Contests Vs. Sweeps- What A Marketer Needs To Know

Most people don’t realize that there is actually a difference between contests and sweepstakes. When discussing them, these individuals make the mistake of interchanging the two, believing that they are simply synonyms.
Yes, both contests and sweepstakes help increase awareness about a company. Yes, they both contain some type of reward. But contests and sweepstakes are actually two different types of promotions.

What is a contest?
A contest is a promotion used that chooses a specific winner based on a certain achievement. Maybe the winner had the best submission, maybe they generated the most votes, maybe they correctly answered a trivia question—either way, they won for a reason.
What is a sweepstakes?
On the other hand, a sweepstakes is a promotion that rewards participants randomly. The winners of sweepstakes usually have to enter for their chance and that’s it. They don’t have to have the best submission, earn the most votes, correctly answer a question or do anything else other than participate.
What are the benefits of contests and sweepstakes?
Both contests and sweepstakes provide your business with many benefits. Both are great marketing tactics that generate interest in your brand and allow you to interact with current and potential customers. It generates interest and garners attention for at least the duration of your promotion, and hopefully keeps their attention once the contest or sweepstakes is over. Once these individuals know about your company and what you offer, it will make them more inclined to choose your products or services when it comes time to making a purchasing decision.
How are contests administered?
More traditional methods of contests are administered through the mail or at an event, such as a community fair. These methods have slowly been losing steam due to online contests that allow people to compete for prizes through websites or social media accounts. Participants can submit their entries online, making their participation instantaneous.
Holding contests through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are also becoming extremely popular. Businesses are starting to incorporate these promotions as a way to engage with their customers as well as build their fan and follower base.
How are sweepstakes administered?
Sweepstakes can be administered the same way as contests. Again, traditional methods of sweepstakes involve mailing in a submission form for your chance to win a prize. Sweepstakes are also commonly used at events or inside offices. Have you ever left your business card in a fishbowl at a tradeshow or event for your chance to win a prize? That’s a sweepstakes.
Sweepstakes have also made an impression online. Many businesses offer sweepstakes directly through their own website, where they will randomly select a winner from all the participants. Some businesses are also using social media to hold sweepstakes. These businesses are asking their fans and followers to participate for their chance to win a prize, and these winners will be selected at random instead of based off skill.
If your company is in the market for a fun and engaging promotion, the use of contests and sweepstakes can be a great tactic to employ. Just make sure that if you’re choosing winners based on skill that you call it a contest, and if you choose your winner randomly, call it a sweepstakes.
From the desk of Jarrod Lancing, assistant product manager for Marketing Resources a sweepstakes promotions company.