Judge Simon Rowles explains how
Entries for this year’s International Loyalty Awards close on the 1st February and you need to be sure your entries are “judge-ready”. But how do you do that? Simon Rowles gives a few pointers.
I’m fortunate to judge the International Loyalty Awards which always pulls compelling entries from every market on the planet. The sophistication of entries from established loyalty providers is always an education and the rate of growth and innovation being exhibited by developing loyalty markets provides a host of exemplars for the rest of the world to emulate.
There are winning loyalty programs out there and there are winning entries for those loyalty programs. It’s only when these two are aligned that you’ll be collecting an award in Dubai (the first time in 13 years the awards haven’t been held in London). So where to begin?
- Assume the judge is new to your client and market
Most judges have a view on loyalty in their own patch (mine is Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia). They’ve also got an eye on the loyalty markets that influence their own markets (for us – the UK and Europe for supermarkets and banking, USA and the Middle East for airlines and QSR plus Asia for the new coalitions). Judges are going to relate your program and its success to the markets they know and as judges, we don’t all know all markets. Individually, they are going to relate your results to their context. So help them with a short-hand that includes;
- Your market and what it’s similar to in population and GDP per capita
- How mature loyalty is in your market
- Who your client is, what category they’re in, who they serve (B2B, B2C) and if useful who they are similar to in other markets
2. Get a copywriter to either review or write your submission
If you’re serious, and more particularly if the wins in your entry are not bluntly obvious, get a copywriter to help. You might need them only for a once over or you may ask them to draft the whole thing.
As loyalty has exploded as a field, standardisation and qualifications have yet to catch up. We all start at a different level of understanding of concepts such as liability and also have different opinions about whether breakage might be good or bad. Your copywriter will be your external assessor checking your writing for accessibility or assumed understanding.
3. Write like The Economist
Long entries don’t beat short entries merely because they’re longer. Don’t waste words. Write the shortest possible entry you can to get all the data in. The Economist is a great example to follow.
4. Don’t use magnificent, wonderful, unbelievable superlatives
Amazing, unbelievable, magnificent and astounding are all words used in loyalty awards entries. The program may indeed be all of these things but it doesn’t say anything that a judge can use to vouch for your entry when championing your entry against another. Don’t feel every verb and noun needs an adjective. It doesn’t.
5. Answer all the questions even if they don’t apply
Not all questions will apply to you. If you don’t have a sustainability angle and the question requires you to state what yours is, be clear that you don’t cover this. As judges, we have to rate you on it. If you leave it out or worse obfuscate, that makes it harder to step through your entry. If you don’t do it – say so.
6. AAOIYET (Acronyms are ok if you explain them)
If you need to use an acronym – assume it’s the first time anyone’s heard it and spell it out once before using it in your submission thereafter.
7. As many metrics as you can share – more metrics are always better
Metrics of course are the heart of the entry and tell the judges how good, fast or exceptional your offering is. But; these are also commercially sensitive. The best entries I’ve seen included an additional submission which was the equivalent of an internal board pack explaining the metrics, the business benefit and the impact to non-loyalty executives in their own company. They are undeniably easier to score as winners (when they qualify) because the evidence is overwhelming.
This is a difficult area to compete in. Your company may not want to share commercially sensitive loyalty data and this is a testament to the power of your loyalty program if the metrics are protected in this fashion. The ones I have seen though, were both very commercially sensitive and also came from enterprises that were very protective of their results. They weren’t from companies that had little regard for loyalty and didn’t care if the data got out.
So if you can’t share metrics, which are the on-ramp to a win, what might you do to neutralise the advantage of a competing submission that will be sharing this information?
Firstly, don’t compare to your plan. Delivering a performance that hits three times what you planned to hit doesn’t tell us anything other than you may have an overly conservative planning approach.
You’ll know how much better your metrics are than competitors so perhaps indicate they are (say) 10% better than nearest competitor X in category Y. The numbers don’t have to be huge. Beating a competitor in a key but important metric by a small margin is far more compelling than delivering double or triple a competitor’s performance in a less meaningful metric.
Metrics that go to commercials and ladder up to Return On Investment (ROI) are very powerful.
8. Your entry in a sentence – say it to a 6 year old
Albert Einstein is credited with saying; “If you can’t explain it to a six-year-old, then you don’t understand it yourself.” You of course understand your program but not all submissions make this clear. Many don’t make clear what the single defining success of the program and entry is. Despite using superlatives to describe membership numbers, they’re somewhat self-effacing about the core success and allude to it hoping the judges will pick up on it.
Boldly state what you’ve achieved in language a six year old could understand. When entries and scoring is close and the judges are on calls debating the relative performance of two potential winners, an agreement on what exactly the program delivered is particularly useful.
9. Make sure you say it. It’s the entry that’s getting scored – not your program.
Make sure you do say what the defining win in your loyalty program is. The judges have to rely on only what’s in your submission and outside, public information that we have, we can’t use. I’ve seen several entries which didn’t do their loyalty programs justice. These were programs I’d researched, which had breakout success and which we’d used as exemplars in our client work. As their entry didn’t properly cover (and in some cases failed to cover) this success the loyalty program didn’t get rated for their success.
10. Go to the awards in Dubai if you can
This is the key event for all the leading loyalty leaders globally.
I attended last year’s gala awards in London. I finally met face to face, several loyalty leaders I’d been in discussion with for several years and had only ever seen on a screen. That included the inimitable Paula Thomas of Lets Talk Loyalty, Loyalty Personality of the year Amanda Cromhout of Truth Loyalty, Annich McIntosh of Loyalty Magazine, Currency Alliance founder Chuck Ehredt, Iain Pringle of the Loyalty Podcast and New World Loyalty, Adam Ezro of Dynata and Johan Moolman of multiple award winning eBucks in South Africa. I also met key loyalty innovators who have game-changing solutions with applications for our own loyalty market including Tom Holt of Payment Loyalty and Guy Rosenhoiz of CoinBridge by Nayax (the International Loyalty Awards Sponsors).
If you’re in loyalty, these are the people you need to be talking to and they’ll be in Dubai.
Simon Rowles is the New Zealand Partner with Ellipsis & Company – the loyalty experts. Ellipsis use Customer Science® to understand, manage and grow customer value. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org