Award Winning doesn’t mean good either - Adrian Fleming
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Award Winning

Award Winning doesn’t mean good either

A short time ago I ruffled a few feathers saying being certified and qualified people aren’t necessarily good at what they do and that people and businesses that dish out these certifications may have debatable credentials too, especially as training and certifying people in marketing and entrepreneurship seem to be quite a fashionable business these days.

Now just to be clear – I’m not saying if you’ve got qualifications or certify people after training them you’re not good and don’t provide a valuable service, but in my experience the best people are those who are passionate about what they do and have experience, lots of experience, it’s more valuable than theory will ever be as an entrepreneur or marketer.

So while I’m upsetting a few people I thought I’d share a few things about Awards too because there seem to be more award winners now than ever and the fact that people are paying to win awards strikes me as wrong. If you get a chance just watch comedian Dave Gorman explain the Product Of The Year Awards (look for Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish, series 3, episode 8) and it’s potentially dubious commercial objectives that, as he points out, just in the UK generates at least £903,000 a year in entry and winners fees and runs in over 40 other countries, in fact in the US it generates at least $2,310,000 a year.

Before you ask, I’m not bitter about not winning awards; in fact, I’m not one for entering them because I see making sure my businesses and those of the people I work with make money as far more relevant. In terms of awards we’ve actually been winning them ourselves and with our clients for about 30 years, for example way back in 1988 we were being recognised nationally because of our work on company annual reports, on a regional level we won things like Innovation of the Year in 1996 because of our marketing and work developing digital photography, which was judged against all business types, even the F1 race teams and scientific businesses that surround us here in Northamptonshire. And just a couple of years ago we helped one of our customers win Digital Innovation of the year at the National Newspaper Awards; but we didn’t enter any of these competitions or pay for the privilege, other people entered us or put us forward, which is a fantastic commendation on its own.

It’s nice to be recognised, attend a black tie dinner and walk away with a piece of crystal or sculpted metal with your name on it, but as I said in my post about qualifications, finding the right person or company to help you is all about their talent, passion, skills and experience, not about how many awards they’ve won.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “Lies, damned lies and statistics”, well be on the lookout for those as a metric of ability and suitability too. I’ve been involved in multiple businesses, especially in media like publishing, TV, radio and online channels; trust me when I tell you that when it comes to the way viewing or listening figures, readership or any audience measurement is carried out, all too often the way it’s done is far from ideal or helpful – next time you hire a marketing, PR or advertising agency, buy advertising space online and offline, attend an event or do any promotional activity ask if they’re happy to be paid based on quantifiable results and profit coming from their work, very few are.

When it comes to marketing, I’m approaching every week by potential new customers and, as a company, we turn most of them down and my team and I certainly don’t pitch for business either. We know if companies haven’t set out a strategic objective that they can clearly communicate to us, or at least want us to help them do, just creating a marketing campaign or some advertising material is not the best use of our time and their money – we want a win-win deal and a continued long-term relationship, not a client we can bill.

As an entrepreneur, you’re 100% accountable and rewarded on results, that’s why, if at all possible, you should operate this way with your sales and marketing, I also feel you should reward those you work with too, a great example was the holiday firm The Group Company, who took all the staff to Barbados as a reward for hitting their targets on their 10th anniversary (…) – what a great bonus and what a great incentive to do well next year too, in fact the owner of the company wants to do so well next time she can take them all to Richard Branson’s Necker Island.

In our companies we reward our suppliers, as well as the staff, with things like a very special Christmas Party – we take the people at the suppliers we work with and their partners out for an evening, privately hiring a well-known place like Madame Tussauds, Shakespeare’s Globe, a West End theatre in London or Warwick Castle and make sure they have a wonderful evening of food, drinks and entertainment on us – it’s our way of saying “Thank you” and it goes a long way to building a close and profitable relationship, not just the trust you develop by working as partners in business.

So just to sum up, you’re an entrepreneur and results based so operate this way when it comes to your business, those you work with, the suppliers you buy from and be mindful of people shouting about their awards or a set of statistics to back up their claims, it will help you profit and weed out people who’re just after your time, money and effort.

And yes, feel free to enter and win awards, find statistics to support your claims, feel free to work with people who also do this, but make sure they’re damned good at what they do too and have your best interests at heart.