Please don’t take this as a criticism, but as more of an explanation.
I appreciate every person who has entered this crazy event. The trust required is phenomenal. I know, because there was a house draw I wanted to enter, and no matter how tempting it was (and it was), I couldn’t bring myself to go through with it.
So, when it comes to the draws for such events, they need more trust and faith in the promoters than you were required to invest when you bought your tickets.
Now, a while ago, I asked if anyone wished to attend the BMW draw?
There’s been only one taker so far and I need to firm up numbers by the 15th March, to book a venue.
Having read much of the flak that winners of similar events received in the recent past, it’d be advantageous to have a handful of entrants in attendance.
I’m split, though — as I think you’ll understand — between quite liking the idea of nobody coming, because it’s easy and cost effective, and the notion of at least ten coming.
I have committed to buying professional filming. But when I add a venue, time off work and so on, it is expensive. Contrary to popular belief, I am not rolling in money from these competitions and that’s why I also choose to end on time, irrespective of whether I have to give a cash award in place of the house, or whether it turns out I can award the house.
The reality is, I need to get back to uninterrupted earning and privacy!
But, to revert to the original topic at hand:
I have no problem doing the draws with no entrants in attendance, but I think I’d end up feeling bad and anxious. I liken this experience to coming off a flight and walking through the ‘Nothing to Declare’ section of H.M. Customs. We know we don’t have anything to hide, but we feel rotten and scrutinised anyway.
I’ve seen other promoters being pulled apart, and winners’ reputations being decimated, when draws were carried out.
I understand the notion of being a ‘sore loser’. Really.
But, how deeply do people consider what the promoter can do to give that level of reassurance every entrant will accept? Do you consider what ‘transparency’ comprises? What do you need from a promoter, in order for them to be credible?
How easy is it for one person to try and annihilate another’s reputation — promoter or winner — simply because they did not win? I’ve observed the best and the worst of human nature when I have seen the comments post-draw, after other promoters’ events.
I will be having films of both my draws, so if you don’t attend, you’ll have these. There will be a professional filmmaker (booked).
If you feel that is enough to reassure you, fantastic, and I appreciate the massive votes of confidence I receive every day by email! I honestly think I have a phenomenal entrant database, and ‘you have my back’! That’s amazing.
I can count on two hands those who have tried to pull me down and bully me. Conversely, I have lost count of the lovely, supportive emails that encourage me to keep running competitions way past the close of this event.
Yet…despite the support online and offline, I still worry.
There’ll be film editing involved, so I will need to await the films, and it isn’t as if the filmmakers only have my project to worry about. They are snowed under.
So, be aware, if you don’t come, I will know who’s won, yet not be able to tell anyone but those who were in attendance, until I have the films available. I’m not going to do anything on a whim, and I will also respect the processes involved and the winners’ privacy.
The only alternative (which I am considering too) is to announce the winners immediately but not show anything by way of films, until they are ready for release.
For the very few doubters, I want you to consider the implication of at least a handful of entrants not being there.
No sooner had the previous competitions (from other promoters) closed, than the flak started online:
“Surely, it doesn’t take more than a day to announce a winner!”
“All she/he needs to do is look at the database… you’d think it would be easy!”
“He used his own solicitor! Unbelievable!”
“It’s not far from the winner’s house to hers…probably her friend.”
“It’s bound to be someone he/she knows!”
Really. I saw each one of these comments online, and yet I spend barely any time looking at anyone else’s events, so how many such comments are there?
I only see them when Facebook plonks someone’s competitions in front of me. I spend my time trying to avoid them. I’m only interested in what’s right for my event and my entrants. I mean, if you run any kind of business, how much time do you invest in watching what everyone else is doing, in the same profession?
Blah…. So, anyway…promoters try and offset the inevitable flak, trying to get hold of the “impartial professionals” we envisaged.
But, as I have discovered, the professionals who are worthy of having there, (representing the big brands you will know and trust) quite rightly won’t attend unless they do have some stake in it. They won’t allow their brand, their company, their reputation, to be balanced on a knife-edge by attending and being named at something they had no involvement in.
Why should we expect them to? Would you do it if your company’s reputation were at stake? Would it be worth it? Why?
If they just attend for the sake of attending — and let’s say they do come ‘cold’ to the event, which is what the doubters want — what would that prove apart from the fact that someone uninvolved came along? Might as well pick any person off the street.
Then, let’s say that something dodgy comes out afterwards, even way down the line–if a promoter does do wrong–where would that leave these large companies, the lawyers and accountants who came along, supposedly to be “impartial observers”?
The pressure on them and their corporate brands is unreasonably high.
So, they will come and be named only if they have a stake. And if they have one, then you don’t approve of them and some talk badly of them.
The fee a large firm earns off a few hours’ competition attendance, is a drop in the ocean, not worth the risk of a tarnished reputation.
By saying these firms would want a ‘stake’, I don’t mean that they’d want to be entrants. They certainly wouldn’t want that, and in my discussions with these professionals, at no stage has anyone asked for a stake in that way. I mean, conversely:
– an accountant will only agree to be there — or show any interest at all — if they have audited the accounts. That’s fair.
