ONE PRIZE OR MANY?

When companies decide to hold some kind of prize giveaway, whether it’s a simple drawing, some kind of contest, or an all-out sweepstakes (and yes, there are legal differences between all three), one of the first decisions is what will be given away.

Typically, the big question is whether to give a single glorious prize, or multiple smaller prizes. There’s no single answer, but a key consideration is your objective in holding the giveaway.

If you’re having a contest that involves some degree of effort on the winner’s part … such as naming your new product or answering the most trivia questions … your best bet is usually a single a large prize. People generally won’t pursue something that requires some degree of work unless the potential reward is commensurate with their degree of effort.

But if your goal is to have the highest possible number of entries or to build traffic … such as encouraging people to attend your new location’s grand opening … the more prizes, the greater the participation you’ll see. When the amount of effort is small (such as simply opening your door and walking in), people actually believe they have less of a chance to win. You overcome that by increasing the number of prizes. “100 customers will win” will generally produce a lot more traffic than “10 customers will win,” because people will believe the odds are in their favor.

Even better are giveaways in which everyone is guaranteed to win something. I remember a promotion for a bank that was opening a branch in an area where they hadn’t done business. We worked up a joint effort with a local McDonald’s through which everyone was guaranteed the opportunity to win at least an order of fries. The promotional piece was placed at every house within a set radius of the new branch, and an amazing four percent of residents brought their “instant-win” cards to the bank for verification — a result way beyond the bank’s wildest expectations.

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