What makes a good agency an award winning one?

Andrew Tonks, Managing Director for Performance and Analytics at RBBi offers his thoughts on what makes a good agency an award-winning agency and touches on how they can benefit from awards…

“Like Hollywood, agency life is filled with an array of talent that has not been recognised by its peers. Whilst this lack of recognition is not necessarily a sign of quality, a few would argue that Brad Pitt or Glen Close are poor actors for never winning an Oscar – however, within the industry awards can actually bring benefits to both parties; the agencies and their clients.”

Having worked hard these past 18 months, driving digital performance for our clients and growing an amazing team of specialists, our recent wins have resulted in positive changes at the agency. Not only has it created new business, but it has also increased morale and exposure for our clients. In the case of an agency looking to gain industry recognition, there are a few areas of business that is recommended to focus on in order to build an award-winning environment.

The first area of focus should be passionate people. I strongly believe that the greatest asset that agencies have are its people. An agency can have a fantastic sales team and the best intentions for its clients, but if they don’t have a team to back them up they will ultimately fail. Building a team takes time, patience, trust and ultimately money. Once that team has been built, expect there to be competition to keep them with you. Investing in your team takes many forms one of which is training to ensure they have the knowledge needed to perform, but also trust them and allow them to truly take ownership of a campaign.

Secondly, agencies should focus on client relationships. No successful agency can be built without the input of clients consistently following through on your promises and genuinely caring about delivering results – this is the quickest way to build clients’ trust. A trusting client is more likely to give you the freedom needed to push the boundaries and react quickly, which will help deliver that extra bit of performance needed to make a campaign standout during an award submission.

And lastly, there should be a focus on regional understanding. Using regional insights effectively within a campaign can often be the difference between a good campaign and an award winning one. Too often campaigns are still run with little to no language expertise, especially Arabic. If you’re running campaigns in Saudi Arabia for example, it might be a good idea to actually have an Arabic speaker managing that work. Better still, someone who has experience in the market and a cultural awareness of target users.

Benefits of Awards

If you’re in the fortunate position to ultimately bring home an award, there are some benefits that your agency is likely to see in the subsequent months. An award win will raise the benchmark to help set a new standard for work internally as well as give your team recognition to help drive for further excellence. It can also help your agency stand out from the crowd during a pitch and give your clients visibility internally as well as within their industry.

Tips for awards submissions

In building a potential award-winning environment, the submission is another aspect that is fundamental to winning. I’m going to give a few tips on how you can improve your chances of possibly winning.

  • Demonstrate performance: It might be tempting to talk about the work done and how challenging it was to deliver on time, with a tight budget. However, most judges want to see results so be sure to fully communicate the change you brought and what return was realised.
  • Less is often more: Be truthful with yourself and only submit work you really believe is award-winning. Do yourself a favour, spend more time submitting less work and then invest that time in creating fantastic entries that give the best possible chance of winning.
  • Stick to the facts: Whilst it might be tempting to be a bit creative with the numbers, ultimately the truth catches up with you and most awards request you to sign a release form confirming the data is accurate. If it’s found you have submitted false work, chances are it will look extremely bad for you, the agency and not to mention, your client.
  • Be realistic, be on time: Manage an award submission just like you would any other project. We have learned this the hard way, with many late nights in the office working on an entry. Also, don’t underestimate the time needed to put something together that truly stands out.
  • Creativity: Remember that award judges are viewing multiple entries, sometimes even hundreds. Just like any other form of advertising, use your creativity to stand out from the crowd and complement your entry with a video or an infographic.
  • Creditability of awards: Keep in mind that not all awards have the same value – some are clearly created with the sole aim of making money. Before deciding to submit an entry, do your research and understand who is running the awards and why. What process will be followed and most importantly, who will be judging your work.