There are lots of reasons for entering awards, but it's usually for profile, people, and pride.
But to profit from awards you need to choose them carefully. Recognition impresses customers, partners, and investors. It can be a differentiator for procurement. It makes your employees feel like part of a winning team and might be a deciding factor for new talent.
Awards should be part of everyone’s PR & Marketing plan but which ones are worth the time, money and effort? When you add up the entry fee, table, travel, hotels and entertainment, you could spend between £3k and £5k on a single awards – so where is the best return on investment?
Having designed, entered and won awards, I believe there are five things to look for when considering an awards or recognition programme:
How transparent is the judging process and is there enough of the right caliber of judges? If it’s a small judging panel for lots of award categories, then the process might not be as rigorous as it could be. Check out the entry form to see how much thought has gone into the process. Is it clear ‘how’ and ‘what’ you will be judged on? How heavyweight are the judges? If the judging panel is made up of respected industry leaders endorsing this, then it’s an award worth winning.
Credible judging is an important factor but what else makes it prestigious? Have a look at the alumni of previous winners to see who has set the standard. Does it have an Advisory Board of influential advocates? They should have done their due diligence if they are endorsing it. If the last ceremony venue, keynote speaker and entertainment had ‘wow factor’ then the organisers are clearly conscious of delivering value rather than cutting corners. You want your team, clients and partners to be impressed, not embarrassed.
Awards are about recognition, so how are they raising your profile? If there is a media partner, how much press coverage has been generated from the awards and finalists? Check if there is a sustained PR & Marketing campaign through the year with social media opportunities around big announcements like shortlist and winners. Is there an opportunity for finalists to be interviewed, in print or video or both? All of this can be featured on your website, with links from award logos in your email signature to maximize recognition.
Very few awards provide feedback, but those that do deliver immediate ROI on your entry fee. A benchmark or feedback report shows that there is a rigorous judging process in place. It should give you insights that can make you more innovative or competitive, and how you compare to peers within or outside your industry. It's always worth asking for some feedback, and will help you decide whether to enter again.
What are your objectives for recognition? If it’s to attract or retain talent, look at something like Best Companies to work for or best employer categories of business awards. If it’s to attract investors, look at Fast Track or the Growing Business Awards. If it's to impress clients or partners, look at the range of customer service or innovation awards. To find the right one for your strategy, check out http://www.boost-marketing.co.uk/awards-lists/ which provides a searchable directory.
The Supper Club is a partner of the National Business Awards to support the recognition of exemplary entrepreneurs and Britain’s best scale up businesses. We also support the Growth Investor Awards to recognize high growth entrepreneurs who have optimized investment to scale. Both of these awards programmes have rigorous judging, impressive Advisory Boards, a strong alumni, feedback, and year-round campaigns.
The National Business Awards are now open.