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Tips about Promoting Your Business with Sweepstakes

Tommy Rollins Shares Advice on Promoting Your Company with Sweepstakes

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William (Tommy) Rollins is a marketing professional who managed contests and sweepstakes at the electronics retailer, Circuit City, from October of 2007 until January, 2009 when the company went out of business. Here, he shares some of his tips about how companies can increase their brand awareness with sweepstakes. Read Tommy Rollins' Bio.

Hello, Tommy, and thank you for sharing your insights about contests and sweepstakes with us! Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I have a diverse background ranging from media buying to project management. I have always been fascinated with marketing and several years ago I foresaw that online marketing was where marketing was heading.

What do you think about sweepstakes as a form of marketing?

Sweepstakes are a great way for companies to increase their brand awareness. They are a form of viral marketing, which is one of the most powerful marketing methods. They also have high visibility. They get picked up by sites like About.com Contests, plus they reach a wide audience and have a universal appeal in that everyone likes winning something.

What qualities do you think are most important to running successful sweepstakes?

To manage sweepstakes, you need good project management and time management skills. And you need to be both creative and analytical: creative to come up with a vision and good concepts of prizes, and analytical to see what worked and what didn't work.

What are the biggest advantages of running sweepstakes for businesses?

Sweepstakes are a strong way to build your company's email subscriber list. Plus they are a great vehicle to use to promote brand awareness, engage with your customers, and they can provide an alternative revenue stream.

What advice would you give to companies who are thinking of holding sweepstakes?

  1. Define the goal before you start.

    Think about the entire project life cycle, and whether you have the resources to devote to running sweepstakes. Lastly, be sure to devise a great theme and prizes so that folks remember your company.

  2. Consider your prizes carefully.

    Think about how you'll manage the fulfillment of the prizes, and the prize value. Only one state makes you register if the prizes are worth more than $600, and that's Rhode Island. If the ARV is over $5,000 then you need to register or possibly bond the sweepstakes with NY and FL. A general rule of thumb is to always file with the states at least 30 days ahead of the sweepstakes' start date to ensure there are no issues. If you have any doubts, you can always contact the states - they are very helpful.

  3. Get the legal part right.

    Make sure to draft the rules carefully so that they are clear and cover everything. Let a lawyer look over them. Be sure to post the rules beside your company's privacy policy so any questions or concerns can be viewed.

  4. Be prepared for the response.

    Your traffic will spike very quickly, so make sure that your servers will be able to handle it. Test the site thoroughly before the sweepstakes starts, and fix any problems as quickly as possible. You should also make sure that your customer service department knows about the sweepstakes and can either answer questions or know who can.

  5. Make prize fulfillment quick and successful.

    It's a good idea to choose the winners as soon as possible after the end of the sweepstakes, following the dates given in the rules, so that the winners remember entering the sweepstakes. If you're notifying by email, use a clear email subject like, "Congratulations from *Sweepstakes Name*" to boost your responses.

    Have the prizes on hand before the sweepstakes starts, and have them already packed up and ready to go before the sweepstakes ends. Then you only need to slap the address label on them and ship them out. And make sure you pack the prizes well. There's nothing more disappointing for a winner than receiving a prize that was broken in the mail.

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