Is entering business awards worth it?
Something that many small businesses unknowingly miss from their marketing plans is entering themselves into local and national business awards. For some it’s a lack of awareness that these awards exist, for some it’s a lack of confidence that they are worthy of winning and for others it’s a lack of understanding of what entering can do for their business.
Entering your business into awards can provide a whole host of benefits well beyond just winning, and in this article we will explore why it should be a valuable part of your marketing strategy, and how to construct the ideal submission.
When businesses think about entering awards, they often focus on the winning, and not about all the other ways it can be of benefit. The lead up to an awards ceremony and the application process can actually be a fantastic opportunity to take stock of everything you have achieved, and think about your next steps to growing your business.
A Clear Perspective
We often get so caught up in the day to day operations of a business that we don’t get the opportunity to sit back, look at all of our achievements and how we got there. Entering awards provides the opportunity to do that, and most importantly think about if the business itself is still operating in line with the values and mission it was created to convey/achieve.
A Morale Boost
Reflecting on the successes of your business can provide a real sense of achievement, giving you the confidence and inspiration to continue to move forward. That morale boost isn’t limited to just the business owners either, knowing that the leadership team recognise and want to celebrate the successes of the team provides some positive reassurance to the whole team.
Alongside the natural publicity that will come from the event organisers themselves if your business is shortlisted or is announced as the winner, there is also ample opportunity for you to maximise your entry with some publicity of your own. Tell your customers you are entering, tell them why you think you should win, support the event itself, and of course shout from the rooftops if you are shortlisted or win. Make sure you use the hashtag of the awards, and share your press release with the local press, everyone loves some positive local news! Hearing that you are being considered for, or winning awards is also great for your customer reputation, it reinforces that you are the best person to buy from/use the services of.
The business award ceremony is normally held at a conference or awards dinner, providing you an excellent opportunity to network with other business professionals, and people that you may not normally come into contact with during your usual course of business. If you don’t attend regularly networking events, an awards evening can provide you a whole wealth of new contacts who could help you continue to grow in the future. Once you have discovered the potential available from entering business awards, it’s time to think about what awards you could enter and most importantly, the categories your business would be relevant for. Categories can range from ‘Best new business’ and ‘innovator of the year’, to industry specific accolades and community impact awards. When choosing your category think carefully about what evidence you have to support your entry, and don’t be afraid to enter multiple categories if the awards organisers allow it.
Some awards to consider
In East Sussex there are multiple business awards that are worth considering. These include:
Sussex Business Awards, Brighton – 30th November 2023
Dynamic Business Awards, Brighton – 25th May 2023
For Female-led businesses
Seahaven Business Awards, Peacehaven – 12th May 2023
Eastbourne Business Awards, Eastbourne – 27th October
Sussex Chamber of Commerce Business Awards -23rd June
The King’s Award for Enterprise
Writing the perfect application
Awards submissions have often been likened to job applications. You read a job description which details out the criteria and skills required from its applicants and then you return a response which provides your account of how you fit this, which is evidenced through your work experience. Writing an award submission is very similar to this. The category description will define the successes that the judging panel are expecting to see, and your submission should detail how you fulfil this, which should be backed up with evidence.
Award submissions can be completed in 3 clear steps.
1. First impression
Introduce your business, and tell it’s story of what you exist to achieve. Try to focus this on what is relevant for the category and the key message you want to convey about your business.
Make sure to back up your claims with evidence. Include financials if the category is about growth or include reviews/testimonials if it is about customer service or community impact. Your claims of success have little impact without proof.
3. Added Value
What makes you stand out? Why should your business win over any other? Many businesses provide added value to their customers through things like quick service times, loyalty schemes or additional services, you started your business because you felt there was a market for it that wasn’t being serviced by someone else, and this is a great opportunity to showcase that USP.
One of the most important things to remember when putting together awards submissions is to read the question carefully and give yourself plenty of time to write your entry. These things can’t be rushed, and it’s vital to tell your company story in a way that reflects your brand and ethos.
The last thing to note, although an obvious point, is you won’t win them all. We all need reminding sometimes to not feel disheartened when we take a knock and things don’t go our way. If you don’t win the first award, brush yourself off and try the next one. Your business has no doubt achieved some amazing things, and at some point that will be recognised.