By Sarah Petty, CPP
When you’re new to the business, you’ve got time to be creative. Invest that time in your marketing technique and win in more ways than one.
When you start out in business, you have much more time than money. Time is something money can’t buy, so it must be a priceless. On the other hand, although you can spend time and you can waste time, you sure can’t eat it. You can invest your time, though, in thinking up creative marketing ploys that will grow your business. If you invested some time in, say, looking up the addresses of people featured in the newspaper and mailed them a custom-designed note card saying “way to go,” or “you’re so right,” or “thank you for the insight,” that investment could pay off well.
One of the best ways to learn, grow and challenge your marketing acumen is to enter PPA’s AN-NE Awards. More than a competition among peers, the AN-NE Awards are an opportunity to test and measure your marketing skills and learn how to capitalize on them.
New businesses can win, too. PPA just added a special category for emerging pros who have been in business five years or less. You don’t need to feel insecure—unlike print competitions, which are judged in front of an audience, the AN-NE awards are critiqued confidentially, and unless you come in first, the judges comments will go to you alone.
You win even if you don’t win an AN-NE. This year, the judges’ critiques are free to everyone who enters. You’ll get constructive comments to help you become a better marketer, from trained marketing professionals in other industries, too. They’ll give you objective advice on everything from design, to copy, to brand consistency and more.
You don’t need a huge budget to create a winning promo. To wit: The competition among ad agencies for the coveted ADDY award is fierce. One year, a team at the small ad agency I worked for created a print campaign for local photographer Terry Farmer. They had a moderate budget and used only black-and-white type, but the entry was the star of the show. Not only did it win an ADDY in its category, it was designated Best of Show.
Without so much as a photograph, this small campaign beat out the high-budget television spots, multimedia campaigns, full-color brochures and all manner of elaborate collateral material.
When you win an AN-NE, your entire team wins. Many of the best ideas are the product of a group effort, so PPA is now accepting—even encouraging—team entries.
The Internet and online category is for everyone. You don’t need a huge printing budget or a professional designer to dominate this category, just the creativity to make the Internet work for you. Whether it’s a phenomenal e-mail blast or a viral promotion on your blog, if the entry generates big buzz, it will get the judges’ attention. This is largely uncharted territory for PPA, so be among the first to blaze a trail.
There’s now a category for individual pieces as well as entire campaigns. Enter your strongest wedding, baby, family or other promotional piece. Christmas cards welcome.
Entries for the AN-NE Awards must be postmarked by June 27 this year, giving the winning photographers time enough to make plans to attend the awards ceremony at the 2009 Imaging USA Expo in January. That’s a benefit to photographers who could use one less deadline during the hectic fall season.
Whether you win the first year or it takes you several, your business is sure to benefit. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by entering the arena.