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23 mar

Retail Sweepstakes: How to drive consumers in-store with a retail sweepstakes

By: Julie Link | In: Contests, Instagram, Marketing, Sweepstakes, User Generated Content

Are you a retailer whose goal is to create a promotion that drives in-store traffic and sales? If so, running an online sweepstakes is a great way to not only collect consumer data, but to also drive consumers in-store. Today, I will discuss how to drive consumers in-store with a retail sweepstakes.

Instagram Sweepstakes

Running an Instagram sweepstakes provides many benefits for brands. These include gathering user-generated content, increasing their social reach, and interacting with consumers. If you’re a retailer, it can provide even more. One example is when launching a new brand of products. By encouraging consumers to come into your store and take a photo with the new merchandise with the campaign hashtag, you not only have the opportunity to drive in-store traffic and increase your Instagram reach, but it also allows you to obtain user-generated content for your brand.

Sync Marketing has extensive experience running Instagram sweepstakes. Check out our work page to see some examples of Instagram sweepstakes that succeeded in driving in-store traffic and increasing sales. Most specifically, is our Claire’s Show Us Your Minions Style Contest. One this to keep in mind is that because some entrants may not have access to visit a store to participate in the sweepstakes, you will need to provide an alternate means of entry. This can be done either online or a by offering a mail-in option. Both are services that Sync Marketing offers.

Secret Code Sweepstakes

Another way for retailers to drive in-store traffic when running an online sweepstakes is to direct consumers in-store to obtain a secret code word. They will need to go to the counter to ask a store associate, and then will be asked to go online or text-in the secret code for their chance to win. In this situation, we think an SMS (text-to win) campaign is extremely effective. As with the Instagram sweepstakes example, you will need to offer an alternate means of entry.

Exclusive Coupon Offer

Another effective idea is to offer an exclusive in-store only discount to all those who enter your online sweepstakes. This is where retail sweepstakes can really stand out from other traditional forms of media. We recommend that for these types of promotions, you run a sweepstakes with a large grand prize and an easy entry method. After consumers enter, you can have the in-store discount coupon code appear on the thank you page and in a follow up email. This will ensure that the entrant is able to easily access the coupon after closing the webpage. Typically, this discount offer is most effective when it appears as a surprise and delight offer. It’s also a great way to encourage consumers to visit your store who may have not planned to visit and/or shop otherwise. We have seen a recent upswing of retailers adding this element to their retail sweepstakes.

If you’re a retailer and are considering running a retail sweepstakes, reach out to Sync Marketing. We can put together a results-driven sweepstakes to drive in-store traffic and sales. 

Retail Sweepstakes


26 feb

Why hire an administrator to create your sweepstakes Official Rules and Winner Release Forms

By: Julie Link | In: Ask Sync, Ask Sync Marketing, Best Practices, Legal and Prize Fulfillment

In this month’s Ask Sync Marketing, we answer the question, “Why should you hire an administrator to create your sweepstakes Official Rules and Winner Release Forms?”

Why can’t we just use our in-house counsel to draft our rules?

It’s not to say that they can’t, but if your in-house legal counsel does not specifically specialize in promotion law, chances are they are not up-to-date on all of the latest legal actions and changes in the field. Our advice is to keep them focused on what they do best and ask them to review the rules we create for you. Our legal team specializes in promotion law and are the top in the field. We will provide you with a comprehensive set of official rules that include the current promotion laws.

We want to run a promotion on Facebook and they offer Promotion Guidelines, isn’t this enough?

Reviewing Facebook’s latest promotion guidelines is helpful, but it’s definitely not enough to have full insight on all of the required language needed for a fully-compliant set of official rules. There are many eligibility, publicity, and state and local laws that should be considered when running a sweepstakes or contest. Hiring an agency like Sync to create the rules for you will allow you to rest assured that your official rules will meet these laws.

We found a similar promotion that ran last year, can’t we just use those rules for our sweepstakes?

Absolutely not. First, they’re not your rules to take and second you cannot be sure that these are up-to-date or were even legally compliant in the first place. Not to mention, it’s highly unlikely your promotion will be running identically to the rules you see online.

