Last year, the 2014 Sponsorship Awards attracted nearly 500 leading figures from across the sponsorship sector. Held at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square, guests saw the likes of adidas, Budweiser, HTC and Fuse Sport & Entertainment scoop Awards. From very.co.uk’s sponsorship of Big Brother to Bupa’s My First Run campaign, the range of work showed how creative and effective sponsorship can be at virtually any budget.
But why do companies bother to enter industry awards? What are the business benefits in taking the time and effort to do so? Here we list some of the reasons that persuade the world’s most famous marketing brands to come back year after year.
Anyone who has attended the UK Sponsorship Awards (or any awards for that matter) will know how pleased people are to win or be nominated. Entering Awards is a way of showing you value your team’s efforts… that you have monitored their progress through the year and are proud enough to showcase it to the wider industry. Even if you don’t win, you’re sending a message to your team that what they do really matters. Clearly Awards aren’t enough in themselves to boost team morale, but they play a part. They can also encourage team collaboration and cohesion.
Independent Benchmarking Of Success
Awards are like an objective external audit of both your strategy and your b2b communications skills. By allowing your peers (the judges) to assess your work (and your ability to articulate it), you can gauge whether your approach is as robust as you think it is. If you win an award that’s great… because it’s something that you can show the board (perhaps protecting your department’s budgets for the coming year). But if you don’t make the shortlist then it’s an opportunity to ask why, to try and develop a constructive conclusion that will inform future business plans. [Note: When McDonalds was named creative marketer of the year at the Cannes Lions Festival in June, it claimed there is a direct link between award-winning work and effectiveness).
Opening The Door to Opportunities
Winning an Award attracts industry attention and can lead to new work opportunities. It would be wrong to suggest that one Award is life-changing, but there’s no question that successful marketing services companies, brands and rights holders know how to make good use of their Awards track record. There’s no hard science to back it up, but it stands to reason that organisations with numerous notches on their belt will be more likely to be on the pitch list, more likely to start conversations with sponsors, etc.
Monitoring Industry Best Practice
It’s not always easy to be objective on Awards nights, but there is a value in seeing what your rivals have been doing. It can spark fresh ideas, crystallise trends more clearly and give some insight into industry best practice. Like anything in life, it should be regarded as providing a useful learning experience. In the case of the UK Sponsorship Awards, at least 60-70 different sponsorship campaigns are showcased during the course of a single evening.
Awards nights are good fun. So entering Awards is a good way for an agency or consultancy to get some valuable face time with their client. It’s unlikely to result in much deep strategy being discussed, but it is a way of reaffirming a bond and trying to ward off competition for a brief from rivals. Remember, the majority of people attending the Awards are winners and shortlisted organisations, so there’s a mood of success and achievement in the air. Anyone who works in corporate hospitality will also tell you that cutting back on or avoiding event-based activity can present its own problems. Rivals rarely assume that you have cut back for sound marketing reasons. They tend to see it as a sign that something isn’t quite right creatively or financially.
B2B Marketing/Media Coverage
Trade magazines (paper and digital) tend to give good coverage to major awards events. They also sometimes follow up with profiles or analysis stories. At very least, winning an Award is an opportunity for a PR exec to approach a magazine or journalist to tout for coverage. Award entries can also form the basis of case studies that can be displayed on various industry websites. A well-written case study has a lifespan of at least a year, which means it can also do the rounds at various industry events.