2017 MarketingSherpa Awards

The most innovative and transformative campaigns of the year


Every year the MarketingSherpa Awards identify and reward the marketers behind inspirational stories of customer-first marketing. The selection process for the 2017 MarketingSherpa Awards included 50 hours of pre-screening, followed by 15 hours of deliberation with six judges of varied marketing backgrounds and perspectives.

The following questions were deliberated when reviewing the campaigns of each of the 194 speaking submissions and case studies:

Was the campaign innovative? Did the campaign drive impressive results? Was the campaign customer-centric? Did the campaign display transferable principles that other marketers can learn and apply to their own campaigns? Did the results of the campaign transform its organization?

For the Best-in-Show and Readers' Choice winners highlighted below, the answer to all of the above was "yes."

awards book




HCSS, a private construction software company of 200 employees, was looking for a way to become a major voice in the industry – and on a small budget.

To do this, the team decided to capitalize on a customer pain point, which was the struggle to find and retain good employees.

“There is a misperception that construction is all about a sweaty guy with a shovel or traffic sign, and a career path in construction is not viewed favorably by teens, parents, and school counselors. Even in college, civil engineering isn't viewed as favorably as other engineering fields, even though the pay and opportunities are often higher,” said Dan Briscoe, Vice President of Marketing, HCSS.

The goal then changed, from helping HCSS, to helping the construction field in general to improve its image and attract the next generation of workers. They did this by launching the “I Build America” initiative, which is a movement comprising a website, social platform, community ambassador program, clothing line and gifts as well as a project contest.

This was a key realization, Briscoe said, that the way they could help HCSS best, was to “quit the sales and marketing obsession to focus only on our company, to talk only about ourselves, and to quit trying to show how innovative our products are and how beloved our customer support is across the industry.”

With a 53% increase in annualized revenue in the first eight months since the launch of customer hero campaigns in January 2015, a 187% increase in monthly web visits and a 198% increase in monthly social web traffic, it’s clear that Briscoe’s focus on the customer as the hero transformed company culture.

HCSS’ campaign was chosen as the Best-in-Show unanimously by our judging panel. This is because they made customers the true hero of the story, instead of their products and services. Although Briscoe admitted in his submission that it was a constant struggle throughout the campaign, the results are undeniable.

See full case study >> 

Dan Briscoe Dan Briscoe
VP of Marketing





With 19 industries to cover, SAP created an extensive content marketing campaign that delved into not only relevant topics across those industries, but how personas within them would want to consume the content.

With such a large campaign covering a wide swath of customers, a challenge was making sure it didn’t spin out of control. 

“You could imagine with so many industries, you could very easily wind up with disparate campaigns. We really wanted to hold it together,” said Ginger Shimp, Marketing Director, SAP North America.

By tuning the messaging around a hot topic like digital transformation specifically to each industry, SAP was able to uniquely appeal to each customer audience and demonstrate the benefits with examples from their own ecosystem.

The team uniquely activated 19 industries with a full complement of industry-specific white papers, videos, infographics, blogs, surveys, presentations, email promotions and more by creating unique digital hubs.

The marketing team at SAP was able to precisely execute this expansive campaign into driving over 9 million impressions.

SAP was chosen by our panel of judges for the team’s dogged pursuit of not only topic relevance for customers, but also consideration of how the customer would best absorb the content. The group was able to remain thoughtful of what content would bring the most value throughout a massive content campaign that could have easily become overwhelming.

See full case study >>

Ginger Shimp Ginger Shimp
Marketing Director
SAP America