Will Blunt is the founder of Sidekick Digital by Will Blunt - B2B Marketing Expert - Sidekick Digital, a publishing business that launches, manages, and grows brands with content marketing.
Imagine if the prize you gave away in a contest created more brand awareness than the contest itself?It may sound crazy, but that is the power of an experience as a giveaway prize.Instead of rewarding a contest winner with a physical product, we’re seeing a trend developing which is all about the Instagrammable experience. And it makes a lot of sense.Think about it… If you run a contest that gives away one of your products or a generic prize, such as an iPad, what happens after the contest ends?Most of the time, nothing happens. The winner gets their prize and continues on with their life as if nothing happened. Sure, there will be some initial goodwill and increased brand awareness from the contest campaign, but it’s not sustainable.With an experience, you can extend the life of a contest beyond the build-up and prize-giving period.
Why give experiences as prizes?
As I alluded to above, experiences allow you to prolong brand exposure, and in some cases, even increase the reach of a campaign by sending it viral.A well-positioned experience prize could attract attention in the news, be referenced by other brands online, and will almost certainly be shown off on social media by the winner(s). It also gives you content for your own marketing channels that can be used during the experience, after the experience, and in future giveaways.
Tips for making the most of an experience prize
If you’re planning on using an experience as the prize for your next giveaway, here are some tips for getting the most out of it:
- Make the experience for at least two people. Whether you’re giving away a dinner, holiday, or skydiving experience, it’s critical to allow the winner to bring at least one person with them. This will help during the contest and once the experience is underway, as people are more likely to share it with friends and family on social media if they are doing it with someone else. The unique “shopping spree” experience in this Instagram contest is a good example of sharing the love:
Shopping spree experience.
- Get your legal terms in order. This one sounds a little boring but it is essential. Experience prizes are extremely different to physical products and require unique contest terms and more intensive follow up. Be sure to identify everything that is included in the giveaway upfront, so there are no surprises. Also, try to avoid making winners pay for anything during an experience. For example, if you give away a $50 dinner voucher, but the cheapest sit-down meal is $100, the winner will be forced to pay a portion of the experience. This could have a negative impact on your brand.
- Give them some swag. When rewarding a winner with an experience, be sure to give them some company swag to use while they cash-in on the prize. This may be a t-shirt, a hat, or something as simple as a lanyard which will be visible during any photos or videos that are captured during the experience.
- Have a plan to leverage the experience on social media. It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many brands under-leverage an experience giveaway. Whatever you do, don’t hand over the plane tickets and leave the winner(s) to their own accord. Strategically plan how you will create and use content from the experience on your social media channels. Send a photographer with the winner. Capture videos, photos, and commentary during the experience. And strategically release that content on social media to extend the goodwill of the contest.
- Get the content and experience in the hands of the press. A high-end experience prize can be a great way to have your brand featured in the press. Prime your press contacts in the lead up to the giveaway and arm them with content as the experience kicks into gear. This press exposure could amplify the reach of the campaign at a rapid rate.
Examples of experiences as prizes
What type of experiences could you use as a contest prize to reap all the benefits I’ve discussed?Here are some ideas for you:
- Food and wine. Eating out is something many people do with each other, and it can create a memorable experience if your brand is aligned with the hospitality industry. Consider dinner vouchers, romantic dining experiences, food or wine tasting, or even high tea relaxation. The giveaway below has put together the ultimate package for a group of wine-loving friends:
Food and wine giveaway example.
- Classes. Learning a new skill with a friend, family member, or group will create a memorable story for years to come. Cooking classes, surf lessons, or even learning how to fly could be an attractive experience for your audience.
- Getaways. Vacations and holidays are a real crowd pleaser when it comes to giveaways. Whether you’re offering a cruise experience, luxury retreat, family adventure, or simply a weekend camping trip, participants love the idea of winning a free escape from the 9-to-5 grind.
Getaway giveaway example.
- Events. Entertainment and cultural events are an exciting way for people to experience a city’s nightlife or unique identity. It may be a concert, traveling circus, sporting event, musical theatre, or a virtual reality escape room, event-based giveaways are a thrilling option. The contest below is giving away two floor seats to a Garth Brooks concert:
- Adventure activities. If you think your audience has an affinity for adrenalin, adventure activities could be the way to go. With this type of prize, you are only limited by your imagination. Everything from hot air ballooning, skydiving, scuba diving, or even just an adventurous hiking trail could be the perfect prize.
Skydiving experience contest.
- Tours. They may not sound as exciting as jumping out of a plane, but group tours are a fun way to connect and soak up the culture of a city. Cycling tours, bus tours, or cultural day trips are all interesting experiences for the right audience.
- Meetings. This experience idea is a little left-field but it’s one that could attract a lot of attention and press. Or at the very least, some social media buzz. You could partner with an influencer or celebrity who has a trusted relationship with your customers and give away a one-on-one meeting with them or other experience. Who wouldn’t want to have lunch with their idol?
These are just some ideas for prize experiences you could use in an upcoming giveaway. However, the prize itself is less important than the way you leverage that experience to create positive press and social media buzz for your brand.How will you use an experience to extend the life of your next contest?
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