July 15th, 2014
May 30th, 2014
One of the reasons why contests and sweepstakes work so well is because consumers have faith that these promotions are legitimate and that the prizes promised will be delivered as presented. This was not always the case, but today laws are in place to protect consumers and fine companies that don’t play nice. In the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulates most sweepstakes and promotions. The rest of the regulatory work is handled at the state level, with every state having their own set of laws for sweepstakes and contests.
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer and the following information is not legal advice. It’s meant to guide marketers in running promotions. You should contact an attorney for specific advice.
What is the difference between sweepstakes and contests?
- In Sweepstakes the winner(s) is selected randomly from a group of entries.
- In Contests the winner(s) is determined primarily on a basis of skill by a judging body. An essay contest is one example.
What should I do if the sweepstakes prize is $5,000 or more in cash or value?
- When the approximate retail value of all prizes exceeds $5,000, the sweepstakes (contests do not need to be registered) must be registered in the state of New York and the state of Florida. Registration must be done 30 days prior to the start of the promotion in NY and 7 days prior to the start in Florida.
Do I need a surety bond?
- A surety bond is basically an insurance policy that New York and Florida hold to guarantee the sponsor will award all prizes. If you register your promotion in Florida or New York, you will need to set up a surety bond in the amount of the prize value.
I heard that in Rhode Island you also have to register your sweepstakes?
- It’s true, but only if you are running a retail sweepstakes with a prize valued at more than $500. A retail sweepstakes requires the participant to walk into a retail store in the state of RI to enter.
What if I’m giving prizes that are less than $5,000 in cash or value?
- Then you are good and there’s no need to register the sweepstakes in either NY or FL.
What if my promotion is targeted to children?
What about Mobile Sweepstakes and Contests laws?
- I thought you’d never ask. All federal and state laws apply as in regular sweepstakes. In mobile sweepstakes or contests, where the participants enter the contest via text message (SMS), all of the Mobile Marketing Association’s Best Practices and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) rules should be upheld. As of 2014 the TCPA requires additional opt-in language similar to this;
- It’s extra fine print, but a small price to pay for the most effective way to build a mobile database and gather sweepstakes participants.
What about Facebook promotions?
Facebook recently simplified its sweepstakes and contest rules as follows:
- You are responsible for the lawful operation of that promotion, including; The Official Rules and Offer terms and eligibility requirements.
- All promotions should be in compliance with applicable rules and regulations governing the promotion and all prizes offered.
- Official Rules must include a complete release of Facebook by each entrant or participant and acknowledgement that the promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.
- Promotions may be administered on Pages or within apps on Facebook.
Don’t let all of the legal speak discourage you from launching sweepstakes or contests. They are one of the best promotional tools out there by far and you won’t regret your decision to hold one. Like all promotions, just make sure to cross your T’s and dot your I’s. If you need any help with your next promotion contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
May 6th, 2014
People often use the words “sweepstakes,” “contest,” and “giveaways” interchangeably. They all mean something different and will affect the type of promotion and rules you use.
The basic definition are:
Sweepstakes are games of chance, where the winner(s) of picked randomly
Contests are a games of skill, where the winner shows the best skills within a particular set of judging criteria.
Giveaway are promotions where something is given free usually to all participants or the first of some.
In summary: Contest winner(s) are selected by judges and sweepstakes winner(s) are randomly selected.
If you need help planning your sweepstakes or contest contact us at email@example.com
April 18th, 2014
On the Water and Underwater Fun in Key Largo and Big Pine Key & Florida’s Lower Keys
Enter for a chance to win a 5-nt trip to the Florida Keys (July 9-14), experience Key Largo and the 30th Annual Underwater Music Fest in waters off Big Pine Key! Dive or snorkel the Keys’ coral barrier reef, tour the backcountry on kayak; savor Keys food, blazing sunsets on the water & more.
