Business awards can bring rich rewards

Awards are a great way to shout about your company and increase brand awareness. They can set you apart from competitors, showcase the quality of your products and can also be a great way to celebrate your team.

The best form of marketing is through referrals and if the judging panel of a prestigious set of awards chooses you against your competitors then it’s a huge boost to how you are perceived by your potential customers.

Winning or being nominated for an award gives your company more credibility. Awards are won, not bought, so it can be a real stamp of approval for your business and will help build customer, partner and supplier relations.

It can also be a real morale booster for you and your team. You all work tirelessly through the year so winning an award can be a great way to celebrate everything you have achieved.

Working on an awards entry can force you to take critical look at your business, particularly when you know that a team of judges is going to be looking at your product or business.

Going through the process gives you time to really reflect on what you have done well, pinpoint successes and consider areas that may have been overlooked in the past year.

The first step in the award entry journey is to choose the right award for you. You might want to refer back to your marketing goals and ask if the award would increase your recognition in front of the right people and highlight something about your company that you want to shout about.

Consider if you want to promote a specific product, your service, your company in general, a scheme or initiative or a particular member of your team.

Strategic marketing specialist Ruth Martin 1

If you are looking to attract the best employees to your organisation, you might want to consider entering the Sunday Times 100 best companies to work for.

Or if you are the boss of an HR company and want to strengthen your brand positioning within your local market, you could consider looking at local business awards and also HR sector awards.

In Shropshire this would mean the Shropshire Chamber Business Awards but also The HR Excellence Awards, or Personnel Today’s Consultancy of the Year.

Think about whether you want to enter local, national or international awards. But remember that the wider the catchment area for the awards, the more competition you will face.

Every award is different so it is important to check the criteria and make sure you are ticking all the boxes.

Set up a checklist and explain how your company meets each point or standard then double check to make sure you have covered every point. You can then add in supporting evidence and information about your company. Some awards will specifically ask for a brochure or presentation while others will leave it to your discretion.

Ask yourself if you have explained and given clear examples of how your company does everything that the awarding body has asked a winner to do. And, of course, you may have to do this within a strict word count.

Having completed the perfect application, you may then find yourself shortlisted and invited to the awards ceremony where the winners will be announced.

It is well worth making the effort to attend. You will also make some great contacts, get free PR and collect worthwhile social media content.

Share the fact that you have entered the awards across your social following and ask your customers to vote for you if it is a public vote. It shows the judges that you are keen to promote their awards as well as your own business.

Being shortlisted or winning is a great achievement, so make sure you shout about it. Send out a press release, add it as news on your website, celebrate over social media – it’s all part of your story, so let people know.

Many award organisations also send out logos that you can add onto your website, email signature and company stationery and all of this promotes your quality to customers, future clients and also future employees.

Don’t be afraid of entering for awards. Many companies are anxious about putting themselves out there, literally being judged and the potential for losing.

But winning an award can have a hugely positive impact on your business and it is well worth the effort – particularly as 80% of them are free to enter.

So get to work on your entries, and fill out those application forms with pride.

  • Ruth Martin is a Shropshire-based strategic marketing specialist. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and works with a diverse range of clients across the county and beyond.