From fall football to March Madness and the World Cup to the Olympics, sports have a way of drawing people together throughout the year. For brands looking to associate with that national enthusiasm, a sweepstakes offers an impactful opportunity to connect products with a sporting event while building consumer loyalty in a fun and memorable way.

The right promotion can help consumers take their fandom — for both their team and your product — to the next level. Here are three ways to make the most of your sweepstakes:

Feature Your Partnerships

If you already have a partnership with a sporting organization, now is the time to leverage it though a co-branded promotion. This enables you to feature trademarked language and logos in the promotion design and prizes, and provides a natural tie-in to a broader media or advertising campaign featuring your product.

One client, a prominent audio technology company, ran a series of ads featuring NFL athletes using their products to work out and prepare for the game. Through a complimentary sweepstakes, consumers were inspired to engage more deeply with the brand by posting a photo to social media for a chance to enhance their own work and workouts with the same equipment.

For CPG brands, on-pack promotions are a popular way to feature partners, tie into a sporting event and drive a guaranteed audience to the sweepstakes. Although it takes some lead time to have unique codes printed directly on the product, it’s a great way to gain attention and drive purchases as shoppers browse the aisles.

Create an Exciting Prize Strategy

Of course, you don’t need an official partnership to connect to a specific event or season — all you need is a creative prize strategy. This could include official merchandise or tickets, or adjacent prizes to improve the fan experience, such as a new home theater system for watching games.

Last year, Reese’s launched a yearlong campaign featuring instant win games tied to three different sports seasons — March Madness, the Summer Olympics, and NFL fall football. Their prizes featured creative, brand-focused sports gear — such as a Team Reese’s basketball jersey, a skateboard with an Olympics-inspired design, and a Reese’s branded camping chair, cooler and other tailgate essentials. The NCAA March Madness logo was featured on the basketball-related prizes, as they were an official partner, but the rest of the seasonal sports gear creatively featured the brand in place of a team.

Reese’s promotions were designed to boost sales throughout the year, featuring on-pack promotion codes as the key to play instant win games.

Capture the Energy with the Right Promotion Design

Although a contest could be the best choice for a sports promotion, we find that many brands want to strategically focus on driving engagement, sales or loyalty through the energy of a specific game or season in the sports world. Because the promotion is so timely, sweepstakes and instant win games tend to be the most successful. Consumers can enter to win immediately after learning about the promotion and/or purchasing the product, with few extra steps. An instant win game even delivers immediate results, which can prompt them to play again for repeat engagement.

At Realtime Media, we offer a variety of quick-to-market solutions if you’re running short on time but still want to create a sports promotion. Our PromoPick platform, for example, is a complete and flexible full-service solution that can be launched within a week. Other clients turn to social media giveaways, which can be designed and swiftly deployed, or receipt validation promotions if they want to drive consumer purchasing but don’t have the time or ability to utilize on-pack codes.

No matter what your product is, there’s likely a fun and strategic way to connect it to a major sports event. And when you help consumers feel more connected to their team and your product, everyone wins — no matter how the game or season plays out.