When promotions don’t pay
You know the drill – you want to increase brand awareness, connect with customers and encourage engagement, and a prize promotion is the best way to tick all of those boxes. As well as being a useful way to engage with your audience and find new customers, promotions are a good opportunity for companies to collect marketing data as part of a wider strategy. The key word here is strategy – it should not be a slapdash, standalone activity. As part of an integrated and well planned campaign, it should be successful so companies can reap a range of rewards, such as expanding contact databases and reaching hundreds, if not thousands, of new customers to boost sales and brand engagement.
Every promotion has risk?
However, as some big name brands have found out, promotions don’t always pay off; there are risks involved, with some common ones being :
● Poorly drafted Terms & Conditions : creating a legal risk for the brand if the details are clear
● Getting lots of fake entries; very common on social media platforms
● Not conducting the winner selection fairly; failing to properly judge all entries to a competition, or being less than random when picking a winner for a prize draw / sweepstake
● Delays in contacting winners: or sending them the wrong prize notification
Big name mishaps
These are not theoretical risks, they are real and happen more than you might imagine. Blunders by big-name brands included the UK high-street chemist, Boots. They ran a prize draw offering a trip to Barcelona – but accidentally emailed all 9,000 entrants telling them that they had won the prize ! With lots of angry consumers, the company had to come clean and give all the entrants a minimum of a £10 voucher as compensation, with more for some and they also reran the draw with another Barcelona trip. A smart but expensive way to handle a mishap.
You may also remember a scandal from 2007 when TV viewers in the UK wasted millions of pounds on entering pay to enter on-air prize draws when the draw had already taken place and the winner selected. As well as suspending all promotions and having to reimburse viewers, the TV companies were fined more than £10m – and a few head rolled !
An example of the unexpected is a photography competition organised by Thomson Holidays. The winner submitted a photo of himself with his son and a smiling horse in the background, and bagged himself a holiday. However, the owner of the horse complained, saying that they should receive a share of the prize as the horse belonged to them. Luckily, Thomson had tight T&Cs stating that permission must be sought from anyone featuring in an image – emphasis on anyone, and funnily enough, animals weren’t included in that.
The big worry for senior marketers is that all of this may be happening without you even knowing. These things are often in the hands of junior staff or outsourced to fulfilment houses, and few will consider the risk to the brand if things were to go wrong.
What’s the lesson to be learned here, and how can you avoid disaster?
● Set your goals for the promotion – be clear on what you want to achieve from it
● Make sure it’s legal – the laws governing promotional techniques vary in different countries and on different platforms
● Plan – plot out every step of your promotion
● Risk analysis – consider every element involved and look for the ‘breakpoints’ of what could go wrong
● Stay on top of it – delegation is dangerous unless there is also regular reporting. Reports of unusual response figures or a few complaints could all be indicators that something is not right
● Have a contingency plan – know what you will do if something goes wrong. And if it does, ‘fess up and apologise. As with any crisis communications situation, tackling it heads on and being as transparent as possible is always the best strategy.
Managing your company’s reputation has to be at the forefront of your promotional strategy and the decisions made as part of that.
A helping hand
Using an independent promotional verification service, such as PromoVeritas, can help to provide peace of mind. We help prevent any potential hiccups by managing the risk factors associated with running promotions and making sure that you meet all legal requirements in whichever country you are working. We also help deal with the integrity and security of the back end, including the winner selection and winner management.
Taking the right steps to make your promotion water-tight is the key to pulling off a successful strategy. If you need some help, get in touch.
By Jeremy Stern – MD of PromoVeritas