences.
  • Don’t ask people to tag themselves in content they’re not in.
  • Include the sentence “This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram.” somewhere in your rules.

To be clear, you CAN ask people to tag friends and/or repost your competition post to enter or get extra entries.

—> [link]

Do it now: check you obey the rules

Click here to read our quick reference guide and make sure your competition doesn’t break any of the rules for the channel you’re hosting or advertising your competition on.

If you like to live dangerously and plan to deliberately and knowingly break the rules to run a competition, good luck. You’re on your own!

—> [competition rules]
—> [links out to actual rule pages]
—> [how to run a competition on X]

Write your terms and conditions.

Also known as competition rules

The next step is to protect your livelihood with watertight terms and conditions, or T&Cs. I know what you’re thinking – ‘yeah yeah, but do I need terms and conditions, though?’. In response, let me ask you this – ‘but do you really want to be able to cover your arse if anything goes wrong, though?’.

Terms and conditions protect you and your business as well as your entrants. Let’s say you’re giving away a prize package of your consulting services, a membership to your programme and a couple of other goodies worth a total of $3,400AUD and you don’t have a set of T&Cs, let alone a clause that says something along the lines of ‘prizes cannot be substituted for cash’. If your winner decides they’d rather have cash, what protection do you have? Little to none. You might just find yourself forking over cash for something that was just going to cost you your time.

T&Cs not only give you protection from difficult winners, they also provide a very clear guide for your entrants. The good news is that all the work you’ve done so far has pretty much prepared you for creating your T&Cs. From your entry method to your key dates, this information forms part of your terms and conditions. You can find out more about why you should have T&Cs and what to include in yours here.

From extensive experience, a good set of T&Cs includes:

  • Who your competition is and isn’t open to.
  • When your competition starts and ends.
  • What your audience have to do to enter.
  • How many entries they are allowed.
  • Exactly what the prize includes (and doesn’t include).
  • When, how and where you will draw the winner.
  • When and how the winner will be announced.
  • How long the winner has to claim the prize.
  • Any specific T&Cs relating to the redemption of the prize.
  • Liability releases (see above).
  • Your contact details.
  • The licence numbers for your competition (see below).

Do it now: create your T&Cs

I promise it’s not as painful as it sounds and will be well worth it in the long run, not only because they protect your business from difficult winners but because done properly once means that next time you’ve got a template to start from.

—> [all the relevant T&C links – 10 reasons you need them]
—> [T&Cs sales page?]

Apply for relevant licences.

From all applicable state governments

Possibly one of the most confusing and often off-putting aspects of running a competition – the dreaded ‘do I need a licence?’ question. I’m not going to lie, the government websites are a maze of redirects and double negatives, so I don’t blame people for getting confused. The long and short of it is this: if you’re running a game of chance (winner picked at random) according to state government websites, you may need a licence for some states. If you’re running a game of skill (winner picked based on the quality of their entry) then you will not need a licence in any state as confirmed on each state governments’ website.

Currently, if your game of chance competition is open to NSW residents (no matter where your actual business is registered or based) then you will need a licence regardless of the value of your prize (note that this may be changing as of 2018). If your prize is valued at over $3,000 you will also need a licence if your competition is open to ACT and NT residents (though NT waive this requirement if you have a licence for another state). Once your prize value gets over $5,000 you’ll also need a licence if your competition is open to SA residents. QLD, VIC, WA and TAS don’t require you to apply for a licence for games of skill or games of chance – thank you for making our lives that little bit easier! All of the above information is taken from each state government’s website, but you should also check for yourself on a regular basis in case the rules change.

NSW: Liquor and Gaming NSW
ACT: Gambling and Racing Commission
SA: Consumer and Business Services
NT: Northern Territory Government
QLD: Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation
WA: Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries
TAS: Department of Treasury and Finance

In our spirit of making your life easier, based on the facts found on each state government website above, we’ve put together a handy little flow chart to help you work out whether you need a licence for your competition or not:

NSW licensing update

In August 2017, the Office of Liquor and Gaming NSW announced that after a year long consultation with stakeholders (don’t worry, I petitioned on your behalf!), that the limit for requiring a licence for a game of chance will be increased to $10,000. This is excellent news for small business owners who currently need to apply for a licence regardless of the value of their prize. The changes are set to come into effect from January 2018, so in the mean time you still need to apply for those licences until the legislation is passed.

