Prizes and Profits

Prizes and Profits

I was talking to a friend recently whose company won an award from its industry association for its marketing campaign.  The company was thrilled.  They did a press release (which they sent to everyone on their email list); tweeted about it; and put it on their Facebook page.


So I asked him how much new business the company had gotten based on that campaign and the publicity they generated.


And therein lies the problem.

I’ve seen it time and time again.  PR and advertising agencies, graphic designers and marketing companies design programs that win awards.  But the company that hired them, and paid for the development of these award-winning programs, continues to enjoy flat revenues.

Awards are nice.  They’re great, in fact.  We all like to be recognized as a class act, to be seen as creative and innovative.  And it’s especially nice to be recognized by our peers.

Yet if the recognition doesn’t lead to increased market share or enhanced revenues, then just what is the point?

The truth is that the only award that matters is marketplace success.

Let me be clear.  I am in no way suggesting that dull, pedestrian campaigns are better.

What I am suggesting is that we not get carried away by the thrill of a possible award or how innovative the campaign appears to be.  No matter how cool a campaign seems, we need to remember basic marketing practices.  We need to test that potential campaign – if not with formal market research, at least by testing the concepts on social media – to see if customers and prospects agree.

♦        Would the campaign motivate them to ask for more information?

♦       Would it positively influence their buying decision?

♦       Would it change their time frame for buying, moving it closer?

If the answers to these, or other basic questions, are not a “yes,” then rework the campaign.

As obvious as it seems, it apparently needs to be said:  You can’t pay the bills with peer recognition and awards.

In the end, market share, revenues, and profits are the only things that count.



6 thoughts on “Prizes and Profits

  1. Funnily enough i was an award sceptic while working in a big ad agency for whom winning big global awards was a habit and almost weekly occurence.
    Since moving to a small agency who have won nothing in recent years I’ve gone the other way.
    Being on a winning team has a big effect on enthusiasm in an agency, improves the ‘mood’ and begets better work. Honestly.

    • I’m sure that works well for the agency. But the client paid for the campaign. Did he make any money with it?. I’m really not in favor of paying an agency or consultant so that they can feel good about themselves; and you don’t stay in business long that way.

  2. So true and yet the first question that many Marketers ask is are can my campaign be entered for an award. It amazes me how many companies put good resources to “winning awards” vs developing lead generation opportunities. It’s a great “feel good” moment for companies who could better spend their time elsewhere.

  3. Well, I would probably argue that if ‘market share, revenues, and profits are the only things that count’ then you would equally not be in business long.
    They count, of course, but are not all that counts. Value and experience are less tangible in ‘rational’ terms but none the less embraced by customers. Great creative advertising and marketing adds value to the experience. While we’re at it, don’t separate creativity and effectiveness. You don’t usually get one without the other.

    • I’m a big believer in creativity. So you are absolutely right about its value. But we have to remember, too, that clients aren’t paying us just for creativity. From their perspective, the creativity needs to show results. And since they are paying for the campaigns, it is legitimate to ask what the ROI is for them. And as to not being in business long if “market share, revenues, and profits” are the “only things that count”, try being in business without them. Once again, I’m not arguing for pedestrian advertising or marketing. But creativity without a purpose just doesn’t cut it. And I continue to stand on the belief that the customer should not have to pay to increase the agency’s morale. If that is the end game, then the agency should pay the client.

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