At exhibitions and events, sweepstakes and contests are a popular marketing strategy. It is a great way to get leads: visitors submit their business card and the winner of e.g., a trip or iPad is announced.
At a sweepstakes, the winner is chosen by the luck of the draw. At a contest, the winner is chosen based on some merit, such as best photo, most votes on a video, best slogan, etc.
In the U.S., federal laws governing marketing promotions have been in place for decades. But also many states regulate sweepstakes, such as Massachusetts, Michigan and Virginia that all ban tobacco-related promotions. California, Tennessee and Utah highly regulate promotions involving alcohol.
Every sweepstakes and contest must have “official rules” and they should be easy to find by the public. The easiest way is to link to the rules where it is easy to find and read them.
What should the rules entail?
- “No purchase necessary.”
- The alternative method of free participation.
- Geographic area of the sweepstakes and/or who is eligible to participate in the sweepstakes.
- Opening date and scheduled termination date of the sweepstakes.
- Complete name and address of the sponsor and promoter of the contest.
- Number of prizes, the accurate description of each prize, the retail value of each prize and the odds of winning each type of prize.
- Whether all prizes offered will be awarded and how the prizes will be awarded.
- Manner of selection of winners and when a determination of winners will be made.
- Where and when a list of winners can be obtained.
From a marketing standpoint it is clever to limit the value of the prize to e.g., an eBook, a voucher of $25 for an online store, or a free product to avoid tax complications for the winner.