{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Do Awards Matter?

{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Do Awards Matter?

In this episode, Katie and Chris discuss the process of submitting for awards, do awards matter, which ones matter, and what a potential awards strategy should accomplish. Tune in to find out why awards aren’t just vanity, and how they’re part of the decision-making process for sales and marketing.


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{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Do Awards Matter?

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Christopher Penn 0:02
This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast.

In this week’s in In-Ear Insights, we’re talking about awards. Do awards matter?

It’s about to be award season, I’m about to do some judging of awards for the PR club in England Content Marketing Institute has rolled out their content marketing awards application.

So Katie, how do you feel about awards? We both worked at a PR firm, where we helped other clients win awards? How do you feel them? I’m now on the other side of the table as a CEO, as a company leader? What do they mean to you?

Katie Robbert 0:36
Well, I want to take a step back to a job even prior to the PR company.

So I came from an academic world where awards really weren’t a thing.

And so we had a design team and the design team would occasionally win some kind of award.

And because I wasn’t involved in the process, I actually naively had no real understanding of how that worked.

And I think in my head, I was like, oh, somebody noticed the website and therefore decided to give us an award.

I didn’t at that time, because it’s just what it wasn’t where my priorities or responsibilities where I didn’t realize that you had to submit yourself for the award.

And then somebody would decide whether or not you were getting the award.

So I mean, number one, when I moved into the PR world, the more commercial world, it was a big eye opener, because I didn’t know that was how awards worked.

So that was, number one.

Number two, I think, depending on the type of industry you’re in, or the type of company, you’re at awards matter, or they don’t.

And so the agency that we were at awards mattered, because the number of awards was a bit of a status symbol.

And it was something that that agency and all the competitors would, they were all competing against each other to win that award.

And so it became, at least from my view, less about the award itself, and more about the bragging rights that you got it versus your competitor.

And so we did start to see the quality of the work.

not be as great that was being submitted, you know, year after year, because you’re submitting for the same awards.

But you didn’t necessarily have new work to submit.

And now at our own company, we haven’t submitted for a single award, I don’t believe maybe one or two.

But we are looking at it now as more of a does this award Make sense? Will it do anything for us? We don’t do PR for the company.

We don’t send out press releases to say, We want these five awards.

And we’ve never had a prospect come to us and ask us, well, what awards have you won? And so when I was looking this morning at you know, out of curiosity, the CMI awards, they have 87 different categories.

And there was one that stuck out to me that was like, Oh, you know what that act that logically would make sense? If we won that award, we could then attach it to that service, and then say we have an award winning service.

And so that, to me, does make sense.

But having an award winning blog for us, doesn’t necessarily make sense.

It’s, for us a blog as a way that we communicate, but we’re not selling things through there.

Chris, what are your thoughts? I know you have some strong ones.

Christopher Penn 3:26
I used to have strong ones.

And then once we left them PR world, I stopped caring.

No, in all seriousness, awards matter, because people are dumb.

Well, people are dumb people.

Katie Robbert 3:44
Don’t have a mouthful of coffee to call, people don’t please.

Christopher Penn 3:48
Awards matter because people are heuristic engines.

So they make very quick snap judgments.

You know, we all see this, when you’re looking, we’re talking about hiring, for example, you have the quote is a hiring manager gives your resume three seconds, right, three seconds to make an impression.

And having some kind of external validation.

That award can help someone make a decision faster if you can say like, if you have two things that, particularly when they’re not super clear what they do, and one has an award and one doesn’t otherwise they appear to equal it’s easier for a person to make a decision saying, well, this one’s got an award, and this one doesn’t.

So maybe I should go with this one the otherwise appear the same.

And anytime you’re dealing with a commodity, something that has external validation does matter.

And so because we live in a world where you know, these lovely devices are making us just so bereft of the ability to pay attention to anything.

Having that award that that snap judgment right away, doesn’t make a difference.

And we know it makes a difference because John and i, for over a decade now have done marketing over coffee awards, right.

This is the award it’s a coffee mug.

It is not exactly a gold trophy of some kind.

It’s not a prestigious thing.

We actually started as a joke, John and i were like, Oh, that’s happening real market over coffee, woods, they’re all the same thing.

And within a year, people were submitting serious award submissions, like they’ve clearly copied and pasted from something else.

But then we asked, one of our listeners is like, why, why did this and he said, because at my company, one of my performance metrics is the number of awards won.

And so I have to demonstrate, and they don’t care what the award is, they just use Centro have won awards.

And so getting a coffee mug with your company’s logo on the back, was just as validating to, you know, his performance as a giant gold trophy from something.

So people use it, it’s it is a form of external validation.