What if we don’t have time to vet out a new agency to handle our rules?

Even more reason to hire an outside agency! There is nothing more time consuming than dealing with legal ramifications when you don’t follow the law when running a promotion. There is so much that is required when running a sweepstakes or contest, which is why hiring an agency like Sync Marketing to take care of all of this for you, will take a ton off of your plate. Not only do we draft legally complaint official rules, we can also provide the following services when we handle legal:

  • Legal counsel
  • Abbreviated rules
  • Legal disclaimers
  • Winner affidavit of eligibility and release forms
  • Travel companion forms
  • Trademark search of campaign title
  • Patent negotiations
  • Partnership negotiations
  • Client indemnification
  • Letter of opinion
  • Fraud mitigation of promotion offers
  • Fraud mitigation of consumer entrants
  • Bond and register campaign per state and federal guidelines
  • Legal compliance review of all promotional materials and social media posts

Do I even need Official Rules?

We are often asked this by our current clients when they are wanting to run a sweepstakes with a shorter entry period or for sweepstakes or contests with a small prize. Our answer is always, yes. If there is a time frame to enter, you’ll be promoting the sweepstakes in any way, or you’re requiring your entrants to complete certain tasks to enter, then you need to have official rules. Keep in mind that Official Rules are your friend – they protect you and your consumers.

If you’re still on the fence about hiring an outside agency to handle your sweepstakes official rules and winner release forms, give us a call. We would be happy to ease any concerns and talk you through the process in more details. Contact us today

Official Rules and Winner Release Forms

 

 


17 feb

Common Mistakes Companies Make When Running an Online Sweepstakes

By: Jennifer French | In: Best Practices, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Marketing, Sweepstakes

Running an online sweepstakes can be an easy and effective way to promote your company’s services and/or products, when it’s done correctly. By omitting important key components in your sweepstakes campaign, you not only run the risk of upsetting your loyal customers and potential new customers, but also open up your company to potential legal ramifications. Below are a few common mistakes companies make when running an online sweepstakes.

No Official Rules Posted

This is a big mistake to make as this is one of the most important elements of a campaign. You must always create official rules that are easily accessible to the public throughout the sweepstakes entry period. The official rules should outline the sweepstakes eligibility, start and end dates, prize values and winner selection date. Not only do the official rules add legitimacy to your sweepstakes, it holds you accountable to run the promotion as stated.

Requiring a Purchase to Enter or Win

There are instances when a promotion awards an entry to a consumer for making a purchase, but in most cases, this is not an acceptable practice. If you do decide to add a purchase for entry, in most cases you must have a “free” method of entry that is clearly disclosed in all of your marketing materials and advertising. Also, payment should be for an actual legitimate product or service, and not just for an entry. Click here for more information on that subject.

Didn’t Bond or Register Promotion

If the promotion is open to residents of Florida or New York and the total ARV of all prizing is over $5,000, you will need to bond and register the sweepstakes in these states. Here is a link to Florida’s statute. Here is one to New York’s statute. Also, if you are a retailer and the promotion is open to residents of Rhode Island, you will need to register the sweepstakes in this state as well. For additional information click here.

There are many elements to consider when running a sweepstakes, which is why its best to hire an agency who specializes in sweepstakes. If you have any doubt about how to proceed with setting up your next sweepstakes and have legal questions, be sure to reach out to Sync. Here is a blog article with additional reasons why you should hire an agency like Sync for your legal and prize fulfillment needs.

Common Mistakes Companies Make When Running an Online Sweepstakes

31 jan

Questions Regarding Taxes on Sweepstakes Prizing

By: Sync Marketing | In: Ask Sync, Ask Sync Marketing, Best Practices, Sweepstakes

February is the beginning of tax season so we thought it fitting to address some questions that we’ve received from winners and clients alike regarding paying taxes on sweepstakes prizing.

How will I know if I will have to pay taxes on a prize?

