By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

November 1, 2022 | 8 min read

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With the entry window extended for the Creative Futures awards competition, we ask our judges from Canon, YMCA, Nutshell Creative, The Strategic Mailing Partnership, Join the Dots, JICMAIL, Latcham, Marketreach and AutLay to share their top tips for what will make a winning entry.

Judges share their top tips for Creative Futures awards competition entrants

Judges share their top tips for Creative Futures awards competition entrants

With everything going on in the world right now, it’s harder than ever for brands to recruit new customers. People expect unique marketing journeys tailored to them and personalized to their needs. The customer-centric communications of tomorrow must meet these requirements for brands to thrive.

To showcase this in action, The Drum has teamed up with Canon and other print industry experts to explore how this future will be driven by a new kind of collaboration that will better serve customers. The ‘Creative Futures’ awards competition invites emerging talent (students, junior creatives, marketers, strategists) to design an omnichannel marketing plan for youth charity YMCA, showing evidence of clear strategic, data-driven thinking combined with creativity and innovation, across multiple channels and touchpoints.

As entrants start working on the brief [full details here], The Drum caught up with the awards jurors who will be assessing the entries and will ultimately decide on who will be crowned winner of the inaugural ‘Creative Futures: The Omnichannel Marketing Award’ at The Drum Social Purpose Awards 2022 to share their top tips for omnichannel marketing excellence.

Watch the video above for judges’ top tips and read on below for considerations to keep in mind.

1. Customer centricity – put yourself in the shoes of your audience

The customer should always be at the heart of any marketing campaign, and they need to be the focus of any communications, designs and channels to ensure the message is relevant.

“Think about your audience,” says Nathan Rose, director of growth, Join the Dots. “They’re going to be receiving a lot of communications so yours needs to stand out for them – whether it’s through the letterbox or seen digitally. It’s got to be eye catching but also think about how it’s going to make them feel and react, and what other challenges they’re facing. It’s got to be inspirational to them.”

Roxie Merrett, fundraising manager (acquisition) at YMCA England & Wales, echoes this sentiment, adding that she’ll be looking for an audience led campaign that follows the evaluation criteria and objectives. She says: “The number one rule of marketing is: know your audience”. A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is a great place to start, she says, along with competitor analysis that looks at what the competition is doing to help “make informed decisions about the campaign.”

2. Communication overload – be meaningful with data

Sven Muller, co-founder and chief executive officer, AutLay, expands on the notion of customer-centricity, noting the importance of using data to be able to personalize a message. He says: “Think about what information you have or might have about the customer in a specific channel that you can use to individualize the message. Take the recipient’s perspective and ask yourself: what message would attract me?”

Marketers are faced with an explosion of data but what will set those apart is by spending time challenging the brief and reflecting on the challenge to really understand the objectives and the outcomes that are important to the campaign, adds Mark Cross, engagement director, JICMAIL.

He says: “There’s data everywhere but what data is important to you to be able to read and understand the success of this campaign? Don’t leave this as an afterthought. When spending time with the challenge, think about the audience, think about the outcomes you’re really looking for, and bring data into that. Think through the meaningful metrics on the journey to your outcome.”

3. Unleashing creativity – be playful and personal with the creative

The judges encourage entrants to be playful with the creative work they produce for the competition and to have fun with it. Enjoy the experience and that will lead to brilliant solutions.

“Enlarge your design idea to support differentiated messaging and think about how you can design for different messages and segment the target group to play around with certain messaging and visualization,” says Cathy Bittner, strategic business development manager, Canon Europe.

“There are so many opportunities to explore the ace cards of each channel,” adds Lucy Swanston, founder and managing director, Nutshell Creative Marketing and Topic Heroes Charity. “For example, print can inspire the senses with special colors, personalization stocks and special finishes, while digital channels really allow for motion and interactivity, bright colours and a seamless connection in the world.”

“Consumers respond to carefully created content that uses the data you have to talk to them in a really relevant and personal way, which is timely too,” says Sophie Grender, director of new business, Royal Mail Marketreach. “There have been huge advances in marketing automation and that means marketing can be orchestrated seamlessly both off and online, regardless of channel. That can really help you to orchestrate a beautiful integrated campaign that combines all of the channels that you have at your disposal.”

4. Connecting channels – consider how one touchpoint triggers another

The interplay of different channels will be key. The judges highlight the importance of thinking about how different media channels interact with each other and how to look for relevant trigger points.

“Think about how one touchpoint can trigger other touch points in the customer journey,” says Bittner. “Combining your creativity in the interplay of channels becomes much more exciting now. This is a great opportunity to reimagine creative design for data-driven trigged campaigns that uncover the real power of personalized omnichannel communication.”

Mail might not be an obvious channel for younger people, but they respond well to a blend of physical and digital communication – so it’s key to think about how to amplify your campaign idea with a core proposition that plays out in a range of channels.

“Research consistently demonstrates that combining mailings and print items together with digital channels drives up responsiveness and engagement,” adds Mike Hughes, managing director, Latcham. “Print could be the one thing that helps your campaign stand out from the crowd – and there are lots of different formats and options to choose from.”

In conclusion, Muller says: “Customer centric communication is like reading minds, or further, anticipating what will be on the customer’s mind in the near future. Companies need to reach their customer with content that is relevant, even if the customer doesn’t know it yet. Companies who place the customer in the center of marketing activities across all channels will win the race.”

The entry deadline for Creative Futures: The Omnichannel Marketing Excellence Award has been extended to Thursday November 17 2022, so there’s still time to enter. Download your entry pack and more information here

Customer Experience Omnichannel Brand Purpose

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