5 ways to make your marketing award winning

After attending Wales’ biggest Marketing Awards on Friday night, CIM’s Canmol Awards, and with the B2B Marketing Awards next week, it got me thinking about what makes a campaign award winning and how we can work to make sure all our work is award worthy, whether we’re entering for an award or not!  

I’ve judged lots of different awards in the past and the 3 areas that always make for a ground breaking entry include;

  • objectives that tie in with what the business needs to achieve
  • a delivery plan that is simple and shows what activity actually took place
  • deliverables that demonstrate that the objectives were achieved

Ideas and innovation are hugely important for a marketing campaign but without direction and focus, creativity has little depth and doesn’t deliver real business results.

So even if you aren’t planning on entering any awards, here are my top tips on how to make your work award winning.

1. Get clarity on what the business needs from you

It’s amazing how often we can assume what the business wants from us. Marketing can so easily end up divorced from the business strategy. For example, in the past I have found myself focusing on getting loads of sales leads into the business only to find that the sales team is struggling to manage the live opportunities it already has. It’s was such a basic error. By spending some time with the sales guys, I quickly learnt that what they really needed was support in nurturing prospects to speed up the sales process, so they could focus on more pitches and proposals.

Asking the business what they need from your marketing goes a long way. 

In planning your campaign, and in any subsequent award entries, be clear about the current situation of your business and what challenges marketing needed to support. 

2. Objectives and deliverables in the same format

Make sure you’re confident that how you measure success directly ties in with what you set out to achieve in the first place. For example, it’s no good having objectives to bring in 50 new appointments for your sales teams, then only to measure website traffic and social engagement in your results. While these two measurable are positive for brand building, they don’t tell us anything other than ‘we got exposure’.  

Without context, data is irrelevant and if you can’t measure against your objectives, you need to change them.  This is a really tricky balance to achieve because we plan out objectives first and then we measure after, so when planning your objectives be clear about what measurement tools you will use and how you define success. All of that said, there is such a thing as hard to measure objectives, but there is no excuse for woolly and unclear reporting. 

3. Know your audience

Mapping out who you’re targeting in your campaign has to be the most important dimension of the planning process. I recommend spending time with your target customer to gain a deeper understanding of their challenges and pain points. An exercise I use often to personalise a typical customer involves putting together a table that maps out their interests, media consuming habits, what keeps them awake at night and what success in their job looks like. This humanises your target audience and will stop you from moving away, content wise, from what will interest and engage them in forming dialogue with your brand. 

Biggest mistake I ever made? Creating content centred on what I thought the business would be impressed to see, instead of focusing on what the customer would find interesting. Don’t beat yourself up on this one, it’s so easily done because there are so many internal pressures to sell product, push agendas and shoe-horn multiple messages into marketing content.  Never be afraid to challenge your boss on these areas, you are the expert and she/he will appreciate it. If they don’t, you are in the wrong job.

4. Staying safe is the most dangerous thing you can do

It’s happened to all of us. We come up with a creative way to engage with our audiences only to be told it’s too out there, that it’s too different. We’re told to do it more like ‘insert competitor name’ or find a way to make it easier to swallow. Don’t shy away from these challenges, the business needs to know you are taking good care of the brand and you have to be ready to sell your ideas with substantiated business reasoning. It’s not good enough to tell the business to trust that you’re an expert, as marketers we have to talk business language and demonstrate why differentiating is so important.

When I talk about staying safe, I mean giving in to agreeing to water down your concept or idea when you don’t really think you should. Don’t stand for dull and lifeless marketing. If your idea is creative but with no substance it will have no legs, so always be sure to differentiate with purpose as opposed to for the sake of it – your boss will spot it a mile off.

In an award entry be sure to outline how you arrived at your creative and substantiate clearly why it will support your plan in cutting through noise in your competitive environment. 

5. Do it properly or do less

Don’t take on too much. Ensure that you have the resources to fulfill what you set out to do. A PPC campaign is never just about choosing key terms and reporting click-throughs, and if you have 10 tactical activities lined up for a campaign without a team big enough to get into the nitty gritty of all of them, you will end up wasting precious time and money. 

It’s easy to forgive our colleagues for asking us to take on every marketing tactic under the sun, because if you don’t work in marketing how would you understand its complexity? Educate the people you work with and learn to say no when you need to. It’s not in the interest of the business to take on more than you can handle. 

In your award entry don’t be afraid if you’ve used just 2 or 3 marketing tools or techniques for your campaigns, judges are looking for quality of application not quantity of fancy tools. It’s all in the results against objectives. 

Summary

Most importantly of all, have conviction in all that you do, don’t shy away from being challenged and be sure to get the recognition you deserve for your next great marketing campaign.

What do you think is the most important part of a campaign when it comes to award winning marketing?