Business awards are an often under-used marketing tool. Awards celebrate success and are great PR opportunities – the perfect vehicle for letting current and potential customers know what your business has achieved. Winning an award can open doors to obtaining new business and breaking into new markets.
So why and how should your company enter, and what should you do with that shiny glass trophy once the champagne has been drunk?
Brand recognition plays a big part in the success of any company. It encourages customers to choose you and remain with you.
Even a shortlisting or nomination means that your company name will be recognised by industry stakeholders, and this will not only generate new business but will help attract and retain both investors and a talented workforce.
Internally, winning a business award boosts morale and loyalty, which in turn leads to increased productivity. An award also clearly differentiates your company from the competition and, if you are a small, niche company, an award submission gives you the chance to go head-to-head against the big boys.
You are sending a message not only to your customer base but also to the wider industry.
“To be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win” – Zig Ziglar
If you know your business, you know which awards are worth winning – and you probably know which have been won by your competitors. Don’t adopt a scattergun approach. Pick two or three awards that are most closely aligned with your business and its values and put the work in; be meticulous with your facts and language; avoid hyperbole and, above all, explain why your company or product is of value to the market and to your customers.
If you have a niche, this is the time to draw attention to it and to exploit your knowledge of it.
Familiarise yourself with the judging process. Chances are that the judges will know the industry at least as well as you do. A well-written award submission is the perfect opportunity to put your business in front of influential people who may be key players in your sector. Don’t over-explain the business, but base your submission on solid achievements that will resonate with the judging panel.
Include quantitative figures and qualitative case studies where appropriate.
Don’t hold back. Your aim is to demonstrate what makes your company or product uniquely placed to win the award. Shout about your achievements, showcase your successes and highlight your future plans. Show the judges, your customers and your competitors what you have to offer your sector. Communicate your belief in your products.
The awards entry process has already afforded you free publicity from the award organiser. Now your win (or just a shortlisting) is the perfect way to kickstart a wider PR and marketing campaign.
Write a press release, including, if available, comments from the award judges. Post news and photographs on your company’s social media feeds. Use relevant hashtags. Connect with other businesses involved in the awards – organisers, sponsors, other winners.
Update your website, ads, newsletters and marketing materials with the awards logo. Take advantage of all this exposure to promote your business to new and existing customers and partners (successful businesses like to work with other successful businesses). And display that shiny glass trophy somewhere prominent.
Internally, nothing proves marketing’s worth quite like winning an award – it draws the industry’s attention to the areas in which the company is excelling and can often be directly linked to an increase in sales.
As a tangible demonstration of ROI, it doesn’t get much better than that.
If you don’t win this time around, use the experience as a learning opportunity for the business. The long, hard look at achievements and goals which forms the core of an award submission often highlights challenges and opportunities for the business to work on – and this knowledge, too, can focus and motivate your team.
Understand what makes your company’s position unique, look for the next award opportunity and use what you have learned to point your business in the direction of the winners’ podium.