By Ben Heald, CEO of Sift Media
Business and industry awards come in all shapes and sizes; from the internationally recognised Queen’s Award for Enterprise or the National Business Awards through to schemes run by local chambers of commerce, regional papers or niche industry publications.
The reasons why organisations enter awards and the level of success they gain from the outcome can vary considerably. So why do businesses invest time and often a considerable amount of resource on entering awards; and does winning represent genuine acclaim for your business or is it all just marketing and PR puff?
Winning a business award has the potential to offer a number of key benefits. It can provide external recognition for your staff for a successful project or initiative, and the fact that you have deemed their work worthy of entering an award speaks volumes.
There is of course, a marketing element. Whether it is coverage in the media, the use of the logo in marketing activity such as direct mail, advertising and collateral, or whether it’s just word of mouth between colleagues and families of the winners, this kind of third party recognition can be used to reward and motivate a team.
A matter of choice
However, the degree to which these aspects are true depends on the ‘value’ of the award. When it comes to awards, attitudes range from those who are serial award enterers to those who think it’s all a waste of time.
For the former, time is spent looking for business achievements that ‘fit’ award schemes of the time, while others will have great achievements for which they’re seeking suitable recognition, whether it be awards-based or not.
In terms of the award schemes available, some will be free to enter, while others will require payment. As a rule of thumb, the more established schemes will ask for payment. The entry process will also vary from a single statement to several thousand words with supporting evidence, a time investment that should not be taken lightly.
While companies like to see their own name up in lights, there is certainly an argument for proposing one of your customers for an award. It shows that you are willing to invest in them and take time to support their activities.
There is also the matter of third party recommendation; what would you prefer to show off to your prospects – a news article showing your team huddled around a trophy, or a story focused on the demonstrable benefits your customer received from utilising your product and as a result has won an award? In my opinion, the latter is much more compelling.
In the same vein, there may be opportunities to work with your suppliers and customers to recognise your own achievements for an award – again, the endorsement of a third party adds credibility to the achievement.
Food for thought
When deciding to enter an award, the following considerations can help a business to gain the most from any success:
· What are the motivations? Is it an integral element of your marketing activities irrespective of the recent achievements of the business? Or is your organisation seeking a way to tell the world about an industry changing innovation or application.
· What are you hoping to get out of it? Is the business genuinely seeking third party analysis of its products? Is it the idea of a motivating staff evening out, a black tie awards dinner, a special treat for the staff? Is it another piece of silverware for the boardroom cabinet?
· What is the entry process and how is it judged? Consider the difference between an award scheme where you are nominated by a third party and a scheme where your marketing department crafts the evidence for your success – will the former play a role in bringing the sceptics in the organisation around to the idea?
Whatever the motivations for entering an award, posing these questions will help business leaders decide whether what they’re seeking, and what they’re likely to get, is genuine acclaim or just PR puff.
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