Complete the form at www.floridakeyswin.com for a chance to win!
|* You must be at least 21 years of age to enter. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. By clicking “Enter Now” you agree to the official rules and provide your signature, consent and agreement to receive marketing text messages from the Florida Keys. Message and data rates may apply. Reply STOP to end at any time. 4msgs/mo. max. Text HELP for help. Official Rules – Privacy|
The Keys Summer Getaway includes:
|•||2 nights at Ocean Pointe Suites Resort|
|•||3 nights at Dolphin Marina & Cottages|
|•||Air Travel Card (valued at $1,000)|
|•||Rental car certificate|
|•||Dive (or Snorkel) Trip at the Underwater Music Festival by Strike Zone Charters|
|•||Two 2-hour Kayak Rentals by Ocean Pointe Suites|
|•||Two-stop dive (or snorkel) Trip for 2 by Keys Diver|
|•||Half-day Guided Backcountry Kayak Tour by Big Pine Kayak Adventures|
|•||Sunset Sail by Island Time Cruises|
|•||Tour of Botanic Gardens, Kona Kai Resort|
|•||Dinner for 2 at Key Largo Conch House|
|•||VIP Gift Basket by Key Largo Chocolates|
|•||Prize Valued at $3,400|
Accommodations provided by:
Ocean Pointe Suites at Key Largo is an all-suite, 60-acre condominium resort located directly on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s entered through a private gatehouse and road and is surrounded by protected mangrove forest.
Dolphin Marina & Cottages features cozy guest cottages located on the picturesque waters of Newfound Harbor, just south of Big Pine Key. It is the closest lodging to Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary where you will find some of the Florida Keys’ finest snorkeling and diving.
March 26th, 2014
Watch Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPgSwwHHXpY
Lately we have been asked to help set up and manage Facebook sweepstakes. Our clients are putting in a lot of time and money into social media and they want to see their efforts produce results. Facebook contests and sweepstakes are a great promotional tactic that helps engage and increase fans.
Benefits of a Facebook Sweepstake or Contest
- Likes – Yes, the almighty top-level metric and warm blanket of congeniality for brands. A sweepstake or promotion will attract more of your target market to “Like” your page. You can offer the sweepstakes or contests to all current fans and new fans must “Like” your page to enter. The goal here is that once they “Like” you, your posts will appear in their news feeds. This offers a chance for re-engagement with your brand during and after the promotion.
- Emails – You can get richer profile information on your fans by asking for email, date of birth, gender, address, zip code, mobile phone or other information as part of the entry form. This is also an opportunity to ask research or poll questions.
- Engagement – All brands want customers speaking positively about them and to them. Watching metrics like post consumption, link clicks and positive feedback will allow you to measure how well you’re doing in this area. By increasing engagement, you’ll also push your page updates to more fans, increase awareness, and rank higher in graph search (Facebook’s search engine).
- User-Generated Content – A photo, video or story contest will produce valuable content created by fans. This is the kind of content that fans love to share with their friends. They are proud of their pictures and stories and want to tell their friends about them. In return, your brand reaches new audiences through loyal fan ambassadors.
- Market Research – We recently asked Pet Supermarket fans to “Tell Us What You Love About Your Pet” as the sweepstakes entry. The answers were moving, funny, sometimes sad, but mostly endearing. People love their pets and love talking about them. The most interesting result was that this promotion helped us better understand Pet Supermarket customers and hear their feelings behind their relationships with their pets. These sentiments can be used later to refine the way Pet Supermarket presents its messages to customers. Think of entries as valuable market intelligence and potential ads for your brand written by customers.
No Goals, No Glory
Before you start, set your goals. How do you know you had a successful Facebook sweepstakes if you don’t know the end goal? Goals will also help you plan your sweepstakes and determine how big the prize (incentive) and promotional effort should be. Goals can include:
- Increase in total Likes by X% of current fans
- Increase in new emails by X% of current database
- Increase engagement or awareness
Types of Facebook Promotions
Sweepstakes – The simplest and most popular, this type of promotion collects all eligible entries and selects a winner(s) randomly. Sweepstakes usually get the most participants because they are easy to enter. Just fill out the entry form and you’re in. If gaining “Likes” or increasing your email database is the objective, sweeps are a good choice.
