Jeremy Stern is managing director of promotions company PromoVeritas. He says: ‘Prize draws select winners on luck, but if you get in early and enter as many as possible you boost your chance of success. But those based on judgment of how you answer a question often have fewer people entering them – and this dramatically increases the odds of winning.’
A competition asking you to provide a catchy ditty or explain in a few words what a great product a firm markets, offers a bigger opportunity to win yourself a prize.
Originality to a sound bite is key. For example, the phrase ‘Beanz Meanz Heinz’ is one of the most memorable coined. It was dreamt up 50 years ago by advertising executive Maurice Drake over a couple of beers at a pub in London. A way to add to the appeal of an original phrase is to make sure it includes alliteration – the same letter used at the start of different words – as well as double-meanings. Competition judges also like humour.
Unfortunately you may have to enter a hundred competitions just to win one, so a huge part of the attraction needs to be the thrill of the chase. It is unlikely a competition is going to offer exactly what you really want, so part of the skill is knowing how to dispose of unwanted prizes for cash. Trading websites such as eBay can help.
Premium-rate phone number competitions may incur higher charges so be clear on what you will be charged before you enter, especially for 09 numbers number competitions which can be more than £2 per minute. It is also important to be wary of postal costs. A second-class stamp is only 56p but if you posted the answers to 50 separate competitions a week then the total cost would be £28.
If the terms and conditions do not specify that you must use a plain envelope or postcard then there is nothing wrong with using colourful envelopes or cards so they will stand out.
How to increase your chances
- INCREASE your luck. The more competitions you enter then the greater the likelihood is you are going to win. It requires you to persevere through times when you get nothing – so a positive attitude is vital. Often multiple entries are allowed – use them.
- USE judgment. The odds of winning the National Lottery jackpot are greater than being struck by lightning. But if you enter competitions where a touch of skill is required, you are more likely to win. Being original and creative with ideas always helps.
- READ the terms and conditions. Absorbing details of all available prizes and closing dates as well as specific guidance on what is required from entrants not only gives you the edge but ensures you do not fall foul of strict judging criteria. For example, if a photo competition asks for a headshot, sending any other photo will disqualify you.
- LOOK out for loopholes. Brands run promotions without thinking through the details. For example, a winner may be picked every hour. This can mean it makes sense to set the alarm clock and enter in the middle of the night when competitors are asleep.