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Is your business award-worthy? Not matter how big or small your company is, what sector you operate in, or what services you provide, there is likely to be a plethora of both local and national awards programmes that you could enter. Awards give great recognition for your business, employees, and add to the credibility and track record of your organisation. In lieu of these benefits it is worth giving awards some serious thought as part of your own marketing strategy, but it is important to ensure you are entering the right awards for your business rather than taking a scattergun approach.
What are the benefits of winning a business award?
A marketing boost
Awards are effectively free marketing tools and you don’t always have to win them to exploit the opportunity. Often, simply being shortlisted provides a great chance to improve brand awareness and promote your business to customers. Including awards logos on your marketing literature, emails and on your website can demonstrate to customers that your business is being recognised for its success. Several awards
programmes also host their own ceremonies which can be very effective networking events. Awards success can open doors to new contracts, new supply channels and sometimes, new markets.
A morale boost
There’s no better way to thank your team for its hard work than by entering it for an award. Several awards programmes include categories for individual employees and apprentices, which offer a great way to recognise the hard work of your team. In turn, an award win for your star employees is likely to heighten their loyalty towards your business, boosting their own morale and helping you to retain top talent.
Awards success is a fantastic endorsement of your business and a key indicator of the professionalism and high standards you show to potential and existing customers. It adds a real sense of credibility to any sales pitch or tender response and can also be used as part of your recruitment programme. With talent at a shortage in several high skilled industries, awards success will demonstrate your quality to potential candidates, helping you beat the competition for the latest talent.
The awards application process can be very in-depth and forces you to look at your business from the outside. It makes you consider where you currently sit in your market, how you differentiate from your competitors and what your USPs are. To win an award, you will need to demonstrate where you stand out from other businesses, be that through innovation, diversity, growth, new product introduction, strategy or more. Often when we take businesses through an awards application process, they are both intrigued and excited by the new way they are able to see their business, which tends to help drive long-term change and improvement.
What awards should I enter?
This is an area we cover in detail in our Winning Awards online course. With so many awards programmes all over the world, it can be tempting to jump straight into applying for something that may not be right for your business. We suggest starting small and cutting your teeth on local or regional awards programmes. This will help you understand what the awards application process looks like, the kind of information that you need to provide to make your case, and the type of language and evidence that judges look for.
It is also a good idea to do some competitor analysis and find out what awards have been won by your peers, as these are likely to be highly relevant to your business. In the UK, local Chambers of Commerce often run their own local awards programmes which would be a good place to start.
Once you have a few local or regional awards under your belt you are well prepared to start considering national, European or even global awards but beware – the competition for these will be fierce and therefore, the application process is likely to be more difficult and comprehensive. In the UK, The Queen’s Award for Enterprise is seen as the pinnacle of the annual awards calendar, but these can come with a lengthy application process so it’s good to gain some experience before tackling these.
What does the application process look like?
The application process varies depending on the awards programme you are entering. Our Winning Awards online course goes into detail about what you should expect.
Generally, you can expect to be asked for details about your company’s spending and balance sheet, particularly if you are applying for a growth award. It is always important to back up everything you say within your application and often, hard numbers are the best way of doing this. But don’t worry – judges don’t expect to see twenty years’ worth of positive balance sheets. They will be realistic so as long as you can explain the reasons behind any fluctuations, this should not count against you.
The majority of awards applications request that you write some detailed copy about why you deserve to win the award, including all evidence of the points you make. Each question will typically have a word count for the response and while the general rules states you can be outside of the word count by 10%, it is best to be as close to it as possible. You may think you’ve done a great job if you have hundreds of available words left after you have completed your application, but the opposite is likely to be true. It could come across that you don’t have enough evidence that you deserve the award if you are too far under the word count.
Our Winning Awards online course covers several strategies and processes you can follow that will help you craft a truly award winning application. Often by breaking down large tasks into smaller chunks, you can ensure you craft a response that is structured and detailed in the way that judges would expect.
Who should be involved in the application process?
Again, this varies depending on the type of award and category you are looking to enter but successful awards applications are rarely completed by one person alone. You are likely to need input from finance teams, particularly when it comes to analysing company growth figures over a period of time. It’s also a good idea to include marketing and PR partners too, as they will help ensure your application remains succinct, to the point, and on message.
Product and sales managers will also have a lot of market and product knowledge to support your application. The ability to demonstrate the success of a product or project and describe how you have considered market needs in your overall strategy will be a contributing factor to any future awards success.
It goes without saying that if your award entry is for a particular employee or team within the business, it is worth engaging them also, not just for buy-in, but as part of your employee recognition programme.
How do I boost my chances of winning a business award?
One way is to take our Winning Awards online course, which will take you through the application process in detail, help you assemble and award winning team (literally) and take full advantage of any awards success. There are also other steps you can take to boost your chances, such as the following:
Set out your objectives
Understanding why you want to win an award and how any success fits into your wider business strategy is an important first step. It will help you to target the right awards programmes and ensure that the application process is taken seriously.
Appoint an awards champion
While it is important that several different people input into your application, you will need someone focused to keep everything together and drive the application forward. This should be someone well connected to all people within your business and a person who is very good at timekeeping, since all applications have deadline dates. Often, an external awards champion can be highly advantageous as they are not distracted by the day-to-day tasks required to successfully keep your business operational.
You will not be eligible for every awards programme in the world. Some may be exclusively for businesses within a single geographical area while some may necessitate that applicants are part of a trade body or organisation; some will even charge you for your entry. It’s important you assess your eligibility before you start spending time on the application itself.
Tell a story
Stories are at the heart of human communication and will be the best way to capture the attention of awards judges. Telling a compelling story, backed up by evidence and examples will really show to a judging panel why you should win an award, getting across all the main points they need to understand about your business and markets. Having a start, middle and end to any application story and detailing how you are overcoming challenges will stand you in good stead for a victory.
Wylde Connections has successfully won awards for several businesses across multiple industries. Our unique awards consultancy packages take you through every step of the application to boost your chances of success.
You can also take our online Winning Awards course to help identify the most suitable awards for your business, build your successful application team, navigate the entry process with all the information you require and maximise any awards success in your marketing. Learn more here.
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