Do it now: work out if you need a licence

If you’re still unsure as to whether you need a licence, get in touch and I will point you in the right direction. I would rather provide a link to an application page than see you get in trouble because you haven’t applied for the right licences.

—> [licences post]
—> [NSW update]
—> [How to apply for a licence]

—> [T&Cs service?]
–> [lawology]

Competition launch.

Today’s the day!

Check you’re ready.

Just before you launch…

By now, you should have nailed the following things about your competition:

  • Your strategy (the who, what, where, when, why and how of your competition).
  • Where and how people will enter your competition and where and how you’ll promote your competition.
  • The legal aspects of your competition (the rules, T&Cs, licences and other legal obligations).
  • Hopefully you should also have been running a countdown for the last few days, teasing your audience about your competition’s imminent launch.

There are just a couple more things to take care of before you can go live with your competition.

Do it now: test your entry page

Aside from checking you’ve completed all of the above, you need to make sure your entrants are actually going to be able to enter your competition.

Log out of everything and test your page as a potential entrant to your competition. Make sure you can see the page with no bugs and make sure you can complete your entry with no issues. Once that’s tested, check in the back end to make sure the entry registered and you collected all the vital information for their entry. You may also want to get your friends or family to test it too and make sure everything works correctly.

—> [pre-launch checklist]
–> [package?]

Benchmark your current stats.

Before you hit launch

The final thing you need to do before you go live, is benchmark your current stats. This is your yardstick, a point against which to measure your progress so you can calculate exactly how many likes/follows/tags/mentions/emails etc you gain as a result of your competition. Not only is benchmarking important to see if competitions are worth your time, but it’s also going to act as an indication of the value of running a competition and its return on investment for your business.

For example, if you previously got approximately one direct sale from your Facebook page per month which costs you $10 to acquire (the cost of a boosted post for example) and makes you $30 profit, but during your competition which cost you $100 to set up, you make $1000 worth of profit, it’s pretty safe to say competitions work for your audience and are a wise return on investment and worth investing in again.

Do it now: get benchmarking

Take note of your current interactions, engagement, fans, followers, likes, comments, leads, customers, subscribers, sales etc before you launch.

Pay special attention to the stats that directly relate to your goal – if you’re collecting email addresses, you’ll be measuring subscriber numbers, interaction rates, click through rates etc.

You have now set yourself a benchmark against which to compare the success of this competition.

—> [how to benchmark blog post?]
–> [benchmarking template download?]

It’s launch time.

Go live with your competition!

Your hard work and preparation have paid off and it’s launch day. You’re excited and also nervous, will anyone enter? What if they don’t like the prize? Argh! I don’t feel ready! Calm down, these are all normal questions and reactions. You are ready, you’ve been following the last guide to competitions you’ll ever need to read. You couldn’t be more ready.

Do it now: go live!

Hit publish on your page, post your competition post, hit send on your email and send your competition out into the world!

There. It’s done (you can breathe now). Congratulations, you’ve done the scariest part, you’ll be pleased to hear it’s much easier from here. That said, now your competition is live, it doesn’t mean you can just put your feet up and watch those entries roll in!

—> [launch day checklist]

Promoting a competition.

A successful competition is 20% strategy, 80% promotion.

Get people to enter your competition.

… By promoting the hell out of it

I’ll cut straight to the chase. We both know that the only way to achieve your competition goal is to get people to enter your competition. How do you get people to enter your competition? By shouting about it from the (virtual) rooftops!

If you don’t promote your competition at all, you will be disappointed. Make no mistake. Unfortunately, your devoted fans can’t find you if you don’t turn the competition equivalent of the lights on for them to find their way home. This means that you need to get your competition in front of the right people at the right time with the right message. The good news is that promoting your competition doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise, so you can cancel that billboard next to the highway.

Promote your competition for free.

Zero budget required

Entrants will come from two main channels: free and paid. No surprises that free promotion is where most people start. Here are 18 ways to promote your competition with zero budget.

1. Update your social profiles. This means your pinned post on Facebook, your bio on Instagram, your description on Pinterest, your header images and even bio images.

