Eye on the prize

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The follow-up
After a contest is over, it's important to advertise the winner through a newsletter or another form of announcement (such as CMP) and reach out to local media outlets to cover the giveaway, especially if it has a significant or unique prize.

When the winners of the first Mortgage Alliance minimize your mortgage contest were chosen, Bettio made sure to alert media such as CityTV, who sent a reporter to attend the cheque presentation. After the winners of last year's contest were chosen, Bettio says they decided to air the presentation on MAC TV, the brokerage's new web channel, which allowed the company's 1,800 brokers and other Mortgage Alliance customers to tune in.

"One thing you have to do when you conduct a promotion - and where many marketers fail - is you have to tell people about the winner and validate the contest in its finality," Bettio explains. "We're keen to create a PR opportunity with the grand prize presentation and it's a boost to the brand when you can get that kind of free publicity."

Stoddart and Cox agree that awards follow-up is a key part of the contest process. When the winners of Stoddart's contest were announced, he invited them to his office and had photos taken for his next client newsletter. Cox also took photos of the Rock 95 live on location event and posted them on YourMortgageStore's website and the company's Facebook page.

Following the rules
The federal regulation on contests is set out by the Competition Bureau and, more specifically, the Competition Act. The act prohibits any promotional contest that does not disclose the number and approximate value of prizes, the area or areas to which they relate and any important information relating to the chances of winning, such as odds and what they depend on. It also states that the distribution of = prizes cannot be unduly delayed and that prizes must be distributed on the basis of skill or on a random basis.

A good way to ensure compliance of rules is to look at examples of other contests running in Canada, use that as a starting point and then have a draft of the written rules reviewed by a lawyer. It is also recommended to check in with the mortgage industry regulator in your province and the Canada Revenue Agency (see sidebar).

Contests can be a fun and effective way to promote business, but they do take some planning. If you're thinking of running a giveaway promotion, be sure to come up with a marketing goal, whether it's gaining brand awareness - in which case, a media partnership could be beneficial - or reaching out to your referral sources. Above all, keep your client base in mind and think about what types of contests and prizes would excite and motivate them.

"Make the contest pertinent to what you're doing as a business," says Cox. "And always add value for your clients."





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