Imagine how you'd feel, driving to your local supermarket to be presented with a gleaming new car or all-inclusive travel package to exotic climes.
You're probably waiting for the catch. Unbelievable as it may seem, there isn't one.
You've probably seen pictures in your newspaper, of ordinary people presented with washing machines, mountain bikes or the latest model in home entertainment systems. Courtesy of competition wins.
You may be thinking: "They're lucky". Yet, you can be lucky too. All you need is winning know-how.
Every day there are thousands of pounds worth of competition prizes waiting to be won by someone like you. When you join the band of "compers", as people who enter competitions are affectionately called, you'll discover a prize-winning trail to big competition prizes, and a challenging, exciting and fun pastime for all your family.
A word of warning though. Once you experience the thrill of opening letters like this one, your morning post will never be the same again.
"Congratulations, you have won a fantastic holiday on the island of Margarita. Your prize includes flights, full board accommodation, all local drinks and travel insurance."
You have to be in it to win it. The only competition you have no chance of winning is the one you don't enter.
To join the prize winning trail, you need to know where to find the best competitions, your chances of success and more importantly, how you can shorten the odds to improve your "luck".
Before I move on, let me tell you about a true story that happened to one of my friends. She was in her local supermarket, when she noticed some tiny forms tucked down by the side of the check out till.
Reading the competition entry form, all she had to do was complete her details and drop it into the in-store box. Simple enough task. But where was the box? Finding it was like searching for a needle in a haystack. Once. Twice. Three times she walked up and down the aisles. She asked an assistant. Eventually, the box was located on top of a high shelf. Donning basketball player skills, she retrieved the box and noted there were about nine other entries in there. Obviously another nine "would-be winners" like herself. She dropped her form in the box.
The next day the store manager phoned. "Do you remember entering our competition?"
"Yes", she tentatively replied.
"Well I'm delighted to tell you, You've won first prize. A fantastic holiday for you and your family, cruising down the Nile."
Now the interesting thing about this story is that there was a holiday to be won every day for ten days. By the tenth day, the prize box was located at the front entrance to the store, where you couldn't possibly miss it - and there were literally hundreds of entries in there. Consider for a moment. Day one, ten entries. Chance of success, ten to one. Day ten, hundreds of entries. Chance of success, several hundred to one. Win-teresting, isn't it?
Walking on the seafront one cold December morning, my husband and I took a shortcut through the amusement arcades in the Pier, where I spotted a television set and a pile of entry forms.
Collecting one, we popped into the coffee bar, whilst I filled in our name and address details. As I popped my entry into the box, I noticed that, unusually, people had to be present for the prize draw, which was taking place at 4pm that day.
Back home, just before 4pm, I told my husband I'd walk back to the pier for the prize draw. Looking out the window, it was drizzling with rain, dark and cold. I nearly didn't bother. Then I thought, if others think the same, just how many people would turn up. That was enough to motivate me. Donning my coat, I set off.
At 4pm, nine wet and bedraggled individuals stood around the prize box. At 4.15pm, three gave up and went home. Ten minutes later the manager arrived, placed his hand in the prize box and drew out an entry.
"Mrs. X?", he called out. No answer. "She's not here?" he queried, "I'll draw another. Mr Y?" He looked round expectantly. No reply. "Lynne Suzanne", he called. "Yes, that's me." "Congratulations", he enthused, "You've won a TV".
Now had I not bothered to turn out, I wouldn't have won. Sometimes Lady Luck needs a helping hand.
My second car, a Proton Persona, was scooped by writing words on a postcard. I discovered the competition quite by accident. Driving in a neighbouring town, five days before Christmas, I took a wrong turning and drove past a Proton showroom. The "WIN A PROTON" poster caught my eye. The task was to find how many words you could make from the car name before the closing date of 31 December.
This was a challenging task and great fun to do. Adopting a systematic approach, I put the initial letters into alphabetical order, then waded my way through 20 volumes of a dictionary to come up with 1,284 words. It was more of a challenge trying to write these on a postcard - but was achieved by improvisation - a cut down cereal packet.
