Chris Rock hosts the Oscars, not the IFCA AwardsIt’s awards season again—and I don’t just mean the Oscars®. Creative awards contests are gearing up, too. Today we launched the 2016 IFCA Annual Awards, open to any insurance or financial services company—and the creative agencies that serve them—in the U.S. and Canada. (Full disclosure: I'm the chairman of this contest)

With all the stuff on your to-do list, entering the IFCA Awards and other contests may seem like a nice-to-have. But these submissions yield tangible benefits even if you don’t net a trophy. Here are five:

  1. Gather ROI/Results. Contest submissions create an opportunity to compile, quantify and articulate the purpose, results and value of a project—vital data to share in your annual review or during job interviews. It’s also helpful showing value to higher-ups. According to the Content Marketing Institute, more than half of B2B marketers and almost as many B2C marketers struggle to measure content marketing effectiveness and ROI. Digging into project results helps you uncover this critical quantitative and qualitative performance information.
  2. Build & Improve Morale. Research shows that teams who understand the impact of their work are more loyal and productive. Compiling submissions unites your group in a common cause, highlights their efforts and makes them—and you—look great. “We are incredibly busy—and getting busier—which means we don't always have the chance to take a step back and the work we produced,” notes IFCA award winner Meghan Semple, communications officer for Group Benefits and Retirement Solutions at Manulife. “Entering the IFCA awards gives us the opportunity to showcase what we were able to create and recognize everyone that was involved.”
  3. Increase Exposure. Entering and winning awards fuels your career, captures the attention of people in and outside your organization. "It gets your name out to new audiences. This helps grow your influence,” explains business development, PR and marketing professional Megan Constantino. It also raises the profile of your brand to a broader range of people.
  4. Get Feedback. Some contests, like the IFCA Awards, provide all entrants with feedback from judges on what worked and where improvements could be made. So you get some professional development in addition to the other benefits. “The feedback we get on our entries has always been very useful,” Semple adds. “It’s very helpful and extremely interesting to get feedback from other people in the industry. They are constantly providing fresh ideas and perspectives that we have been able to apply to other pieces.”
  5. Create Content. One more benefit: more content! The results highlights and information gained from the process can be used as case studies, blog posts, marketing emails, and even other contest entries.

Of course, taking the prize produces even more benefits.

“Winning a key industry award can be a huge credibility boost to current and prospective clients, partners, and other influencers,” explains Joshua Johnson, vice president with Influence & Co. “It's confirmation of your expertise and excellence within your industry, which is what people want to know about the firms they choose to do business with. Additionally, a lot of secondary press coverage comes from achieving most awards, and helps give you increased exposure through a wide variety of outlets.”

So what are you waiting for? Find an awards competition or two where you can show your stuff—like ours. Download the IFCA Annual Awards entry brochure, select a category or two and submit your entry.

“Awards are a great way to start building your personal and company brand, and therefore can be highly leveraged for other opportunities,” Johnson continues. “If you're an award winner, you're probably more qualified to be writing on your industry, or winning other bigger awards long-term. Be sure to leverage it properly and you'll absolutely be set up for success.”

IFCA Awards Brochure