Any prizing that you win that totals over $600 in value will be reported to the IRS, and you will receive a 1099 for the tax year in which you accepted the prize. During the process of accepting a sweepstakes prize, you will be asked to fill out and sign a W9 form, so this will be your first indication that you will have to pay taxes on your prize. The amount of taxes that is paid is based on the individual, so it is recommended that you speak with a tax professional to determine what your taxes will be before you accept the prize.  Here is a good article about prizing and paying taxes: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/you-win-and-now-you-owe-taxes-2014-03-12

How do I determine the ARV on a prize for tax purposes when running a sweepstakes? 

We are often asked by our clients to determine the approximate retail value (ARV) of a prize for a sweepstakes. If the prize is an item that is sold by our client, that is the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, which we use to determine the ARV. If, however the prize is a service or trip, we do our due diligence to research the average price of the trip elements to ensure that the ARV is on target.  For more information, see our previous blog article about ARVs here.

What if I accept a prize such as a trip but end up canceling at the last minute? Do I still have to pay taxes on the prize?

Ultimately this is up to the sponsor of the sweepstakes. If the trip elements were already booked and paid for by the sponsor, they will submit a 1099 to the IRS for the advertised ARV.  However, if there are elements of the trip such as food or ground transportation at your destination that wasn’t pre-paid, you could dispute the ARV since those elements were never purchased by the sponsor. Here is an article about taxes on vacation prizes.  http://contests.about.com/od/vacationsweepstakes/f/Which-Taxes-Do-You-Pay-On-Vacation-Prizes.htm

If you are a client thinking of running a sweepstakes or if you have additional tax questions, please contact us at info@syncmarketing.net.   


18 jan

How Long Should I run a Sweepstakes?

By: Julie Link | In: Best Practices, Contests, Instagram, Marketing, Sweepstakes, User Generated Content

How long should I run a sweepstakes? Once a client determines the benefits of adding a sweepstakes or contest to their marketing plan, this if often the most common question they ask. There are a few important factors when determining the length of time that your sweepstakes or contest should run, so let’s get started.

1. What type of prize are you providing? If you want to provide smaller weekly prizes and a large grand prize, then running your sweepstakes or contest for a month to six weeks is a good amount of time. This way, consumers feel like they may have a chance to win a weekly prize and you will receive many entries because there is a large grand prize tied to the promotion.

2. What is your goal? If your goal is to create hype for a new product or service, then a really exciting short term sweepstakes before the launch of the product or service is the way to go. This way there are a couple weeks of build up (the sweepstakes), then the grand prize is selected on the day the product or service is launched leading to good PR opportunities along the way. The same goes for seasonal sweepstakes. If it’s a Valentine’s day sweepstakes, try to launch it towards the end of January so there is some build up. Then, close the sweepstakes a week before Valentine’s day so that hopefully the winner receives their prize in time for the big day.

3. Who is your target demographic? If you’re running a summer sweepstakes and your prize is a cruise, you want to obtain many email opt-ins, and are gearing it to an older demo, a longer sweepstakes should do the trick. If you’re targeting millennials or younger and are running a user- generated Instagram sweepstakes where you ask entrants to upload photos, then the shorter the better.

To sum it up, most sweepstakes run between 2-6 week, with four weeks being the sweet spot. This allows consumers to get excited and not feel like it’s so long that they don’t have a chance. There are always exceptions to this rule, so if you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

 


08 jan

Sync Marketing’s Year In Review – 2015

By: Sync Marketing | In: Contests, Marketing, Sweepstakes

Just like that, another year has come and gone. However, last year seemed to pass faster than most. Perhaps a good reason for this was how busy Sync Marketing was throughout the year. Below is a recap of our best moments of 2015.

Judged in the 2015 Chief Marketer Pro Awards

In 2014 we were honored to take home Silver at the 2014 Pro Awards for our work on the Dodge Dart – Win a Dart. Date a Winner. Sweepstakes. In 2015 we saw another side of the awards when co-founder, Julie Link, was given the opportunity to judge the entries.

