Overall Strategy: pick
the right contests that are easier to win, avoid massive
promotional contests, and improve your chances with easy
and multiple entries.
Offer many consolation prizes in
addition to a grand prize. Example: Procter
& Gamble, through one of its Web sites, www.prilosecotc.com, recently offered a grand prize, worth $145,600,
that included first-class travel for the winner and
three friends to the Super Bowl in Florida in 2009. The
odds of winning were slim, but there were five first
prizes (attending a single NFL home game of your choice
with one guest during the 2008 season, worth $3,900) and
24 second prizes (a $100 gift certificate to
Have short entry periods, no
longer than a few weeks. Reason: The longer a
sweepstake is available, the more people find and enter
Are restricted in some way,
such as to a certain state or even a specific store.
Example: Sweepstakes sponsored by wineries or
breweries often avoid states with strict restrictions
regarding liquor-related contests, such as California
and Tennessee. That eliminates a lot of potential
You've already won.
When you have won a contest, that often
means the Web site isn't getting much traffic, which
improves your chances of winning again.
Have so many contestants
that the odds of winning are astronomical.
Example: Ignore the Publishers Clearing House
Sweepstakes and the contests that credit card companies
promote around holidays.
Require a lot of work, such
as filling out a survey or clipping UPC codes off boxes.
Are heavily advertised.
If you keep seeing a contest in newspapers and
hearing about it on TV and radio, you know that the
number of entries will be staggering.
Improve your chances of winning
Submit multiple entries. Most
sweepstakes allow different people from the same address
to enter. Example: Mulitply
your chances of winning a by entering your name and family members
names. Be sure the rules allow
process. Most online contest sites require you
to provide basic information, such as your E-mail
address, birthday, phone number and home
address. Use an autofill program such as the
Google free toolbar at toolbar.google.com.
Internet Explorer also has an "autofill"
Always read the rules.
Sweepstakes disqualify entries that vary from their
specific guidelines. Common mistakes: You're
ineligible to win because of location or demographic
restrictions... you enter too early or too late... your
address is incomplete, or it's a PO box, which many
contests won't accept.
Set up a separate E-mail address
exclusively for sweepstakes entries at a free site, such
as Gmail.com, Yahoo.com or
Hotmail.com. While different
sweepstakes offer different degrees of privacy, you're
still going to be deluged with junk E-mail.
Smart: When you enter an on-line contest, read
the entry form carefully. Uncheck any boxes that give
your consent to be contacted by third parties,
advertisers, licensees or partners.
Keep records for taxes. You
are expected to report any sweepstakes winnings to the
IRS if the amount you win is a total of $600 or more --
but you don't have to list the sweepstake sponsor's
estimated value of your prize. You are allowed to make a
fair-market adjustment. Find the lowest price and
submit that to the IRS to determine the value of
Follow the requirements
exactly when you claim your prize. Otherwise,
your win can be invalidated. Typically, you must fill
out an affidavit and mail it back within 14 days from
the date on the win-notification letter.
Caution: A legitimate sweepstakes will never
ask for credit card information or require paying any
taxes or shipping charges as a condition of claiming
your prize. You may need to provide your Social Security
number. If you're not sure if the request is legitimate,
call the company that is sponsoring the contest.
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Sweepstakestoday.com In addition to contest listings, the site
offers a popular forum where sweepstakes players can ask
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recommends sweepstakes that offer the best odds.