And it it’s no longer something that I can say, No, it doesn’t matter at all.

It clearly does.

It, you know,

Katie Robbert 5:57
and it does matter.

And I think that, you know, it’s interesting, because, you know, we obviously, the world, in general has been remote for the past year plus, but when, you know, if you work at an agency that’s trying to win, you know, big name brand business, you want that prospect to walk through the door and see a shelf full of really, really shiny trophy, trophies, and awards, and plaques and certificates.

So that that brand, immediately to your point has that perception, okay? These are the guys I want to work with.

They do really good stuff, because people have given them that pat on the back.

That’s what that is.

And so I totally understand it.

I mean, it’s very similar to, you know, you know, I was just saying we don’t need to win an award for a blog.

But when those listicles come out every year, if the top 10 blogs in the B2B space, you kind of want your featured on it, because it’s PR that you don’t have to pay for it’s awareness that you wouldn’t otherwise get.

I mean, so marketing over coffee, Chris, to your point, you know, you guys have been doing that show for 14 years or so.

And year after year, it shows up on those listicles of top podcasts, you know, we’ve started seeing the Trust Insights, assets, show up on those, your personal newsletter and blog show up on those lists.

And that’s free awareness.

And the way I think about it’s very similar to winning an award because what it does is it puts your name in front of a very large network of people.

And when they’re trying to figure out who should I go work with? Or who do I need to help me with this problem? They’re going to look at those companies that other people have recognized as good.

So if other people say it’s good, it must be good.

Christopher Penn 7:49

And fear is a big part of it, too.

There is a lot to be said, for giving someone a security blanket when they go to their boss and say, Hey, I selected these vendors.

Well, I just like this video, they all want to watch Oh, okay.

You know, there’s this whole cover your butt kind of thing that awards lead again, it doesn’t even matter what the award is just to be able to say, hey, this company has this vendors wonder award, this vendor has not.

And you know, in large organizations where there is very much a real risk of Hey, yo, you chose a vendor that wasn’t vetted? Well, so we’re gonna fire you.

You want to cover your buttons? And we’ll have the external documentation says yes, this is an award winning company, they’ve won X number of awards, I feel safe choosing them is important.

And combine that with again, with large companies and procurement processes, it’s usually not the CMO that’s making the vendor decision choice.

It’s the intern that’s putting together the shortlist, right.

And there’s something to be said, about account based marketing.

If you’re not targeting like the junior staff and the researchers and the gophers, you’re missing the point.

So those people don’t know the industry.

They don’t know necessarily a lot about the technical terms.

But they could go This one’s won an award that one has, I’ll put this one on the list and not that one.

And it’s it’s as frustrating as it is to want people to do a better job with procurement and vetting companies, I get it, like you’re taking a task that is relatively low value, and giving it to the lowest paid person, so you’re not burning time of your experts.

And they’re gonna go with the easiest metrics available.

They’re gonna make a heuristic judgment.

This is an award winner, I will choose that one.

Katie Robbert 9:28
So do you think the kind of award matters or do you think it’s just the sheer number of awards?

Christopher Penn 9:36
I think it depends, right, depending on it’s kind of like certifications, right? There are some certifications in marketing that matter, right? When you look at a Google Analytics certification, for example, we know what goes into that we know the relative level of difficulty it takes to pass that you look at another word like Hubspot inbound marketing, where that’s a little easier.

certification that’s a little easier to get.

And then you have a whole bunch of certifications, companies you’ve never heard of, you’re like, I have no idea if this person actually knows anything, because I have no idea who the awarding certifying body is.

Awards kind of same thing when you get, you know, every year when I get my IBM champion thing.

People have at least heard of IBM, right? They don’t have to guess like, Who is this IBM company they even if your opinion of them is negative, you at least still heard of them.

If you get an award from CMI you know, anybody in the digital marketing space has heard of CMI if they’ve been in the industry for a while.

Same like Social Media Examiner people know, who runs Social Media Marketing World.

And so I think in those cases, an award.


Is validating from an authority you trust is confirming that trust other words, yeah, we don’t know.

But again, marketing over coffee has an award, we made it up.

But because the brand is known, there’s some there’s interesting when you look at a company, when you’re evaluating vendors and stuff, and you’re looking at or people, how much does a certifying authority matter to you?

Katie Robbert 11:10
I think because I’ve been on both sides of it, it doesn’t.

Because I know, because I’ve worked agency side.

And I know what goes into awards.

And I know, you know, the emphasis that’s put on awards, Chris, to your point, you know, a lot of times the number of awards is someone’s KPI.

It’s actually not something I look for, because I know how and blanket statement I am not saying that this is what companies do.

