Business awards

They are time-consuming, expensive and ten-a-penny, so why should you spend any time entering your business into a set of awards?

Louise Turner has spent 20 years writing award entries for everyone from her husband to a multi-national mobile phone network. Over the past five years, 80% of the entries Louise and the Awards Writers team have written have been shortlisted, and around half of those have scooped a prize. Here are the reasons why she believes in the power of awards.

Someone else saying great things is powerful

You can big yourself up all you like, but winning the right award (I’m choosing my words carefully here) is an unequivocal indication of the quality of your business, team or project.

It’s a matter of simple psychology: being awarded an industry accolade makes clients, colleagues and prospects view you differently. Shining this positive light on your skills and customer values can help you retain existing clients, win new ones and encourage higher conversions from your marketing activities. While people can be sceptical of testimonials on a website, there’s no quibbling with the decision of a panel of industry experts.

They deliver unquantifiable benefits…

A client whose award entry we wrote was running a multi-million pound project but struggling to convince two key organisations to get on board. He went to London to the industry award ceremony his project was shortlisted in and walked off with the top prize. At the event itself, with the trophy still heavy in his hands, one organisation came on board.

Our client said: “Winning the award for the prestige was enough in itself, but even at the ceremony we started ticking some things off our wishlist as potential partners and funders came forward, both in person and on social media. Over a drink after the ceremony I was also able to secure a commitment from one of my organisation’s directors to come and visit the project to see what we’ve been up to.

“I would never have believed that winning such a specialist award could have led to such great things. It just proves the power of awards and demonstrates that you can’t always predict what value they will add.”

…and quantifiable ones

Another client imported her products but the relatively small quantities she needed meant her import costs were high. They had been top of her list to address, but none of the companies she enquired with was willing to speak to her.

As a result of being shortlisted for two industry awards she was interviewed by the local paper and one week after the interview was published she had two companies competing for her business, eventually knocking 30% off her costs.

A third client has secured new tenants for their serviced offices as a result of the publicity surrounding their award wins.

They build reputation – for your organisation and for you

An award can work wonders for your business/team/project’s reputation as a signal of quality. But it can also impact your personal reputation.

Making good contacts at the award ceremony, using LinkedIn and Twitter to publicise your victory, and spreading the news within your own organisation can all lead to opportunities you might not otherwise have been presented with.

Winning an award from within your own specialism is an indication that your peers – the ones more than fit to judge the quality of your work – think you’re pretty great at it. A team I worked in used our local PR awards to prove to internal dissenting voices that we were actually pretty good. People’s attitudes towards us definitely shifted when we walked in with all four awards we’d been shortlisted for, including the one for regional PR team of the year.

My secret – you don’t need to win

Here’s the thing I tell clients and which has been proved time and again – you don’t need to win to get the majority of the benefits; being on the shortlist is enough.

Here’s why:

·        You get to go to the awards ceremony and network – either with potential new clients, collaborators or prospective new team members

·        You get a logo for your website/social media/email signature

·        You get to tell your clients you’ve been shortlisted and celebrate the kudos that brings

·        One less competitor is on the shortlist because you are

Basically, you get almost all of the benefits and you don’t need to buy a cabinet for the trophy. Of course, no one likes to lose and the high of hearing your name read out from the podium is hard to beat, but in a purely commercial sense you only need to get to the final.

Insider tips – you’re welcome

Here are my top five tips for writing awards:

1.       Look for quality awards that matter to your target audience – my starting point is always professional membership bodies and trade magazines, as these have a strong reputation for quality, robust judging processes, and are a true endorsement from your peers

2.       Know the rules of the game – give the organiser a call and ask about the deadline and any potential extension, the word count and any leeway, plus whether they allow additional supporting information

3.       Before you answer the questions, think about what you want to say – work in your key messages regardless of what you’re asked. Thinking about these first makes sure you don’t miss any of the critical points you want to make

4.       A picture paints a thousand words – add them to your Word document to enhance your story, use them in supporting information, or create infographics to add interest

5.       Be aware of the bigger context – while the detail of your project is important, if you have solved a universal problem you need to point this out to the judges, not simply focus on the minute detail of what you have delivered

If you want to chat about the award-winning potential of your business and which awards are the right ones for you, do drop me a line - louise@awardswriters.com