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How to Choose the Best Giveaway and Contest Prizes for Your Goals and Budget

gift cards

Gift cards are just free fun money. When in doubt- store credit or gift cards are a great prize that can assist in bringing your new audience into your store.

your product

You want your leads to enter because they like your product/brand. Draw authentic leads in with a prize from your store.

your services

If you offer services or you want save money by teaching something instead, this is a great option. Ex- instead of giving goods from your bakery, offer a baking class instead!

an experience

Sometimes a fun experience is the best way to be memorable- especially around the holidays. Bonus points if it relates to your brand, ex- a brewery giving away tickets to a beer festival.

Key Takeaways

Keep it simple and attractive to your audience. Scroll down to read more in our blog!

It doesn't have to be expensive

You can give away anything that you think your ideal audience will like, regardless of cost to you. Often times samples of your product, experiences, or just simply being the first to get something is enough to capture an audience. This also means themed simple items such as fireworks on the Fourth of July, or a limited edition of your own product to bring the audience back to you.

Give a full gift or experience

It is often best to offer a full experience for your grand prize as opposed to a discount or an item that requires add ons. For example, a boutique offering a gift card for the standard price of a full outfit or VIP tickets to a festival that includes any add on fees there may be.

Create a Budget

Stick to your budget. You can get creative with packages and prizes being items or services that don't cost you much as long as they are things your audience would be interested in. For example, if you want to stay low budget for your bakery's grand opening- offer a free cookie package for leads that are a fan of your product.

Have a friend win too

Encouraging referrals can look like offering "if you win, they win also" items and experiences. This can be a couples Valentine's Day themed dinner package, or a day at the spa for the winner and their friend, or could even work for a service like lawn care- one wins a freshly mowed lawn- they both do.

Exclusivity

When it comes to a waitlist for a new product launch, exclusivity can even be a prize in itself. Offering the top of your list to be the first to receive your product or a limited edition item can be enough to drive a competitive crowd. You can also offer a one of a kind style of your product for your winner for the extra bragging rights.

Prize goal:

Choose something leads who are interested in your brand would want. You can also go with themed prizes to keep your contest fun.

Learn more

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The Ultimate List of Prize Ideas for Your Next Contest or Giveaway

Read our blog to learn more about different ways to launch with the best prizes for your brand!

Full Transcript

Josh:
Hi, everyone. Welcome back to the On Growth podcast. Today, I'm going to be talking with Hannah from KickoffLabs and we're going to be talking about best practices for prizes. We recently published a blog post with the ultimate list of prize ideas, depending on your business, and the holiday, and things to think about. And we wanted to walk through that post and add some context to it, and maybe just throw out some unique ideas that we've heard and seen for people running competitions with KickoffLabs. Because one of the questions that seems to hold people up when setting up a competition is like, "Oh, what do I give away? Or what would entice people to complete a task? Or what would get them to share with their friends?" And so I figured we can have this conversation. We can publish it with the blog post and send it out to everybody so they can get their ideas going with what they're doing. So Hannah, thanks for joining me again.

Hannah:
Of course.

Josh:
I'm curious, have you ever won a competition like this, like a giveaway online or in person?

Hannah:
I have very weird luck. I win giveaways really often, actually.

Josh:
Oh, wow.

Hannah:
Yeah.

Josh:
Do you have any examples of giveaways you've entered and won?

Hannah:
Yeah. Locally, we have a really cool comedy show place and I win at least once a month a free show. Random stuff like that, where you play a game and you win that way, or you do the big email lead where you just put in your email and phone number and you luck out and win. But I don't have as much luck with the ones that are very specific with action taking. I'm not as lucky there.

Josh:
But random draws, you have pretty good luck on the random draws?

Hannah:
Absolutely. Yeah. When they say we're going to use the random winner picker, that's me.

Josh:
Nice. That's cool. I don't have much luck with those. I feel like I enter them a lot and I don't win. I could probably win a lot of online competitions in KickoffLabs if I cheated, but that would be unfair. But no, I don't have much luck. I won one in-person giveaway, and it was way back when I was going to a job fair and they're giving away a set of Sonos speakers.