“It was an honor to be asked to be a judge in the 2015 Chief Marketer Pro Awards. It allowed me to gain a great perspective on the unique and creative work that other agencies are putting out there.” – Julie Link

Valued Clients Old & New

We were honored to continue our relationships with our clients in 2015 and create work for them that delivered great ROI. We were also fortunate to bring in many new clients in 2015, a 111% percent client gain from 2014. Some of our most recently obtained clients are American Eagle Outfitters and Crate & Barrel. Crate & Barrel’s latest sweepstakes with Sync can be found here.

2016 Chief Marketer Top Shop

We were humbled to be named among an exceptional group of agencies for the Chief Marketer 2016 PROMO Top Shops. The Top Shops is a listing of the Top 100 U.S. Promotional Marketing Agencies selected by the editors of Chief Marketer. It will be a goal of ours to continue to a part of this list every year.

Sync is NWBOC Certified

In 2015, Sync Marketing was also certified as a business owned and controlled by a woman by the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC), the first national certifier of Women Business Enterprises. The goal of the certification program is to streamline the certification process and increase the ability of women business owners to compete for contracts at a national level. To find out what Sync Marketing co-founder, Jennifer French said about the certification, click here.

We thank all of our clients, family and friends for their support and/or business. We hope to continue to offer our clients creative work, exceptional customer service and successful campaigns throughout 2016 and beyond. 


31 dec

How do I maximize ROI when running an online sweepstakes?

By: Sync Marketing | In: Advertising, Ask Sync, Ask Sync Marketing, Best Practices, Contests, Facebook, Instagram, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Sweepstakes, Twitter

To answer this question, I am going to first ask you to image that you have agreed to volunteer to bake a cake for your child’s school bake sale to raise money for their upcoming class trip. Your goal with this task is to make the most appealing product that will fetch the most money possible, doing so all within a set budget for purchasing your ingredients. Why this exercise, you may ask? Because this scenario is very similar to the process of trying to maximize ROI when running an online sweepstakes.  Below is the “recipe” for a successful sweepstakes campaign:

Identify your goals:  The goal of the bake sale is to raise as much money with as little financial investment as possible. It’s a challenge because you don’t want to invest too much money towards creating the cake, but the product must still be appealing to fetch a decent price.  Does that sound familiar?  You want to run an online sweepstakes to reward your consumers and get your name out to the masses, but you have a limited budget.  If money is an issue, you may want to consider running a simple social media initiative on Instagram or Twitter for example.  These types of promotions are a cost-effective way to engage your consumers all while promoting your company and/or product.  Here is an article on the benefits of running an Instagram sweepstakes: http://www.syncmarketing.net/benefits-runnings-instagram-promotion/#.VoR5y_9Iios

Know your Audience:  It’s a bake sale that will be attended by other parents at the school who will be most likely be buying the cake to serve to their family that evening. A rum raisin cake might be your baking specialty, but based on the audience, it most likely will be passed up.  The same goes for your online sweepstakes.  If your core consumers are not on social media, it would make much more sense to host the sweepstakes on an iFrame on your website, or on a dedicated sweepstakes microsite.  It may cost a bit more money, but the investment will pay off when you receive entries and email opt-ins. Identifying your audience and their habits is very important to maximizing your investment.

Quality of the Product:  So you signed up to participate in the bake sale knowing that baking is not your forte and now you are nervous.  Since you are not one to shirk responsibility, you whip up your best attempt at a chocolate cake, but it looks more like a hockey puck with frosting.  You certainly get an “A” for effort, but unfortunately, no one is buying your cake.  The same goes for a sweepstakes.  The overall quality of a sweepstakes consists of many ingredients, so to speak.  The design, value of the prizing, and overall user experience are very important to its success.  The icing on the cake is having clearly outlined official rules.  This is something a consumer really values because it’s the basic recipe to the promotion; it outlines the entry period, eligibility requirements, prize description and how they will be contacted if they win to, name a few. It also allows you to rest assured that you are running a legally compliant promotion.  Here is an article outlining the benefits of hiring an agency like Sync to handle your legal needs for running a sweepstake or contest:  http://www.syncmarketing.net/2014/07/#.VoVbSP9Iios

