Most businesses like to see their names in lights, but are award entries - with no guarantee of a win - a cost effective and time efficient way to achieve such status?
Deciding what awards to enter (if any) can be challenging, but it’s important to weigh up the time and effort it takes to enter against the potential gains. Katy Barden, NEC Group Head of PR & Communications, looks at some of the pros and cons and how to maximise each award submission.
Reasons to enter awards – the benefits
Just being shortlisted can improve your brand awareness and promote your business to new customers.
Awards celebrate hard work and success and can be great PR opportunities. It’s fantastic to be recognised, so it’s important to make sure that people know what your business has achieved. Winning a business award can open doors to getting contracts, finding new supply channels and breaking into new markets.
Awareness will be maximised if your entry is aligned to your key business messaging.
Completing an award entry forces you to stand back from the day-to-day and assess your achievements objectively, comparing yourself to your competitors.
To be successful you will need to stand out from the competition. External benchmarking will help you think about ways you could be doing things better and identify areas for improvement. It’s also one of the ways your business could benefit that could be more valuable than the prize itself.
A business award win, short-listing or nomination can act as a third-party endorsement for your business.
A win can give a seal of approval to your activities and is a sign of quality for potential customers, so can form part of your sales pitch.
It can also help with relationships with suppliers. It’s a great way of differentiating your company from competitors and will send out positive signals to customers.
Awards recognise the hard work and achievements of your employees so winning one can help boost staff morale and improve motivation.
Employees are focused on what’s great about the company they work for and can feel proud to be a part of it. This can be maximised by making sure staff feel they get the recognition they deserve e.g. by holding a staff meeting to celebrate your victory. Staff could also be invited to the awards ceremony or dinner which can yield networking opportunities as well as being a great night out.
Attract new talent
Business awards validate your hiring stature among new recruits. By pitching yourself as the best, you can attract the talent you need to push your business forward.
Increased employee morale will also help attract and retain new recruits.
The benefits – especially of winning or being shortlisted – are extensive, but there are several factors to consider before you take the plunge…
Alignment with brand/business plans
There are a range of awards to consider from local to national and from industry and discipline specific, and with so many to choose from you need to be selective.
A good starting point is to develop an award strategy which will ideally be aligned with your Corporate plan or Marketing and PR plans, so that the awards you enter build your brand/business image.
If you’re clear about what you want to be famous for, that will help ensure that your external messaging is consistent.
Award winning potential
Be realistic. Do you think you stand a chance of winning? Before you complete an in initial brief for the work, you need to be clear on why you think you are a potential winner.
Do a bit of research, look at last year’s winners and runners up and get your story clear – why do you stand out from the potential competition?
You can’t argue with the facts
All award judges are looking for evidence to demonstrate why this entry deserves to win.
You may be writing the award entry yourself or it may be your PR team or a copywriter, but whichever approach you take, you need to provide evidence that will underpin your entry – what business results did this deliver?
Adding visual appeal
Most awards allow you to submit imagery along with a narrative, so think about what images will help bring your submission to life and showcase your work
Is entering the award the best option?
It might not be – ultimately, it depends on your objectives(s). Sponsoring an award may be an alternative option to help raise your profile without the time resource required to submit a great entry.
It’s also worth considering attendance at an awards event (without entering yourself). By asking a couple of colleagues to scope out relevance for a future entry, it can help you make an informed decision on whether it’s right for your business.
It doesn’t quite end there. We can often forget the basics and in many cases, this can be where your budget takes the biggest hit!
In addition to the above points, it’s worth noting that there’s a cost attached to entering the majority of awards – some much higher than others! – in addition to the time resource required from those providing the content, writing the award(s) and even attending the award.
If you’re fortunate enough to be shortlisted and decide to buy a ticket or a table, that comes with a price tag too…
And finally, don’t forget the champagne, because if you win, you’ll want to celebrate!