Hannah:
Cool. That's a good win.

Josh:
I won the grand prize of the Sonos speakers from the job fair and I was like, "Oh, that's pretty cool." I used those for years. So I always remembered the job fair from it.

Hannah:
It's funny to be in this industry and not have luck.

Josh:
Yeah, no, I understand how it all works. I just can't win those things. I think what you brought up is an interesting point, which is I hear from customers sometimes say like, "Oh, I'm a small business. What could I give away?" And like, well, "Maybe not that many people enter." And I think what's important to remember with that is in the case of the comedy club is a small business, you might feel like you're winning pretty frequently. And maybe they do have a bunch of winners, but for them, just the cost of giving you a ticket once a month and the good will of you'll bring somebody, you might spend extra money there. The benefits to them probably are worth doing that, even if maybe there's only 20 entrants in a month and they pick one winner. The 20 people entered, they had fun, the one person who won brings a friend.
There's all sorts of benefits that people don't realize even for small, I would call them micro-contests for business like in our case because we handle contests from 20 people entering to a million people entering. And on that scale, I always want to encourage people, "You probably should enter just your local businesses' competitions, A, to support a local business, and B, you have a higher chance of winning. I just know that from looking at the numbers, the contests that we see running on KickoffLabs, that supporting a small business is also potentially good if you're interested in winning some of the competitions.

Hannah:
Oh, yeah. And it makes you such a loyal customer. I mean, the place here, it's a small comedy club, but it's relatively famous. So it's always super, super busy with big headliners. And I was like, "There's no way I'm going to win," but not many people are interacting with them socially. So I was like, "You know what? Let's see." And I test my luck every single week. And I mean, every time I buy merchandise, food, drinks, I bring tons of friends. Usually, they give you four tickets, but you also pay a service fee to be using all the stuff and there's a minimum on consuming food. So either way, you're going, but they're still profiting the small way, but it's still exciting because you don't pay for your ticket.

Josh:
Yep. And I'd say, just to transition, as my smooth transition here into what we're talking about, that prize category falls directly into, you're just giving away your product if you've got a product like that. If you are a restaurant, maybe you can give away a meal. If you're a comedy club, obviously, you can give away tickets. Or a concert venue, you can give away tickets to some of the popular events, or a popular event, or even maybe not-so-popular event. You don't know who's interested in winning. But just that, the easy category for businesses big and small is that if you've got something that people are going to pay for, just to choose that as your reward. And so then the common question that gets asked is, "Well, how much should I give away? What should the value of the prize be?" And we've had some people give us suggestions there. I don't know if you want to chime in with the suggestions we've heard about the amount you would give people or consider spending on rewards.

Hannah:
I think it depends on what kind of contest they're doing, but with a lot of the wait list ones, I guess those have varied a lot too. So a lot of times, we'll either see something big like Haugen Racing where his had of been at least a thousand-dollar prize, but it was something so specific to his people that he knew that it was worth it because he was getting interaction from people that would just be all about him once they won. As opposed to saying, "I'm just going to give you a thousand dollars," then anybody's going to enter and that really doesn't do much for your business. So I've seen a huge range in recommendation from a bigger ticket item, but more specific to your brand, or something that's exciting to people who follow your brand that can be smaller. And again, things like tickets and stuff like that, I feel like the range though we've typically seen is about 250, 350 as the dollar amount if they wanted to calculate it. Unless it's a huge wait list, then they go a little bit higher than that.

