How entering awards can make your agency more creative and win new business

Finding new ways to be creative and produce amazing work can become a bit daunting. But you don’t need to reinvent the wheel for every single client that walks through the door. At The Drum and Sun Arms, Stein IAS’ chief creative officer, Ruben Webb said that to motivate your agency, you should enter awards.

Following the departure of the agency's new business manager after it underwent a merger, the chief executive, Rob Morrice asked which awards they planned to enter as a different course of attracting new clients.

Morrice is a firm believer that it is the way to get new business and the way to get your name out there. What changed for Stein IAS? They started winning and it wasn’t long after they started to expand. Webb said: “It wasn't that long after that we bought the new premises in South Cheshire and could afford to buy an agency in New York. I was in a Macklesfield shit hole and now we were in a penthouse in New York. Awards have definitely changed my life. The cost of our serial award entering is a lot less than the salary of a new business director."

But what is it about being an award winner that make people want to do business with you? Webb explained: “It sounds exciting, it roles right off the tongue. Your agency only has to win one award to be an award-winning agency. Everybody in that agency then become award winning overnight. An award-winning receptionist, an award-winning cleaner, award winning geezer who makes the tea. That is a very marketable commodity.

“I can't think of a better excuse to go out there and interrupt people’s lives with outbound marketing, than to say, ‘we've won an award’. There is something about human nature that people like winners. Nobody loves winners more than clients. They love saying they worked with an award-winning agency.

However, you don’t need to be an award winner to be a winner, just being a part of the process and becoming a nominee is worth something. Webb said that you can “market the crap out of a nomination. It doesn't matter whether you win, you are still out there saying we are good enough to be a part of this thing, come and have a look at what we did.”

A top tip that Webb lives by is to target awards where the people who are judging might be those who give you business. “It's the most accurate form of direct marketing I can think of, putting your wears in between somebody who has to read it,” he explained.

Webb won a piece of business five years ago of the back off Stein IAS’ serial award entering, which for them, was a transformational piece of business.

“It was worth £1m to us over two years in fees,” said Webb. “It was a fantastic win. I spent a lot of time with the client messing about and coming up with award winning work. But I wanted to know how he found out about us.

“He was judging an award and our entries kept coming up. He thought they were good and just what he needed for the next chapter for his business.”

Webb revealed that his favourite awards was The Drum Chip Shop Awards, which offers creative freedom, allows creatives to free their minds and do work they thought they would never be allowed to do.

“You don't even need to have a client to be a winner and let’s be honest, the biggest barrier for you winning an award is definitively your client,” he said. “For some reason they are determined to turn down award winning work.

“This is why I really love The Chip Shop awards because you don't need a client. Anyone can enter, a student can go up against the big guys. It's a place that levels the field. We can't all work on fancy brands all the time but with the Chip Shops, you can. You can work with anyone you like, it's what it's all about. It's creativity without limits. It's an open brief. If you want another job, this stuff in your portfolio looks great.”

Over the years, Stein IAS have entered these awards numerous of times and entered work for brands they have never worked with first hand.

“Just taking part makes you feel like a winner, “ said Webb. “If you get this mindset into your agency, it adds something to the workplace culture. Get everyone involved. Do fun stuff. Doing stuff like this, makes a real difference in going into work in the morning.”

It is also an opportunity for agencies to work on charity brands and offer social commentary where they normally couldn’t.

Webb concluded: “By doing these things, the culture in your agency can grow, people get to practice, they get to experiment with stuff at The Chip Shops in ways they might not elsewhere.”

The Drum Awards is a global scheme that aims to identify the best practices, companies and people in our industry. It’s mission is to share that information with readers of The Drum - one of the worlds largest marketing platforms - to help them make better decisions.

Entries for the awards are now open. If you have any questions, queries or need advice on your entry form, please contact one of our event managers.

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