Before you enter your bank or credit union’s work into any Marketing Awards competitions, read this first.

I recently had the privilege to judge marketing efforts for a prominent national association’s awards. These are 6 tips from the judge. #3 is crucial!

I’ve won them, I’ve judged them and I want to help you.


I recently had the privilege to judge marketing efforts for a prominent national association’s marketing awards. These are tips from the judge.

#1 Define Your Objectives
Aside from, “I had eight hours to kill one day,” you originally had a reason to create the campaign that you are entering for award recognition. Your loan-to-deposit ratio was askew, your checking penetration was low, you needed to diversify your average customer age with fresh young faces. When you sat down to your blank piece of paper, there was something you wanted to accomplish, what was it?

Make your objectives meaningful. Your objective should, in some way, grow your institution. If you’re going to spend $10,000 on a campaign, it had better have a plan to add more than $10,000 to the profit column.

That said, in this social media world, “Likes” are not an objective. They are a nice start, but a “like” will not grow your bank or CU. A “like” is nothing more than a lead, a new name into a database. What will you do with that “like?”

#2 Share Your Baseline
Opening 100 new accounts sounds fantastic, but if you opened 110 new accounts before the campaign, the results look significantly different.

#3 Detail Your Target
OK, I can’t sugarcoat this, so I’m just gonna say it.

Your entire market IS NOT your target. That is an answer a CEO or Board Chair gives … not a seasoned marketer.

Lets assume for a second, that you craft the perfect media buy and every eye, ear and mind in your market experiences your message at a budget that you can afford (just to be clear, this is impossible): A) Shakespeare and Rembrandt, working in tandem as your creative team, could not design a message that would speak to everyone; B) You cannot provide any offer that would appeal to everyone; C) Most importantly, you honestly don’t WANT everyone. There are simply human beings in your market that you hope never hear of you.

The best creative will happen when your writer and designer know precisely who they are writing to – like a one-to-one conversation. Detailed demographics are good. An in-depth persona, creating the one character that best represents your target, is better. Who are they? Why do they want your product? What do they feel? What do they think? What will motivate them to take action?

#4 The Creative
I tell my clients that I would rather create a boring campaign that provides results than a funny, creative campaign that falls flat. You see it during the Super Bowl every year, that spot where you bust a gut, doubled over, holding your aching side, tears of laughter streaking down your cheeks – but you can’t remember which company shelled out millions of dollars for it.

But these are award winning entries, right? So they must provide results AND be: Impactful, memorable, differentiating, quick and clear. Most importantly, they must provoke emotion.

#5 Double Check Your Math
Nothing is sadder to a judge than an entry that THINKS they enjoyed a 10% lift, when the numbers actually only show 1%. Decimal points are vital, amigos. I had a few entries where I sincerely hoped they hadn’t use the same results to present to their CEO or Board.

# 6 Make It Easy on The Judge
Each judge has at least 50 entries to judge, it can be much, much more. While they are excited for every entry, they do not have time to comb through your raw data.

I actually had entries that provided screen shots of Google Analytics with no summary of what I was looking for.

We are marketers, our DNA demands that we tell a clear story in 30 seconds or less. Don’t fight your instinct and don’t drown the judge in data. Tell them exactly what you want them to see, what you are most proud of, the reason you chose this one piece of work to represent your institution.

Here’s the cool thing, my Marketing compadres, these are the exact steps you should take for EVERY campaign. So when award season rolls around, you should, in theory, be able to pick up your plan, review your reported results to your CEO and plug it directly into the entry form.

Good luck with your next award entry! And please share it with me. I love to see great work.

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