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TMCNet:  Confessions of a TTJ Awards judge [Legal Monitor Worldwide]

[January 11, 2014]

Confessions of a TTJ Awards judge [Legal Monitor Worldwide]

(Legal Monitor Worldwide Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Regular TTJ Excellence in Marketing Award judge Liz Male explains what it takes to pick the winning campaigns.

Apart from the privilege of being asked in the first place, it is also hugely uplifting to be invited to judge the TTJ's Excellence in Marketing award.

If you ever worry about becoming too inward looking or feel isolated and anxious that you're fighting a lonely battle, just take a turn as a judge and immerse yourself in what everyone else is doing. Very quickly comes the realisation that you're definitely not alone. Out there in the big wood-filled world, there are sales and marketing gods, people passionate about their work, their industry and the continued commercial success of timber as a material of choice in many business and consumer markets. It's a reassuring reminder of this industry's pride and creativity.


But warm hug over, then comes the really tricky bit. How on earth do we judge the comparative merits of a B2B timber merchant sales promotion versus a broad timber industry lobbying initiative, or a consumer-facing national social media campaign versus a highly targeted local launch of a supplier's new product catalogue? The award covers campaigns in the consumer or business media, online marketing, point of sale promotion, telemarketing, customer newsletters and PR. Marketing and advertising for ancillary products and services such as chemicals, machinery, IT systems, logistics and shipping are also eligible. So, as you can imagine, it's damn difficult to compare apples with apples.

Instead, the judges rely entirely on a clear synopsis of the aims and execution of a campaign, and look for evidence of three things: persuasiveness, effectiveness and style.

Persuasiveness means looking at how well a marketing campaign identified and understood its target market and the factors that would influence that market's perceptions or behaviours. It's not a matter of measuring how much noise was made. It's all about seeing how credible, meaningful messages hit home in the right way, at the right time.

Effectiveness is all about how well a marketing campaign met its most fundamental business objectives or sales targets.

And style is the campaign's creativity, panache and flair. It jumps out at the judges within seconds, because it makes us laugh out loud with the words 'wow, that's clever'. Style is not about big budgets or fancy graphic design. It's a sparkle that I have certainly seen in some of the smallest, most technical and niche market campaigns, or the simplest PR idea.

So far, so good. But here are the two sure-fire ways to lose an Excellence in Marketing award.

First, don't set any measurable business objectives before you start out. And then definitely don't tell the judges whether you met some or any of those objectives, or give us any independent proof whatsoever. You'd be amazed at the award entries we see sometimes with no supporting information about a campaign's effect on business, such as response and conversion rates or percentage change in sales.

Second, don't tell us what your budget was, or how it was spent. 'Commercially confidential' is the excuse we are sometimes given. But frankly there is nothing to worry about; the budget will never be published or revealed to your competitors. The judges only need to know about budgets in order to assess whether you used your head or your chequebook to get results. We're looking for evidence of good use of budget, regardless of how big or small the financial investment.

Fancy packaging of awards entries doesn't help your chances, but clearly written, easy to read entries are a joy. And the more entries, the better - we know we are only seeing a tiny fraction of the sales and marketing professionalism in the industry. Chances are you're sitting on an award-winning campaign right now.

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