Contests – These require that participants present some skill within the required contest guidelines. Participants compete against each other and/or within a judging criteria. For example, a simple contest can ask participants to add a photo caption to a photo you provide or it can ask entrants to show the best picture of a sunset. The barrier to entry is higher than a sweepstakes (make sure you have a good number of fans before starting), but engagement is also higher if that’s your goal. In a contest, you’ll also need to decide how you’ll choose the winner. This article on judging and choosing a winner will help.
If you’re going to set up a Facebook promotion, give the new Facebook guidelines a look to ensure you’re compliant with their rules. If you need any help, let us know.
March 21st, 2014
- Build a database of opt-in mobile subscribers interested in the destination.
- Establish mobile communication channel via (SMS) text messages with prospective visitors.
- Send value driven content via text (SMS) message to engage and promote the destination and brand.
- 17K Site Visits
- 10,519 Completed Entries (First, Last, Email, Mobile, DOB)
- 40K New Facebook “Likes”
- 1K “Shares” & Re-Tweets
Would you like to market your destination via sweepstakes? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
March 5th, 2014
February 25th, 2014
What is a Contest?
A contest is an activity where skill is needed to win. Unlike a Sweepstakes where a random draw identifies the winner, in a contest the participants has to take an action that requires some degree of skill. That degree of skill depends on what the promotion or event is asking the participant to do. For example; in an essay where participants enter and compete by submitting original writing.
The Judging Criteria
Contests also have an element of competition that requires the Sponsor or advertising agency set clear contest judging criteria so that the participants knows how they will be judged, and the judging body knows what to look for, and what to assign value to based on the judging criteria. As a marketer, you can save yourself a lot of potential trouble, and complaints, if your judging criteria is clear and made clear to all participants and judges. For example, here is a snippet of a judging criteria; “Essay Submissions must be in the English, comply with the Official Rules, meet all requirements called for on the Contest Website and be original work not exceeding 1,000 characters in length.”
The “How-To” Guide for Judging
In a contest, the judging criteria is an attempt to focus the participants, as well as the judges, on the expected outcome of the entry. A properly design judging criteria aims to minimize the judges unconscious biases and set the attention on the qualities that are going to be weighed and assigned a value or score. For example, here is an extract of a judging criteria score sheet; “33.3% creativity, 33.3% originality; and 33.3% adherence to topic.”
The judging group or individual judge ideally should be an expert or have some degree of expertise in what they are judging. This is not a requirement, but it helps the Sponsor or contest administrator select the winner. Plus, the contestants gain a sense of fair play when they see that the winner was chosen by an expert.
How to Pick the Judges for the Contest
If you can’t find or afford an expert judge, then an individual or group with a clear understanding of the judging criteria and no conflict of interest or bias could serve as a judge. Beyond the judging criteria the judges should have seen enough examples of the work being judged to determine what poor, average and exceptional within the judging criteria.
Ultimately, the judge or judges objective is to assign a total value or points and select the winner based on a total amount of points earned.
A shortcut to judging large numbers of entries is to use social media networks to judge on your behalf up to a certain degree. For example, you can run your contest on Facebook and have the fans vote for the top five Entries. From there a more formalized judge or contest administrator can select the winner based on the judging criteria. This can work well, but there are risks associated with fan-voting. One of the risks is that participants can simply ask their friends to vote for them regardless of the quality of the work. It undermines the promotional effort when a poor Entry gets lots of votes. This is why we usually don’t allow the fans to be the sole decision makers on who wins.
Protect Your Contest With A Judging Criteria
Having your judging criteria set will also protect the integrity of the contest and guide judges when it comes to ties. A well-articulated judging criteria will explain what to do in the event of a tie. For example; “In the event of a tie for any potential Winning Entry, the score for Creativity/Originality will be used as a tiebreaker.” Or “If there still remains a tie, Sponsor will bring in a tie breaking Judge to apply the same Judging Criteria to determine the winner.”