2. Go live… with video, or at the very least images. If a picture is worth a thousand words, video is worth a million. They don’t have to be Oscar-worthy, just you, your phone and a pre-rehearsed message.

3. Use your marketing material. We didn’t spend time creating it for nothing, make sure you use those posts and copy you have created and don’t be afraid to wing it and change up the schedule or add posts in if relevant.

4. Tag people you’re pretty sure will want to enter – these may be followers and clients you know pretty well or you’ve spoken to about your competition face to face. Don’t just randomly tag your whole list of followers. That would be a very bad move.

5. Ask your entrants to share your competition*. < Notice this handsome little asterisk? There is a BIG but that comes with this promotion idea.

*If you’ve been following along with the guide, you will know that asking your entrants to tag and share on Facebook as a way of entering or gaining extra entries to your competition is strictly forbidden. Some people get around this with a separate message, which is very much NOT a part of the entry criteria, mentioning to your entrants that they’re free to let their friends know about the competition. If your audience interpret that as sharing and tagging then so be it, but you haven’t directly asked them to, so technically you’re not breaking any rules. Do this at your own risk though, it’s a grey area.

6. Use a hashtag. Not just to help you find your competition entries, use (and encourage others to use) a unique hashtag for brand awareness too. Just make sure it’s not already in use and doesn’t spell anything offensive or embarrassing…

7. Cross promote across your social media channels. Just because you’re running an Instagram tag competition, doesn’t mean you can’t tweet out the link to the post with instructions to enter or pin a whole bunch of images of the prize with a link to your entry post on Pinterest.

8. Update your website. Put a simple but visible call to action on your homepage which links through to your entry page. Bonus points if you created this already back when we covered marketing material!

9. Write a blog post or three. A great alternative if you don’t have the access or know-how to edit your homepage – post a blog post or even a series of blogs – about your competition. Showcase your prize, the reason for running your competition and of course all the details on how and where they can enter.

10. Email your list. They’re already subscribed, they like what you do enough to hand over their precious email address, so make sure you include them in your competition and if relevant, ask them to share with their networks or refer a friend.

11. Pop your competition in any groups or communities you belong to. Spread the word in your Facebook groups, forums, meetups etc – just make sure self-promotion is allowed first.

12. Reach out to any partners. If you work with other businesses who share your target audience, ask if they’ll give your competition a shout out – and don’t forget to return the favour for them.

13. Publish guest posts. Some blogs and websites accept guest posts, so if you’ve got a good relationship with another business or have a contact to pitch a guest post to, leverage it.

14. Give mentions to get mentions. If you feature any other businesses in your prize packs, are partnering up with any other businesses, or have had help from others with your competition, give them a shout out and nine times out of ten, they’ll give your competition a shout out in return.

15. Tell your family and friends. Ask them to share your competition with their friends – your family might not be your target audience, but chances are they’ll be connected to those who are.

16. Plan a ‘pitch’. Nothing salesy or sleazy, but an elevator pitch-style, quick description of what they can win, how to enter, why you’re running it and of course what’s in it for them. This will come in handy when you meet with clients, run into your ideal client by chance on the train or someone simply asks you a question about your competition.

17. Write a press release. If your competition has a unique angle or interesting back-story, you could pitch it to relevant media outlets and run a featured story on your business and/or competition.

18. Go old school and meet your customers in person. If you’ve got a bricks and mortar shop or run a market stall then this’ll be easy for you. If you’re predominantly online, you might want to run an event or at least make sure you attend events your target audience can be found and chat to people about your competition in person.

Do it now: decide which channels you’ll use

Have a look at the ideas above, and list at least 5 you will be trying during your competition. Not every single promotional method will work for you and your business, but the chances of you striking gold and finding a really effective promotion channel will be higher the more methods you try.

Now make sure you create any necessary marketing material needed (blog posts, email copy etc) so you’re ready to get promoting.

—> [ultimate promo guide]
—> [promo services]
—> [above methods as infographics]

Do it now: decide if you’ll pay for promotion

Consider the paid channels above and work out which are feasible for you given your competition goal, target audience, budget and timeframe.

