Why you should enter business awards
When you’re the chief, cook and bottle-washer in your enterprise, it may seem impossible to find the time to enter business awards as you battle to keep on top of work.
It’s worth finding the time, though. Not only does an award give your company credibility, it effortlessly boosts the visibility and reach of your brand. Winning an award gives you an excuse to talk to the press, and you will typically receive a winner’s logo for your website and marketing literature, which adds integrity to your branding. Winning an award sets a bar for your business, one that attracts better paying clients and more experienced employees.
Pay-to-enter or free entry awards?
Whilst some business awards charge participants to enter, most don’t, relying instead on the income from advertising fees and sponsors to run the competition. Though charging a fee for entry isn’t illegal, it does devalue the awards, in my eyes; much better to go for the free-to-enter competitions. That said, you may be asked to pay for your ticket to the awards dinner/ball, if one is held, which isn’t an issue—many events of this kind donate a portion of the event’s revenue to charity.
Local or national?
Most business awards are held annually. Consider whether a local or national competition would give you the best return for the time you’ll spend on your application. Local business awards will have a limited reach when it comes to boosting your visibility, but there will be much less competition in each category. National awards bring greater credibility and will be viewed as more impressive if you were to win; however, the number of entries in each categories will make it difficult to even be shortlisted.
A useful exercise
To write your entry, you need to look at your business at face value, through the eyes of your customer, which is a good habit to get into. To understand your USP and what differentiates you from your competitors, you need to carry out some market research, which can give you valuable insight to apply in your marketing efforts and ideas for future growth/diversification.
Of course, it’s better to be nominated for an award by your customers/suppliers/network; that in itself is a great reflection of the calibre of your work and your professionalism as a business owner. To win the award would simply be the cherry on top!
However, most awards require you to put forward your own entry. It may seem strange (and egotistical) to blow your trumpet about your business and all you’ve achieved, but it’s what the judges want to hear.
Most business competitions have more than one award category. Choose the one that seems the most appropriate to your biggest area of success—these achievements may be measured in financial terms, in the growth of your workforce, or any innovation you’ve introduced within your enterprise. Some competitions allow you to enter more than one category; whilst you’re setting the time aside to complete your application form, you may as well go for all the categories that seem relevant—some of them may not attract as many entries as others, which gives you a much better chance of winning.
Look at the parameters of the category you’re applying for. What are the judges expecting to see? Most will offer suggestions and examples of the successes the eventual winner will have realised. How can you translate what you have achieved into the framework or benchmarks of the category in question?
In your award application stick to facts and figures wherever possible. If this isn’t appropriate, find other ways to measure the impact you have had in your sector, such as testimonials, case studies, the types of clients you’ve won, the speed of your growth, details of any expansion, etc.
Watch for word count restrictions; make sure every word you use is working for you and cut any extraneous, filler content. The judges will have to sift through every single entry, and if the evidence relating to why you should win the award is hidden in paragraphs of ‘fluff’, they’ll simply move on to the next entry. Punchy content and clear explanations, peppered with factual evidence and impressive credentials, will help you stand out from the other entrants.
Entering business awards can put your brand on the map. It’s also an easy, fruitful way to market your services…a recent survey of business professionals found that 82% were influenced by awards when buying products and services. So, not to be sniffed at.
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