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Awards. I’ve mentioned them as Marketing Hacks before (#4 and #5). They need a lot of preparation – press kits, BTS (behind the scenes) photos, bio’s, ect. for movie submissions and printing, mounting and shipping for print competitions. They are time-consuming and can get expensive – entry fees can range from a couple bucks to several hundred dollars per image or film. Who’s got time for awards?
Awards may actually hurt your feelings. Actually submitting awards to a contest is a pretty emotional experience – especially, if your work ends up in front of a panel of live judges. You’ve toiled and labored to create this image or that film, only to have it rejected by an anonymous group of people, after having paid money for the privilege. Who needs that?
Let’s take a look at some benefits awards can bring to your work:
If you don’t want to get any better, then please stop reading. No seriously. You’re just gonna get pissed off. Still with me, ok – here it goes: Listen to the judges. Ask them why work got rejected, many times you will not get an answer, but sometimes you can strike gold. These guys and girls are comparing dozens or hundreds of works. They are looking at the state of our industry at this point in time. If you win awards–great–more about that later, but let’s look at loosing and trust me you’ll do more of that than winning.
Check out what my friend and fellow photographer Chris Winton-Stahle (@WintonStahle) has to say about the benefits of loosing in a recent Chicago Tribune interview:
Losing can pay off in a winner takes all world. Check out this article I was interviewed for by the Chicago Tribune! http://t.co/kD5rv1eLFM
— Chris Winton-Stahle (@WintonStahle) September 11, 2015
The constructive critic a judge could give you is invaluable, if it lines up with how your clients judge your work. I try to get an explanation of why my work didn’t win every time I enter a contest and loose. Set realistic expectations. I get about 1 in 10 requests answered.
Consider the awards competition you enter: If I enter an architectural photo in a competition put on by wedding photographers, they may not be the best people to get comments from, so you may be throwing your time and money away here. If it’s a panel of architects, professional photographers and art buyers from that field, their advice on why the photo didn’t win is invaluable – if you can get it.
For some reason the phrase “award-winning photographer” holds some weight with clients. Now hear me out, you won’t get hired because you won awards, but all thing being equal, if it’s you bidding against another photographer, the win may factor into the clients decision on whom to hire.
The more prestigious the award, the more bragging rights and weight it will carry. Winning an Oscar, Grammy, Tony, Emmy is definitely more valuable than winning Bob’s dry cleaner’s photo contest. Local film festivals are easier to get screened in than national or international ones. The more well-known the awards are that you win, the more value they add to your work. On the flip side these are harder to win to.
Branding is what MarketingHacks are all about, right? You want to burn your brand into their brains as many times (and as unobtrusively as you can (if you’re not sure why that’s important, check out How to master social media: Read a Book.) Awards give you a great excuse to put your best work in front of your target audience. Who can get upset at you for letting people know you won!
The work that accompanies your awards is typically your best work too, which is why you want to put that in front of your clients anyway, right? Hey the last award I won, we put together a whole marketing campaign, based on that one award: How to fire a marketing broadside at your target audience.
Chasing awards for awards sake–in my opinion–is not worth the cost of entry. However they can help you get better, let clients know that your work merits recognition from your peers and they can offer a great opportunity to market your brand.
“Congratulations! You’ve won gold at the MarCom awards!” reads the letter I receive earlier this year. MarCom stands for Marketing and Communication a competition for marketing professionals. I submitted “On Wings of Hope” to the competition and I’m thrilled to win another award for my first documentary film.
There are more than a few competition for marketing people out there and there’s other types of competitions from advertising to some other zappy creative profession, so you got to be a little selective in entering them, since -like at a film festival- there are fees that range from a couple bucks to several hundred dollars per category. (You can check out how film festivals are a great marketing hack in last weeks post: Marketing Hack #4: Have your work screened at film festivals)
That being said, the contests need to be relevant to your target market. Say I create an image or video in a field that I usually don’t work – let’s say automobile photography – submit it and win (which is unlikely, but stay with me). If most of my clients are corporate organizations, that never look at car photography, that win is worth next to nothing.
However, if you win in a competition for marketing (even a local or less well known one), it will reflect on the quality of work you produce and even have new people look at your work, just because it won an award.