Have you ever considered the possibility you could enter awards to grow your small business? There are many benefits: Being an award-winning company gives you a competitive edge, the recognition you deserve and is great motivation for your team.
Sometimes the award even comes with prize money. Additionally, with an award on your shelf, finding new staff or getting a loan from your bank suddenly becomes much easier.
But how do you find the right awards and, most importantly, how do you increase your chances of winning? Check out my tips on how to enter awards to grow your small business!
Personal Impact of an Award
In addition to the impact it can make on your business itself, putting yourself forward for an award is also a pretty powerful personal step.
Seeing your business as worthy of entering is a huge deal! It’s important as a small business owner to do everything you can to build confidence. Recognising that your hard work deserves to have a spotlight shone on it is important.
And the entire process becomes a confidence-building exercise. Entering your business gives you a boost. Making it to the final? An amazing feeling. And winning? Incomparable!
And if you don’t win? You’ve believed in your business enough to give it a shot, and that can only hold you in good stead for next time.
How to win awards
The credibility that comes with an awards committee’s recognition of your efforts is an amazing asset for every small business. Nothing showcases your small business’s strengths better to your competitors, customers and business partners.
But it doesn’t come for free. You have to put some work in to get noticed. However, the benefits when you enter awards to grow your small business will more than make up for that.
So, how do you get yourself to the award show, waiting for the winners to be announced? Regardless of industry or business, there are a few steps everyone should follow for a chance of winning.
1. Choose carefully
For example, if you operate locally, an international award might not be the right thing for you. Or if you focus on high-quality customer service, do you really need an award for the best marketing campaign of the year?
Also, if you enter awards to grow your small business, consider how likely it is for you to win or be shortlisted. Looking at previous winners will give you an idea of what the jury is looking for.
Check out the Awards List from Boost Marketing for an idea of what might be the best fit for you.
2. Plan ahead
Once you’ve put a list of suitable awards together for your business, start planning. Every award has different rules, deadlines and requirements.
So now’s the time to make sure you have all the necessary forms and guidance notes ready. Put the deadlines in your calendar and be realistic with your time management when you enter awards to grow your business.
Many award organisers hold launch events where you can get advice from the staff and meet last year’s winners. But, even without this opportunity, get in touch with their team if you have any questions or need help with your application.
3. Gather information
To enter a successful application, you will need a lot of data and facts about your small business. Often the jury wants to see proof of your claims and that means numbers and statistics.
Depending on the award you’re applying for, have financial information, performance stats and relevant facts to hand before getting started.
Most award organisations also need a short company description, a logo and contact details for their press releases. This must be impeccable to have the desired impact in case you’re among the finalists and/or winners. Also include your social media profiles, web address and a contact person.
4. Write and review
When it comes to writing an award application, the first step should always be to list all relevant information you need to mention. Simply go through the application form and note all important points and where they’re placed best.
This way, you have a rough draft outlining your case and avoid repeating yourself. Also, this framework will help when you start formulating your answers.
It makes it easier to stay focused and concentrate on the essentials. This is important as there is often a word limit for entries. After that, review the application, check your spelling and grammar and make sure you tick all the boxes.
5. Hit send
There are a few things you should keep in mind before sending off your award application. Most award committees have a preferred or recommended way to send your application. So make sure to take note of that.
Also, keep a copy of the final version. And follow up with the award organisation to make sure your application has arrived on time and nothing is missing.
There is nothing more disappointing than realising you missed one key detail or email attachment when the deadline has already passed!
Grow your business with awards
After the judges have examined all the applications, you’ll be notified if you’re on the shortlist or not. Sometimes, this is followed by a site visit from the judges. Other times, you’ll receive an invitation to the award show or a press release you can announce the news with.
Once you made it to the final round, take the opportunity to raise awareness about your success. For example, inform your followers on social media as well as newsletter subscribers.
Also, add the award logo to your website (there is often a logo for finalists as well as winners). And don’t forget to send a press release to relevant publications, online magazines and trade associations you are a member of.
Next, build up the expectation before the award show by showing how you’re getting ready for the event. And during the show, make sure to publicise the results as soon as possible – ideally with photos of your team enjoying the occasion.
Whether you’ve won or not, don’t forget to thank the organisers for a fantastic event and congratulate the (other) winners. And let your customers take part in your celebrations! Document your night on your social media, and consider running a special offer to coincide with the awards.
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Where to Get Small Business Support in Edinburgh & Scotland
5 Top Tips to get Your Press Release noticed
Small Business Growth: 7 Ways to Ask the Right Questions
6 Things to Consider Before Growing Your Small Business