Top 4 reasons to enter awards

I was speaking yesterday at an event organised by the DMA North and the CIM in Manchester.  The topic was Customer Journeys, but my post today is related, not to that, but to a topic we strayed into during my speech: Why enter awards for the creative work we produce?
Its an interesting question, given that last year the company I work for started to do just that.  We were very successful in our first foray and won two awards and were highly commended in a third category.  100% success for our three entries, we were as pleased as punch!
So what benefit have we gleaned and why would you enter creative, or indeed any other awards for your work?


Pushing the limits

  • It is very easy as a brand to develop and deploy creative that looks good and responds well, and if you continue to hit targets thats is a perfectly reasonable position to maintain.  Test and Learn after all can be iterative and small in scale.
  • The advantage to setting yourself an external benchmark test though, is that I think it pushes a greater degree of creativity, be that “how can i gain a higher response rate” perhaps, or a lower pack cost.  It stimulates thought and fundamentally changes your brief I think.  It makes you aware of what good looks like and that has to be a benefit.
  • Deciding you want to be great changes the pardigm of thought about what creative you produce and how you garner insight to ensure it works.  In customer journey development Alan Gilmour of our Agency, Cogent Elliott, describes this as walking in customers shoes, and I think the focus on seeing your work vs an external benchmark makes you do just that.

Credibilitity

  • Winning a credible award gains you credibility, not just as an individual, but also as a team, I will guarantee you that in most cases an award entry is never based on the work of just one individual so it gives you a chance to ‘share the love’.
  • The externality of the benchmark is a natural credibility builder, if your peers recognise the work as effective, if your award entry crystalises and clarifies the impact then this will assist you in the next budget planning round.  in turn there are two clear benefits, for me, here, seeing success and seeing a benchmark will give credibility to budget requests and more particularly will give you credibility as you seek to evangelise changes and fund test and learn, both crucial benefits in my view.
  • One warning I would give here is to carefully select the awards you want to enter: make sure they are credible and stretching.  One of my former Marketing Directors used to say it was the quality of the brands you pass on the way up to collect your award that really matters and that is really evident if you enter respected National awards.

Leadership benefits

  • Here the benefit is about the short listing really, not the winning or losing.  Most awards ceremonies are glamourous affairs, black tie and ball gowns.  Yes there is a cost to that for the brand but can you really put a price on celebrating success with your team in such an environment?
  • The lasting effects of taking your team, or part of your team are clear.  In fact it also spurs those who did not attend to greater heights in my experience, to ensure they get the invite the next time. It is all to easy in assessing the appropriate use of your budgets to miss out celebrating sccess, but it need not be too expensive and the long term effects on performance are invaluable in my experience

Culture

  • sadly thsi really only works if you win! so be mindful of of that, but being able to display your award, and to call yourself an award winning business, gives your whole team and your whole business a rallying point, proof that what you are doing is valuable and is of high quality.  In engagement terms that sort of validation is gold dust.

So there you have it, my four big reasons to enter awards.  I have tried to make them industry and discipline agnostic as I appreciate that we Marketers can get all fluffy at times, so I have resisted the urge to say that it is a fun thing to do and where you can really spot and hone copywriting skills .. you can have those as 5 and 6 if you wish.

I hope you and the companies you work for chose to be brave and have a go at testing yourselves against your competitors in such a way, let me know if you do and how you get on.  Oh and wish my team and I well for Monday  the CIM awards – and we are shortlisted, and we are going and we do hope to win !
Paul
24 April 2015
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