Quality not quantity: how to comp effectively
I was hoping you could help me. I’m having absolutely no luck with comps. I spend 2 hours a day doing the moneysavingexpert.com comps, usually 2 days ahead of the finish date. I also do the Loquax closing soon ones too (about 30-40 a day). I’ve been doing this since the beginning of November with no luck. Any advice would be great.
I’ve received a few emails like this one lately, so thought it was time to don my Agony Aunt spectacles and wig (I thought about the WonderWoman costume too, but it’s too cold today) and decide how best to tackle this one…
The PrizeFinder, Loquax and Money Saving Expert are great resources for compers. They’re accessible for free, and you don’t even need to post on the forums to use the links. But of course, this means it’s easy for lots of people to access the same competitions, and hundreds of people visit MSE daily to enter all the easy online prize draws. On MSE, a current comp to win 4 spotty mugs has had 515 views, and one for a book about cats has 361 views. Not everyone who’s viewed the post will have entered of course, but a large percentage of them probably have – so the chances of you winning even these low value prizes are slim.
There are also many automated entry services who enter competitions on your behalf. Prize Draw Centre promises to enter you in 250 competitions monthly for just £1.95 a week, but there are many more sites offering this service. With online prize draws, you could be up against thousands of entries from services like these (sadly, promoters often don’t acknowledge the existence of these sites, and very few will exclude entries from them) – Prize Draw Centre even use the tagline ‘Discover the lazy way to winning prizes‘! Many compers are indeed lazy, and presume they can win lots of prizes by using Roboform on their laptop for a couple of hours daily. Some compers I know are indeed lucky with these simple online draws, but they spend an awful lot of time sitting at a computer and their success ratio will be pretty low – from experience, I find it’s more effective to spend your time entering fewer competitions that require more effort, so the entry numbers are low and the chance of winning is high.
The reason I started this blog is to show people that comping can be fun as well as lucrative, and a great way to be creative – it’s important for me to enjoy my hobby and I like to hunt out unusual promotions and really make an effort with my entries. I’ll devote hours or even days to planning my entry to just one competition if I think there’s a good chance of winning! And if I don’t win, I’ll still have a funny video or photo to show for it… If you’re feeling despondent about your lack of wins, why not use your initiative and search for these elusive low entry competitions?
Choose quality over quantity
There are far too many competitions around to consider entering all of them, so first you should make a list. What do you want to win? Try and cover a range of things from the ambitious (a car, a luxury cruise!) to the products you use regularly (a magazine subscription, cinema tickets, make up, clothes, shampoo, baby food, vouchers for your favourite stores) or gifts you could give to family and friends for Christmas/birthdays. Winning a smaller prize that you would otherwise have paid for gives you a real sense of achievement – I won 4 boxes of Dorset Cereals yesterday – it’s not a big prize, but it’s the brand I buy so it’s saved me a tenner on my weekly shop! Make this list in your diary or as a note on your phone, so you’ve always got it to refer to – it’s great when you can tick a prize off. Looking at your list, take each prize one by one, and think about where you might be able to win that prize – by searching for competitions that aren’t featured on forums, you’ll have a better chance of winning. Whether it’s shampoo, cinema tickets or a car, following these steps should get you on your way to winning!
- Make a list of the brands/manufacturers/products you use or would like to win (it can help to flick through a magazine to get ideas!)
- Visit or Google their websites and sign up for mailing lists (you might want to use a separate ‘comping’ email address for this – check your emails as often as possible and scroll through them for comps before deleting them)
- Whilst on their websites, look for links to
– a blog (sign up for a Google account and add them to Google Reader)
– Twitter (sign up and follow their tweets on Twitter)
– Facebook (‘Like’ their Facebook page and check the wall and menu tabs for current competitions)
On Facebook a useful feature is the list of ‘Likes’ on the left hand side of a fanpage. For example, the Highcross Shopping Centre in Leicester has lots of ‘Likes’ – click on any of them and it will bring up a long list of local businesses and chains of shops. You can quickly and easily go down the list and ‘Like’ each one! This means you will see updates from all these pages in your Newsfeed so will know about any competitions that are running. Visit pages connected with the prizes on your wishlist, and hopefully you can pick up more related pages from their ‘Likes’ list!
The rise in popularity of creative online promotions mean that often at a glance you can see how many entries there are in a competition, and how good they are. This will give you an advantage as you can plan an entry that will stand out from the crowd! Examples are:
- Facebook Wall competitions
- Twitter competitions
- Fun photography competitions
- Video competitions
- Recipe competitions
- Blog competitions (where you add a comment to enter) – check out my SuperLucky blog comp linkys. I win at least one prize a week from the competitions I list!
With the judged competitions, either get your entry in at the start (and set a high standard for everyone to match!) or wait till the end so you can see what competition you have before planning your entry. If you want to enter a competition where the most popular entry wins, check out my blog on When Voting Comps go Wrong first – it can be a stressful experience! If it’s the first time you’ve entered a voting competition, your friends are likely to rally round in support so don’t be ashamed to ask them to help out.
Other low entry promotions are:
- local magazines and newspapers (particularly entry form ones)
- radio – bookmark your favourite stations and check their websites weekly to register for future promotions
Once you’ve found something you’re good at, you can try a daily search to find new competitions – for example, search for ‘Photo competition’ on Twitter, or search the MSE Competition forum for threads with effort in the title to find the promotions that lazy compers will avoid. If you’re an insomniac, you could always try online competitions that offer 24 hour prizes – try Visa and Rowntrees Randoms. If you enter at 6am in the morning and the ‘winning moment’ was in the early hours, you might well be a winner – these require a purchase, so that makes them harder to enter.
If you have a specific prize you’re after, then by all means search for it on dedicated competition sites like MSE, Loquax, Prizefinder and Competition Hunter too – and of course you can do an Advanced Google Search, restricting the search to UK sites and to sites updated in the last week to refine your results. Set up a Google Alert for your most wanted prizes, and you can receive a link by email if new competitions appear. If you look hard enough you might even find a competition that nobody else knows about!
To sign off, here’s a great creative competition with a prize most of us would want to win – £200 of supermarket vouchers of your choice! It’s at the Appliances Online website and you need to describe your most memorable cooking catastrophe. The closing date is 3rd May 2011 and the winning entry will be the one with the most ‘creative and literary merit’, so make sure you fine-tune your story so it’s perfect before you submit it!
I hope this advice helps those of you stuck in a comping rut, and look forward to hearing about your wins very soon… good luck!