I recently blogged with a guide to different types of purchase-necessary promotions, and here are my top ten tips on winning unique code and on-pack promotions.
1. Choose your entry time carefully
‘I’m up all night to get lucky’ is a great lyric for a comper! If the promotion is a ‘winning moment’ or an hourly draw, then you need to be entering when the least number of people will be entering – for a 24 hour promotion, that’s usually overnight between about 1am and 5am. I’ve had most of my instant wins between 5am and 6am when I get up with my son!
Years ago there was a great promotion on Nutrigrain bars where you could win £500 EVERY HOUR, 24 hours a day. Clever compers realised that most people would be texting in their unique entry codes during the daytime, so they were setting alarms for 3am to text their codes in the overnight hourly draws. The result? Lots of big cash prizes for my comping friends and I – I spent £100 on the bars and had a return of £1500 (I was freelance at the time and would take Tupperware boxes of the bars into the different offices I was working at!).
These days, a competition with hourly prizes will usually be restricted to a 9am-9pm or 8am-8pm time slot, meaning that there’s no advantage in entering overnight. If you do spot a 24 hour one then go for it – Yeo Valley and Rowntrees Randoms 6am entries resulted in lots of nice wins for me, while my friend Steve (Compers News Editor and instant win fan) won £5000 cash by entering his unique code from Pure Life water at 3am!
2. Buy big
The more expensive the qualifier, the less people will enter and the better your chance of winning – I once bought a washing machine, sent off the receipt and won a car. If you see a purchase-necessary promotion on bottles of champagne or spirits then it might be worth stocking up early for Christmas gifts – but remember to watch your budget! Waitrose and M&S often do champagne or brandy promotions.
3. Buy in bulk
Now, this can be controversial – it’s the type of behaviour that gives compers a bad reputation! Personally, I will happily buy in bulk if it’s a product with a long shelf life or that I can distribute amongst family and friends (which isn’t easy with codes inside wrappers or under ringpulls!). Plenty kitchen roll or Velvet toilet roll promotions are a great example. I won’t buy too much ice cream or chocolate, although I know many compers who have bought hundreds of Magnums in the past – and their reward was thousands of pounds of prizes! Buy as much as you can without feeling guilty: £25 spent on Aeros might seem crazy but if you win an iPad as a result then it’s worth it – and don’t forget, you have the chocolate too! Check at www.mysupermarket.co.uk to see where the promotional products are cheapest – or find someone with a Cash & Carry card. Be sure to check cashback apps like GreenJinn and CheckoutSmart to see if they’re offering discounts on promotional products too!
4. Be an early bird
Keep an eye on websites like www.promomarketing.info and www.conveniencestore.co.uk to find out what on-pack comps are coming up and buy coded packs as soon as you see them. Sometimes distribution of the promo packs can be delayed and they don’t arrive in shops until after the daily instant wins have kicked off: get hold of a pack early on and you might well be the only entrant for the first few days, and if unclaimed prizes are rolled over you might win several! In some cases there might be errors in the early days of promotions too – in fact, several lucky compers bagged New York trips as a result of a Bodyform Instant Win glitch. Make sure you’re looking for WIN on every supermarket trip!
5. Organise entry codes
If you put your promotional packs away in the cupboard, you risk a family member using them and throwing the packaging away before you’ve entered the comp! I always note down unique codes immediately and carefully using the free notes app Evernote on my iPhone, along with the web address or text entry details and the final closing date of the promotion. If I wake up early, I will enter a handful of instant win comps by simply copying and pasting the codes from my list. If your codes include unrecognisable digits, snap a photo on your phone (this can also be filed in the Evernote app, if you use it) and read the code from this photo when you need it, trying different combos until you get it right!
6. Subscribe to Compers News
Compers News has details of hundreds of purchase necessary comps in every issue, along with a handy shopping list of current promotions – and there’s the excellent online Chatterbox forum where members share their latest finds. There have been several purchase-necessary promotions where CN subscribers have bagged almost all the prizes thanks to generous members! It costs to subscribe but it’s worth it – current annual sub is £59.40 (with a 28 day free trial). If you do subscribe, be sure to register for the Chatterbox forum and check it daily.
7. Use spare phone handsets
This is something else that may be frowned upon. I certainly don’t advocate having 40 SIM cards on the go at once (some compers do, you know!) but if you do have old phone handsets lying around then you might as well pop a free Pay-as-you-go SIM in them to use for text comps that are ‘one entry per phone number’ rather than ‘one entry per person’. Put a sticker with the phone number on the back of the phone for easy reference – and make sure to keep them all charged up incase you get winning call(s)! There are a few compers who clean up on text comps because they’re prepared to spend a LOT of money sending texts from multiple phones (sometimes up to 40 handsets!). Personally, I would like to see promoters requesting full name & address details at the time of entry and restrict it to one entry per person, rather than just asking for a single keyword like ‘Cadbury’ – but I’ve been told that it reduces entry numbers too much!
8. Read the T&Cs
Check what kind of promotion it is (see my guide) in the T&Cs before you splash out. Sometimes you don’t even need to buy the product if it’s just the last 4 digits of a barcode or a keyword that you need to text! You have a very slim chance of winning if the on-pack promotion has assigned prizes to pre-allocated codes, or is using an ‘algorithm’. When checking T&Cs, keep in mind that your best chance of winning will usually come from ‘First entry after winning moment’ instant win promotions that run 24 hours a day. If you read the text ‘although all prizes are available to be won, there is no guarantee they will be won’ – think twice about entering as your chance of a win will be poor! (see my post on misleading instant win promotions)
9. Look out for litter
Always keep an eye out for winning litter! Codes on chocolate wrappers, crisp packets and pop bottles could prove lucrative – carry a plastic bag in your handbag to collect them in (this is of course a great way to keep your neighbourhood clean and tidy too!), or simply snap a photo of the code and throw the litter in a bin. In the USA I hear people go ‘dumpster diving’ when McDonalds Monopoly is in full swing, in the hope of finding rare properties and instant win codes – perhaps a step too far for me though!
10. Keep your receipt/packaging safe
For promotions where you need a receipt rather than an on-pack code, I take a photo of my receipt on my phone as soon as I get home, then file the original away in my ‘comps entered’ box. Quite often if you win, you have to email a photo of your receipt through rather than post it, so it saves scrabbling around in a panic looking for the original if you get the call! Watch out if you’re entering a promotion multiple times too – sometimes if you win, the promoter will ask to see your losing receipts and packaging too!
Did you enjoy this? Check my Di’s Prize Buys YouTube playlist for details of the latest purchase-necessary promotions!