From a strategic or even creative standpoint, a program like this McCormick & Schmick sweepstakes we did at TRG may not look like much. But there’s a lot going on beneath the icy-cool surface of this particular promotion. So just what are the best practices involved in a solid online sweepstakes program?
For McCormick & Schmick, we’ve put together a sweepstakes in honor of their 35th year in business that will give only lucky winner a chance to enjoy a seven-day cruise for two along the Alaskan coastline.
It’s the kind of program we do a lot of here. They’re the bread-and-butter of brands and marketers everywhere, but there are nuances built into them that the ordinary viewer — or even the marketer who works in a different silo, like advertising or design — may not recognize. But they’re essentials of creating any solid, effective promotion.
So what’s the secret sauce? Truth it, it’s not that secret. It’s common sense…but you’d be surprised how many times common sense isn’t obeyed, and somebody winds up wondering why their sure-fire sweepstakes didn’t deliver. To maximize the chances of success, this program makes sure to follow some simple rules:
1. Make it easy to enter. To get the most entries, don’t demand too much of your audience — unless you’ve got a reason to. In this case, the client sought a simple solution that could reward a minimum of effort with a powerful prize.
2. Live where they live. Or dine, in this case — the program was designed to be entered not only online, but while sitting at your restaurant table using your mobile device or by visiting the hostess stand. If you’re running an online promotion, give it play inside your brick-and-mortar location, or make it mobile so you’re negating the difference.
3. Know your objectives. A program such as this will build a quality database of opt-ins and general awareness; creating a community of social followers on Facebook or other platform isn’t the primary objective.
4. Make that prize demand their engagement. As they say, “make the Grand Prize grand.” That doesn’t have to mean expensive — just something that’s ordinarily out of reach or hard to obtain for most people, like this cruise.
5. Keep it on-brand. A promotion is a potent tool for saying something about your brand — so McCormick & Schmick are “sending people to the source,” as it were, of their delicious seafood. Don’t use prizes that obviously contradict your brand, or don’t address your audience’s interests…but also don’t get too safe or meh with what you’re promising. The promotional tactics and the prizes are a chance to make your brand exciting — use that opportunity!
6. Execute flawlessly. From digital development to fulfillment, make sure everything runs right, not just to avoid internal headaches but to make sure that quintessence of your brand isn’t tainted by any hiccup along the way. That means buttoned-up rules and regulations, legal vetting, a solid digital platform that minimizes downtime, and prize and premium sourcing and fulfillment that makes sure every winner feels gratified in a timely manner. If you’re executing through a retail or service partner, as in this program, be sure staff is educated in the how-tos of the program so it’s an integral part of a complete customer experience.
7. Learn and refine. There’s useful data in each and every promotional program you run — success or failure alike.