Product Display:  You made the most perfectly delicious cake and you are so excited to bring it to the bake sale to hopefully fetch a handsome price.  The problem is, you wrapped it in cellophane and it’s sitting on the back end of the table in the cold auditorium and it’s completely passed up.  Don’t make the mistake of letting your perfectly constructed sweepstakes go unnoticed by hiding it in the clutter of the online world. Even with a small budget, you can promote your sweepstakes or contest on social media channels, by writing a blog post, or by calling it out on your website’s home page.  You should also consider sending emails to your current subscribers.  The more traffic, the more entries and the higher return on your investment.    

For more information on building the perfect sweepstakes check out this article:  http://www.syncmarketing.net/steps-take-run-successful-sweepstakes-contest/#.VoVhF_9Iios

 


16 dec

Sweepstakes Trends in 2015 and looking ahead towards 2016

By: Julie Link | In: Best Practices, Contests, Facebook, Instagram, Legal and Prize Fulfillment, Marketing, Sweepstakes, User Generated Content

As 2015 comes to a close, Sync Marketing discusses sweepstakes trends in 2015 and what to be on the lookout for in 2016.

Biggest Sweepstakes Trend in 2015

When talking sweepstakes trends, Mobile-optimization was definitely one of the biggest in 2015. Our clients either asked to have it included or when we suggested adding a mobile version for the sweepstakes, they were much more receptive than in years past. As mobile devices and tablets become more and more relied upon by consumers, it is imperative that companies make the shift to spending extra dollars on creating mobile and tablet-optimized sweepstakes and contests. To take a closer look at our services, including mobile-optimization, click here.

What will be the biggest marketing trend of 2016?

Consumer Engagement Marketing will be the biggest marketing trend of 2016. As social media and experiential marketing categories grow, we foresee companies making even more of a shift to engage their consumers directly in this medium, rather than spending big dollars on traditional advertising mediums such as media buys and direct mail. When companies run a simple social engagement sweepstakes on Twitter or a photo contest on Instagram, they engage consumers and establish a positive interaction with consumers. Not only does this method of marketing allow companies to interact with their consumers, but if they run an Instagram photo contest, for example, they will receive user-generated content and will be able to reward their consumers with prizes as part of their participation, creating a feel-good situation for all.

What was the best sweepstakes marketing effort of 2015? 

The #Hashtag. Whether a hashtag started because of a celebrity tweet or a presidential debate, hashtags took over the internet in 2015. And, the companies and marketers who acted on it, received amazing exposure. From #picoftheday social engagements to asking users to share their #TBT photos, companies increased their reach by interacting with the most popular hashtags, all while gathering user-generated content along the way. And with regards to sweepstakes, companies using hashtags for their sweepstakes, created their own trending hashtags as part of their promotion. Take a look at some of our social sweepstakes, here.

What was the biggest sweepstakes faux pas of 2015?

Not running social media sweepstakes correctly. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking this important element and be sure to entrust its care to an experienced team who specializes in sweepstakes and contests. The FTC implemented many new rules with regards to social media sweepstakes and it’s important to make sure to hire an agency like Sync Marketing to make sure you run a legally compliant sweepstakes or contest.

As we enter into 2016, sweepstakes trends are as important as ever. Consider hiring Sync marketing for you future sweepstakes and contest needs. To learn a little more about Sync and what we’ve been up to, click here or call us at 323.596.7962.


30 nov

Online Sweepstakes and Contests – Questions on Cyber Monday

By: Sync Marketing | In: Ask Sync, Ask Sync Marketing, Best Practices, Contests, Facebook, Instagram, Sweepstakes

On this Cyber Monday, we thought it would be fitting to feature some questions that we’ve recently received about online sweepstakes and contests since these promotions live in the cyber world so to speak. 

What are the benefits of running an online sweepstakes vs. running one in a retail store location?