Josh:
Yeah, I think for giveaways for businesses, that's... And that's what we've seen recommended from other people we've had on the podcast is if you're an online store or a restaurant or something, a restaurant might give away a meal or a meal for four, which might range somewhere between a hundred to $200. If you're an online store, it might make sense or even a local store to give a 250-dollar gift card to the store. Something where people could get something complete out of it, is the goal, either a complete outfit, a complete meal, a complete experience. Like you said, there might be add-ons they have to pay for. But giving people something where it's valuable enough to enter where they're not just getting a discount and they still have to pay a ton of money on top where it looks like to them like, "Oh, this is a complete experience."
And so going through our post, we talk about gift cards up to $250. One competition by a company called Hip Kids, which is a company that had a boutique store for children's items. They were giving away a complete kids room package with some furniture and it was valued at $639. So that's kind of a bigger thing, but it's also directly within their brand. It's a complete set that they were giving away with the competition. And then we've seen some other ideas where people are giving away maybe X amount of dollars per referral to their email list. And so you're thinking about $5 per referral to your email list. And you can cap it at a certain amount, is something that people can do. So you can say like, "$10 per person you refer to our store," capped at five people and then that eliminate some of the risk.
And so these are primarily things like larger rewards. And so I was talking to a customer today and they are launching a service, so getting away from a store thing more to a business. They're launching a software service to help people applying for jobs online and to keep track of their applications, from the side of the person applying, to keep track of their applications to see what's working for them, to mark the status of the applications. And they'll tie into LinkedIn and other job boards so that they can come back and say, "Here's where your applications are working. Here's where they're not working."
And so they were like, "Oh, well, what do we give for a prize?" And my suggestion there, because they are a wait list would be one, a common thing for a wait list for a service like that, this is they already have the product at least available on a limited basis, is to just give people, as a reward for some referrals, instant access as a prize. And that works really well because it's like, "Oh, you just get three referrals and you get instant access," so people have a concrete idea what they're going for. And then for a giveaway to that, what we were talking about doing was setting up a giveaway where they work with a partner to come up with resume building services. So that might be a 500-dollar resume building package. Again, it's something that's complete that they can just give away there.

Hannah:
Yeah. I know it's daunting with a business like that or a restaurant or something like that when you start and you're not sure what you're supposed to give away. So you immediately go to, "Well, I guess I have to give away something expensive. I have to buy some crazy random something that has nothing to do with my company because how am I supposed to give them something that makes sense?" But when you put it in terms of just finding something that your customers are already looking for, it doesn't even have to be I guess technically your product, but something that helps with your product or goes hand in hand with your product, that, it's really smart to bring them in that way. And it makes it a lot simpler instead of jumping in and being terrified that you have to spend all this money and do something crazy.

Josh:
Absolutely. So the next thing I wanted to talk about was the holidays are coming up. So it's October 4th is the day we're recording this. As you point out, to me that means Halloween is coming up, that means Thanksgiving in the US and around the world, Cyber Monday, Black Friday, Christmas, New Year's. It's the whole season and everyone out there is vying for advertising attention. So if you're running a contest, you'll have a leg up because you're getting more engagement out of the advertising you're doing. Maybe pick your favorite themed... What's your favorite themed prize idea people could give away for one or more of these holidays?

Hannah:
Oh, gosh. I think for Christmas, it just sticks out every time to me that it's really fun when people theme something towards a self-care package. Because like you said, all these holidays are coming up and it's a lot, but I always think it's really cool if it's some kind of self-care for you and a friend. It's so easy to do, so easy to give away. You make it Christmas themed and put hot chocolate in there and make it a cozy package. So simple, but worth winning, especially if it's from whatever company it is. For example, I received, last year, it's the brand Comfy. It's this obnoxious oversized hoodie that's really cozy and comfy and makes you happy. And if a brand like that were to do this, having one of those as the giveaway and then some kind of Christmas-themed candles and hot chocolate would be a killer prize.

Josh:
No, absolutely. I think tied to your brand as much as possible. I mean, there's some cases where the holiday's not going to tie to your brand. If you're talking about Halloween, it could tie to your brand if you're a food company and you're giving away subscription meal boxes or you're just giving away some sort of food items or cooking items. Obviously, it's easy like throw in some candy as a prize or some sort of prize package with desserts. Something like that is really easy. And then you add in some prizes that maybe aren't from your brand, package them together with a prizes from your brand so customers can see the relation and it's something they want. And as you said, they're getting a sweatshirt and the other self-care items.

Hannah:
Yeah, I've seen a lot for Halloween, at least locally here, people give away just experience packages since we have so many different popups for Halloween that are pricey. They're inclusive. They have different drinks, snacks, stuff like that, that come with the ticket. So even something like that. It's random brands that doesn't really match their brand, but it's really exciting because it's the holidays and you're getting a whole experience out of it.

