I’m a big believer in industry awards programs and always baffled by how few companies in this industry go after them.
There are many, many reasons to be skeptical and jaded about awards. They can be political. Pay to play. Slanted to favorites. Or just plain stupid.
But they can also be very good – genuinely reflecting and celebrating excellent work. For company marketers, “award-winning” always has a nice ring. Award wins and honors look very good on resumes, and they can raise spirits around a company when a team effort gets recognized. Clients also like it when the decisions they made are validated.
Doing awards well is not easy, and one of the biggest challenges is getting to top of mind awareness in an industry, so that companies know about the awards and sense the value in submitting entries. So when I was approached by a UK company that does something called the Digital Signage Awards, my first thought was, “Hmmmm …”
I was only vaguely aware of the awards, but learned through subsequent conversations the awards have been active for five years. This past year, the awards had a pile of entries from serious, tier 1 agencies like Second Story and SapientNitro, as well as well-known media companies like JC Decaux and Cineplex Digital Media.
The awards company was looking for a media partner, and Sixteen:Nine has agreed to take on that role.
Here’s why and what it means:
Media partners often don’t mean much more than bartering – with the presenting organization trading things like event tickets or profile at an event in exchange for advertising space.
Sixteen:Nine will certainly try to raise the profile and entry volume through promotion here, but me getting involved means taking an active role in entry review and selection, along with the judging panel.
There is nothing wrong with the awards out there, but I do think there is room for these awards in the mix, and ways to make them distinct, coveted and worth the price and effort of entry.
That last bit is important. There are a lot of brilliant technical and business people in this industry, but engineers and MBAs aren’t typically all that good, as well, at marketing. Their companies issue incomprehensibly technical or buzzword-riddled, self-congratulatory press releases, or more often, don’t let anyone know what they’ve done.
Sometimes, that’s because clients won’t let them. But often, it’s because no one was assigned to put the marketing and press material together, or had the skills to do so.
One of the best ways a company can drive new business is by showing, highlighting and celebrating work already done. If you want to attract new customers, making them aware of your “award-winning” work is a good start.
You can read more about the program and categories here. Entries close at the end of October.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.