It’s a great reminder that as agencies, you sometimes feel a little pang of jealousy when competitors announce impressive award show wins for work you know you do better. But as David mentions, if entering into these shows isn’t meant to gain new business but is merely a morale and recruitment tool, are they worth the hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars these awards shows are asking? Oddly enough, the answer depends on the types of clients you want… which means these awards may have more of an effect on new business than David is hinting at.
Although winning an ADDY certainly gets your company some attention from job prospects and rouses the troops, ultimately, this nod helps to build out sales presentations, adds credible content to your website, and makes for a nice paper weight when meeting with potential clients in your office. How does it not help with new business? Well, perhaps what David was getting at is that unless you blatantly promote the fact that you won this honor, your potential clients will probably never know.
As much as we’d hope, clients don’t have the time to scour award winners lists on a regular basis and attempt to make contact with the 100s of winners chosen during each ceremony (sometimes multiple times per year), so you have to make it easier for them. To some clients, awards and recognition makes them feel better about choosing you. This generally holds truer for larger clients with larger budgets who have to justify to more people that selecting your agency to do work for them is a sound investment.
As a smaller agency, there are still cost effective ways to get yourselves some recognition without dropping thousands for cost of entry, travel, the awards themselves, etc.
Here’s a short breakdown of the types of awards that are out there, and what they can do for your agency:
1. Rankings/lists – these are a great option for small agencies as many publications post these lists at little or no cost. Unfortunately, they tend to favor larger agencies and will often rank based on numbers of employees, revenues, or a combination of the two (which are rarely verified, making it very easy for those entering to fib). Your best bet as a smaller is agency is hunt down rankings that are based on votes from the community, or “People’s Choice” types of categories and start a campaign geared at getting friends, family, colleagues, and peers to take a few seconds to cast their precious votes. These lists, albiet sometimes flat out lies, are a great place for agency exposure since they are often published in print journals widely read by business executives.
2. Top people/executives lists – these types of awards are given to individuals within your company and are usually submitted by nomination either by your company or the community. These are great for promoting someone within your company you’re hoping to push as a thought leader or speaker for your agency as it gets them recognition that can be used as a part of a speaking résumé. These are generally at no cost and require only a submission form with brief information to be considered.
3. Campaign entries – It’s important to remember that awards shows are businesses too. They want to announce big name winners as much as you want to promote them, so keep in mind that they’re looking for recognizable brands when choosing their winners (unfortunately, it’s not always based on who’s actually the best). When applying for these types of awards, you can often submit a campaign or a single entry, the difference is that a campaign can have several components that you enter (e.g., a website, print ad with QR code integration, subway station advertisements, and online banner ads) whereas a single entry allows you just submit for your banner ads or a website. Oftentimes, a campaign entry offers a good savings as you can submit multiple pieces of work for just a small fee more, where as single entries for multiple pieces of work will result in the same large fee over and over for each entry. When determining which awards shows are right for your agency, consider who’s won in the past (most awards websites will list past winners) and check for bigger names or consumer brands as this will often tell you whether this award has some widespread awareness, making promoting of your victory easier. But keep in mind, the bigger the names, the stiffer the competition, so it’s important to weigh the costs. If you’re just looking to add some credibility to your sales pitches, there are plenty of shows out there with less awareness that will have a more likely chance of naming you as a winner.
4. Honorary mentions/finalists – Sometimes, you just don’t win. Most awards show websites offer plenty of marketing materials for finalists or honorary mentions (which are often anyone that didn’t win) that you can use to add to your website or marketing materials. Sure, they’re not as impressive to those in the know, but to a potential client, it just may be enough to sway them in your direction.
Awards are all about playing the game, and as messy as this game can be, awards can do great things for your agency. Feeling like awards just aren’t right for you? Wish rankings/lists were based on different factors? Then make your own. No one can stop you from putting together your own lists, and many agencies do just this.
Although I don’t mention recruitment or morale as a reason for submitting to any of these awards, it goes without saying that those factors are a by-product of all kinds of awards. In order for awards and recognition to turn into new business, it’s all about marketing these awards in ways your clients will care.
Stay tuned for the next installment in our series about agencies and awards: marketing your win so people will give a sh*t.