Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Contest experiences (Part I)

As mentioned before, contest takes many forms. For this post, I will write a bit about my limited experiences and also share some of my likes/dislikes of some contest that I took part in and/or got to know about.

Yet, its the organizers' intention that is the most important factor of a contest.
Almost all contest that I know of, comes with the following objectives:
- To increase awareness/publicity of a new product and/or service
- To remind the target participants of the existence of a product and/or service
- To attain a better feedback from the target participants (product/service users). Eg. new slogans, photos etc.
- To decide on a choice (eg. voting)

Once the intention(s) is/are ascertain. Then comes the mechanism of the contest. The below are just some observations over the years, and I will post more thoughts as it occurs to me.

Now there are many mechanism/types of contest. Yet some best practices that can be observed are:
- proper start date and end date. Perhaps even a "judging" time and place.
- a declared way of judging/winning. It could be a lucky draw, a set of completed puzzles, could be subjective judgement and/or even voting. Or a combination of these and more.
- a declared way of notifying the winners. With respects to privacy etc.
- complies with the legal framework of that community. (eg. for certain citizen/residences/subscriber, financial accounting etc.)
- a declared way that the participants will respect the decision of the judge(s)
- other relevant information/details eg. the sponsors, prizes, the delivery mechanisms etc.

A note here, subjective judgement is not a bad thing, though it can be frustrating for the non-winners. Eg. a photo contest.

Also, some of the mechanism for a contest might be fun for a selected group of participants but turns off another group of participants due the perceived "difficultness". It could be language (eg. expecting English slogans by a majority non-English speaking community?) or a skill (eg. I know I am not a good photographer :-)) or equipment(s) (eg. a particular brand of cellphone).

Some interesting contests that I noticed can be found at ContestJunkie (author contributes to this blog) and others. Yet I cannot help noticing that some contest are better run then others.

Most recently, BATA contest (BATA Photo Contest) has conflicting dates of closing. This "misprint" in the virtual posters on its website was not clarified in any way by any additional text on the website (at the time that I checked). I feel that just an extra line on the contest webpage would be sufficient to avoid confusion and people calling up BATA company's marketing department to clarify. :-) Perhaps it's this organisation's aim is to make people discuss this contest more, so as to create awareness. :-o

While other contest have really short lifespan. Take for example the Allswell double-boiled drink contest that started on 13 Oct till 30 Nov (about 7 week period). By 20 Oct (1 week later), almost all the instant-win prizes (5 + 40 + 45 units) have been redeemed!! This would make the instant-win part of this contest very uninteresting for the next 6 weeks. :-) Though, assuming that there's no illegal breaking of the contest rules/parameters, that is a clear signal that this company's products are really popular.

Another interesting contest run by this blogger - EastCoastLife. This blog/site has a contest organised with passion. I just found out about this lady blogger's interests in many local topics and turned it into a complex-yet-fun-enough knowledge-hunt contest on topics she covered in her blog. 10 questions on her blog, to be answered by handwritten answers that's send via snail mail to a real-world address. I find this meaningful - a mix of high technology and classic technology. The prizes are really good too.

There are many ways to organised contests, and I like those that allows the participants to have fun and be part of a nice experience - win or loose.

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