But I do know how easy it is to just sort of copy paste or, you know, make up something for an application just for the sake of winning an award.

Again, I am not saying that that’s what companies do.

But I do know that that part of the process is possible just for the sake of getting that number of awards.

And so, you know, what I’m also interested in is individual awards versus awards for the company as a whole.

And so, you know, obviously, Chris, every year you’re awarded IBM champion, I think last year, I actually did submit for, you know, a woman in tech or a woman in AI Award, which I didn’t win.

And so I’m also sort of wondering, like, when people are making these decisions, or when they’re looking for that validation, does it matter if the executives themselves have awards? Or is it just the company as a whole for services? And I would, I guess, I would argue that maybe both do matter, like, but is there is one better than the other or more important?

Christopher Penn 12:47
I would guess it’s all contextual.

Right? So the certainly the awards for individual executives matter to those executives, like they like the pat on the back.

I mean, we’ve worked with we had a client in our PR days that literally were the KPIs was how many Twitter followers the guy had.

So he needed to get a million followers to beat out that the CEO of a competing company like that was his thing.

He had to beat this guy at everything.

Granted, that was a you know, a personality defect of that particular client.


Christopher Penn 13:27
boy, this is one of those episodes.

We wish we added our shows, but we don’t.

But in terms of both, there is a lot to be said for the idea of creating somebody as a thought leader, and having their personal brand, reflect well on the company.


You know, Robert Scoble got his start, as you know, Microsoft’s sort of thought leader, and things and you think about some like Joe pulizzi, who, who is a co founder of Content Marketing Institute, and his personal brand, brought a lot to that, you know, I think of Ann Handley, whose personal brand was the marketingprofs personal brand for a very long time.

You know, so there is that there is something to having individual thought leaders who can attract audiences that the company brand might not necessarily attract.

When we started Trust Insights, we relied and still do to a decent extent, very heavily on my personal network.

It was a major way to get the company up and running without having to spend 10s of 1000s of dollars in advertising to attract new audience.

In a situation where you have a thought leader that you either have or you’re trying to create those individual awards do help validate that person, I mean, I’ve got a stack of like trophies appear that are collecting dust.

They don’t matter to me personally.

But they do matter to the company in the sense that they were part of building that network that allowed the company to get off the ground more easily than it would have.

You know, we’re working on building your thought leadership as the CEO of the company.

getting you out on the speaking circuit and things.

And, again, those those snap judgments matter if we can say, Katie Newbery award winning CEO of Trust Insights, that provides that extra assurance that, you know, a conference organizers would say, Yep, she’s won an award, this person hasn’t let’s pick her as as the speaker for this event.

So the heuristics do matter.

And the interaction between the two between the company ran and the personal brands can be very synergistic as we’ve demonstrated, it can also also have a double edged sword because that person leaves and goes somewhere else, then they take that network with them.

Katie Robbert 15:35
And their pile of rewards.

Christopher Penn 15:37
And the other pile of awards.

Yes, fortunately, we don’t have to worry about that with our company.

Katie Robbert 15:41
Now, it would cost you a lot of money to leave me taking all your awards too.

So you know, what’s interesting is, as we’re having this conversation, you know, I started with the opinion that, well, why do we care about awards? That’s not what we do.

But as we’re talking, I’m like, okay, maybe having a handful of awards attached to Trust Insights wouldn’t be the worst thing.

And so as I mentioned, the car, the Content Marketing Institute just released their list of award categories, there’s 87 of them, they’re really good people.

And you should definitely check them out.

To the judges of CMI, we will probably be submitting to number 43.

So look out for that.

But it does, you know, as we’re talking through, it does make sense to have a wars attached to certain things within the company.

So having an award winning service definitely makes sense for us, I should probably start putting a little more thought into, you know, do I want to be an award winning CEO? What would I be known for? I’m still of the mindset that submitting for an award just to get the award is not the right move for us.

Primarily, because we’re still a very small company, we don’t have the time to spend on things that are valuable in that sense.

So yes, having the title award winning, would be cool, but not if it doesn’t really do anything, or not, if it doesn’t really speak to the kind of work because there are those people who look at not just the number of awards, but what the awards were for.

And so if you have three different agencies, they’re all award winning, you need to then dig a level deeper to say, Well, what, what did they win the awards for? Well, I need, you know, content marketing services, I don’t need someone who wrote a really interesting piece on how to sharpen knives.

So it’s like, you start to dig in deeper as to what the award was.

You know, Chris, as we mentioned, you get an IBM champion award every single year.