There are many benefits to running an online sweepstakes vs. asking entrants to visit your store to fill out an entry form as the entry method. In fact, brick and mortar store sweepstakes have become increasing less common over recent years because of the convenience and popularity of online sweepstakes. With an online sweepstakes, not only can you give your entrants an easy and seamless way to participate, you can also highlight specific merchandise or messaging that you want to get across during the entry process.  Below are a few other reasons why you should consider running an online sweepstakes:

Easily collect email opt-ins. With a manual entry, if you get entrants permission to send them future communications from your company, you will need to physically enter the entrant’s information, which can be a very time consuming process.

More exposure.  With an instore-only sweepstakes, you are limiting yourself to people that will be already visiting your store location. If you run an online sweepstakes and offer enticing prizes, you have the chance of attracting people that may not have known about your company to check out your site and subsequently your merchandise while they are entering your sweepstakes.

Where should I run my online sweepstakes?

This question really depends on what your goals are for running a sweepstakes. If you want to capture email opt-ins, you should consider running your online sweepstakes on a dedicated microsite or an iFrame on your company’s website. If you want user generated content, you might want to consider a sweepstakes that is featured on social media channels like Instagram or Twitter. Here is a blog article that touches on running social media sweepstakes:

How do I maximize my online sweepstakes to ensure the best possible ROI?

One thing to keep in mind is that marketing your online sweepstakes is as important as creating the concept. It is also very important to know who your target audience is before you run your sweepstakes to ensure that you are promoting the sweepstakes on the right channels. A sweepstakes can be a very powerful tool and can provide a strong ROI if used correctly.  Here is a blog article that touches on the benefits of running an online sweepstakes and why you should consider adding one to your marketing plans. 

If you have additional online sweepstakes and contests questions for this upcoming Cyber Monday, feel free to send them to inquiries@syncmarketing.net or you can reach out to us here, and your question may be featured in an upcoming blog post.

 

 

 

 


23 nov

Sync Marketing Certified as a Woman Business Enterprise

By: Julie Link | In: Contests, Marketing, Sweepstakes

Sync Marketing Certified as a Woman Business Enterprise (or WOSB, EDWOSB, VBE or VWBE)

Sync Marketing, an online marketing agency that specializes in online sweepstakes and contests, has been certified as a business owned and controlled by a woman by the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC), the first national certifier of Women Business Enterprises.  Over 700 public and private sector individuals participated in establishing the Standards and Procedures of this rigid certification review.  The goal of the certification program is to streamline the certification process and increase the ability of women business owners to compete for contracts at a national level.

“Certification provides a marketing opportunity for women business enterprises to participate in outreach programs,” says Jennifer French co-founder of Sync Marketing.  “In addition, this program will enable us to develop relationships with larger companies and create opportunities for future partnerships with them and public and private companies.”

 “NWBOC seeks to increase the ability of women business owners to compete for corporate and government contracts,” says Janet Harris-Lange, President of NWBOC.  “At the same time, NWBOC also hopes to decrease the number of front operations participating in corporate and government outreach programs.”

NWBOC, a national 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation, was created in response to needs identified by the Procurement Special Interest Group of the National Association of Women Business Owners.  The study revealed that the public and private sector had not received nor recognized the benefits of contracting with women suppliers.  This has prevented purchasers from obtaining the best value in their procurement and it has limited women business owners from penetrating these markets, which has stymied their growth.   NWBOC seeks to provide more corporations with the opportunity to better their procurement practices and to women suppliers the opportunity to compete.  NWBOC provides the following certifications:  WBE (Woman Business Enterprise), WOSB and EDWOSB for the 8m federal contracting program (Approved Third Party Certifier for the U.S. Small Business Administration) and VBE/VWBE for male and female veteran owned companies.  For more information, visit www.nwboc.org.

Sync Marketing is a Los Angeles based, marketing agency specializing in online sweepstakes, contests and games. Sync Marketing handles all administrative services, including: strategy, management, design, programming, legal, prize procurement/fulfillment, analytics and reporting. If you are interested in doing business with Sync Marketing you can call 323-596-7962 or email inquiries@syncmarketing.net.