Marketing Failure: Entry Deadline Extended

Marketing-Week-cover-19-January-2012The cover of this week’s Marketing Week (UK) magazine screams “Entry Deadline Delayed” with the sub heading “The entry deadline [for the Engage 2012 Awards] has been extended to 31st January 2012”.

Your first response may match mine: “So what, who cares?” But, in my case at least, this quickly shifts to “Oh, so you didn’t receive enough entries to hit your income target and now you’re desperately chasing more.”

Maybe I’ve been around the marketing block a few too many times but I can think of few better ways to promote failure than with such a  thinly-veiled plea for more customers to come forward.

The primary purposes most industry award programmes serve are to generate revenue for the organisers from the entry fees (for the Engage 2012 Awards that £295+VAT) and ticket sales (a tidy £2,750 plus VAT for a table of 10)  and to give those in the industry an excuse to self-congratulate themselves at a back-slapping dinner in a fancy hotel they wouldn’t otherwise be allowed into.

But that doesn’t mean awards programmes are bad. Quite the opposite; without them many industries would have no outlet to promote their most talented individuals and forward-thinking organisations.

The bit that sits uncomfortably with me is seeing the marketing industry, of all industries, openly advertising the fact that it has failed to attract sufficient interest in its own awards programme by casually extending the entry deadline. All this does is:

  1. punish those who got their award entries in on time (their odds of winning fall with every late entry accepted)
  2. generate additional undeserved revenue for the awards organisers
  3. …and alert everyone that the awards are probably worth slightly less than the silver-plating on the trophies

So, here’s my request of all awards organisers: keep doing the sterling work you do but please, if you set a deadline, make it a deadline. Don’t move the goalposts or change the rules as you go. Plan your marketing carefully (like an award winner might), offer early bird discounts for companies that submit their entries first, and refuse to entertain late submissions.

Yes, your income stream might dry up a little and you might upset some of the lazy “we-ignore-deadlines” people, but applying some discipline and rigour will do more to inject credibility into your award brand than any amount of tail-chasing self-promotion when your own failure to plan ultimately rears its ugly head.