Contests and sweepstakes are lucrative in every market, but they’re especially important in the Middle East, but these have to be planned and well thought of in advance.

People in the Middle East are in love with discounts and free prizes. This is something I realized while traveling to Jordan to meet clients. And I must admit the mentality in marketing to consumers is completely different here than in Dubai, UAE.

The reasons vary, but it’s mainly because there is a higher number of expats in Dubai than in Jordan and the difference in the standard of living between the two countries.

I recently met with two prospective clients from different industries who are looking to carry social media campaigns to generate more leads and sales. We suggested a number of ideas but they weren’t interested.

All they seemed to care about was creating Facebook pages and running sweepstake competitions. I decided to dig deeper and find out the obsession behind this, so I started asking questions such as what kind of returns might be expected, and whether or not these consumers actually interact or engage with them after the competitions are over.

The answers were somewhat convincing. On one occasion, the client, a leading bank in Jordan, told me that they carried a campaign for two months that had failed miserably with unfavorable results, until they added a contest element in the third and final month of the campaign.

In that month, the campaign had generated more than double the sales of the first two months combined. They also went on to explain that the contest wasn’t even giving large sums away: they were offering 10 prizes equivalent to 250 USD each. For a major bank, that wasn’t a big deal.

I noticed however from our discussion that they ran sweepstakes all year round because they don’t really have any other means of engagement or attracting new consumers available to them. 

That was our biggest challenge: to convince them to move to social networks in order to have a constant open channel rather than a page with dates of the next draw.

I had to repeatedly explain that their social presence will eventually add value to their consumers and would provide the client with an alternative method of generating new leads, as opposed to running these campaigns year round.

In conclusion, we listed a number of things that they should focus on order to gain more from their contests:

  1. Clearly define their goal, and the desired results.
  2. Define your target.
  3. Try different channels and focus on the ones that work.
  4. Make it relevant for your target and look for smart ways to give incentives.
  5. Integrate, integrate and integrate. Make sure to add a social layer to these campaigns where people can share and follow you on networks.
  6. Engagement. Think of the newly joined customers. Did they just want the prizes? Or can you convince them to become repeat customers?
  7. Measure, analyze and tweak your campaign.