5 Steps to Great Contest Fulfillment and Management (Checklist)

Running contests on social media is a sure-fire way to generate engagement and awareness for your brand.  In fact, nearly […]

Mark Jackson

President at SwagDrop


Running contests on social media is a sure-fire way to generate engagement and awareness for your brand. 

In fact, nearly two-thirds of marketers say that social media giveaways of branded merch increase brand recognition

The benefits of offering prizes to your social media followers, website visitors, or people on your email list are clear, but how do you source and send the prizes for your contest?

If this question is holding you back, then we’re here to get you started. 

We’ve put together a simple and comprehensive five-step guide to contest fulfillment, covering:

  • Getting your contest organized
  • Sourcing your contest prizes
  • Delivering your prizes to your winners

Plus, we’ll share our detailed checklist so you can follow and repeat the process for each contest you win. 

Let’s make a start.

Table of Contents

What is Contest Prize Fulfillment?

Step #1: Contest Coordination

Step #2: Prize Procurement

Step #3: Prize Coordination

Step #4: Winner Notification

Step #5: Customer Support

Grab Our Checklist

What is Contest Prize Fulfillment?

Contest prize fulfillment is the process of choosing the prizes for your contest or sweepstake, ordering them, and having them delivered to your winners. 

When your brand decides to run an online contest, you need to make sure you’ve got prizes that are truly worthwhile for your audience so that they are motivated to take part and share your offer and your brand. 

You have two main options when deciding how to complete your prize fulfillment:

  1. Run the process in-house
  2. Work with a company to source and send your prizes

Each has its benefits – dealing with your contest fulfillment yourself means you’re hands-on every step of the way while working with a fulfillment partner means you get support and expert knowledge when needed. 

However you choose to do it, the key to contest fulfillment is to have a great prize that appeals to your audience’s emotions and that you can deliver to them easily and on-budget. 

To know how to do that, we’ve got a five-step process for you to follow, plus we’ve created a handy checklist for you to complete as you work through it. 

Let’s get into it. 

Step #1: Contest Coordination

As we go through this and the rest of the steps in our process, we’ll be sharing screenshots of our contest fulfilment checklist that you can download  – for free! – at the end of this post. 

The very first thing you need to do when starting a contest or giveaway is to plan exactly what you want to do

You have a range of contest types that you can work with, including:

  • Sweepstakes – offering a prize drawn at random from a list of entrants
  • Share to win – your audience has to share a piece of content to be entered to win a prize
  • Refer a friend – when your customer invites a friend through a referral campaign, they can win a prize
  • Vote to win – encourage participation in a business choice by offering a prize to a lucky voter
  • Photo or caption contest – get some user-generated content and offer prizes for the best entries

Choose a contest type that matches your marketing aims; a sweepstakes or share to win will drive engagement while a refer a friend should generate leads and potentially sales, depending on your offer. 

Decide on the details including your official rules and eligibility, how you’ll manage winner selection, and choose any contest management software you may need. 

You also need to decide where you’ll run your contest

Social media is a very popular platform for running contests and giveaways;  Instagram accounts that run contests grow 70% faster than those that don’t, for example.

Be sure to pick the right platform for your audience, for example, LinkedIn would be a great place for a B2B competition audience offering high-end tech swag as a prize while Instagram would be the perfect place to target a summer holiday giveaway

Other channels you can consider for your giveaway include: 

  • Using your email list
  • A pop-up on your website
  • Embedding the giveaway on your blog posts

The channel you choose will depend on your audience, just make sure you can track your success through whichever you choose. 

Setting goals is important when you start to plan your contest – you want to be able to measure your return on investment (ROI) and know that your giveaway is contributing to your strategic goals. 

Now you know what you’re going to do, it’s time for the next step in the process.

Step #2: Prize Procurement

Choosing your prize is key to the success of your contest. 

You need to ensure that the prize you offer is something that your audience wants and is relevant to your brand – a food company offering summer holiday swag might be a bit off-key. 

As an example of how to keep it relevant, check out the Canadian flooring company End of the Roll. 

Image Source: Instagram

It partnered with a rug company which will definitely resonate with their audience who will be interested in home decor. 

Meanwhile, the restaurant Fort Ruger Market chose to offer branded swag and a gift card for its recent giveaway. 

Image Source: Instagram

You and your marketing team know your audience best and will understand what will motivate them to take part – you can even test different prizes and contest structures to learn what drives engagement and conversions. 

There are other types of prizes that you can offer, including:

  • Experiences such as a tour of your microbrewery, tickets to a local sports event, or a stay at a resort
  • Prize pools, which are normally cash but could also be a large amount of a consumable good that gets shared between winners
  • Grand prizes which have a very high value, such as a dream vacation, property, or a car

Once you’ve chosen your prize type… 

You need to decide how you’re going to source your prizes. 

As we saw with End of the Roll, they partnered with another business to offer something new to their customers. 

If you go the route that Fort Ruger Market did, you’ll need to find a reliable swag and merch vendor to produce what you need. 