Josh:
Yeah. Absolutely. The other thing you mentioned that I wanted to remind people of is you mentioned the concept of if you're giving something away, consider saying that you and your friend get it. Because with KickoffLabs, we can track referrals of friends. And it's become, I think, a really smart mechanic to say, "When you invite your friend, if they win, you'll win." So you have motivation to invite the friend, not only because you get more entries in the competition, but because if your friend wins, then you'll win. And so consider doubling your package at the end. So you can say, "Hey, there's two of them. So if you brought in somebody and they win, don't worry because we're going to give it to you as well." And I think that helps people and it's also in the spirit of a Thanksgiving competition. So if you were going to run a Thanksgiving competition, I would really encourage people to do a giveaway where the friend also wins.
You're grateful for your friends and you want to bring them along in the spirit of giving and give to them as well, which brings me to the Thanksgiving competition. So we're in the process of releasing some Thanksgiving-specific competitions, themes. So they're nice and fun. They're branded with some Thanksgiving that you can mix with your brand. It feels very fally. There's leaves in the design, everything you can imagine that you can't see on the podcast, but the themes are really interesting. And we've had some ideas that we've been going with and one of them is getting people just to... This gets away from the prize a little bit, but a little bit more of the engagement is you ask people to share what they're grateful for, or share their favorite Thanksgiving recipe, and that might tie into, you'd give away a cookbook or something like that for Thanksgiving, or you'd give away a cooking package, something that's tied to a holiday designed around eating and being grateful.
And so we've had these contest ideas around sharing a story. And that's something with KickoffLabs you can do where they can enter and then share. And just a bonus best practice that we've seen from people, is as people share these stories, you curate the best ones. You send out an email with like, "Hey, here's people's best recipes that they sent us," or, "Here's people's best stories to keep people engaged." And you're creating this two-way conversation out of the competition, not just running the competition as a very transactional "I enter, I win, I don't talk to you again" sort of affair.

Hannah:
Yeah, especially when you're a small business, that engagement's super important. Plus, people sharing your stuff and then saying something positive with it, that's just, that's psychology. Seeing something positive beside your brand from one of your friends, whether it's a recommendation or not, that puts a really good taste in people's mouths just in general that it's more than just a giveaway when it comes to especially holiday giveaways and a thankful holiday, and that it's not just a money grab, but something that is related to your brand.

Josh:
So what about a shopping holiday like Cyber Monday? What kind of prizes or mechanics have you seen brands do for a Black Friday, Cyber Monday kind of affair?

Hannah:
So when I did my giveaway, it was one of those with KickoffLabs. And some of the biggest things that I feel like people will fight for are the early access, or early spot in line, if it's in person, whatever it is, the early code to your website, something like that, a better discount. That's one of the things where a discount is okay. You get that better discount for whatever the item is, or you have your name put in the drawing for whatever your top shopped item is. Because a lot of Black Friday items, people are coming to that store because there is a specific item that they are waiting for and they want. So whatever that specific item is, doing that. I know my brand, we added a trip because Black Friday is exhausting for everybody. So we did a trip and then a quick small shopping spree, but the shopping spree had to be Black Friday items, not regular store items. So then it encouraged them to come to Black Friday.

Josh:
Oh, that's really neat. And it makes me think the reserve your spot in line, the early access, we have a lot of people that even outside of a shopping holiday like Black Friday where early chance to buy, people that are setting up pre-launch Kickstarter campaigns, that's a really popular prize is say, "Hey, the people who are higher up on the wait list for this pre-launch campaign are going to have access to the early-bird specials on Kickstarter before anyone else," because there's always a limited quantity of a chance to purchase at that price. And when I first saw people doing this, I'm always skeptical because I never win competitions. So I'd say to myself like, "Oh, who wants an earlier chance to buy something? It's just an earlier chance to spend your money."
And I run a contest software company, but I'm naturally skeptical of these things because I don't win as I said earlier. But sure enough, that mechanic does work really well and it's a really popular prize to say, "If you have special access or exclusivity to a discount or an experience that other people aren't going to get, it becomes a really good thing to give away, either as a prize or as something that people can earn," in the case of the Kickstarter, by being near the top of the wait list store, as in your case, a prize of a chance where people can just become first in line or get there first.

