It seemed like a good idea at the time.

We’d been working with Mitie for three years on developing a direct engagement campaign for C-level executives, which was showing some great results in terms of engagement and content creation, as well as some pretty impressive business opportunities, when into my inbox popped an invite to enter the B2B Marketing Awards.

We’ve never actually entered an award before. Written hundreds on behalf of clients, but never put ourselves up for one, so this was a bit of a leap in the dark. I pitched it to the client on the basis that if we coughed up the entry fee and we got shortlisted, would they pay for a table at the dinner? They had a quick confab and agreed.

I have to admit writing up the entry was an eye opener. We’ve produced a ton of content this year – six strategy guides, five executive dinners, qualitative and quantitative research, presentations at industry events,Videos, Blogs and Social Media, as well as direct marketing and events that have all driven excellent PR as well.

All up the client had spent a pretty decent budget, which included other agencies and event costs, but when we quantified the business that came out of the campaign we all looked at each other in shock when the total hit many millions. On top of that we identified nearly eight times as much potential net new business opportunities that could be directly tracked to what we’d been doing. It was the kind ROI that is so high it is unbelievable, but we shared the hard data with the organisers in confidence and it stacked up.

So we were pretty confident. A few weeks after submitting the entry as I was on my way to a meeting in the midlands checking mail on the mobile, in came the news that we’d been shortlisted. To say I was happy was an understatement. The client was delighted, even the folks sharing my table in the train carriage were  pleased for us!

Then came the fateful night. We all met up at the venue, a huge marquee in the grounds of the HAC, all done up to party. The client had even persuaded their MD, who prefers only to attend if a win is expected, to come along. The food was good, the company excellent, and the comedian a touch over the line for the audience, but generally raising laughs.

So the moment arrived and she started announcing the winners. By this time, wine had been taken and we were all relatively relaxed. We were in category 18, and as each one came and went the atmosphere on our table grew calmer. As number 17 was announced you could have cut the air of hope with a knife.

Then our award came up. As our name was included in the list of nominees we raised a cheer.

Then she said… “and the runner up is… Xerox CPS Demand…” the rest got lost in a roof-raising cheer from Fox Parrack Singapore notching their umpteenth result of the night.

As the room fell silent awaiting the winner announcement, my client MD looked across at me with a twinkle in his eye. “No pressure Peter,” he smiled.

Suddenly at that moment I knew what it’s like to be hanging on the side of a mountain with no safety rope, a gale blowing up and a very large ledge of snow about to drop over your head. Exposed doesn’t even come close!

Of course when we were announced as the winner, the cheer from our table was one of the loudest in the evening and we were all on cloud nine for days after. But that moment of awareness did make me feel a real empathy for the other three clients in our category, and indeed the other 25 categories, who had made such a long journey from entry to shortlist but left empty handed. As with so much of marketing they don’t tell you how to deal with that one at Cookham Dene.

But enough musing about what could have happened, now on to work out how the heck to promote this externally!