Working with a vendor to produce your swag will mean:

  • Your company doesn’t need to be sourcing different prize types
  • You can order at scale
  • It’s easy to see mockups of what your swag will look like
  • They’ll have creative ideas and concepts that you might not have thought of
  • Its team will take care of the details like storage and delivery

It’ll also be easier to coordinate your prizes, which is the next step of your contest fulfillment process.

Step #3: Prize Coordination

Getting the logistics of your prize fulfillment right will ensure your contest goes smoothly from start to finish and you only get positive feedback. 

When you were setting the terms and conditions for your competition, you’ll have decided contest rules like the geographical coverage of your contest, e.g. is it only for people in your city? Statewide? Global?

This decision will impact your prize management and whether you’ll need to have international shipping available. 

Of course, a virtual prize negates this need – if you offer a free year of your software or store credit for your online store, there will be minimal logistics to get right. 

When you’re calculating the cost of your prize promotions, you’ll need to take into account:

  • Storage and warehousing costs for your prizes
  • Packing and kitting costs, such as branded boxes
  • Shipping costs and if they’re going to be included in the offer

When you use prize fulfillment services and merch suppliers, this can all be dealt with as part of the deal you strike with them – your prizes never have to appear in your office, unless you ask for samples, of course.

Step #4: Winner Notification

Competition set up, prizing organized, entries received – now it’s time to pick a winner!

You’ll need to go through entries and verify that each person has complied with your rules. 

This can be a time-consuming process and promotion administration tools can help sort through post comments and tags to ensure only compliant entries can win your prize. 

Winner validation in terms of legalities is also important – for legal compliance reasons you may need to verify ages if your prize relates to alcohol, for example; you don’t want to inadvertently break state laws. 

Next, you need to pick your winner. 

Simply drawing a name out of a hat would work for sweepstakes whereas a photo or caption contest will need you and your team to choose the best based on criteria that you set out. 

How do you tell your winner the good news?

Within your contest rules, you’ll likely have a process for notification – whether by email, DM on Insta or LinkedIn, or through a tag in a social media post, you should be clear so your entrants know what to look out for. 

In terms of generating coverage for your brand, a post on the same channel you ran the content was on will give people confidence in your processes. 

Here are a couple of examples of how to notify your contest winners. 

Vehicle supplier Dennis Eagle confirmed winners of its Lego contest in the post comments:

Image Source: LinkedIn

While electronics store Hifigo made its giveaway announcement as a separate post:

Image Source: Facebook

You can also send out publicity releases explaining to relevant media what your contest was about, the great prizes you had available, and who the winner is. 

After choosing the lucky winner, you want to make sure the follow-up processes are as enjoyable as the initial win.

Step #5: Customer Support

A giveaway can help you develop brand advocates – when you delight your current and previous customers with freebies and swag, they’re more likely to tell their friends and family about you

To maintain that brand loyalty, you want to create the perfect customer journey from when they’re declared the winner to when the right prizes arrive at their door. 

As we saw in our examples further up, the companies had a clear process to contact their winner – either by directing them to a website or tagging them in a post, and you can reach out by message as well. 

Gathering the delivery information is the key here – you need to take the winners’ addresses and ensure that gets communicated to your prize fulfillment partners. 

This is also the point where any tax forms will need to be filled in. 

We’re not going to get into tax advice here, but as a general rule of thumb, in the USA, cash and non-cash prizes need to be declared by the winners. 

It’s not your job to offer your winners tax advice, but letting them know to check out the implications with the IRS would be helpful to them. 

Once the prize is on the way, give your winner a tracking number for their prize delivery, too; this will build trust and also smooth out delivery issues like missing the courier. 

The last step in your promotional marketing journey is to follow up with your winners

After you know they’ve received the prize, taken the trip, or spent their gift card, reach out to them and check if their experience was positive and if there is any room for improvement. 

As well as making sure your processes are smooth, this is a good way to ensure your relationship with your prize fulfillment company is working how you expect. 

Remember to ask if your winners will post a picture of their prize and use your branded hashtags or tag your accounts in their posts – your audience will love to see your swag or experience in action. 

That’s everything you need to know about the process of contest administration and fulfillment, now we’re going to share our checklist so you don’t miss a beat. 

Grab Our Checklist

Want to give your audience a chance to get interactive with you on social media or your owned media channels?

If you’re concerned about getting the process right, we’ve got exactly what you need. 

As you’ve seen through our steps, our checklist covers everything you need to ensure your prize fulfillment management flows smoothly

To get your own copy of our checklist that you can work through each contest – and personalize to your needs if you’re a marketing agency, small brand, or social media manager – download the checklist and give it a go.

Get Access to the Checklist

Now you’ve got everything you need, let’s wrap this up. 

Now Over to You

That’s your complete process to run a contest and get your prizes into the hands of your lucky winners. 

You need to get the planning right, source your prizes from a trusted swag supplier, make sure you choose a fair winner, and look after your winners once your prize lands. 

Looking for a partner to source, customize, and deliver your branded swag for your upcoming contest?

Leave a comment below and we’ll talk you through the steps we can manage for your contest fulfillment.



Header photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.

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