Hannah:
There is a shockingly big niche for exclusivity. I know people that they'll go out of their way, they'll pay whatever the extra is, whatever drop it is. They don't have to see what the product is. If they get to be first, for some reason, that just pulls them in. And so that always does surprise me that, that is... It's a really successful method, especially to encourage people to engage and talk about it because they want to talk about being the first one on the list that you have to wait. And maybe they get a referral code for later on and they feel like an influencer for you and they feel special. It's just a really nice easy benefit that you can get out of doing that.

Josh:
So something that today, we've been talking a lot about consumer-oriented prizes, and there's whole section in the blog post about business-to-business idea for prizes. And this is something I hear from folks like, "Oh, yeah, I run a business or I'm targeting other businesses. Is it even worth running a contest? What would I give away?" And people get stuck on that, but there's a whole wealth of things. And the first thing I want to point out, and I'll send it over to you to walk through some of the ideas, is that nowadays, business to business, the purchase decisions may be made by somebody higher up who's not influenced by the prizes, but the recommendations to purchase something are always made by individuals.
And now that we're in an age of Slack and Microsoft Teams, the people choosing to use those pieces of software are being invited by their friends, they're being encouraged to try out the pieces of software. It's no longer just somebody at the top says like, "Now, we're just using this," and there's no other chance for other software to get in the door. There's a chance for other software companies to get in the door at larger businesses because the purchases really are, individuals are a big factor and you can motivate individuals with some rewards. And so what are some of the things that we talked about in the blog post for business-to-business ideas?

Hannah:
A minute since I've seen the blog post. But I can say that as somebody who's doing the marketing, I know you're not constantly looking at stuff like that, but if there was some kind of tech company that had a SAAS product that worked with us and they reached out and they said, "Hey, enter our contest or get on our wait list or try our product for free," we would look into it. And it's more of the software demo that would be attractive and appeal to the professionals that are in the industry that you're looking towards. Again, less likely that the reward is as much of an exciting thing, but if the reward is something like A, a membership and you get that trial so you get to see if that's something you're actually interested in, it's a really good way to bring people in as opposed to giving away something that's top dollar.
And we did something similar. I know it was for customers, but on the flip side, if we had done a very similar contest to what we did, we could have branded for other companies as well, small businesses. I mean, our customers are business owners on that side, and we specifically gave away those business accounts and free demos and conversation.

Josh:
Yeah, no, this is exactly what we talked about in the blog post, which is...

Hannah:
Perfect.

Josh:
We did. So to recap some of the stuff that was in there as well, for B2B, if you're a B2B person thinking about prizes to give away, people strangely liked the branded merchandise. I know this was a competition with our customers, but I think we got the most positive responses from people that were getting our mugs. So we came up with a branded mug with a slogan that said "Boss Marketer" on it with our logo and people like getting those. Some of the other things we've seen people give away, you mentioned the free consultation, the free membership for a limited time.
The other thing that has value to people, is anything that helps improve their usage of the product or their things. So free online courses, like an online course about how to do this thing that may feature your product, or a free coaching session or informational session with your product. And so as an expert, in your software space, people value that personal attention. So you say like, "We're going to give you guys this personal attention as part of something you can earn or participating or recommending a friend." "We'll give the personal coaching session to you and a friend," is a good example of things a B2B company to do, and just the cases where there might be some prize that relates to the brand still there.
And then what you mentioned before is if they're related software companies. So finding products that aren't competitive with yours, but are products your customer uses. Because even today, there's not one piece of software that does everything a business needs. So your customers are always using between three to 10 other pieces of software or more at their company. And if you have an idea of what are two or three of those other businesses, you could reach out to those other businesses and do a joint promotion where you get to email each other's mailing list. You get to talk about it, co-promoting, you get to get that engagement across the three brands, is something to look for to do if you're a B2B company there.

