Are You Feeling Lucky?

Today’s customers are inundated with marketing promotions involving contests, lucky draws, sweepstakes and a wide variety of other such schemes. I remember participating in a few of these as a child, especially during the release of the animated feature, The Jungle Book, and during the cricket world cup, in the 1980’s. The marketing paradigm was a very different and simpler one in those days, but I distinctly recall these promotions for the scale and one other thing. I actually got something for my efforts. Fast forward to the twenty first century, and such kinds of promotions are being hurtled in customers’ faces every day. But while marketing techniques aided by technological developments have increased the level of sophistication, most of these types of promotions fall flat on their faces.

The biggest problem with such promotions today is that marketers operate in a reactionary mode. They also undermine the intelligence of customers, often coming up with ridiculous ideas. For instance, how many television ads do we see where they present three choices and ask viewers to sms the correct answer? But what’s the point? The answer is obvious almost all the time (if not, there’s always Wikipedia) and chances of winning are practically nil. And how many times have you seen a company actually declaring a winner? The result is that customers have become indifferent at best to these kinds of promotions which not only lack imagination but also fall short in the credibility department. And since there are so many contests and lucky draws happening all the time, they don’t stand a chance anyway.

There is no doubt that contests and lucky draws have their place in marketing. However, it is important that marketers approach these activities with a responsive mindset, not a reactive one. They must be well planned and executed, with a fair degree of innovation and excitement built into them to pique the curiosity of the customers. Secondly, marketers also need to incorporate credibility into the campaigns. Instead of allowing the campaign to fizzle out after the initial burst of activity, marketers should follow through by publicizing the names of the winners. This not only adds to the publicity but also creates an atmosphere of trust and sets the stage for participation in future such promotional activities. It is very easy to create a contest or a lucky draw, but engineering its success is a whole different ball game.

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