A reason not to enter marketing awards

By July 4, 2019Uncategorized

Back in 2016 The Marketing Society reported that the average tenure of a CMO in the UK to be just 18 months.

With such short tenures l suppose there should be no surprise that there is an increasing prevalence for short-termism in marketing.  If I’m honest, one of the reasons I had always steered clear of marketing awards was because I felt they reflected this trend with their apparent emphasis on short- term performance marketing.

Like many other businesses, we have a programme that incorporates a balance of both long and short-term marketing programmes. However, our marketing is typically addressing high consideration purchases that frequently demand deep technical expertise.

Our market also has a complex customer ecosystem with differing agendas and purchasing criteria. As a consequence, our emphasis is on longer term brand building activity – to a ratio of something like 70:40 (long term vs short term).  Many of our individual campaigns therefore could be regarded by individuals externally as [relatively] small and fragmented – not big and award winning.

Given brand focused campaigns are normally driven by longer term strategies rather than transaction focused ‘marketing’ promotions, it is very difficult to present a case to an annual marketing awards of a B2B industrial brand building campaign that has delivered outstanding results in a just twelve months from launch to completion.

To be blunt, I have long believed that marketing awards are not for brands like ours. They simply don’t work for the longer-term marketing strategies typical in our sort of complex markets.

Given all that, you’d be entitled to wonder how we came to win the Best Branding & Positioning Award in 2018.

It’s really quite simple, I was inspired by a Fitbit!

I am one of 25.4+ million active Fitbit users so obsessed with performance tracking that many of us are uncertain whether or not we have taken a step unless it shows up on our device.

When I go for a run, I feel frustrated if I have forgotten my ‘fitness wearable’. I want the data and I want the post-run enjoyment of seeing how well I’ve done and the opportunity to compare my performance against colleagues.

Checking my Fitbit during one particularly demanding run, it occurred to me that this was not so different from my day job. We work hard. We monitor our campaigns with pre-defined metrics and we regularly track performance. But I also wondered why everyone in my team didn’t share my enthusiasm for tracking and monitoring performance.

I was intrigued enough to do a quick investigation into why Fitbits are addictive for so many.  I found some recent research that demonstrated children, when using a Fitbit, do more physical exercise, not for fun or to be healthy, but to be competitive and “to beat my friend’s record”.

Apparently, this is called ‘controlled motivation’. A thought-provoking conclusion to the research was that this sort of ‘controlled motivation’ in the form of competition, delivered only short-term stimulus, but that by personalising goals and using self-referenced comparisons of performance there was much better chance of long-term stimulus.

The relevance?

Whatever market segment you are working in, a CMA entry will encourage you/require you to set performance criteria – a ‘controlled motivation’ – to “beat your friend’s record”. But even if you do not win it can still be a good way to benchmark your performance.

Perhaps that all seems obvious, but ideally you will take it one step further. If the entry is to make any long-term contribution to your marketing strategy and to your team’s motivation, the CMA performance criteria needs to be carefully populated, reflecting your own campaign goals, justified by strong, self-referenced / self-determined comparisons of performance – the sort of goals that will inspire your team and build your business, win or not.

By adopting this approach, we have managed to generate much greater interest in actively tracking individual campaigns as well as the way they feed into the bigger business objectives.

If you feel you cannot do all that yet, then perhaps plan your new campaigns referencing the CMA criteria, adding your own self-determined performance goals. Run the campaign. Enter next year. Win or lose you can win.

In 2018 we entered two categories. We were shortlisted in both and won one. A useful indicator that we are doing the right things and a long-term motivator.


Peter Ridgway, Market Development Director of ACO Technologies PLC