Bottom Line- Contest Are A Great Marketing Tool
Contests are worth the effort and repay the sponsor handsomely. Contest are fun and they generate lots of buzz, awareness and potential sales for the sponsor. Just make sure your judging criteria are set in place. If you need any help with your contest let us know at email@example.com
February 19th, 2014
When you sell salt, giving away your product is not a good option as a sweepstakes prize. That’s why Geico doesn’t giveaway insurance or Bufferin aspirin bottles. They just aren’t very attractive prizes. Salt, as important for food flavoring as it is, it is not a very desirable prize since salt is readily available, inexpensive and boring.
A Prize They Want
This is why the folks at Morton Salt are giving away other prizes like Wüsthof Knifes and Cuisinart Mixers. These prizes, or better yet, culinary tools are all related to the things majors salt users love, which is to cook. And salt users would like to win new cooking tools thus enticing them to enter the sweepstakes and instant win game. Morton Salt has effectively tied their prizes (desirable cooking tools) and brand to an activity their number one customers enjoy in hopes that when the buy salt, they’ll buy Morton Salt.
It’s Missing Mobile Entry for the Busy Text (SMS) Addicted Mom’s
I would have liked to have seen a mobile entry component to the sweepstakes. I can image busy moms and chefs finding it way easier to text MORTON to 65047 to enter for a chance to win, instead of having to “Like” Morton on Facebook and then complete a form to enter. I do like the prize selection and instant win component. Well done Morton Salt and Happy 100th Birthday!
February 11th, 2014
Offering a prize that resonates with your target audience is key in attracting future customers. We like to say that, whenever possible, your prize should be your product or service. If you’re a pet product retailer, giving away a year’s worth of free pet food is a good idea as it’s something your customers would want.
But if giving away your product or service is not possible or simply not very exciting (like free tax return services or a year’s worth of car insurance) this is when you need to get creative about your prize.
Yes, you can always give away cash or a gift card, but the idea is to tie your business to a prize that is attractive to your customers.
You want to be speaking to your customers even if it’s through a third-party brand.
Here’s what I mean… let’s say you own a chain of ski rental shops. Your business is renting skis, not selling. Awarding $1,000 worth of ski gear may be out of the question, plus it does not fit your business model. Not a good mix.
What you know is that your customers are skiers and visit ski resorts and facilities.
One prize that would work very well would be an all-expenses paid ski trip to the Four Seasons Resort in Vail, Colorado, with rental ski gear provided by your business.
You get to speak to skiers, your prospective customers, by offering them something they would love to win. It’s also a way to tie your brand to a bigger brand (Vail, Colorado and the Four Seasons) or a brand that reaches new customers for you.
Think of Regal Cinemas partnering with Pepsi to offer a trip to the Oscars. Regal Cinemas is piggybacking on the Pepsi brand and the Oscars event to elevate their brand and attract new customers. And you can do the same, no matter what niche you’re in.
How to Pick The Perfect Sweepstakes Prize? Answer the following questions…
- What market is my business in? (Sports retail, pet products, insurance, car rental, etc…)
- What does our ideal customer look like? Gender? Age? Marital Status? Geographic location? Income level?
- What’s your budget for the prize?
- What is the prize you will give away? How many?
- Is the prize something that people will get excited about? Not just want, they have to desire it!
- Does this prize resonate with your target audience?
Here’s an example:
Ideal customer: Female, ages 21-35, single or married, income level of $45,000+
Prize: $4,000 Shopping Spree
Is prize exiting to your prospective customers? Yes
Is the prize relevant to your business? Yes
Think creatively when selecting a prize. If you are an action sports retailer, a professional photography session of the winner and friends surfing your local break would be a great prize. If you sell Ford cars, a trip to meet the 2015 Ford Mustang Master Sculptor Kevin Goff at the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center sounds awesome. Both prizes tie well into and enhance the brand. The right prize is key to designing a successful sweepstakes and is also fundamental to reaching new customers and elevating your brand.