7 tips for running a Christmas Advent competition

I can’t believe it’s almost the start of December and less than 30 sleeps until Christmas! In the promotions world we’re as busy as Santa’s elves at this time of year and a daily prize promotion to tie in with Advent – or indeed the 12 days of Christmas – is a popular idea, so I thought I’d take a moment out from online shopping to give you my top tips on how to run a Christmas prize promotion that jingles all the way.

  1. Actually, my first top tip is don’t run a Christmas prize promotion. Or at least don’t do it unless you’ve got a good reason. Driving sales, supporting an existing ad campaign or rewarding customer loyalty with a gorgeous gift – these are all good reasons. Because it’s Advent and everyone else is doing it is a bad reason. Be clear about your objectives and use them to structure your promotion.
  2. Which is better – a competition or a prize draw? That’s like making me choose between Quality Street and Roses. Competitions are based on skill and the CAP Code says entries must be judged by at least one judge who is independent of the promoter. Prize draw winners are chosen at random, making prize draws quicker and easier to administer. As well as running prize draws for you, Prizeology can also supply independent judges, but if you haven’t started buying presents yet and are short on time, I’d go for a prize draw.
  3. We’ve established that Christmas is one of the busiest promotional times of the year and your prize promotion will be competing for visibility with thousands of others. To encourage maximum participation, my advice is to keep the entry threshold low and the instructions simple. Asking people to create a life-size model of the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree in gingerbread isn’t realistic and won’t generate many (any?) entries.
  4. If you’re looking to drive sales, asking people to retweet a prize giveaway on Twitter won’t work. However, if you want to create brand awareness, asking people to post photos on Instagram accompanied by a unique brand-related hashtag will work. In other words, pick the right platform for your promotion. Incidentally, there’s definitely an art to choosing the right hashtag. Last year #Xmas2016 was used 348,576 times on Instagram, which is an awful lot of posts to process in order to filter out the ones that aren’t about your promotion…
  5. Putting the prizes up each day is certainly an achievement, but don’t sit down and pour yourself a small sherry once that’s done. You need to build time into your schedule to administer the campaign properly and fairly, on a daily basis. Whatever platform you’re hosting the promotion on, you need to collate the entries and make sure every single one goes into the prize draw. You must also to be able to prove you did this correctly. Rather than choosing the winners yourself, you should appoint an independent person or use an independently verified method. Again, these are both services offered by Prizeology.
  6. Imagine your winners’ crestfallen faces when their prizes don’t arrive, because you’re inefficient or, worse, you forgot the order and they’re now out of stock for the foreseeable. Prepare your prizes for posting in advance and, if possible, generate extra seasonal goodwill by sending them out each day. With any luck your winners will give back by becoming great brand advocates and (carol)singing your praises on their social feeds. You’ll find more advice from me on Christmas winner management here.
  7. Christmas is a time of lists – gift lifts, shopping lists, winners’ lists. Numerous brands have appeared on Santa’s naughty list after the ASA criticised them for not providing winners’ list on request, so make sure you have yours ready. Lo, this is also a sign to the people who took part in your prize promotion that you’ve conducted the promotion fairly by awarding prizes.

So there you have it. I hope you find prize promotions success behind every door on your Advent calendar (unless you’d prefer chocolate, which perhaps you would) and surely it’s not too early to wish you a very merry Christmas from everyone at Prizeology!

Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist, an IPM Board Director, and a SCAMbassador for National Trading Standards Scams Team. She also LOVES Christmas.

© Prizeology and The Prizeologist Blog, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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