However, there isn’t the time to audit accounts in between an event’s close and the draw of a winner. And — as I have been told four times by different accountancy firms — it’s not even achievable due to the scale of the database and all the to-ing and fro-ing that’s ensued each time an entrant changed their mind, altered their entry, made a form mistake, and so on. Around 1 in every 5 entrants made a form mistake.
An audit has to have every single ‘i’ dotted and ‘t’ crossed, because that’s the whole point of auditing, but auditing an event with over 100,000 entries and where 1 in 5 made at least one error, takes a very long time indeed and would go way beyond the scope of funds available via a competition; it could take months, even if it were achievable. And–it’d eat the funds away!
Remember, for every entry and entrant — of which we have tens of thousands or more — the proof would need to be seen and logged. For every entry.
A standard set of accounts will, however, come later after the draw result, from an accountant.
What some people also don’t realise, (although, thankfully, most do) is that after a competition closes and before a draw can happen, a hell of a lot of database cleansing and rectification takes place, (or should do) otherwise it’s a flawed draw, carried out too fast to avoid errors.
If a draw happens with lightning speed after the close, how clean and professional is that database?
A fast draw, without weeks of database cleansing, payment matching, de-duplication, etc, could even end up picking someone who either received a refund and pulled out, or who sabotaged the event in some way, sending in 5,000 free entries, or using fake postage stamps. These things happen every week throughout any major competition’s lifetime, but while a database sits online and takes automated entries, changes and updates cannot be made.
I don’t know how other promoters manage this, but I run the best possible automated database I can, and manually log all changes on a running basis.
That means, when I do eventually get access to the final, static database, (when the database ceases taking entries), I’ll then have weeks of manual amendments to implement. After that, I will get the whole thing checked by a quantitative research agency that’s used to data input and can help me if I haven’t hit my targets. They will do a double-check and input remaining forms.
It is only once an automated database shuts down, and the final file is pulled down into Excel or similar, that all this database cleansing can start to happen. These events have one promoter…this is not the National Lottery with thousands of employees.
My competition is the only event that promised refunds. And boy, do I regret it…not because of the scale of refunds (high enough) but because of the to-ing and fro-ing of some entrants who enter one day, only to pull their fee back the next, and because of the enormous administrative burden.
Automated software was great for the flawless receipt and logging of the first entry forms, but each time you came back asking for changes upwards, downwards, upside-down and sideways, for refunds, then re-purchases, then more refunds, partial refunds, then name changes, number changes, ticket allocation divisions (some automated, some chosen by you), for splits between family members, for discounts, for me to put in false names reflecting a fall-out between hubby and wife, son or daughter, or to reflect a marital split, a divorce, a clandestine affair, a catastrophic legacy issue, an inheritance…. upgrades, downgrades, changes to qualifying answers…and so on… well, I had to (have to still…) make all these manually.
Ffffffffff…. really, I am exhausted even reading about these. I thought my own past was complicated enough….ha.
And so, I logged your changes in email folders suitably named, and in many cases, have to wait to implement them. I have folder upon folder of changes, with thousands of alterations in each.
I am fortunate in that I was the Managing Director of a couple of number-crunching research agencies, so I know how to avoid panic stations and to get the jobs done once the automation has stopped. It will mean hiring staff, though.
I look forward to that cessation, when I can unburden myself of all these manual records.
Then, once the core database is cleansed of those who pulled out, increased their allocations, decreased their allocations, sent fake banknotes, sent fake cheques, sent fake postal orders, sent the wrong sum, sent 50 free forms a day, received a refund, stalked the promoter, tried to break into the house, said they’d damage the car, got the answers to the qualifier wrong,,.sent forms in a foreign language that needs to be translated, and the list goes on and on… I need to address the small task of adding the free entrants.
Let’s say we have even (only) 2,000 free entrants.
How long would it take you, to input the name (bearing in mind Russian, Icelandic, Croatian, French, German, Italian…etc spellings), email addresses in duplicates, physical addresses, phone numbers, answers to the qualifying questions, comments and observations…ticket purchases and spend calculations, multiplied by at least 2,000? And then, while you’re making these changes… at least 20% of the total database is emailing you, saying how it’s changed again, and wanting same-day answers I do try to send.
Create an Excel file and input the fields as above, then enter every family member you can think of. How long does that take you? Multiply that by however many, ha, and add in the long-winded explanations and the languages you can’t begin to understand.
Painfully slow, isn’t it?
And all of this is JUST to consider the ‘accounting’ or auditing needs can’t easily be met, at least not in a meaningful manner.
Then, we come to the legal experts we all — as promoters — try and hire for our draws.
The same issues largely apply :
– a solicitor won’t attend a house prize competition unless they are the appointed legal firm to deal with, for example, the conveyancing of a house after the draw. Even then, they feel they need vast expertise in running competitions, if they’re to apply their name to a draw result. And, just the same as for accountants and auditors, they need to have examined the whole caboodle.
