Monday, September 08, 2008

I WON...yet I failed.

Today I found out I won another creative award.
A bronze in an international show.
Thousands of submissions from twenty-three countries were submitted and my piece scored among the very best.
The judges consisted of professionals from shops around the world. Shops like TBWA, Ogilvy & Mather, etc.

It’s a bittersweet win.

We place so much value on awards in this industry. We try so hard to create work that stands out. Work that others look at and wish they had created. Work that gets noticed.
I did that.

However, this was not my goal. My goal was to design a piece that did what it was supposed to.
Bring in some more business.
I had never attempted something like this before. My projects have always come through word of mouth. I decided to experiment and see if this would be money well spent.

Not too long ago, I placed a forum topic on this website asking for help. I asked in a poll what would be the most effective way to advertise myself as a creatve freelancer.
Should I take out an ad in an industy magazine? Should I make cold-calls? Should I send out a direct mail piece? The latter was the one that the majority recommended and agreed upon.

My piece was a self-promotional postcard. A surgically-clean design sent to 1000 companies informing them of my services.
I bought a large, updated list from a (hopefully) reputable company and narrowed it down to companies I would want to target. Companies that typically need creative work done.

It took a few weeks to produce. Coming up with the concept. Art directing the piece. Finding the perfect shot. Tweaking it over and over again. Checking and rechecking my list with the names and addresses. Getting the labels right and placed perfectly on the postcards. Stamping each one by beautifully aligning them in the top corner. A real work of art. I sure thought so. Everyone that I showed it to thought so. It seems a jury of my peers thought so too.

The result?
I’m still waiting.

This should be proof to everyone out there that just because something wins an award doesn’t necessarily mean that it worked. Our jobs are not to win awards. Our jobs are to create a piece that does exactly what it was meant to do. Win business. Sell product. Make us and our clients money.
In this instance, I believe that I failed.

However, some good can come from all this.
I will now turn it around and make it work in another way to hopefully achieve my original goal…to win the attention of individuals and companies that may want to work with me.

I will take advantage of the very reason we bother with these award shows.
It’s not simply all about the work. It’s not about how much money we made our clients or how much product we moved.
It’s all about us.
The award will be added to my resumé and in the next few days, I will send out a press release informing the world of my win.
I will shamelessly promote my self-promotion and once again let the world know about me and my services.

Hopefully, this time, the piece will generate some work. That is all that I really care about. That is what I originally set out to do.
But while I’m waiting, I can make room for another shiny trophy on my mantle.

Until next time. Keep dreaming.


Behzad said...

I don't think you failed. They say you have to do it up to 7 times. I personally can't afford the cost. I think marketing is the hardest part of this industry. Talent itself will not do the job.

Steve said...

Shows exactly why most advertising awards are just a big "wank" to put it bluntly (but truthfully). Give me a design/campaign that actually achieves its objectives over any "award winning" design/campaign 100 times out of 100.

Waste of space most ad awards.