"Aren't people who enter these competitions greedy, wanting to win cars and holidays?" quizzed a well-meaning journalist when she telephoned to ask about my latest wins.
"Not at all", I told her, "we're helping the economy, employment, charities and introducing people to a wonderful hobby."
"Oh", she said, "tell me how."
Think for a moment. When you collect your entry form in-store, it has already provided employment. Staff designed the competition, artists and photographers played their part, printers produced thousands of leaflets, which were transported to retail outlets. People deliver entries, sort and judge the competitions, prepare winners lists, notify winners, perhaps organise prize presentations. Journalists may run stories on major prize winners.
"So why do promoters organise competitions?", she quizzed.
Now you and I are not so naive as to think that competition promoters give away cars, holidays and the like, just for the fun of it. Organising a competition is simply a promotion, another form of advertising, designed to promote brand awareness, increase sales or for marketing purposes.
The promoter may organise a free prize draw, perhaps asking you a simple question relating to the product, for instance, what colour packaging does their new fresh fragrance come in. By entering you have been made aware of the new product and have a chance to win. You may, although you're not obliged to, decide to buy the product.
To encourage you to buy and try their product, the promoter may organise a skill contest, for instance, completing a tiebreaker slogan, where you are more likely to be asked to purchase the product to qualify for entry, the till receipt being proof of purchase. Once you've tried it, they hope you will buy again. Plus of course, you have a chance of winning an exciting prize.
Now what if only five people entered the task and tiebreaker competition to win a holiday. And this is no figment of my imagination, I assure you. National competitions have been judged where there have been more prizes than entrants. I believe the promoter would be disappointed and never likely to run a competition again.
When thousands of entries are received, the promoter is encouraged by the response, benefits from advertising, increased sales and new customers, who perhaps only bought the product to enter the competition, liked it and made repeat purchases. These promoters will organise future competitions, which is of benefit to us all.
The promoter, subject to Data Protection Act, may ask, when you enter the competition, if you wish to receive further information about their products. Most keen compers, myself included, always opt-in. When you receive mailings from the promoter, you can decide if their offer is of interest to you. They may include a special offer or a money-off coupon or another competition for you to enter.
"Comping" as this hobby is affectionately, offers you an educational, stimulating, enjoyable and fun pastime. A chance to shower your family and friends with prize-winning gifts, enjoy family holidays, drive new cars and perhaps make new friends. It's a hobby you can enjoy at home, on holiday, on your own or with family and friends. One you can "pick up and put down" as the mood takes you.
I am grateful to competitions and the people who helped me. Discovering this pastime after redundancy, I fulfilled an ambition to become a freelance writer with a regular column in a national newspaper, which I penned on a daily basis for almost three years, to write features, books, give talks and present Roadshows. I love to help you win prizes too.
With comping, you never know "where on earth" you'll be!
Yes, it's a wonderful hobby. Have fun. Share it. Enjoy it and "Carry on Comping".
This feature was written by Lynne Suzanne in 2002.
Since the time of writing, entry forms are almost non-existence in high street stores, in favour of online competitions. Competition rules have also changed, in that a competition no longer has to include an element of skill, which was normally the completion of a tiebreaker slogan, (when requesting a product purchase in order to qualify for entry), and which I believe, lead to the demise of these types of competitions.
There are other types of skill competitions, such as inventing recipes, photography, identifying countries or objects, etc., which can be found online or in specialist magazines.
Competitions where you were asked to find how many words you could make from a product name, have almost disappeared too, as the Internet made it easier for people to quickly solve anagrams. Like any other pastime, change happens and you only have to look at magazines and the Internet to discover a vast array of prize draws and competitions for you to enter. It is advisable though, to check the rules to ensure you are eligible for entry, as the contest maybe country specific or for varying age groups, such as children's competitions.
You will find links to prize draws and competitions at www.win-with-lynne.com
Lynne has helped many people to win fantastic prizes through her newspaper columns and books, and herself has won thousands of pounds worth of prizes including two cars and worldwide holidays. Lynne shares her secrets of success in her latest books: Win Cars Holidays and Prizes is packed full of prize winning advice and anecdotes, whilst Punch Lines has over 4,000 puns and word play, ideal for journalists and advertisers to create catchy taglines, headlines and copywriting.Copyright © 1993-2020 Lynne Suzanne, freelance writer and author