How to win a CMA award

April 9th, 2019

It might only feel like yesterday since the last ceremony – it isn’t, it is actually five months – but the CMA awards are back and you can now start creating entries for the 2019 competition.

The key dates for your diary are the awards deadline of Friday 6th September 2019 and the awards ceremony which will be held at the stunning art deco Troxy Theatre in East London on Tuesday 26th November 2019.

Chances are if you work in content marketing you are mulling over which categories to enter and which case studies to use.

Well, we are here to help – sort of.  The awards are wholly independent and the decision about who gets nominated and who wins is undertaken by judges drawn from across the content marketing industry. We don’t have any sway over them.

We can help to a degree though by offering some best practice – top tips from companies who have won awards previously.

We polled four of our members, all of whom won last year, and asked them to outline their thoughts on the process of creating a winning entry. Here’s what they had to say.

Recognition from your peers

Not surprisingly everyone we asked said they were overjoyed to have won an award. But it was all the sweeter in recognition of changes to their business. This was a point made by Adam Woodbridge, UK Marketing Manager of Reed – which took the award for Best All-Round In-House Content Team

Adam described the feeling in the Reed team on the night as one of utter elation. “Having gone through a period of change – doubling the size of the team and bringing in lots of new marketers – it was great to cap off a strong year with a prestigious award that celebrates the success of the whole team.” he added.

It was a view echoed by Brendan Judge, Planning Director of Bridge Studio a division of News UK. Bridge Studio won two awards (one Gold, one Bronze) for Movember at the International CMA awards in 2018: Best Membership and Best Specialist campaign.

“Obviously the feeling of winning is a mixture of elation and pride on the night,” said Brendan. “But the wider, positive effect is that it is great to get the recognition for excellent work from your peers, and it is also wonderful for the wider team internally to get that recognition.”

Team effort

We also asked our panel what did they think makes for a winning award? Adam from Reed acknowledged having a slight advantage as he has judged several categories over the last couple of years. Adam stressed that “clarity around results achieved,” was the key factor. “Creativity and brand synergy are vital, but what makes an entry stand out to me are clear positive results aligned with the objectives.”

Charlie Scott, Senior Account Director of Future Fusion, whose company won Best Editor and Best Medium Size Agency, emphasised that winning an award is often a team effort. He stressed the role of the client plays by saying an important factor was “a vision, tonnes of hard graft, a supportive client who wants to make a difference and a wonderful team willing to go the extra mile.”

Olle Lindholm, Marketing Manager of Spoon Agency which scored three bronzes and a silver in 2018 underlined the importance of an entry being able to illustrate how it truly engaged an audience. An innovative content marketing program that impacts the audience. Strategic and well-executed content that helps create awareness and build trust,” he said.

Meanwhile, Brendan of News UK spoke about how creating awards entries can have a positive effect on a company’s business on a more general basis, “Awards entries are also a useful discipline in preparing the collateral and writing tight copy. For us a business, it’s also a useful marketing tool; it shows we know what we’re doing! And yes, it’s always nice to be able to show off a clutch of trophies in a prominent position in the office.”

Key advice

Finally, we asked our panel what advice would you give to others when filling out their award entries?

“Tell a clear story – from objectives through strategy to results,” exhorted  Adam from Reed. “Have sympathy on the judges and be unambiguous. And don’t be shy about celebrating your achievements!”

Olle from Spoon agreed but added that you should also enlist some help. “Be overly clear about your challenge, solution, and results. Let someone else read it: preferably someone who has no previous knowledge about your case.”   

Finally, Brendan from Bridge UK gave us a masterclass in best practice.

“I usually tell my team to try and stick to the following simple rules,” he explained. First of all, the two fundamentals:  1) Tell a great story 2) Don’t bore me.”

Brendan added some top tips which included

– Packaging, branding, memorability. They’re reading loads of entries, so make the entry beautiful, clear and catchy. Try and include a video.

– Judges love innovation and disruption; cool, interesting stuff

– If you don’t have business results, don’t bother

– Don’t retrofit what the objectives were to reflect what actually happened – it’s really obvious. Stick to the truth.

– Summarise clearly. High-concept elevator pitch

– Edit edit edit. Don’t tell them everything you did, concentrate on the main thing you did

– Killer insight: why did you do what you did?

– Watch your language – marketing jargon is tedious

– Get a quote or two, client ideally

– Make it fun and interesting – a sense of humour helps; bland entries have no chance

– Pretend you’re telling your Mum what you did, not a colleague

So remember the awards are open for entries now. You can find the details here. Best of luck and hope the tips prove useful

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