6 February 2018,

Why entering a marketing competition matters


Courtesy of SEGD.org

Ed. note: Much of this article was originally published on segd.org and reprinted with permission. The 2018 NAA Marketing Competition presented in partnership with USA Today opens March 1. Click here for more information.ck

Though the publicity is great, there are so many more benefits to entering a marketing competition past recognition.

External validation is great, but if it’s the ONLY reason you’re entering design competitions, you may want to rethink the investment in time and entry fees it takes to be successful.

But there are other benefits to putting their work “out there” for evaluation. Here are a few of them.
Preparing submissions demands that your studio organize, document and articulate the value of your work—and that’s a valuable business exercise.

“The act of preparing a submission for a design competition requires revisiting a project and writing a design narrative that validates the visuals,” says Michael Reed, principal of Mayer/Reed in Portland, Oregon. “It’s a real learning experience for us because it hones our communication skills and allows us to reflect on the outcomes.”

Marketing competition: The work can be leveraged for other marketing purposes.

Submissions sometimes can take hours or even days to complete. Collecting photo assets, crafting a concise project description, gaining client approval to release the material and responding to other entry requirements requires a huge investment in time, especially for smaller studios that don’t have dedicated marketing staff.

That’s why it’s great that your work can do double, triple and even quadruple duty for you—even if you don’t win. Post it as a case study on your website, translate it into a shorter blog or social media post, send out an e-newsletter featuring the project or even use it as the basis for a press release to local and national media. It also represents a tidy media package for publication.

Marketing competition: It can be a morale booster, motivator and team builder in your organization.

Taking part in a competition can be very motivating for the team members involved, especially if you go out of your way to acknowledge everyone in the organization who contributed to the project’s success.

Marketing competition: Winning = prestige = more clients.

This is the most obvious benefit, of course. No doubt, your ability to add the words “award-winning” in front of your name or project leads to attention, respect and ultimately more business.

“We definitely see more potential client interest and ultimately, more work coming our way due to our awards,” says Anthony Vitagliano, director of experience design for Digital Kitchen. “There’s no denying the power of your work being recognized as ‘excellent’ by a highly respected jury of your peers.”

Marketing competition: Entering means you’re supporting excellence in your field (and that’s good business).

Lea Schuster, graphic designer at RDG Planning & Design (Omaha) says her team has had success in more than one design competition, but they’re selective about which ones they enter.

“We try to be selective by asking ourselves if the award is meaningful,” she explains. “We like to focus on awards that are part of a larger effort by an organization often providing funding for the group.”

Marketing competition: And again, it’s not all about winning.

“We design to solve problems for our clients and not to win awards,” says Schuster. She admits that the recognition is ultimately helpful to her studio’s financial success, but “it means more than that.”

“Sometimes our clients are looking for designers who think differently in the problem-solving process. Other times a client learns that we bring more to the table than they originally thought. When we win an award it instills a subtle level of confidence in our designers and reinforces for our clients that we will strive to deliver a unique and carefully considered solution to them.”