Immediate Future shares tips on how to enter and win awards

On the back of a successful run in 2015 and 2016 at The Drum Social Buzz Awards, Immediate Future said it won £1m in business from a major financial brand.

Chief executive officer at the social media agency, Katy Howell explained how this came about and why even getting an award nomination is such a big deal, at The Drum and Sun Arms.

How did you win £1m business from The Social Buzz Awards?

We got on the radar of a big financial brand, with three other very well-known network agencies and went through the pitch, which is half the battle. And we won. They saw a piece of content from The Drum Social Buzz Awards website, went to look at who else was on the list and picked us.

You have to squeeze the bits out the work that are good. When we win an award, we shout out a lot of: "this is what we won", "this is what the award-winning campaign looks like", "this is how effective you can be". And we do this with our nominations too.

We run breakfast briefings so that clients, prospects etc can come along and we give a talk about the work, and explain how it was done rather than just saying “we are an award-winning agency". We say why we have been lauded and unpick the judges comments. We carry on for flipping years talking about it because it's a great hook.

How do you cherry pick what you are going to enter?

We win roughly around three or four awards a year and are nominated for another two or three. We really do like to enter awards.

How we pick entries is crucial. I avoid the traditional ones. We are an innovative agency and not a WPP or an Omnicom. There are certain award categories and certain award owners who only pick the big agencies and as much as I'd like to keep trying, it's so expensive.

We enter awards for three reasons:

  1. They make us better. They allow us to benchmark our work. If you don’t win, you want to do better. Particularly for an independent agency there is no comparison. There is nothing to benchmark us against. But if I know there is a good set of judges on board, we can get that benchmark. Every year, bar one award, we have been shortlisted for everything which is a great way of saying we have a good agency benchmark.
  2. We work with youngsters, oldies, all sorts of people in our staff, who want to win awards and it makes them feel good about themselves. This is so important to us. It's a great opportunity to celebrate our values, have an absolute riot and dress up.
  3. It helps us win new business. Simple as that.

How do you make the most of nominations?

A nomination is a win. With social media categories, there was a point where we were swimming around with two or three other agencies. When we started 14 years ago, we were the only weirdos, along with a couple of others.

Now everybody enters social media awards, including the integrated and larger agencies. The sheer fact that ‘little’ Immediate Future can get in there is a big fucking deal for us. We tell all our clients, and not just the ones nominated, we immediately change our email signatures, we rebrand it on our website. Whether we win or not, we count it as a win. And then when we win, we are even noisier about it on social media.

The Drum Social Buzz Awards 2018 are open for registration, click here for more information.

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