a couple of years ago

Why We Love Awards (And You Should, Too!): Marketing Hack #25

Awards. Go after them

Who needs awards?

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:

Benefit #1: Learn from awards rejection

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:

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.

Benefit #2: Awards validate your work

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.

Benefit #3: Use your awards to market your brand

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.

Awards can be rewarding

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.

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