There’s more than meets the eye to the value of Awards ceremonies

This past weekend saw the glitz and glamour of the Oscars return to our screens, the 96th Academy Awards set plenty of new records and boasted 19.5 million viewers worldwide.

The biggest winner of the night? Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, which earned an impressive seven awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor. However, after a quick show of hands in the IBA office, only one person had watched Oppenheimer since its release last summer. More of the office were more interested in who wore what, who linked arms with whom, and whose dress malfunctioned. History is littered with box office hits that never got so much as a sniff at a Best Picture Award, so we were again left questioning – what is the value of awards?

At IBA, we’re firm believers that Awards are one of the few cases where it’s not just the winning that counts but the taking part – and that doesn’t mean getting a participation trophy or a rosette for the best turned out! We’re talking about business benefits, from brand association to sales leads.

Just as in the film industry, where networking around Award ceremonies, in particular the Oscars, can lead to casting opportunities and new movie sign-ups, so networking at B2B events can result in new clients, new partnerships, new sales leads.  It’s all about making the most of your audience and putting your best sales foot forward!

For this week’s blog, we have decided to throw it back 12-months, to where IBA CEO, Judith Ingleton-Beer, answered the same question that circulated around our office this week – is there value for B2B PR and Marketing in winning an award? So as you pass the popcorn, here we go.

In the world of stage and screen, Awards are on the uptick: the Emmys, Golden Globes, Screen Actor’s Guild Awards, the Critic’s Choice, the People’s Choice Awards, the Baftas, culminating in the Academy Awards – the Oscars!

But we remember the Oscars less for who won what, and more for Will Smith’s face slapping, Jennifer Lawrence falling over in the rush to pick up the trophy, the essential Oscars tears first started by Gwyneth Paltrow back in 1999.

It’s as if as the Awards list grows, their importance wanes.

Thank goodness for the grounding of Hugh Grant who, when asked at this year’s Oscars by gushing model Ashley Graham “what are you wearing tonight?”, replied “just my suit!”

A quick straw poll in the office of blank faces when asked what film won Best Picture got me thinking. Is there value for B2B PR and Marketing Pros in winning an award?

The answer is yes, but it’s not for the reasons you might think it is.

The relationship between winning Awards and winning business

As B2B PR and Marketing Pros, we are often asked to enter awards for our clients – Best in Tech, Best Implementation, Most Customer Satisfaction – you name it and it’s there.

Question: Did anyone buy your multi-million-dollar solution because you won an award for Best Implementation?

Let’s face it. Mozart didn’t win any awards, Box Office Blockbusters High Noon and Citizen Kane never won Best Picture Oscars, but the disgraced and bankrupt Enron for six consecutive years, won Fortune’s top nomination for “America’s Most Innovative Company”. Pause for thought.

So here’s the process – and the cost

Awards in B2B is a business in its own right – and I am only talking here about Tier One Awards and not those that are essentially Pay for Play Awards. It takes a lot of effort to enter an award – researching, copywriting, customer liaison and approval, then oh Joy! you’re on the short list and, yes, you need to buy a table – 6/8/10 seats, more sometimes, then there’s the travel, hotel, and expenses that go with it. The$£€ are clocking up.

First it provided targeted networking

So, this is where the big cost comes in, but this is where you will see the first real value you will get out of your Award entry.

Why? The Award Ceremony provides excellent networking among your peers. Not of course to be compared with the non-stop A, B, and C Lister networking parties culminating in the Vanity Fair Party during Oscar week. Where deals and contracts are high on the drinks list, but the principle is the same.

At B2B events you meet your peers, your competitors, and their clients in a networking forum that is hard to replicate. We have one client that does Awards regularly in its target industry and has huge success in winning new business from its competitors.

Of course, you have to get shortlisted, do the table, and make sure your on-form sales and marketing execs turn up – crying is optional if you do win! But our client says this probably beats taking a booth at an industry exhibition. Why? Because it is so very targeted.

Second it is an opportunity to place yourself with your competitors

Credibility is crucial. Awards entries and ceremonies are an excellent way to establish your organization in the eyes of a completely targeted audience as a successful player within its peer group. Your success is being judged by people whose opinions they respect against clear, transparent, and relevant criteria.

As a Marketing Pro you often live in a bubble. The Awards ceremony allows you to measure yourself, to see how your successes stand up against the very best of whatever industry you are in. And most importantly, as a Marketing Pro, you will want to check out what is considered best that year.

Footnote – too many awards on your website send the wrong signal

But make sure you’re not first in line for the “Award for winning the most Awards”! A ticker roll on a website of all the Awards you have won are a vanity signal – or a sign of dilution – and a red flag to any visitor.

Or worse a tell-tale signal of too much client churn.

Not an Award to covet!

Judith Ingleton-Beer is CEO at IBA International

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