If you decide to go for paid ads, make sure you get some help or really do your homework first, otherwise you may as well just pour your money down the drain (don’t actually do that though). Remember that whoever you’re paying money to in order to advertise your competition is in the business of making money, not doing you a favour, so be very specific about your target audience, budget and channels – and don’t forget to prepare all the necessary materials in advance.

 —> [facebook ads]

Don’t do these things.

A few ‘don’ts’ for your competition

We’ve just been through the ‘dos’ for your competition, now let’s take a look at a few ‘don’ts’ to make sure your competition runs smoothly.

 

Don’t just promote, interact too

Promoting your competition is a two-way street, just like in a conversation, if you spend the whole time talking about yourself, the person you’re talking to is going to get bored and disinterested (not to mention think you’re a little bit selfish and up yourself). Make sure you’re replying to comments left not only on your competition post or image but on all of your posts or images (or as many as reasonable if you have a huge amount of comments). Ask questions, thank them for their entries and generally just interact with your audience.

Remember to be human and talk with your audience the way you would want to be talked to and the way you want them to perceive your brand.

Don’t be that guy/gal

You know who I’m talking about, the one who parachutes into a group they couldn’t give a flying fig about, drops their self-promoting post and disappears. No one – and I mean no one – likes that person. No one will want to enter and you’ll lose all respect and credibility. Being part of a community is a privilege, not a right. It’s a two-way process that involves giving just as much (often more) than you receive.

Don’t join a group just to try and round up potential clients or entries, all you’ll make is enemies and burnt bridges. Remember to interact and contribute, give before you take.

 

Don’t expect

When you email friends and family, influencers, partners or your email list, don’t expect they’re just going to drop everything to help you out and do the work for you. Remember that they are doing you a favour because they support you, so just like with the groups, make sure it’s a two-way relationship and give something back. At least make it incredibly easy for them to help you by providing everything they need to share/promote your competition for you with the least amount of work on their part. This means a variety of pre-written posts, images and links so they can pick their favourite and so not every post is the same.

Don’t just launch it and walk away

If you’re hoping your competition will manage itself and you’ll come back in 3 weeks and it will have magically achieved and surpassed your competition goals, you’ll have an army of adoring fans who are already referring you to their friends, your sales are suddenly up at a million dollars and look! it’s even made you a latte; then I hate to break it to you but that’s not going to happen. Let’s get real, your competition is going to work as hard as you do.

 

Don’t spam

It’s going to have the opposite effect to what you’d hoped. Posting every 5 minutes, begging people to enter 5 times a day on email or harassing your influencers is just going to annoy people. You’ll get fewer entries than if you launched with no promotion.

Be human, remember how much you hate salesy emails and being harassed by someone you’re doing a favour for. Chill the hell out and be human.

 

Don’t forget to say thank you

Most importantly of all. To your colleagues/partner/pet for putting up with you (in general… but also during the manic competition period), to your loyal fans/followers who would still love you without your prizes, to your email list, to your friends and family, to your influencers and partners and of course your entrants.

Do it now: don’t do it

Just make sure you’re not planning on spamming, expecting your influencers/friends/family to do all the hard work for you and ensure you do have a proper promotion plan in place and aren’t just going to launch and ignore your competition until closing day.

—> [any relevant links?!]

Managing your competition.

A few things you need to keep an eye on whilst your competition’s live.

Maximise your entries.

Traffic vs conversion

Between promoting your competition and engaging with your audience, there’s also a little bit of admin to take care of. I know, right? It’s like I just keep throwing work at you! The way I see it, there’s no point spending all this time, money and effort running a competition if you’re not going to make the most of it and make every single one of your dollars and minutes spent on your competition work hard for you.

There are two key things to keep an eye on whilst your competition is live: traffic and conversion. Traffic refers to the number of people seeing your competition or visiting your entry page/post and is heavily reliant on the amount of promotion you do. Conversion refers to how many of those visitors who see your competition actually enter the competition and is heavily influenced by the design of your entry page and the prize on offer. You need to have a good balance between traffic and conversion to make the most of your competition.

If you’re really struggling to get people to see your competition (measured via analytics tools – impressions, visits, click through etc) then you really need to up your promotion game and potentially consider paid ads to get out to a wider audience. Test that your competition is actually accessible, your friends and family can see it and you’ve placed it in obvious and attention-grabbing positions (website homepage, pinned post and top of newsletter for example). If you’re still struggling to get visitors, [check out this post].

