A successful awards campaign has many benefits for small businesses. Finalists and winners get a lot of publicity and can use the success for their marketing. Being an award-winning company also gives you a competitive edge, the recognition you deserve and great motivation for your team.
The prize money that can accompany an award never hurt, either, and finding new staff or getting the financing from your bank is suddenly much easier. But how do you get there in the first place? Have a look at my tips for your successful award campaign.
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 proves your business’s awesomeness more to your competitors, customers and business partners. But it doesn’t come free. You have to work to get noticed, but the benefits for 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
Don’t just apply for any award. Look for awards that help you achieve your business goals: Which awards are going to put you right in front of your target group and what are your strengths?
If you operate locally, an international award might not be the right thing for you. Or if your focus is on high quality customer service, do you really need an award for the best marketing campaign of the year? Keep in mind how likely it is for you to win. Looking at previous winners will give you an idea what the jury is looking for.
A good source for business awards in the UK (apart from Google) is the Awards List from Boost Marketing.
2. Plan Ahead
When you’ve got a list of suitable awards for your business, start planning. Every award has different rules, deadlines and requirements, so consider all of them and ensure you have all the necessary forms and guidance notes ready. Put deadlines in your calendar and be realistic with time planning.
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
For your application you will need a lot of data and facts about your 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 starting.
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 desirable impact in case you’re among the finalists and/or winners. It’s important to also include your social media profiles, web address and a contact person.
4. Write And Review
My first step is listing all the points I’ll make in the application. Then, I go through the application form and use these points to the relevant questions and segments. This way, I have a rough draft outlining my case and I avoid repeating myself.
With this framework I start formulating answers. This makes it easier to stay focused while writing and to concentrate on the essentials, which is important as there is often a word limit for entries. After that, review the application, check your spelling and grammar and make sure everything meets the judges’ criteria.
5. Hit Send
There are a few things you should keep in mind here. After you’ve finished and reviewed your application form, check the recommended way to send it to the award committee. 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.
And Give Your Small Business A Boost
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, sometimes you’ll receive an invitation to the award show or a press release you can announce the news with.
For the best results from your award application, take the opportunity to raise awareness about your success. Inform your followers on social media as well as newsletter subscribers and keep them posted, add the award logo to your website (there is often a logo for finalists as well as winners) and send a press release to relevant publications, online magazines and trade associations you are a member of.
Build up the expectation before the award show and publicise the results as soon as possible – ideally with photos of your team enjoying the occasion. Don’t forget to thank the organisers for a fantastic event, congratulate the winners and let your customers take part in your celebrations. And let everyone know about your success as a finalist or winner – there’s always the possibility of running a special award offer for a short time.
WANT TO READ MORE?
To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
How to Stand Out as a Small Business
Meet the Underdogs — 10 Underrated Marketing Opportunities for Small Businesses
5 Top Tips to get Your Press Release noticed
An Important Marketing Tool You’re Forgetting: Your Staff