The Joy of Comping

OK. A confession.  I love to enter competitionsIf you ask my husband about my hobby, he grimaces and absents himself to skulk in the loft. I love that you can win a vast array of goods and services from companies far and wide. You can have experiences that you’d never normally pay for (or even have the nerve to experience – like paintballing or diving with sharks). You can share your wins to make friends and family happy and, in these recession-bound times, as Tesco would say, “Every Little Helps”!.


Cartoon girl holding winner's trophy - entering competitions - comping -
Winning can become addictive!

Comping is not, despite its portrayal by Norris on Corrie, the sad, lonely hobby of the late middle-aged. Through joining comping groups I have made some great friends who I even (gasp!) meet in person from time to time. I have increased my general knowledge and, I like to think, kept my brain at least slightly active and my conversational abilities alive. Much as I love Mr Tumble he is unlikely to ever appear on QI is he? Although now I think of it, Balamory’s Archie is regularly on “Have I Got News For You”.

20 years’ experience of marketing and PR have also given me some insight into the reasons why companies run competitions. They need your data baby! They need names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. They need your feedback on whether goods and services work. They need to know where you buy, when you buy and why. They need to defray the vast cost of advertising into cheaper media (hello Facebook and Twitter). The cost of purchasing the data that informs their future sales and marketing campaigns is not cheap. Campaigns to raise brand awareness cost.

It amuses and irritates me to the same degree that ‘compers’ are often given such a bad rap when, in reality, we are saving promoters thousands of pounds of marketing spend. Whether these companies have systems in place to do anything useful with the data they’ve trawled is questionable. What is not in doubt, however, is the fact that we compers are their secret marketing and sales department.

Take, for example, the current Holy Grail of Comping prizes – the iPad., roughly £400 from Amazon at today’s prices. Weigh that up against the cost of purchasing thousands of verified names and addresses plus the print cost of promoting a competition against a practically free Facebook or Twitter post and the iPad doesn’t seem that generous after all.

Of course its a fabulous prize and we should be happy that companies choose to promote their goods and services in this way. All I’m saying is there should be a healthy degree of respect on both sides.

Carry on Compers!

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