If you find you’re getting heaps of visitors (measured via google analytics, click throughs and analytics on social media vs entries recorded) but hardly any entries, you need to take a good look at your entry page/post, make sure it’s super clear what you’re offering as a prize, explain simply what they have to do to enter and ensure the page is easy to use. You may want to make small tweaks here and there to try and improve conversion rate or ask for feedback from your target audience. You can see more tips for [improving conversion here].

Do it now: check your traffic vs conversion

Keeping an eye on your analytics should already be a habit, but if you haven’t had a peek at how you’re going yet, now’s the time.

In light of what you’ve just learnt above about traffic vs conversion, check stats such as visits, reach, views and clicks and of course how many actual entries you have.

If you notice any huge discrepancies – such as high click through and low entry numbers – take steps to correct this in the early stages and set yourself a reminder to come back and check again in a couple of days to see if your fixes have improved your stats.

—> [traffic vs conversion]
—> [keeping an eye on competition stats]

Troubleshoot problems.

Help is here

Just be thankful you’re not Jay-Z, he’s got 99 problems, though granted I’m sure none of them are competition-related. OK, enough with the dad jokes. We all have the occasional competition hiccup or giveaway stuff up and it’s totally OK to ask for help. As you can imagine, I’ve seen a fair few competitions in my times, so I’ve listed a whole bunch of potential problems your competition may be having and matched them with a whole bunch of answers and suggestions for overcoming them. You’re welcome!

If you read through the below troubleshooting guide and can’t find an answer to your question, please feel free to email me – no question too silly. If you’re wondering what the answer is there’s bound to be others who are also wondering, so we’ll even publish your question (don’t worry, you can choose to remain anonymous, or we can link back to your site/competition!).

  • [How many entrants can I expect to enter my competition?
  • Why am I not getting any entries?
  • I’m getting entries, but they’re not my target audience! What do I do?
  • Why am I not getting any traffic?
  • I’m getting entries, but they’re not following my entry criteria! What do I do?
  • Help! I’m receiving entries but I’m not achieving my goal!
  • My entries have totally dropped off, how do I get the momentum going again?
  • Why is no one engaging with my posts?
  • No one can find my competition! How do I fix this?
  • I tried promoting my competition but no one entered! Why didn’t my promotion work?
  • Why didn’t my competition make me any money?!
  • I’ve got one of those difficult entrants/winners you talked about… How do I deal with them?
  • People are cheating! How do I stop cheat entries?
  • How do I know if I achieved my goal or not?
  • I didn’t achieve my goal – what now?
  • What do I do if I need to change the competition whilst it’s live?
  • What if I need further support?]

Keep an eye on your analytics.

Remember how I said competitions aren’t set and forget?

During your competition, you need to keep an eye on your stats and analytics. For example, if you notice one promotional post gets heaps more traction than the last couple of posts, ask yourself what was unique about it? Did you post at a different time of day or day of the week? Did you use/not use hashtags and mentions? Did you use/not use imagery? Did you change from your usual imagery/messaging? Try to recreate that – the spike in your stats is telling you your audience liked it, so keep on doing it!

Keeping an eye on your stats will not only help you learn which aspects of your competition are working and which aren’t, but will also give you really valuable feedback about which marketing tactics work well for your business in general, outside of competitions too. As mentioned before, your first few days are an ideal time to test to see what works and doesn’t work before you spend money on promoting or boosting your competition. Keep an eye on changes in your insights and note what works well so you can reflect that in your paid strategy – for example if you get more traction on a Friday and Saturday night, that’s when you want to be advertising. It’s an opportunity to get it right before you invest any money.

It’s also a chance to tweak and get your competition back on track if it’s not heading towards the goal you set so make sure you check in at least at the quarter-way mark, halfway point and at three-quarters of the way through, so you still leave yourself enough time to adjust and tweak and get your competition heading back towards your goal if it has wandered off course.

Do it now: check your stats

Check your analytics and note down your key stats and any trends that you see – it could be an exceptionally well-performing post or one that totally tanked. Remember that these trends may be channel specific so don’t assume that the image you used on Facebook will get just as much traction on Instagram or LinkedIn for example.