When I was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers and my car keys, many people said: "You're lucky Lynne". But Lady Luck doesn't play a hand in these types of competitions. You just have to know about the competition and take the time to enter. You can do it too.
Before you can begin to win you need some competitions to enter. You'll find these on A5 size entry forms in supermarkets and high street stores. On bottle neck collars. On packets and cans. Searching for entry forms, you adopt Sherlock Holmes skills to detect those elusive competitions, often found tucked between freezer cabinets, on top of dusty shelves or squashed between tills, because the check out girl has forgotten to put them on display. Competitions have seasons too, so it's knowing when to visit certain outlets. Magazines are packed with competitions, to suit all interests and tastes. Your specialist skill or hobby can win you prizes. Photography competitions, fashion design, even cooking up a recipe for success. You just have to remember the "compers" maxim: "the harder to enter, the easier to win".
Your best chance of success is to enter those competitions which comprise two parts. The first part is usually a task, and can take the form of factual questions, multiple choice questions, anagrams, how many words can you make from the product name or prize, wordsearches, crosswords, spot the differences, identifying places, buildings or people, photography, inventing recipes, or even putting features into order of merit. The second part of the competition is the tiebreaker. Whilst captions, estimations, and other tasks are used, more often than not the tiebreaker will be a sentence completion. Compers refer to these as slogan comps, for example: "I want to win a holiday with promoter's wine because... I w-h-ine for a 'grape' escape!"
You may be one of thousands of people who never enter slogan competitions, either because you think only other people win or because you haven't yet learnt how to write a winning slogan. There's a knack to writing successful slogans and a skill you can learn.
It's all down to word play. "Fit's my New Year Resolution", won me a £1,500 health resort break, whilst "Golden opera-tune-ity" scooped a £2,000 music system.
"It's a fluke", said one of my friends, when car number one came along, "ten words for a Ford Fiesta!"
"Christmas goodies, exciting show, supermarket's quality, I'm all aglow".
"That's not very good", said another friend.
What she didn't know was it scored highly for aptness. For you see, I'd noticed that the store's current advertising slogan was "I'm glowing with supermarket". A twist of their slogan, bring in the Christmas theme, add a dash of rhyme.
All the "write" ingredients for a recipe for success. You can do this too.
Start on the prize-winning trail writing down the lead-in line for your tiebreaker slogan, for example, "I buy my plants at this garden centre because..".
Then make a list of apt words, for example: seeds, plants, dig, sow, water, hoe, tend, tree, branches, twigs.
Underline those with double meanings which lend themselves to word play, for instance, sow, branch.
Try to make words from other words, for instance: tremendous, tree-mendous
Next step is to build these words into phrases. You may want to say, I buy my plants at this garden centre because "they're good, they offer tremendous value and I can buy them at any branch."
Sounds good but when you dig in a little word play, your slogan hopefully blossoms into a prize greenhouse, mower or garden makeover.
"I buy my plants at this garden centre because, they're hoe sow good, offer tree-mendous value, at any branch."
Researching this fascinating subject, I uncovered over fifty styles of slogan writing, which not only scoop big competition prizes for you, but reap rewards in business too. Clever captions or eye-catching headlines for your press releases, sales and promotional literature.
Writing competition slogans is great pun, sorry great fun. I hope you're "twigging" on!
This feature was written by Lynne Suzanne in 2002.
Lynne has helped many people to win fantastic prizes through her newspaper columns and books, and herself has won thousands of pounds worth of prizes including two cars and worldwide holidays. Lynne shares her secrets of success in her latest books: Win Cars Holidays and Prizes is packed full of prize winning advice and anecdotes, whilst Punch Lines has over 4,000 puns and word play, ideal for journalists and advertisers to create catchy taglines, headlines and copywriting.Copyright © 1993-2020 Lynne Suzanne, freelance writer and author