Christmas is a time for giving and giving away great prizes is all part of the joy of Christmas for me. Of course, it applies at any time of the year, but at Christmas you really do need to make your promotion stand out from the crowd and prizes are one way of doing that.
They’re not the finishing touch, though, added with a flourish at the end in the same way that you add the fairy to the top of the tree. Prizes are integral to your promotion, which means you need to give them careful consideration during the planning stage.
As I wrote in my recent post about planning Christmas campaigns, Advent calendar-type promotions are popular. If the objective of your promotion is to cast a seasonal glow on a particular product of your own, offering that product or a related prize day after day can and does work.
However, if you’re giving away 24 prizes over the course of December it’s also nice to vary it with a selection of different prizes, so potential entrants don’t get bored or distracted (probably by a strand of tinsel in my case). You can also take advantage of the natural build-up to Christmas, so starting with modest stocking-fillers and ending with one major must-have showstopper can work, too. A range of rewards gives you something to sing about regularly on social media as well.
Prizes don’t necessarily have to be high value, but it does go without saying that prizes should be desirable. What makes a desirable prize? At Prizeology we make it our business to know what’s popular by keeping on top of the Christmas bestseller forecasts – Argos is among the major retailers which produce these and it published its predictions in June this year – and we watch what’s flying off the shelves in the run-up to the festive season as that’s obviously a good indicator.
In terms of catering to the kids and their parents, Fingerlings were the Christmas 2017 top-selling toy and they look likely to be big (or indeed small) again in 2018. Unicorns are still trending, too, with the Poopsie Surprise Unicorn, which excretes glittery slime when you feed it (I kid you not), apparently set to be top of the pops.
When it comes to gifts/prizes for him and her, traditional ‘smellies’ and hobby-related items might seem a bit meh, but personalisation is very of the moment and can turn a nice but fairly lacklustre prize into something with more sparkle. Smaller companies often offer quirkier items and may want the exposure your promotion can give them so could be open to deals, and of course seasonal foodstuffs, and tech and gadgets, always go down well.
Whatever lines you’re thinking along, though, there needs to be a close relationship between your mechanic and your prizes. Asking entrants to write an original 30-minute Nativity play and upload a video of a full-costume performance of it isn’t going to garner many entries if the prize is a tea towel (not that I’m dissing Christmas tea towels – I have a couple of special ones which I bring out once a year).
However, if the prize is a two-week foreign holiday somewhere warm then there will be certain people who might just go to the trouble. Of course, your objective may be to produce some user-generated content so you may only want to engage with a small number of motivated entrants, but if reaching a wider audience is your aim, it’s vital to work out what type of task and prize will draw them in.
And don’t just compile a wish list. Once you’ve decided on your prizes, actively source them. Products sell out before Christmas – we’ve all been there – so it really is a case of creative thinking, solid planning and then shopping early to avoid disappointment (I’ll say more about this in my forthcoming post on prize fulfilment).
Sarah Burns is Prizeology’s Chief Prizeologist and a National Trading Standards Scams Team Scambassador. She loves Christmas.