The insights you collect during your competition should form part of your marketing plan going forward.

—> [stats to keep an eye on]
—> [download package for a stats sheet?]

Close your competition.

Preparing to close

Hopefully you’ve really enjoyed learning to run a competition, have a tonne of new subscribers/likers/followers etc and have learnt a lot about marketing your business along the way. Your competition is drawing to a close now, so let’s look at what you need to do.

1. Get those last few entries in. Tweet, post, tag people, do what you need to do to get those last few entries in! Let people know exactly how long they have left to enter and provide the shortest way of entering (e.g. a link straight to the entry form).

2. Post across your social networks reminding people the competition is closing and to hurry if they want to get their entry in on time.

3. Do a test run so you actually know how to close your competition! If you’re using an app, you may have already pre-set the closing time and if you’re running your competition on social media, check you know how to turn off commenting or check the time someone liked your page, for example.

 

Closing day

Like all good things, your competition must come to an end. Make sure you’re fully prepared around half an hour before closing time – that means you’re in front of your computer, entry page/post open and you know exactly the steps you need to do to close your competition.

When the clock ticks closing time:

  • Close off your competition and double check it is indeed closed by logging out, reloading the page and attempting to enter.
  • Post out a message across your channels thanking your entrants and letting them know when they can expect the winner to be announced.
  • Do a little happy dance (note: this step is not compulsory).
  • Download a copy of your entries. If you used a competition app, you should see an option to download a spreadsheet or CSV and if you ran your competition on social media, copy and paste your entries into a spreadsheet. You can also use [one of these tools] depending on your entry method and how you’re choosing your winner.
  • Now create a copy of these entries so you have two separate copies of the raw data, just in case you accidentally mess anything up (may or may not be a tip from experience…)

Do it now: close the competition

Follow the steps above then close your competition. This may be turning off commenting or logging into your competition app and manually closing the competition yourself.

Once you believe the competition is closed, just revisit your entry page or post and double check you can’t still enter.

—> [tips for closing day]
—> [package with templates?]

Choose and announce your winner.

Fanfare please…

The big moment is here, you’re about to make someone’s day (or year, depending on the prize… I once won a business class return flight to London and 2 nights in a 5* hotel, I don’t think they had ever seen a more excited winner in their lives). It’s up to you to ensure that the drawing of the winner is all above board and legal as per your T&Cs. I normally screen record the drawing process if I’m working with apps and spreadsheets or film myself drawing the winner if I’m choosing from paper entries at a trade show for example. It’s not legally required, but it helps keep your clients’ confidence in you and I feel happier knowing I have a video of the process should anyone dispute the winner or accuse me of favouritism. It’s never happened, but I’m a back-up plan kind of girl.

 

Prepare your entries

Make sure you collect up all of your entries across all of your entry points. If you’ve allowed entries on multiple individual social media posts, you need to search out those posts and collect those entries in one place.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to raw entries. Some people prefer to pre-vet the list, removing any ineligible entries before they draw the winner. Others will draw the winner and then check that winner meets the entry criteria. Personally, I believe it’s fairer to vet the entries before choosing the winner. In some cases it may not be necessary, but if you only allow one unique entry per email address as per your T&Cs and good old Jane Smith has entered 20 times using the same email address, she has an unfair advantage. Chances of her name being picked at random are higher as she has multiple entries and higher odds, however, if you had cleaned the list beforehand, she would only have one entry, thus evening the odds.

 

Draw the winner

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.

If you don’t have a [tool] to help you pick a winner, I always recommend popping all of your entries into a spreadsheet as above. Not only does this keep all of your ‘leads’/entrants 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’m going to assume you’ve got all of your entries in a spreadsheet at this point, so I’ll talk you through drawing a winner from a spreadsheet fairly and legally. Now, if your prize is over $10,000 you may need to have an independent scrutineer oversee your draw, so make sure you’re across any extra legal obligations you have when it comes to drawing your winner.

1. Make sure each entry is on a separate line on your spreadsheet. Here’s a fictional Twitter competition example just to walk you through the process.

2. Using a fair and objective, random computer-generated selection tool such as random.org, put in your spreadsheet parameters. 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. 

