Answering questions in "25 words or less" is a circus trick. Sure it takes a while to perfect, but once you've nailed it, it wows audiences again and again.
Mostly, these competitions are found on the Internet and in magazines. The entry form will say something like "In 25 words or less, tell us why you deserve to win" or "Share your most embarrassing story in 25 words or less". So, when you encounter such a beast, what do you do? Here's where you need to run away and join the circus...
Learn the Trick
Put yourself in the judge's place sitting in some miserable marketing office plowing through hundreds of entries. What would you hear over and over again? What kind of entry would stand out? What would you enjoy reading?
The trick to answering these questions is actually simple: make your entry funny, unique and mention the product or brand. This type of entry says to the judge that you are pleasant, clever (and therefore a deserving winner) and will be a genuine, devoted ambassador for her/his company. After all, who would want an ungrateful winner who will make your business look bad?
Should You Rhyme?
There are compers out there who swear rhyming only ticks off the judges and ensures you'll lose. Personally, I love to rhyme and do it almost every time (see, I can't stop -- it's a sickness!). While I'm sure it annoys some judges, obviously not everyone curses my verses -- I've frequently won using poetic "25 words or less" entries.
At the Marie Claire web site, I find a promotion to win Victoria Beckham's makeup from this month's cover:
WIN VICTORIA BECKHAM'S LOOK
Re-create Victoria's look with make-up products courtesy of Rimmel Cosmetics.
How to master Victoria's look
Re-create Victoria's look with make-up by Rimmel Cosmetics. Create a perfect base with Renew & Lift Foundation in Soft Beige. Add warmth to your cheeks with Mono Blush in Bronze. Define your eyes with Colour Rush Quad Eyeshadow in Smokey Noir, Soft Khol Eyeliner in Jet Black and Max Volume Flash Mascara in Black. Perfect your pout with Lasting Finish Intense Wear Lipstick in Asia.
We have five packs valued at $117.40 to give away, each pack includes:
- Renew & Lift Foundation
- Soft Kohl Eye Pencil in Jet Black
- Lasting Finish Lipstick in Asia
- dVb Signature Story for Her 50ml EDT
Simply tell us in 25 words or less why you love our cover girl Victoria Beckham.
Thin as a kohl eye pencil,She'd never wear icky Tencel,Fashionable and successful and rolling in dosh,She's the spice known as Posh!
It's no literary masterpiece, but hopefully it'll give someone a laugh and might just win.
Honesty -- the Best Policy?
Not everyone wants to write a crappy poem about Victoria Beckham, I can dig that. If you want to be a lyin' tamer and just be honest, that's fine. It's often be the best policy. Describing how you own every Spice Girl album and still have your walls plastered with Posh posters may well do the trick. Or, if a competition asks why you deserve to win, you might write about how you haven't had a holiday in 20 years and are currently unemployed. The judge may well feel you need a break and award you the prize. I shy away from this type of entry because I think judges will probably be swimming in similar stories and why would yours stand out? However, if your reason is truly unique, it's definitely worth a shot.
In the end, there's no point being scared of performing the "25 word or less" trick. Do it right, and you could soon receive a circus ring on the telephone from a promoter congratulating you on your win!