And The Winner Is.....

Published in Audio Agency, John Mellis, The Art Of Noise

Well, I have to admit, when I received the email with this attached, I was more than a little excited!

The Life With Style Awards are one of the annual events organised by Trend, Aberdeen - the people who produce that really high quality monthly magazine, you always pick up from somewhere you visit. My wife used to ask me to collect one from work once it was delivered. The fact it's also free always appealed to the Adopted Aberdonian in me!



Spoiler Alert: We didn't win. 

That's not really what this blog's about, but I'll come on to that in a moment. 

First, I just wanted to thank Trend for a great night, and show you some of it. 



The other thing I want to do is congratulate the winners of our category - The Creative Award - so really well done to Kim Dalglish Florist, who finally walked away with the top award after four previous finalist nominations. 

This was our first attempt entering any awards process, and we were delighted to be there. 

The closer we got to the big day though (there's around a month between nomination and the awards themselves) the more little moments of uncertainty would grow inside of us. The amount of tummy butterflies rose. And those situations weren't helped when our office mascot, Ernie The Puppy, got to the tickets for the awards arriving through the post before we did!

To be honest, he's lucky we're still talking to him!

Undeterred, we went along and had a great night all the same. 

The purpose of this blog though is to look at the pros and cons of entering an awards process based on our experience of doing so. It's my hope it'll help you weigh up whether you want to put yourself forward for something like this in the future. 

So what have we gained from entering, and why did we do it in the first place?

Mellis Media is a young company and a small one. The majority of our income is sourced through my radio broadcasting commitments in Central Scotland, and with my time increasingly spent there, it was a fear of mine that clients in the North East would believe that we weren't able to facilitate their needs as before. For the record, that's not the case, and never will be - but in entering the awards, and subsequently being nominated, it gave us a public-facing recognition of the work we undertake in North East Scotland, where we were born, and continue to conduct most of our business away from the broadcast side of things. It also enabled us to be seen in the local media for the awards, and in the room on the night in front of potential new customers. Everywhere, at any time, is a networking opportunity!

That's the theory behind entering. In terms of what we've gained-well, that's more of a long term play, but in the immediate aftermath, I think it's given us a concrete belief in what we're doing. Being evangelists for one aspect of content marketing is not an easy road to embark upon. We help businesses connect with customers where they are. We do that by creating audio content for social media. It's pretty different. And anything different can take time. This acted as an endorsement of sorts that it can work in the longer term, and it's served to solidify our belief in what we do. And the actual process of pooling together all the audio examples to submit for the entry - collecting our portfolio of work, made us sit back and take stock of that first year. We've done some work to be proud of!

What have we learned about entering awards?

I think the first thing is, that it takes time to compile an awards entry, and considering it was our first shot at going for one, I wanted to give us every chance, so I invested in help at putting an award entry together. 

Now's the opportunity for me to thank Karen Stewart at This Little Piggy Marketing. Explaining your business to someone who doesn't work for it is an experience that helps both the award entry and you as someone who does that in the normal course of a day when meeting people for the first time. In effect, it helps you hone your pitch. 

Karen does great work, and comes highly recommended. 

But even with Karen's enormous talents and work commitment, I have to say really making that entry sing is a lot of hard work, and a large commitment of time. 

The other thing to bear in mind here is that if you engage someone to help, you're also going to incur a charge. Whilst I believe we got a really great deal, what I'm saying is, cost is a consideration. Most awards are free to enter, but believing it will cost you nothing going forward is downright foolish, and utterly wrong. 

Entering any awards usually comes with the small print that you'll attend any final ceremony. Of course, you want to be there, but the cost of doing so is one that you should consider if you're a small business and budgets are tight. A table of twelve can be expensive. Add in drinks on the night, and it can become substantial. 

So if you're weighing up the spend against traditional advertising, or in combination with it, make sure you've got a handle on what exactly it's going to cost you to enter, because it's not free, no matter what it says anywhere on a website. 

That being said, it had always been my intention to enter at least one awards process after our first year in business. In the end, we submitted two and succeeded in being nominated for one. I regard that as a success, even though we didn't walk away with the top award. Consider it this way-there are now more people aware of Mellis Media, what we do, and the fact a panel of judges deemed it worthy of a finalist placing in a creative category is an endorsement of that work. We made a load of new contacts on the night, the press release from Trend was seen elsewhere from local press to online media as well as through the pages of Trend Magazine itself, and we felt good about what we do.

All things considered, the process delivered exactly what we'd hoped for-cemented our belief in what we do, kept our local profile high with existing clients, and possibly put us front and centre in the minds of some potential new ones. Plus, it's made us double down in our efforts to produce work which is even better and worthy of earning that top award next year.

So should you enter for an award? 

On balance, I believe yes you should. It's a lot of work, but push on through. Give it your utmost. Then, when the winner is announced you'll know there was nothing more you could have done. That it was your best, and perhaps someone was more deserving on this occasion.

And if you hear the words "And the winner is...." followed by your name - CONGRATULATIONS!