3. When you’re ready, hit ‘generate’ (or ‘enter’ depending on the tool you choose) and the tool will pick a number at random between the set parameters. The number chosen corresponds to a line number on your spreadsheet. In this example, I hit generate… and the winner is line 2… Joe Bloggs! 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.

5. Now 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, private message or otherwise. Allow them the chance to claim the prize and if they don’t claim the prize during the period set out in your T&Cs, you may draw another winner. Just be aware that emails containing ‘competition’, ‘winner’, ‘giveaway’ and ‘congratulations’ often end up in junk, so avoid these terms and make several attempts to contact your winner a number of ways before you write them off.

 

Announce the winner

Once they have confirmed they are the happy winner of your prize, you can make the announcement publicly. Again, respect privacy, so 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 offline or online, so ensure you do actually publish the winner’s name!

Do it now: choose and announce your winner

It’s time to pick the lucky winner. Follow the steps above or the steps provided by your competition app to pick your competition’s winner. Just make sure however you pick your winner, it’s fair, objective and legal.

Once you’ve got the name of your winner, contact them privately to let them know they’re the winner.

If they accept the prize, you can announce them as your winner on your website and across social media. If you can’t get hold of them within the timeframe set out in your T&Cs, or they decline the prize, you’ll have to draw another winner.

—> [how to pick a winner]
—> [winner picker tools]

Manage your winner.

Treat them like royalty

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 by the licensing bodies to deliver the prize within 6 weeks of the draw date, 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.

Once they’ve received or redeemed their prize, ask your happy winner to send a couple of photos along with a quick sentence or two about how stoked they are to win your prize. This makes for great material for social media and another brilliant chance to create engagement with your audience.

Do it now: deliver their prize

Contact your winner right now and arrange delivery/redemption of their prize, if you haven’t already. It’s really important that you keep in your winner’s good books if you’re planning on asking them for a photo and/or testimonial.

I know they are receiving your product/service for free, but they have the potential to turn into your biggest fans and advocates, so make sure you treat them just as well – or better – than any other, paying customer.

—> [how to manage your winner]
—> [winner management checklist]

After your competition.

Wrapping up a job well done.

Celebrate your achievements.

How did you do?

Back at the beginning of this guide, you set a goal for your competition. Now it’s time to check if you achieved that goal and what else you learnt along the way.

Hopefully, if you followed my advice, you would have created a SMART goal – which means you included a measurable element to your goal – e.g. to increase Instagram followers by 1,000 or gain 10% more followers on Facebook. This is going to make life much easier when it comes to working out whether you achieved your goal. Look at the results from your competition and using your benchmarked stats, check if you achieved the results you set out to. I’ll wait.

Do it now: check how you did

Look at your goal and look at your results. If you set out to gain 100 likes on your Facebook page and you got 200 new likes, it’s safe to say you achieved your goal. There might be a bit of maths involved if you’re working with percentages, but stick with it.

We would absolutely love to hear about how your competition went, so if you haven’t already – hop into our Facebook group and post your competition goal and final result!

If you didn’t quite achieve your goal or feel like your competition didn’t quite go the way you had hoped, don’t feel downhearted. I promise you it has happened to the best of us. You might want to check out this video but also, remember not to be too hard on yourself – you will have achieved something with your competition, even if it was just gaining one page like. If you’re really upset or puzzled by your outcome, get in touch and and we’ll go through a competition SOS and look at what you did well and where you can improve.

—> [book in competition SOS]
—> [how do you know if your competition was a success?]

Grab your key takeaways.

What did you learn?

So how did you go? Perhaps you were really, really close but didn’t quite nail it or maybe you completely missed the mark. Either way, I guarantee you would have learnt a few incredibly valuable lessons about your business. Here are a few prompts to get you thinking about – and celebrating – your competition achievements.

