Although the terms “sweepstakes” and “contest” tend to be used interchangeably in casual conversation, they are different types of promotions that are governed by their own specific rules requirements and legal regulations. It is important to know the differences between them when planning your next promotion.
Simply defined, a sweepstakes is a “game of chance” and a contest is a “game of skill”.
Let’s take a look at two example promotions and decide which is a sweepstakes, and which is a contest:
Example Promotion A:
To enter, participants must visit a specific website, fill out an entry form and include a cute photo of their pet. Once entered, the participant’s photo will be added to a gallery which will be displayed on the sponsor’s website. After the promotion period has ended, a grand prize winner will be chosen at random to win a prize package of pet pampering products.
Example Promotion B:
Similar to Promotion A, this promotion involves entering at a specified website and uploading a cute pet photo. The photo will once again be displayed in a gallery and the same prize package will be awarded. However, the winner will be determined based on pre-determined judging criteria, such as the cuteness of their pet photo, and quality of the photo.
Which one is the sweepstakes, and which is the contest?
It may be helpful to remember these two categories of promotions as sweepstakes and skill contests. Why? In a sweepstakes, the winner is decided by a random drawing that takes place during or after the promotion period. However, the winner of a contest is decided by one or more qualified judges based on a pre-determined set of criteria that shows the participants’ ability to exhibit a skill.
Therefore, when planning your promotion, ask the question: Will the winner be determined by a random drawing, or will they have to exhibit some sort of skill?
Since Promotion A’s winner will be decided by a random drawing, it will be classified as a sweepstakes. Since the winner of Promotion B will be decided by a judging process, it is a contest.
One more important factor to consider when deciding whether a sweepstakes or contest is best for your promotion are the benefits offered by each. Both offer benefits in the area of engagement, providing ways to involve an audience in the promotion rather than simply talking to them. The potential to win a great prize, or the opportunity for participants to show their stuff in a skill contest are both ways to get people excited about your promotion, making participants more likely to talk about it and share it with friends and family.
In a separate blog post entitled “Why You Should Want to Run a Sweepstakes,” US Sweepstakes covers the many benefits of executing a sweepstakes or contest including lead generation/audience development, building website traffic, driving sales, receiving user generated content, and more. Click here to view the full post and find out how a prize promotion can help you conquer your marketing goals.
Do you have an idea for a sweepstakes or contest that you would like to turn into a reality? Contact US Sweepstakes today for a free consultation and quote.