Hannah:
Right. Yeah, even if it were saying, "We're a small business and we know that... We're working with small businesses that need to learn a little bit more about advertising and marketing because that's what you need to know to use our product." And then sending them to some kind of conference, like getting them a ticket to a conference that's not through you, or something that's informative that they can see that's not through you, or just bringing them into the conversation. If you did something like with us having an influencer or not an influencer, combining with someone like ConvertKit. So we've got an email platform that we highly recommend that we really like to use. And working with their audience and our audience and having that trial between the two of us, I feel like that would be really beneficial for random people that are looking into the company.

Josh:
Cool. And is it possible to give away prizes if you're in a regulated space, let's say alcohol or cannabis in a regulated space? Have you seen people give away prizes if you're a business that has a product that's under some form of regulation?

Hannah:
Yeah. I mean, we had our one company, I cannot remember their name, but that did the 420 giveaway and that was wildly successful for them.

Josh:
They were a chain of local dispensaries. I don't have the name in front of me right now, but they ran a chain of cannabis dispensaries.

Hannah:
Yes. And that was cool. They did it as a wait list and they gave away product. They just made sure it was only in their state, certain age. They were very limited, very specific about their targeting. Plus, they had to go around a lot of ad territory. So they obviously couldn't use just strictly Google Ads and stuff like that because there's a lot of censorship. So they were able to use programs specifically for that industry. And a lot of professionals in those industries are aware of the rules and the difficulties of it, but it's definitely possible and you don't necessarily have to give away those things. You can give away merch involving those things, which is legal anywhere.

Josh:
Yeah. So we talked about... In the post, we talked about that could be party supplies, or if you're throwing a party, you could give away that's related to the space in that location. And then if they wanted to give away their product, which in this case, they did, they wanted to give people gift cards to the product, as you've said, what they did was they just made sure to follow the rules, which was you had to show up in the store to redeem it.
You couldn't just go... Obviously, they didn't really have online sales, or maybe they did have local delivery, but I think still to ensure it, they made sure that the winner had to show up in the store to claim their price, that they could validate IDs and make sure they were a resident of the state and able to purchase from the dispensary. And that ended up being really successful for them in terms of getting people to mention the store online, getting people to tell their friends about it. And so they had a lot of people just coming into the store because of the competition, looking to redeem the gift cards that they'd gotten as part of the participation.

Hannah:
Yeah. And with products like that, it almost opens up for more entertaining, funny marketing. And it definitely brings in the conversation where people, even if they're just winning merch or something like that, it's probably funny merch. It's probably something interesting and it brings them into just realizing there's a cool company that they want to see, want to check out, and they'll tell their friends about, or if there's events because I'm sure there's cannabis events. I know when I ran a brewery, we would give away tickets to brewery events and festivals. So either way, you still had to be of age. And then the company itself that was hosting the event would be the people that managed the legality of it. So we could have our hands clean of that as well. So you're not so worried about the age frame and all of the really heavy legal details.

Josh:
Awesome. We're at the 30-minute mark and I wanted to wrap this up, wrap this up here. So far, we've talked about pulling from this blog post we'll link to in the show notes, the ultimate list of prizes. Some of the things we've talked about are if you're giving away something really large, try and keep it as branded to your audience as possible. So there was the example of Haugen Racing giving away a racing simulator kit. If you're a smaller business, a local store, an on smaller online store, considering prizes that are valued in the 200-hundred, the hundred to 250-dollar range where it can be a complete experience for someone, whether it's a complete outfit, a complete dinner out. We talked about some holiday examples of prizes including self-care. And we talked about B2B, the B2B prizes, which can be education or related products or conference tickets that people would value.
And then we talked about some of the restricted space stuff, which obviously, making sure you're following the local rules. And in your example, for the breweries, having somebody manage that for you at the event or giving away events or related prizes. I think these are all great ideas. I encourage everyone to check out the blog post that Hannah posted for some more ideas. And just if you want to reply to this episode or the email about this episode and let us know your favorite prize to win, we'd love to hear it. But thanks for listening and we can't wait to help you set up your contest at KickoffLabs.

Hannah:
Yes, for sure.

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