  • Did you achieve your goal? If so, did you knock it out of the park or just about scraped in? What do you think contributed to your success/hindered you? Can you apply these lessons to your business outside of competitions?
  • What else did you achieve besides your main goal? Did you find that asking people to like your page also increased engagement? What observations did you make about your customers’ behaviour that you can use for your next competition/marketing campaign?
  • What tactics worked better than others? For example, when you posted on a Monday morning at 8am as opposed to a Friday afternoon at 4.30pm? Can you take these learnings into other areas of your business?
  • Who were your entrants? Obviously, you would have targeted your competition to your desired audience, but who actually ended up entering? Perhaps you have a bigger male contingent to your customer base than you initially thought? Maybe you can use this to sell more products to that smaller sub-demographic? Maybe you need to create a new buyer persona or tweak your existing one?
  • What did you learn about your product/service? For example, if you asked entrants to vote for your favourite product, did they choose pink over purple? Should you develop more pink products? Did they vote for you to offer same-day delivery? Should you start looking into a partnership with a same-day delivery service?
  • What did you learn from their entries? For example, if you asked them to comment on how your post about your latest product made them feel and the overwhelming answer was ‘excited’ make sure you really play up to this and get them on board. If they answered ‘confused’ maybe you should find out what confuses them so you can improve your product?
  • Work out your return on investment – how much did the competition cost you in total and what did you get in return for that? For example if you spent $500 on your competition and got 500 email addresses, then each email has cost you a dollar to collect – how does that compare to your other marketing tactics and campaigns?

Do it now: list your takeaways

Use the questions above as prompts to create a list of key takeaways from your competition. Try to look at the positives and negatives and think about how you can apply these learnings to your business or marketing in general. You may also see some surprise results you wish to develop further, or some learnings about where your business weaknesses lie.

Work out what to do next.

Make your results work for you

So what should you do with the data/leads/entries you collected? Well, the achievements and key takeaways you just went through above are going to come in mighty handy. You can never have too much data and insights into your target audience and you can use this information gathered for ongoing marketing long after your competition has closed. Here are just three ways you can use your results post competition.

 

Consolation offer

You know when you were at school and everyone got a prize for participation? Well it made you feel special in school and it’ll totally work for your customers now. To thank your entrants for entering your competition and supporting your business, consider offering a special discount to them. If you collected emails, send it out via email, if it’s via social media you could edit the post with your offer so those who commented will be notified, or you could post the offer on your entry/landing page on your website. Trust me, it’s a fantastic way to gain a few extra sales you wouldn’t ordinarily have, whilst keeping all of your customers happy and thinking you’re the best thing since sliced bread.

 

Use your entries

If you asked for slogans for a new T-Shirt design or got people to upload pictures of them with their beloved pets, use these entries in your marketing. Providing you accounted for this in your T&Cs, you should have permission to repost their entries and give them a little shout out in the process. User-generated content usually gets slightly higher engagement and again, your customers feel valued as they get their five minutes of fame! You can always do a round up of your favourite entries in a gallery, or combine this idea with the one above and offer ‘runner up’ prizes for a selection of your favourite entries.

 

Is it too cheeky to suggest another competition?

Use the momentum and excitement around this competition to let them know if and when you will be running the next competition – some of your audience may actually ask! There’s nothing like keeping that enthusiasm going and guaranteeing they’ll come back for more, especially now they’ve seen that your competition is legitimate and you have delivered the prize to your happy winner!

Whatever you decide to do with your competition results, it’s worth incorporating them into a larger, overall marketing plan or strategy for your business.

Do it now: come up with some ideas

Grab a piece of paper and jot down some ideas to make the most of the momentum and results gained by your competition. The above suggestions are just a starting point, you might decide to turn your competition into a monthly event, or use your entries to segment your email list.

Whatever you do, don’t let your hard work go to waste.

—> [X post competition ideas]

That’s all she wrote.

Well, that’s all from me! I sincerely hope you’ve gotten something valuable from this guide or at least learnt something new about marketing and social media. I’d absolutely love to hear from you (good or bad!) so send me an email if you have comments, questions or you’ve just spotted a typo. Your emails make my day, even the typo ones.

From learning the competition basics to creating your competition and keeping it legal, we’ve survived launch day together, promoted and managed your competition and looked at what you can do with your results. I hope this guide has achieved what it set out to: to become the last guide to competitions you’ll ever need to read. If there’s something missing or you feel we need to include something else in our guide, please contact us and we’ll update the guide just for you!

If you’ve taken the leap and decided to run your own competition (yay!) don’t forget to join our Facebook group Competition Creators for any questions, ideas, support and feedback from like-minded individuals. If you’re not quite ready to part ways just yet, why not take a look at how we can work together on your next competition?

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this guide, I can’t wait to see your competitions!

Suki