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The beginner's guide to running competitions

Everything you need to know before running a promotional competition.

The Rule of thumb with competitions is unless you’re running ‘a game of skill’, you’ll need to apply for competition permits, that is unless you’re only letting Queenslander’s enter, then you can do a random draw. You’ll need to display your permit numbers on all advertising and direct people to your website for full terms and conditions. A game of skill on the other hand is when a competitor must do something challenging in order to win, not just a random winner picked from a barrel. Here’s a company you can use to register for competition permits:  Also, another thing to remember is random winners need to be advertised in national newspapers – something to factor into your budgets.

Outside of the topic of permits, which can be a game changer for some competition organisers, here’s some other tips.

Games of skill can be things like:

  • Answer in 25 words or less…
  • Send a photo or upload a video in response to a challenge
  • Find the answer to a question or solve a riddle by directing them to your website or in-store for the clues

Remember to:

  • Advertise the promotion / competition start and end dates, how and where they can enter, and what’s up for grabs (and the value of the prize pool). If you have the lead time from competition start till end date too long you risk losing people’s interest
  • Keep people engaged in the lead up to the draw by offering smaller prizes that surprise and delight your audience. People feel they have a better chance of winning a competition with multiple small prizes in the draw compared to those with one super large prize
  • Celebrate the winners name and location online, and via social media, proving the competition was real – there are a lot of sceptics out there!
  • Keep the competition mechanics simple or you risk it being a flop
  • Ensure you flag in the T&Cs whether you intend to keep their details on file for future marketing and promotions
  • Capture relevant information that you can use for future communications e.g. email, mobile, postcode


  • People who are really keen to win will be happy to give you helpful insights about where they first heard about you, or if they have been a customer of yours, or provide hints why they haven’t!
  • Ideally get people to enter online to capture their data, not via paper entries, or you risk a lot of data entering which can cost time and money
  • Make the prizes relevant to your audience’s desires, but more importantly align the prizes to your business and brand
  • Make people do something that’s linked to your business and brand in order to win, if not you risk just getting prize pigs entering who will not deliver any measurable return on your investment

If you need help with your competitions and promotions, feel free to contact me at next Thursday!


Dan Adler, Managing Director - next Thursday
Dan is the Owner and Managing Director of next Thursday, a boutique brand creative agency based in Brisbane. As both a Marketing Guru and a small business owner, Dan is your expert in all things promotions, advertising and communications - no matter whether you're in the start-up stage or have been operating for years. When he's not in the boardroom, he's in the "Green Room" - Dan is an avid surfer!