All too often, the words "Contest" and "Sweepstakes" are used interchangeably with promotions. These 2 different types of promotions couldn't be any more different. We're going to do a series of blogs notating the distinct differences in each of these types of promotions, when to employ either tactic, and the legal watch outs for running such a promotion.
First, let's start with the basics, demonstrated in the image below. We'll go into detail on each of these items later in the series, but the most important thing to remember with sweepstakes and contests is that the key difference lies in how winners are chosen.
With a sweepstakes - entrants submit their contact information in exchange for a chance to win. It's as simple as that.
With a contest - the entrant submits something they've created (photo, recipe, song, etc), and the winner is chosen based on their skill. "The best _______ wins."
At the end of the day -- there's the difference. However, sometimes a sweepstakes could be "disguised" as a contest -- for instance -- you could have a photo submission promotion that would encourage entrants to submit photos - but the winner is chosen by random draw in the end. And, since we now know that when a winner is chosen by chance, it's a sweepstakes!