NEWS17 July 2013

‘It has certainly helped us stand out from rivals’

ABA Research was one of our two Best Agency winners last year. Client development director Mark Taylor explains how the award has helped the firm compete for new clients and cement its bonds with existing customers.


Why did you decide to enter the 2012 awards?
Since being founded in 1994 we have succeeded in winning many prestigious clients, whose subsequent loyalty testifies to the fact they like working with us and value what we do. ABA’s growth was organic and fast.

Three years ago we took the decision to seek objective recognition of our strengths and become an award-winning agency – believing that an impartial, high-profile validation of this nature would be a fitting milestone on our journey from a small to medium-sized business and from good to great.

How did it feel to win your category?
If you look closely at the photo of us, taken moments after we received the Best Agency award, you can see the genuine surprise and delight on our faces. After all the years of hard work involved in developing ABA it was a tremendously satisfying affirmation to be judged best in the <£20m category – especially knowing this is packed full of vibrant, talented agencies.

What has winning meant for the team?
We always encourage our teams to deliver quality – be it through our approaches, investing in our client partnerships or, most critically, devoting the thinking time to client challenges that means outputs reach a higher level of insight and effectiveness. This award was a vindication of the team’s commitment to this vision.

We confess we were actually just a little surprised by just how much the win meant to all of us. There’s nothing like winning for putting a smile on faces round the office. Also, looking forward, the award has instilled in ‘ABAers’ a quiet confidence and determination to not only maintain our winning standards but to build on them. 

How has winning helped you in your dealings with your existing clients?
Many of our clients had suggested we enter – saying they believed ABA could put forward a very strong case. Our win is validation of their advice and, more than that, is confirmation of the power of great partnerships. After all, ABA could never have attained the standards it has without our clients’ capacity to drive us to continually improve.

Great research can only ever arise when client and agency visions are aligned. This award win has helped further cement these bonds and given all parties the sense that, together, we can achieve so much.      

How has winning helped you with your new business development activities?
We know that when clients take on new agencies it can feel like a giant step and that a multitude of other research companies are competing for their attention. For ABA, being able to put the awards logo on its marketing communications gives these a weight of independent authority that has certainly helped us stand out from rivals. It is a very succinct means of winning trust, and one that is far more potent than anything we could say about ourselves.

Any tips for would-be entrants on crafting an award-winning entry?
Austere times mean that today, more than ever, what clients value most in their research is the direct difference it can make to the bottom line. Successful submissions will almost certainly demonstrate this cause and effect – ideally through hard evidence of where insight translated into action and improvement.

In regard to the Best Agency award in particular, we started the groundwork for our entry far in advance of the closing date – you could say 18 years in advance. This is because we feel strongly that a submission should be much more than a ‘box-ticking’ of the criteria drawn up by the MRS. Instead it should be an encapsulation of a whole ethos – everything that all the planning and execution has built to. In essence you have to live it, not just write it.

Follow the links below to enter the 2013 MRS Awards. Deadline is 31 July.