Written by Daniel Evans
Now I’ll start by saying that this is a topic that splits people. Some people love awards and some people cannot stand them. I can get why some people don’t care for awards but it annoys me when people go around saying “awards are completely meaningless” & actively discourage people from taking part. Don’t be that person. We work our arses off and sometimes a little recognition gives a much needed morale boost – plus, if used in the right way, there can be tangible business benefits too.
I’ll caveated everything here with the following points & bust a few myths:
- Pay-to-win: You may of had the emails that let you know you’ve won an award but in order to claim it you need to pay a fee for a ‘package’. Personally, I’d stick away from these types of awards – you’ve won because you are the person who paid for it. Some awards ask for a small entrance free (they need to make money somehow after all) which is okay as long as it isn’t linked to your chances of winning. However, there are plenty of awards out there that cost nothing to enter!
- Balance: The benefits are there if you take a balanced approach. Please don’t spend all your time on trying to win awards, applying for them all, every single year. There has to be a bit of strategy at play and there are also bigger priorities you need to tackle.
- ‘Bullshit’/Popularity Contests: Again, some awards shows feel a little illegitimate – ‘friends’ of the organisers winning the awards or other weird happenings. However, there are plenty of awards out there with great reputations with robust judging processes that make sure that award wins are delivered on merit. For example, I was pleased to help judge the Midlands Women in Tech Awards this year and the process was very strong – clear criteria & plenty of transparency. Even we as judges don’t know who has won before the night to keep the integrity of the event! You can be sure that those that win on the night for an awards like that will have definitely deserved it.
- There is nothing wrong with nominating yourself: Sure it can be for some a little awkward but there is nothing wrong with putting yourself forward for an award. For reasons mentioned below, its often better than leaving someone else to do it for you. Who gave the nomination isn’t disclosed so no one will no either.
- Its the taking part, not the winning, that counts: Cliché? Yes! True? Also, yes! It is not just those that win the outright award that can get a benefit from the awards. Finalists can also leverage the opportunity too!
Now we’ve taken this in the context of an organisation but its important to note that there are also a lot of awards for individuals which can be great for career development and reputation for which some of the following tips also holds true for.
Largely, there are two reasons we’d consider putting in for an award. First is for team morale and recognition. After a particularly successful period or perhaps delivery of a particular project, it is great to be able to give those involved recognition for that work – creating a great buzz in the team! Second is to enhance the organisation’s reputation externally. This could be to help with marketing & sales, further network & brand development, or even to generate interests in partnership/collaboration. Of course, the reality can be a blend of all of the above!
Figuring out why you are seeking to win an award is a good starting point. Now its time to go a little deeper into our tips to making awards work for your business:
- Select the Right Awards to Pursue: Before you can make the most of awards, you need to choose the right ones to pursue. Consider your industry, niche, and target audience. Look for awards that align with your business goals and values. Winning an award that is highly regarded in your industry can have a significant impact. Don’t just pick awards to enter for the sake of it. Which are your stakeholders going to care about and which they are likely to potentially be at also.
- Prepare a Strong Submission: Winning awards often starts with a well-prepared submission. Pay attention to the application requirements and guidelines. Provide clear and concise answers that highlight your business’s strengths, achievements, and unique qualities. Back your claims with data and evidence whenever possible. This is where nominating yourself puts you at a big advantage. Often nominations received by someone else lack detail and key information that really highlights why you should win the award. Often judges have to make decisions on the information in front of them so make sure they have what they need. Be warned – don’t enter anything in that is misleading or simply untrue. You also need to be consistent.
- Tell Your Story Effectively: Use your award submission as an opportunity to tell your business’s story. Highlight the challenges you’ve overcome, the impact you’ve had on your industry or community, and the values that drive your company. Make your submission memorable and engaging. Afterall, these are real people judging the entries so emotion is always going to play some part. A good story will keep them engaged and get them to buy in to your journey.
- Leverage the Win/Nomination for Publicity: Once you’ve won an award or been nominated or named a finalist, don’t keep it a secret. Announce your achievement through press releases, social media, and your website. Share the news with your customers, clients, and partners. Publicity can help you gain credibility and attract new opportunities.
- Update Your Marketing Materials: Incorporate the award into your marketing materials. Display the award logo prominently on your website, business cards, brochures, and email signatures. Use it as a trust-building element to reassure potential customers and clients. Avoid ‘overloading’ with too many logos – think what it most relevant!
- Feature the Award on Your Website: Create a dedicated page on your website to showcase the award and provide context. Explain why the award matters and how it reflects your commitment to excellence. Include photos and videos from award ceremonies if available.
- Add to your LinkedIn Profile: Your LinkedIn profile has a section specifically for awards to be sure to add your award into this section including links to related media!
- Share Customer Testimonials and Case Studies: Use the award as a conversation starter with your customers. Share their testimonials and success stories related to your products or services. Highlight how the award reinforces their trust in your business. These case studies are important for further spreading the word and your reputation.
- Make use of the Networking Opportunities: Awards often come with opportunities to network with industry leaders, potential stakeholders and fellow winners. Attend award ceremonies, conferences, and events related to your award. Building relationships can lead to collaborations, partnerships, and valuable insights. Being highlighted as a finalist or winner is going to help shine a spotlight on you so use this opportunity well!
- Keep Going: Winning an award is not the end; it’s a milestone on your journey. Use the recognition as motivation to continue improving and innovating in your industry. Maintain the high standards that led to your success.
You don’t need to win awards to get success. Nor will it define your business & its achievements – to quote that kid in Jack Black’s School of Rock “Sex Pistols never won anything”. But if you chose to include awards as part of your marketing strategy then they can be a great opportunity to generate buzz and publicity for the business. By strategically selecting, pursuing, and leveraging awards, you can boost your credibility, attract new customers, and strengthen your position in your industry. Remember that awards are not just about recognition; they are also a testament to your dedication and commitment to excellence – the recognition of you and your team’s hard work and efforts.
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