Business Awards are important. There is far more to it than just bragging. Value comes from the application process, and then from being a Finalist or Winner. Further down in this article, after I give you some tips on how to apply, I’m going to give you some business tips on what to do if you are a winner in order to maximise on your win. This knowledge comes from being a multi-award winner myself, being an experienced business coach, awards application coach and also a judge on a number of occasions. Of course, I never judge and coach in the same awards.
The value of awards for your small business in Australia
- The process is useful and valuable. As you go through the process of putting together an application you may well learn a good number of skills. First and foremost (which can be hard for some business owners), how to self-promote. This is important in your everyday marketing so take the opportunity to improve your skills.
- The application may identify any gaps in your business. I know when I first began doing my own applications, I was asked a question which I realised I didn’t do. I thought about the question and realised it was something I should be doing. So I changed my systems and methods as I aimed for best practice, rather than ‘near enough will do’.
- Many awards require testimonials and if you don’t have many from your customers, then this is a great opportunity to say you’re applying for an award and would love a review or testimonial. It gave a sense of urgency because you required it by a certain date, versus just ‘whenever’ someone got around to it. Naturally, you’ll keep all testimonials for use in your marketing generally. I did clarify that I would likely use it also in marketing; so that I did essentially have permission.
- If you become a winner or even a Finalist, then you are able to make statements in your marketing around your win, or if like myself (who has won many awards) then saying you are a multi-award winning business.
- The morale boost it has for yourself and your team. There is nothing like hearing your business name being announced as the winner and walking up to the stage to accept your win.
- The marketing opportunities also abound, which I will cover off more in the next section.
Business Coach’s tips around applying
- Read their conditions and obey them. If the requirement is 300 words, do not give them 400. If they asked for space and half, be sure to do that.
- Get help if writing is not your forte. This isn’t a plug for my service, but I have helped clients to write a winning application. I usually get them to write it themselves and then I adjust or tweak so that it engages the judge and puts their best foot forward.
- Regardless of who writes, be sure to double-check the spelling.
- Give examples of your accomplishments. Saying you have heaps of clients who are raving fans is one thing, but including a document/page of their testimonials speaks louder.
- Add extras where you can. For example, you may be allowed one attachment (perhaps as a PDF) so include items in that which substantiate and support your application. These might be examples of what you do, your marketing flyer, photos of your prior wins, photos of you supporting charities, events or more. Ensure the additional items are relevant to your application and are in support of what you’ve said. If there is a limit to this document, then follow those parameters. Remember to format this document so that it contains your branding, is easy to read, visually appealing and has lots of images as well.
- If you are asked to submit a video, then do so. As a judge, I’ve seen some beautifully presented (and I’m quite sure expensive) videos. I’ve also seen some which are not professional produced, but the person speaking is passionate about what they do, and speaks that passion. Those videos score as high for me as the one where big money has been spent. What doesn’t score well with me is zero. So, make the effort and do a video, even if it’s something outside your comfort zone.
- Stand out! Remember that the judges are sometimes looking at 20 or more applications in your category (and they may have several categories to judge) so from their perspective, it all starts to become a blur. Be that person or business which stands out. If what you provide is something quite visual, build that into your video or submit a video or link to a video along with your application.
- At the end of your application, thank the judge for reading your application. I have only experienced this myself once and it was nice. Be on time for your interview (if there is one) and present professionally. Also, know your application. I have been asked (as an applicant) questions which I knew were in my application; I’m still unsure if they were testing me or had completely forgotten what I wrote, or didn’t even read what I wrote. Assume the later and just answer the question.
- Regardless of the outcome, seek feedback. Many awards will allow for this, so take up on that opportunity and find out (especially if you didn’t win) if there is feedback.
What to do if you are a Finalist (or better) a Winner
- Prepare a speech in anticipation of winning if it’s a live event you are going to. Of course, thanking your team or clients is great, but this is an excellent opportunity to say a quick line (don’t go on and on) about what you do or your point of difference in your speech.
- Be excited. This is a great accomplishment, so be excited and share it. You might share an image of the letter or email, or perhaps a screenshot of the online announcement you are a Finalist. Share this online in your social media. People will wish you well, which of course gets you noticed. When it comes to business and especially marketing your business, you don’t want to ‘fly under the radar’ or be a ‘quiet achiever’. Quiet achievers often get overlooked or forgotten.
- Announce the news in your newsletter or on your website (or both). Again, putting out there that you are a Finalist is a great achievement in its own right. If you also win, then you can put up a second announcement to share your win.
- Update your LinkedIn profile. There is a section under Accomplishments called “Honors & Awards”. If you have won a few, it’s also a great place to keep track of your wins.
- If the Award Promoter has an icon or digital badge, then pop that also on your website or on your email signature. Again, promoting you have stood out from your peers.
- Take photos at the event and share these on social media. If you have received a trophy or Certificate, include that in the pic. Even if there is a professional photographer, they might take a while to come through, so take your own photos as well.
I encourage you to Google search for some upcoming awards this year and apply for a couple. Make it a part of your marketing plan. Yes, there is work in doing this, but I believe the benefits outweigh the time and effort it takes. Best of luck!
Read Discipline in Business.