Building the best SMA entry - how to score points with the judges

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Building the best SMA entry - how to score points with the judges

Because we are asked the same questions each year, we thought it would be good to hear from the judges on what they are looking for in an entry and what will score extra points. They also share what makes them turn off and mark down as well

The Sales and Marketing Awards deadline is just a few weeks away (Wednesday 8 April) and now is the time many people actually start thinking about how to craft their entry.

Entering an awards event is not an easy process, it requires time, thought and effort to really showcase your company in the best light. The SMAs give channel firms a chance to not only share successes, but also talk about what really makes a difference - the people and the personalities behind each success.

Most of the judging panel have been involved with the awards from day one and know exactly what they are looking for when they read through the many entries that come their way. And they share their do's and don'ts below.

Luke Budka, head of digital PR and SEO at Topline Communications, said hard evidence is a key part of a strong entry.

"I'm looking for a blend of creativity and results - it is great if it looks nice, but we want to see examples of marketing pulling its weight and supporting the sales team. Ie, you can put on a million-pound event, but its not enough to simply throw a party - what are the outputs?" he asked.

"Think about why you're entering your particular sales or marketing campaign in the chosen category. Figure out why you deserve to win early on and centre the entry around that," Budka advised. "Is it better than the industry benchmark for similar campaigns? Or does it show you have a disruptive, new way of doing things? Happy for you to benchmark against yourself - great year-on-year improvement is always good to see."

Gina Hough, managing director of the marketing Communications Company, said firms should avoid the temptation to ‘waffle without providing anything to support their entry'.

"I do not like entries that drone on and actually have nothing to say once you have trawled through them. What I am hoping for is entries that have been given proper thought and planning, and that are laid out in a really straightforward manner," she said.

Geoff Undrell, managing director of Asgard Marketing, is hopeful entries will be mindful of the word count and the criteria.  

"My pet hate is entries that don't stick to the entry criteria - thinking you might be able to ‘get away' with a few hundred extra words or trying to fool us into reading lots more through supplementary attachments, won't wash," Undrell warned. "What I am hoping to see is more evidence of channel players exploiting content as a powerful means of converting passing interest into genuine sales leads, and how many are embracing inbound marketing principles as a means of creating more effective and scalable sales and marketing strategies.

"Compile your evidence. Make sure your claims are rooted in facts. We are not daft - we're all marketing professionals on the panel and we sniff out those people who think they can make it up."

Richard Eglon, marketing director of Agilitas, also hoped companies would read the criteria and think carefully about their entries.

"Ask yourself what can you do to differentiate yourself from the pack so you stand out for the judges," he said. "I am looking for entries that showcase the innovation they are implementing to transform their customers' businesses. Avoid self-centred entries focused on how great the entrant is as a company rather than what they have done for their customers."

Sara Driscoll, freelance editor/content marketer and former CRN editor, said she is hoping to see strong and cohesive content marketing in entries.

"There are enough examples of how powerful a great content marketing strategy can be, it would be great to see how the channel is developing in this area and how effective their strategies have been," she said. "Let's get rid of marketing buzz words, the over hype and the jargon. Tell it like it is, show the stats and let your results and your creativity speak for themselves."

Driscoll also advised to read the criteria carefully.

"This may sound obvious but the amount of entries we read with things missing demonstrates that people are not paying attention to the details," she warned. "I'd advise getting the ingredients of your entry together before even starting to write it. Collate your numbers, get your customer quotes, speak to the sales/marketing/finance teams before you start and make sure you have everything to fulfil the expected criteria."

Innovation is the key to a successful entry, said Mark Waite, managing director of PR/marketing firm Cohesive.

"I'm looking for companies and individuals that are making a real difference in shaping the channel and making it relevant for the future," he said. "Bring your entry to life. As judges we have to wade through hundreds of entries, so make yours stand out. Think about the medium, make it relevant, back up your claims and above all make it human."

To enter the awards and find out more about the categories, or to get even more hints and tips on writing an entry, click here, or visit the dedicated editorial hub here for more information and articles, including previous winners revealing how winning an SMA has bolstered their business.

Deadline for entries is Wednesday 8 April.

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