How to run a successful (and legal!) prize draw

prize draw
[Guest Post] Hi, I’m Sarah Burns, I run prize promotions agency Prizeology and my business is built on that winning feeling. Here are my top 3 tips for every small business who wants to run a successful (and legal!) prize draw.

What’s the best prize you’ve ever won?

Perhaps it was dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant – lucky you! – or maybe it was just a bottle of plonk at the school fair, but what did winning feel like? I bet you were pleased, even with the cheap red wine, because we all like winning.

People like winning food products and they like winning food experiences, so prize draws can be a great way for small food businesses to engage with customers. I say prize draws rather than competitions because there’s an important difference between the two. Competition winners are chosen on the basis of their skill or knowledge, whereas prize draw winners are chosen at random. Competitions and prize draws must both be conducted fairly, but a competition need judges, so I recommend prize draws because they’re much more straightforward and more cost efficient to run.

1. What do you want your prize draw to achieve? 

Before you do anything else, though, work out what you want your prize promotion to achieve.

Do you want it to improve brand recognition, highlight a particular product, collect user-generated content, drive direct sales or build subscriptions to your newsletter?

Prize draws can do all this and more, but the objective of your promotion is key because it shapes its format and which platform or platforms you run it on. If, for example, you want to gain newsletter signups, although you can and should publicise your prize draw on social media, you need to send entrants to your website where they can opt-in to receiving news from your company.

prize draw email

Twitter is a good platform for a prize draw, but I’m not a big fan of ‘RT to win’. It’s too easy and it doesn’t engage people. Instead, you can ask entrants to tweet a picture or answer a question. The same goes for Instagram. You want quality, not quantity, and a modest number of entries from people who are genuinely interested in your products and your brand is worth far more than thousands of entries from bots. You’ll find more on why RT to win doesn’t work in this post and I’ve also got some advice on choosing unique hashtags for prize draws.

Facebook can be a good platform for a prize draw, too, but I don’t recommend simply asking for likes, because, again, it’s too easy. At least if you ask entrants to make a comment they’re encouraged to interact with you. Facebook also has a set of rules you need to follow. If you don’t, your account could be closed and if Facebook is a major customer communications channel for you, that could be very problematic. Find out more info on how to run a prize draw on Facebook here.

2. The boring but VERY necessary bit

In the UK, prize draws are regulated by something called the CAP Code. This is a long – and, to be frank, rather tedious – document which sets out everything promoters must do to run prize promotions, in fact, any marketing promotion, fairly. If you’re running a prize draw, you’re the promoter, so you need to get the legal niceties right, which means robust terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions are effectively the contract between you and your prize draw entrants, and they protect you both. They need to cover important information such as the closing date and how winners will be chosen – again, for advice on using giveaway platforms that help you do this, read this – and they must be available at the point of entry.

prize draw TandC

However, it’s unlikely you can fit them all into a tweet or post, so include an abridged version with the key points and a link to the full terms and conditions.

Terms and conditions need to anticipate every eventuality. Is your prize suitable for under 18s and do you really want to engage with children? If not, you need to restrict the age of entrants. Are you prepared to pay the postage to send the prize to Australia if that’s where the winner lives? If not, you need to restrict the geographical location of entrants. All this has to be explained in plain English, so although there are templates available, be careful and definitely don’t lift terms and conditions from another promotion, because it’s all too easy to make mistakes.

3. Be flexible 

And just because you’re a small business, it doesn’t mean someone won’t make a complaint about your prize draw to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the regulatory body which enforces the CAP Code. It happens all the time. This ASA ruling against a small chain of organic food stores, for example, illustrates why terms and conditions are important.

Finally, once you’ve carried out a fair and impartial draw, please send the winners their prizes and do it promptly. This might seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many companies don’t.

Even if you have a small number of entrants, you’re obliged to dispatch the prizes, but remember that winners make the best brand advocates. Give them a positive experience and they’re likely to reciprocate with personal recommendations or mentions on social media – and you’ll probably find it gives you that winning feeling, too.

*** Special Offer for Smoothie PR Readers! ***

Prizeology specialises in writing prize draw terms and conditions, and we’ll write a set for Smoothie PR readers for just £250 – normal fee £450.

This is an ongoing offer, no matter how far into the future you’re reading this post!

Call us on 020 7856 0402 or email us if you’d like to take advantage of this offer, quoting the code SmoothieTs&Cs. You can find out more about the world of prize promotions on the Prizeology website and the Prizeologist, our blog, features advice on running successful prize promotions. We’re also on Twitter and Instagram.

P.S. At Prizeology, part of our job is sourcing prizes. Sometimes the prizes are paid for and sometimes they’re given in exchange for media space, so if you think you might be in a position to offer prizes to our clients, do get in touch as it would be great to add you to our contacts list.

More food for thought…

Hey, Charlotte here, thanks for reading through to the end! If you’re looking to grow your business, check out these blog posts including How to use your Great Taste Award for PR and Social media tips for food and drink start-ups.

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