Last night, Go Creative Arts received the 2015 Crystal Award for Business-to-Business Branding from the American Marketing Association. It was an honor just to be recognized as a finalist, of course, but winning was positively delicious.
Also, the awards gala buffet had cheesecake pops. I think I had twelve.
The competition was steep -- there were some high-quality entries in our category, and we were pleased to be among them. Interestingly, for all the agencies that entered, most of the awards seemed to go to in-house marketing. University of Houston was a big winner. So was Halliburton. CenterPoint Energy. Camden. Lone Star College. Houston Symphony. Houston Community College. At the same time, big name agencies entering in multiple categories were shut out. A few outstanding agencies stood out, but it was the in-house marketing organizations' big night.
So why is that? It seems counterintuitive that established, talented marketing firms would be bested by companies whose bread and butter lies in another industry altogether. I think it boils down to this: the entrants who made the biggest impact on the judges were those who owned the results of their marketing work. Agencies and marketers measure the success of their projects with esoteric metrics like "engagements" and "impressions." But that's not how their clients see it at all. Non-marketers measure their success in things that relate to the fulfilment of their company mission.
And that seems to be the crucial difference. I think the judges saw that in-house marketers were able to keep their eye on their company's prize and drive their marketing efforts toward achieving the company's mission. Many times, the marketing pros at the big name agencies aren't in lock-step with their client's mission. They may have great marketing chops, but without that basic connection, their overall impact on their client's business objectives is minimal.
One of the things we like about working specifically with small businesses is that it allows us to stay in touch with our clients' bottom line. We can make a beautiful website and bring in thousands of hits, but if it doesn't result in stronger customer relationships, more sales, or increased revenue, then it isn't worth much. Our goal is to make our clients successful, not merely attractive and popular.
If you have a small business and need a marketing partner whose first priority is to understand your business mission, we would love to talk to you.