Thinking about running a holiday sweepstakes? Read this first

Sweepstakes

Stockings hung with care on the fireplace mantel…

Gingerbread towels added to your kitchen decor….

Holiday trimmings added right down to Christmas pillows…

The holiday season has a lot of unforeseen expenses. That’s why so many people during this time of year are open to opportunities to offset some costs or, at the very least, for a few free goodies. There is a definite reason why Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals are so popular. It’s also the reason why so many companies choose to run sweepstakes (otherwise known as giveaways) this time of year.

As a sweepstakes management company, we like to consider ourselves optimists. If you’re thinking about conducting a sweepstakes this season, we urge you to go for it. However, it is really important that you take the time to carefully consider all of the possible pitfalls to conduct a smart giveaway that will have a positive, lasting impact on your business.

Here are 8 tips to keep in mind if your company is considering running a holiday sweepstakes:

#1. It’s important to establish your goals.
Holiday Sweepstakes can be great for your business, particularly in a year that has been challenging for many businesses to stay afloat. If you do it right, sweepstakes can help to: a) increase social media following and website traffic, b) raise brand awareness, c) deepen your relationship with existing customers and d) build the hype for new products. However, in order to accomplish any of these goals, it is critical that you outline the results that you want to see out of your giveaway before you begin.

Remember, since this giveaway will be happening in a limited time frame during the holidays, you need to be extra smart about setting your goals so you can achieve them by the end of the season. A great way to set smart goals? Use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym and set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. For more information on this tool, refer to this article.

#2. Have a plan to stand out from the competition.
This means investing in stellar graphics, engaging videos and solid copywriting. Also, have a plan to garner engagement, both paid and organic, right off the bat. If there is one tip we can offer in standing out, it’s this: be authentic. People relate to authenticity. Whether you’re funny or more sentimental, always make sure it is in line with your brand, both as it is now and where you would like it to be post-sweepstakes.

#3. Establish your audience.
If you’re a business that is just starting out or you’re a business on the verge of pivoting due to this pandemic, politics or any 2020-related shenanigans, ensure that you take the time to map out your ideal audience for this giveaway. Keep in mind that while you can have multiple target audiences for your company, that doesn’t mean that you need to have multiple targeted audiences for your giveaway. For example, while your product may appeal to both young moms looking for gifts for their 4-6 year olds and 80+ grandparents looking for gifts for their teenage grandchildren, you will have wildly different advertising approaches for both. You may not have the resources to develop campaigns appealing to both, so it’s critical that you tailor your marketing to one or the other. Once you’ve set your audience(s), make sure you figure out their pain points and talk directly to them through your marketing outreach.

#4. Consider if a sweepstakes is right for you or if a contest is a better option.
It’s important to know the difference between sweepstakes and contests. As a refresher, in contests, winners are not chosen at random but are chosen based on skill. Entry can be free or require purchase (in most states). This can be a great way to deepen a relationship with an already existing audience that uses your products or services to further a skill. For example, if you are a company that sells high-end art supplies, your audience may be more drawn to an opportunity to share their work and compete for potential prizes and public recognition.

In sweepstakes, winners are random and purchase cannot be required for entry (purchase can be monetary or non-monetary). A caveat to this is that you can have an option for purchase for entry if, and only if, you also provide a free Alternative Means of Entry (AMOE). Sweepstakes are great for promoting a brand or products unrelated to skill. It is also a great option for the holidays considering that people may be limited on their free time for competitions and some entrants might be attempting to transfer a potential prize as a gift.

#5. Choose the right marketing platform for your business.
Do research to find out where your audience hangs out. 18-22 year old college students? You better be on TikTok. 40 year olds with a mortgage and 2 kids? Facebook might be a better route for you. Wherever they are is where you should be. Also, since this is a holiday promotion, make sure you are sensitive to the holidays that they celebrate.

#6. Your prize really matters.
A few factors to consider when determining your prize: target audience, budget, shipping costs, desirability and whether you want to highlight new products or reinvigorate interest in older products. One more thing: consider that this year is different from any other year due to COVID-19. In previous years, you may have offered a prize related to experiences involving contact with other people such as travel. In 2020, however, you have to be absolutely sure that you are aware of current restrictions, limitations and risks that could impact a recipient claiming their prize.

#7. Consider that this year is different from any other year.
Not only does this impact the prizes, it impacts everything from what your audience wants right now to what platform you use to host your sweepstakes. Make sure you are viewing your sweepstakes through the lens of 2020. For example, consider that TikTok is more popular than ever and, particularly if you are appealing to a younger tech-savvy crowd, you may want to consider advertising your sweepstakes on this platform.

#8. Make sure you are following the rules.
From income taxes to restrictions on alcohol giveaways to prizes above a certain value needing to be registered and bonded, there are a lot of sweepstakes guidelines that are commonly overlooked and can lead to damaging legal consequences. For an example of some of these restrictions, read our recent article here. Due to the potential liability, we always recommend that you consult a sweepstakes management company before running any giveaway.

Planning on running a sweepstakes this holiday season?

We hope these tips have helped. If you need more guidance, we’re currently offering a free, 30 minute holiday sweepstakes consultation at Votigo. Contact us to schedule yours today.

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Jim

About Jim

Jim is an award-winning Internet marketing executive with over 15 years of experience creating and marketing world-class websites, applications, and promotions. Since co-founding Votigo in mid 2006, Jim has helped several leading brands, including Ford, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, Sears, MTV, and Intel, as well as top-tier advertising agencies including Ogilvy, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, DraftFCB, and Arnold Worldwide develop and implement successful social media marketing solutions. He is responsible for strategic vision, sales and account management, marketing, and business development. Before founding Votigo, Jim spent nearly 7 years at United Online, Inc. where he was a key member of the executive staff helping take it from 1 million users to over 20 million. Jim has spoken on social media panels at CES, Likeable Summit, and DemoGala - Colorado Technology Association. He has also given guest lectures on social media marketing at UNC Chapel Hill, and CU Boulder. Jim holds his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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