The Difference Between a Contest and a Sweepstakes


Promotions not only help companies and marketing firms to obtain consumer purchasing data (like your personal stats) and new contacts for their mailing list but also help them increase brand awareness and sales. So they put up prizes, and we win by trading our info for the stuff. And it’s fun! But not all promotions are created equal — and there are pros and cons to each of the major types — pros and cons that could make you more or less likely to win.

Contests require some skill to win. Sweepstakes are games of chance. Contests usually offer better odds because they are not left up to chance and fewer people enter. So build up the common skills needed for contests to next-level your winning.

Contests Take Skill

Contests are often promotional but require some display of skill to win. Participants may be asked to write an essay, create a recipe, sing a jingle to enter or more. All submissions must meet the criteria outlined in the contest’s official rules, and they are evaluated by a panel of judges. The winner is chosen based on talent and skill (and the judge’s perception of it) not by a random drawing.

In many cases, entrants hand over ownership of their content (the song, the recipe, whatever) when they enter a contest. For example, if entrants are asked for photographs, the company may retain the right to use them in their future marketing campaigns — whether you win or not. Also, these sometimes (even often) have some kind of entry fee attached, so check before you go to the trouble of writing a jingle or something.

The Nitty Gritty on Sweepstakes

Sweepstakes are games of chance, and they are free to enter thanks to no-purchase-necessary laws. Everyone who is eligible can enter by providing the requested pieces of personal information — usually their name, address and email. As any sweeper knows by now,  sweepstakes may also ask survey-style questions about recent or planned purchases to get a better understanding of their market.

Winners of sweepstakes are chosen at random via a drawing or pre-approved automated system. All entries must have an equal chance of being chosen for sweepstakes’ to be compliant with the law.

Which Has Better Odds?

Since contests require talent, effort and time to enter, fewer people enter them, which means they have better odds. Contests also give entrants some control. Their entries will be based on their talents, which can give them an edge over the competition. With enough creativity, contest winners can rake it in.

Sweepstakes are games of chance, so while you have better odds of winning a contest, it takes a great deal more time and effort to enter than sweepstakes. Still, speed and practice can up the odds if you’re able to enter more than once, so even here, cunning goes a long way.

Maybe it’s time to start practicing your jingle-writing skills.