Tips for Entering Awards: Why Earning an ECHO Means More Now
A lot of people don’t realize that the Association of National Advertisers International ECHO Awards competition has been around a long time — a really long time — like 90 years! Nearly as long as ANA itself.
But this is the first year, from call to entries (Spring 2019) to awards presentation and gala (March 2, 2020, in Orlando at the all-new ANA Masters in Data & Technology Conference), that ANA has complete stewardship of these global top awards in data-inspired marketing. ANA inherited the ECHOs from its acquisition of Data & Marketing Association last summer.
Wow, if you ever wanted to showcase your data prowess in brand engagement, then this year — and all years, going forward — is a most-perfect opportunity to do so. ANA’s mission is all about brands and growth. Now’s our time to show brands firsthand how data is today’s workhorse in brand engagement — and can integrate, beautifully and strategically, with creative storytelling and, vitally, produce business results.
This is how you earn (and win) an ECHO, with the extended call for entries open until Aug. 30. No last chance for a summer Friday!
Tips on Prepping a Better Award Entry — An ECHO or Anywhere
I’ve had the opportunity to serve as a judge and jurist on several award competitions — and recently, I conferred with some of my judging colleagues of the ECHOs. Here’s a few resulting tips for a better campaign entry.
Why Enter Awards, in the First Place?
First, it helps your career to gain recognition for marketing excellence — among peers, your boss, your clients … and with ANA fully vested in brands (and their ad partners), that’s a whole new layer of industry recognition. Second, by becoming part of a knowledge base of “the best of the best,” you help elevate the practice of data-inspired marketing — at a moment in marketing history where data-love is in high demand.
Prep Your Entry Offline — Before Entering Online
Prepping the entry offline allows more freedom to write and rewrite, spell check (yes, THAT matters), and just make sure you cover each section thoroughly. Also, if English is not your first language (this is an international competition — but administered in English), consider having someone who is a native English speaker review and edit your entry. That will help make sure mistakes in language don’t affect judges’ abilities to comprehend your brilliance.
Be considerate of the way judges will be reading your entry … so do NOT write one long paragraph. Instead, break sections of explanatory copy up into smaller paragraphs and don’t be afraid to bullet copy to convey or emphasize key points.
Give Context Regarding the Problem or Opportunity That a Campaign Seeks to Solve for
Don’t assume a judge has heard of the advertiser or is familiar with its products or services — selected judges may come from all over the world. Set the stage for the story you’re about to tell, so it helps put your entry in a business context. Data-inspired campaigns rely on a data strategy. Provide key insights into a brand’s target audience and what you were trying to accomplish — and how data intelligence informed the campaign.
Make sure to tie results back to campaign objectives … because if you don’t, it will leave the judges wondering if you actually achieved a meaningful outcome. Make sure you provide plenty of detail and use substantive quantitative terms that speak to engagement and business goals.
Yes, it’s okay to share campaign metrics, such as open and clickthrough rates, response rates, social amplification, participation rates, and such. But a winning campaign moves the needle on business success. So having some type of business result — either actual or indexed — help’s judges discern the extraordinary from the merely accomplished.
Use a Storyboard or Short Video to Sell the 'Wow' Factor in the Campaign
Finally, any top advertising award is going to require some type of “wow” — innovative creative or use of technology, stunning results, or a new strategic approach (or rarely, all three). We’re storytellers — so use a creative device in the award entry to help “sell” the campaign with a bit of wit.
Video today is wisest to use — even expected — but even a storyboard summarizing campaign highlights helps. This is your chance to tell the judges why you believe your efforts deserve an ECHO. What makes it so noteworthy among the hundreds of entries that this campaign commands to be recognized? Don’t just repeat your results … dig down deep to help judges — your peers, and brand leaders among them — really understand why a particular marketing achievement is so incredible.
So after this month, it’s onto judging rounds this fall — and the ECHO awards presentation and celebration in winter (in Florida, thank you). For that reason alone, it’s a great year to earn you, your brand, your colleagues, and your clients an ANA ECHO.