You can almost feel the anticipation among content marketers. Time to take the glitzy evening wear to the dry cleaners, prepare the victory speech, the long list of clients and colleagues to thank….
But no, that’s premature. You can’t win one of the CMA’s International Content Marketing Awards unless you’ve first entered them, and with the deadline for entries fast approaching on September 5th, the time to get your submissions in is now.
As content marketing’s grip on marketer’s imaginations deepens and budgets grow – according to CMA research some 70 pc of clients practice content marketing, and spend £1 in every £5 of their budgets on it – the competition is bound to be hot.
In that context, this year’s awards – the CMA’s 6th -- promise to top even last year’s. Then 550 entries from 15 countries battled it out for 21 prizes, including the Grand Prix. Winners last year included blue-chip and industry leading names like Audi, Sainsbury’s, British Airways and Virgin Media.
Anne Godfrey, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and one of the judges of the 2013 Grand Prix, says the CMA awards are an outstanding showcase for the sector. “Everybody in marketing is talking about content, but not everyone understands it. The CMA awards showcase the best examples, and shows what quality content marketing can achieve.”
One of the stand-out characteristics of the International Content Marketing Awards is wide range of work entered, reflecting the diversity across form and function of content marketing.
Says Godfrey: “What struck me was the incredible diversity of work. We saw clients using content to market everything from guitars to pet services, to high net-worth property and cars. And they were using it in a number of different ways: branding, acquisition, retention and upselling.”
Fellow judge Fran Cassidy, a media and marketing consultant and former board member of Marketing Society, says the breadth of work and channel choice in last year’s entries was notable. “The range of content-driven solutions the judges saw was impressive, and clearly demonstrates the increasing importance of content marketing to the communications business. You could also see great, clear, strategic thinking behind every winner.”
For Mark Beazleigh, managing director of Northstar, which won the 2013 Grand prix for its work for Audi, to be singled out for those aspects was gratifying. “The judges acknowledged an integrated multi-media approach and strategic thinking - both of which are increasingly important to our clients and represent the future of the industry,” he says.
Cassidy adds: “We saw everything from apps to social media, websites and mobile. And there was plenty of print too. What this shows to me is how content is embracing every opportunity available to it, and that it works best in a multi-channel environment.”
The rise of multi-channel content marketing is deliberately reflected in the awards, notes Clare Hill, managing director of the CMA. “We made a conscious decision to make the awards platform-neutral in 2013 in order to showcase the use of multi-platform solutions.
“What this means is that the awards can genuinely reward quality, regardless of platform. There’s no award specifically for print or digital or mobile. It’s all about quality and effectiveness.”
This is another area, believes Hill, where the awards are critical. “The CMA’s awards have always made effectiveness a key criterion, unlike others which are only about creativity. All forms of marketing have to demonstrate effectiveness to be credible, and this is one of the reasons why our awards are so prized by both clients and agencies.
“Anyone who wins a CMA International Content Marketing awards knows that they have done the most important thing in marketing: proved that it works.”
Winners also know, notes Cassidy, that they have seen off the best competition, not just from the UK, but also overseas. “I’ve judged the awards for the last three years. During that time I’ve seen a steady improvement in the entries from across the world. They’re broader, deeper, better.”
Awards are, of course, about glory. But glory backed up by purpose takes the winning of a prize to another level, acknowledges 2013 Grand Prix winner Beazleigh. .
“Obviously,” says Beazleigh, “it was a source of huge pride for Northstar's creative team to be judged to have produced the best and most effective piece of work in any sector across our whole industry.”
But other benefits are especially significant, believes Beazleigh. “For our client, Audi, the Grand Prix is a vindication of their marketing vision and investment in content. It also served further to strengthen our reputation among Audi's other agencies, with whom we work very closely in a multi-agency structure.”
You can get more information on entering the CMA International Content Marketing Awards 2014 here.
Deadline for entries is September 5th.