The value of marketing awards

19 May 2021

When there are so many activities that you need to spend your time and money on, you’re probably wondering whether it’s worth entering any business or industry awards at all. Particularly in today’s environment, where we are all doing everything in our respective powers to find our true north for our brands and navigate to success.

I would argue most strenuously that there is still quite a lot of value to be found in putting our work forward for recognition, even in these stark times where humanity is plagued with illness, social challenges, and economic austerity. There is still a place for acknowledging the work that has gone into creatively connecting with consumers, innovatively speaking to the issues that our communities face, and raising the bar with our marketing efforts.

It matters why you enter the race

First and foremost, you can only improve and move forward with whatever you do when you subject yourself to competition. As a runner who took to competing more with myself than in races as a result of the lockdown restrictions, I can testify to this. And as a marketer, I have seen how invaluable it is to test both myself and my teams against the industry standards out there over the years and to gauge how we are stacking up, falling short, and leading the way. Through industry awards, such as the Marketing Achievements Awards, we are afforded the opportunity to grow. These benefits are enhanced when our peers are given the chance to provide their objective opinions on whether the work that you are doing is mediocre or great.

Secondly, it cannot be ignored that most industries, but in particular that of marketing, tend to suffer from the ebb and flow of being taken overly serious in our businesses. By entering awards, we are provided our due reality checks, spurred on to sharpen our strategies and reassess our standards, and forced to refine our measures of success. When we do these things, when we show the results of our work and are measured, we do better and we move up the food chain.

If you think that you are any good at this marketing thing and if you want to build your brand’s success, then enter and subject your work to scrutiny. There is little doubt that you will be the better for it.

Choosing the right awards to enter

It absolutely matters which awards you enter because the quality of the different awards varies widely. It’s entirely necessary for you to dig a little deeper to understand the vision of each platform, who it is backed by, how easy it is to enter, how many categories are available, and the transparency behind the judging process. It’s better to give proper consideration to these findings because even the simplest award entry will take time if you’re going to do it well, and you don’t want to waste your precious resources and time.

Take the Marketing Achievement Awards (MAAs), for example. The MAAs are endorsed by the prestigious Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA) and it offers 14 categories for entrants to prove their strategic abilities. Pleasingly, both the entry and judging processes have been fine-tuned so that entrants now have the benefit of entry kits to walk them through the process and judges are better able to contextualise submissions through an improved scoring system, which ensures that all campaigns are treated equally – regardless of budget or scope.

Ultimately, the MAAs' very reason and purpose, its raison d'être, if you will, is to celebrate excellence in the science and art of strategic marketing, and in so doing set a compass point for marketers to aim towards a true north that will drive the industry towards constant improvement. This is made all the more possible through the publication of the winning case studies, which enables the MAAs to set a benchmark for excellence, inspire marketers to make a case for leading organisations with insightful strategy, and prove marketing’s value to the bottom line.

Success lies in entering the right awards categories

Given the constraints placed on us all this year, I’d say that none of us have the luxury of throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks. Least of all when it comes to entering an awards platform. No, to my mind, objectives and results will steer you in the right direction. Rather strategically assess the offering or marketing objectives that you set for the past year and the results that you achieved.

On review, you should easily be able to work out where best to enter. For instance, if you set out to embed and live your purpose and values and the results prove that this worked, then it makes sense for you to enter the MAAs' Purpose-led Marketing category. Alternatively, if you inspired your workforce with super-powered internal communications and your employees voted yours the best place ever to work, then perhaps the Internal Marketing category is the one to enter.

Everyone can and should enter

Historically, it tends to be the same brands that enter marketing awards year in and year out. Largely, this could be down to the fact that there is this idea that some organisations simply don’t place any emphasis on marketing. But that is nonsensical. Any organisation that has managed to sustain business performance over many years does some form of marketing. They may not call it that, they may not even do ad campaigns, but they DO MARKETING. Even organisations such as eBay and Amazon did “marketing” when they first started, because putting something out into the market naturally equals marketing. They might not have ever run a campaign, but they had a retail product, they had distribution (albeit digital), and they made a lot of money.

That is the point of the MAAs. It isn’t just a platform for veteran marketers. It’s about recognising marketing efforts in all their varied shapes and sizes. So, if your organisation doesn’t place much emphasis on intricately devised ad campaigns and doesn’t have a traditional marketing budget, but your business is flying, then go on and enter. You clearly know what you’re doing and you will probably win. Take this rarefied opportunity to showcase how your strategy, your team, and your creative thinking has achieved results. Because this year, the MAAs is looking for the greatest minds, the truest ideas, and the boldest approaches.

Disclaimer: The advice contained on this blog is for general purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances, objectives or financial needs. Accordingly, readers are advised to seek appropriate advice from licensed professionals prior to making any investment, or taking up a financial product or service.