You know, maybe that’s something that we should put a little bit more prominently on the website, you know, maybe part of the research that we start doing is similar to our SEO, what do we want to be known for? And do those awards exist in the marketplace? So that when someone is searching for, you know, best SEO services, Trust Insights comes up as award winning, SEO agency, those kinds of things?

Christopher Penn 18:14
Yeah, I think all that makes a lot of sense.

And, you know, like everything, you will eventually hit diminishing returns on stuff.

And I think that’s where the awards by the bucket.

strategy can can sometimes fall flat wouldn’t be like, okay, we won 15 Awards next year, we’re going on 17.


But for the extra fees you pay, do you get additional returns above and beyond that as a proportion to the effort but no, that makes total sense for a company to want to pursue awards that give that stamp of validation to people to services to technologies to the company as a whole as a way to help other people.

outsiders make a quick decision to say like, yeah, this is this is something I want to consider it does give you a source of news.

We saw that in the in the PR world, even if it is very self serving.

The reality is people still do pay attention to what’s otherwise no one would watch the Emmys.

No one would watch the Grammys right now we would watch any of these these award ceremonies, if there wasn’t some kind of a spectacle to it.

And something that we may want to give some thought to because we do have each of us individually as well as a company as a whole.

So some level of brand strength is starting our own awards.

Like we did it with marketing over coffee pretty easily.

You know, I’ve joked about doing my own awards for you know, for my own website for my newsletter, just say like, Okay, I’m gonna accept award submissions, you must make a minimum $50 donation to a charity and send me a receipt with your award submission, and that it will judge award your submission very harshly.

And yeah, the PR club has no idea what they’re in for.

They asked me to judge the merit the metrics and analytics category.

submissions of like, Okay, I have to clarify.

Am I allowed to not award the winner and just issued a scathing rebuke to all of them like you can have a good We want to encourage good measurement.

Right? But no, I mean, even something like running our own awards wouldn’t necessarily be out of the question.

If and, you know, for anyone listening or watching if you have brand strength of your own, there’s no reason not to leverage them that to, to create an award.

Because what we found with marketing over coffee, once you create an award, everybody links to it.

If they want something, everybody talks about the award, they won, it’s a great way to change the dynamic of awards to say like, yeah, everyone’s pointing out, this is the thing that I won.

Katie Robbert 20:37
So the Trust Insights Award in excellence in data awarded to those who are not dummies about their data.

Christopher Penn 20:47
You might want to wordsmith

Katie Robbert 20:54
No, and I totally understand your point.

So it’s definitely something for us to put on the roadmap of things to think about.

You know, we could certainly open up the question, and then, you know, we probably will to our analytics for marketers free slack community, you know, do awards matter? Do you submit two awards? Would you ever consider starting your own awards? Have you started your own awards? What is that done for the SEO? The linkbacks? You know, for your company? Why did you start the awards? I mean, these are all now questions that I want answers to.

And so if you’re listening to this podcast, definitely find me in our slack group TrustInsights.ai dot AI, slash analytics for marketers is where you can register for free for that or message me on Twitter, at Katie robear, or at Trust Insights, and tell me about your experience with awards, why they matter? You know, have you started your own and if you are, are like me, and you came from a different kind of background, which again, I came from an academic background, where awards were not a thing, the award was winning the grant, The award was winning the money from the government to be able to do the research.

That was the award, you won.


Now you have a lot of work to do over the next five years.

You know, did you have that eye opening experience of how awards work differently in the commercial space? Chris, any final thoughts, Mr.

award winner.

Christopher Penn 22:25
As with everything, awards are like every other marketing tactic, right? They’re not your primary.

They should be part of a nutritious breakfast as the expression goes, they are like hot sauce, you don’t need a lot to make an impact.

And using too much creates diminishing returns.

So make sure it’s it’s something you consider, right something you consider look around in your industry.

Is there a difference? in how companies that in your industry that win awards talk about themselves? More importantly, is there a difference in how customers talk about those companies that have won awards industry? If there is no chatter at all about it? Maybe it might not be important.

But if people do mention Oh yeah, this is an award winning Hubspot agency or this is an award winning Google Analytics agency.

It might be time to get on the the awards bandwagon.

If you’ve got questions about anything we’ve talked about today, hop on over to Trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers, our free slack group, as Katie mentioned, with over 1700 people asking questions of all kinds just this morning, we’re talking about the basics of bounce rates, you know, whether they matter or not.

So there’s a lot of great folks having some good conversations in there.

And no matter where you’re seeing or hearing this if you want to get in the channel of your choice, head on over to Trust insights.ai slash ti podcast see all the different options that we publish.

Thanks for tuning in.

We’ll talk to you soon take care.

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