Conveyancing solicitors and competitions-specialist solicitors are not the same animals so that’s the first issue, while the time it would require — with these solicitors working at £300/ hour upwards, if they have competitions specialisms! — makes hires impossible for anything beyond superficiality.
And the pretty obvious problem anyway, is, the juncture at which a promoter appoints a solicitor or another professional, that person then has already lost their impartiality. They are now ‘my’ hired solicitor, accountant, etc.
And that is what led to criticisms of another promoter: i saw cries of ‘well, that was his own solicitor, so he’s hardly impartial!’
Yes..guys…as soon as we hire someone, they become ‘our solicitor’, by default.
Crikey, guys… how can this whole argument of impartiality ever be ‘won’ by a promoter, or, indeed, by the winners of any major competition, when there are tens thousands of critics standing by to apportion online flak at the drop of a hat?
Try pleasing every one of your family on any issue…or pleasing every employee of a firm…and multiply it by tens of thousands.
And this is why you being there might just be useful, ha.
A promoter cannot go and hostage-take a lawyer, accountant/auditor and say, ‘I’ll release you when you and your company have IMPARTIALLY agreed, and written in blood, that my draw was won fair and square!’
The same applies with journalists.
Journalists, at least any worth their salt, want to cover great stories. New stories. Exciting, titillating stories.
Rightly so. Who wants to read the same old, same old…? Do you?
There is now such a plethora of house competitions that the whole ‘Mrs Bloggs raffled her house!’ story is old news, and a tad dull.
People keep emailing me news of other people’s house competitions. The truth is, I don’t have any interest. I am not an entrant and I didn’t review other competitions before setting up my own. I’m as bored as many of you are, with hearing about the many events ongoing.
When I see the flak on my events’ ad threads on Facebook, saying, ‘hasn’t this thing ended yet?’ — well, I empathise! This is why, despite the ability to still draw in way more funding, I now keep advertising to the minimum and have had weeks at a time where no paid ads have been running. It’s not enticing to bore and irritate people.
This is also why I don’t bombard my entrants with ‘stuff’ in the guise of supposed news. There’s only so much house-competition-itis anyone can swallow.
Now, I was inundated with requests from outstanding journalists when I went live with this competition, but since then, not a peep. And that’s no criticism of them; this is not hot news. No, it’s really not.
All promoters are vying for the same attention and PR. And even if a journalist attends, then, ‘so what?’
What does that prove?
Surely, the best way to feel reassured is if we can get a group of., say, 10+ attendees at each draw? At least you see it for yourselves and you can represent the entrants, to some degree.
If you don’t need to attend (and — a second time — I really do appreciate, value and thank the very many who have written about how they trust me and like how I ran this thing), then I will do my best in your absence, to be the best representative I can be, and film these draws.
I have no problem with that, and it’s the easy and cheap option as I won’t be hiring venues. But then, please accept I did my damnedest.
Groans and gripes are now over with, ha. : )
Sorry…. ! And this brings me nicely to….
**UPDATE on March 12th: After many requests to do this, I am rolling these two draws — BMW and house — together into one evening, so that anyone attending doesn’t have to come twice.
The date will be: April 15th, 2018. Venue TBD.
It also means I have a month less than originally intended, in which to get stressed and anxious. I wake with daily palpitations as it is, and dearly hope not to drop dead before the draws, ha.
So, I hope this is good news for everyone.
BMW DRAW / 18K CASH DRAW + HOUSE DRAW / CASH DRAW (Depending on funds position at the time)
I am looking at April 15th (Sunday) for the draws. So far, ONE man has asked to come. And he’s making a colossal effort and coming in from overseas. Well done, that man!
I truly appreciate you, sir, and I am going to weave in an extra ticket for you as a thank-you token, for being the first to offer to come along and for making the effort to come from overseas.
If you’d like to attend, please let me know, in writing, in a short email where this is the sole content.
That means I won’t miss it in between other messages, and I will be able to just file it as a Draw Attendee email.
If the email is long and rambling (like my posts!) or has other topics in it, as I now get more than 500 emails a day (aaagh) there’s a chance it will get filed inappropriately. So I just need a firm and clear commitment to attend and I’ll write back to confirm it.
There will be a nominal charge to come as I will have to hire a venue, but once we have numbers, I can say how much. I am hoping no more than £10 per person and we don’t need anything posh, just somewhere with great wi-fi, not too far away from the Stockport filmmakers.
Of course, you can bring your partner, the kids, whoever… but each person will need to have the per capita fee covered and there will be a maximum attendee cut-off, which I will have a think about.
Thanks, all. Sorry if I sound narked and even impolite. I appreciate you all so very much — really! — but I especially don’t want my events’ winners attracting the sort of unfair flak I have seen applied to other house competition winners, who won those events fair and square. If you want transparency, it means treating winners with respect (and most people do).
Either you want to come and watch, or you trust us all.
To register your intention to attend, please email:
Thank you so much.
March 10th, 2018