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When Competitions Get Ugly

With the increased use in technology, there is a new dimension in the world of competitions.

Competitions are one of the oldest and ‘easiest’ forms of marketing for businesses and brands, big and small.  From the local dress shop giving away a $50 voucher to one of their lucky customers through to the national morning show giving away $10,000 for SMS’ing your details in, it’s all about getting the brand out there and getting more people talking about it.

However, you need to make sure you get it right so it doesn’t turn ugly.

Car manufacturer Jeep had an interesting reality check when it launched it’s ‘Worlds Most Remote Dealership’ competition in Australia giving 10 people the chance to purchase a new Jeep Cherokee (valued at $30,000) for $10,000. While there were 10 happy Jeep customers who drove away in a bargain, Jeep’s social media platforms went into meltdown as the flaws in the competitions terms and conditions, reared it’s ugly head.  There was even a  Jeep Fiasco Class Action Lawsuit Facebook page created. The competition was relying on technology but did not take into account a few very obvious factors such as time differences, GPS and ‘ok to show’ settings on phones, entrants using tablets, the list went on.  Jeep’s biggest mistake was undoubtedly not doing a test run with the competition before launching it to the public.

Before you leap into your inventory to see what you can give away to get some more Facebook Likers on your page, there are a few key things you need to remember to ensure that your competition is legal and complying with the ACCC and also that your business is actually getting something out of it too!

1) Get Your T&C’s straight:  Ensure that your competition is complying with the medium it is advertising in. Facebook have specific terms and conditions, whereas publishing your competition in a magazine will have a completely different set of T&C’s.  There is unlimited resources available on-line for information regarding competitions and entrants rights. Look at similar competitions and see what their fine print is to get an idea on all the bases you need to cover before launching your competition.

2) Research: Don’t just wake up one morning and decide “I’m going to give away a Spa Pool today to get people to sign up to my eNewsletter.” Although that is a pretty good incentive, you need to look at all the logistics of your prize give away and also if it’s actually going to benefit your business at all. Do as much research as you can prior to putting your competition together. What are your competitors doing? What is the best form of advertising for your competition? How will people enter? Is there any way people can cheat on their entries? Is the competition legal? Will anyone enter it?

3) Understand the technology: If you are encouraging your Instagram followers to # your business name for a chance to win a prize but have no idea how to find these #, then don’t do it. If your website isn’t strong enough to receive a huge a influx of emails for competition entries, don’t do it. If you are thinking of running a competition through social media platforms, your website or SMS entries, speak with your web developer or marketing guru and ensure you are equipped with the facilities to run a competition through that particular medium of technology. If people can’t enter the competition properly, then they have unlimited ways to vent their disappoint and tarnish your reputation – as our good friends at Jeep found out!

4) Make your prize relevant: When it comes to your own competition, ensure your business is receiving some benefit from giving something away that promotes your service so even if people don’t win the competition they are more than likely to have you in the forefront of their mind if they’re looking for your service in the future. Also, ensure your goals are clear as to what your actual business is trying to achieve with the competition, whether it be more Likers on Facebook, more addresses on your mailing list, more exposure in the local market, etc.

5) Take Note: You will learn a lot about your business and customers (or would-be-customers) from running a competition.Take on all of the feedback and ensure you understand the success’s and failures of your competition. Take special notice on the hits on your website, Likers on your social media platforms, comments on your blogs and phone enquiries. Make sure you know exactly where the enquiries are coming from so you can compile relevant information on the worth of the competition. You will have disappointed people who may get bitter about not winning, but make it your goal to turn that frown upside down and make it into a positive experience and even a sale!