Having previously worked on the Lake Macquarie Business Awards, I have seen first-hand that winning an award is certainly satisfying and elating. Entering awards programs offers an opportunity to pitch yourself against other businesses and see how far you have come. Plus, your team could benefit from a bit of a morale boost.
But, your business award entry can be so much more than just a mere acknowledgement of the hard work and dedication you and your team have put in over the past 12 months. Your efforts in entering, and perhaps winning an award can translate into real business results.
With a focused approach and a clear objective to use your business award entry to generate brand awareness, your shortlisting or win could drive new clients through your door.
To translate the ‘buzz’ about your business into new clients, you need to start with a plan, and understand why you are entering in the first place.
Objective of Your Business Award Entry
Entering a business award because ‘it would be nice to win’ just isn’t enough when compared to the hours you will have to put in to create a winning application. So, before you take the plunge consider why applying is relevant to you and your business. Would a win matter to your businesses overall goals, to your team members, to your clients?
Once you have a clear idea of your objective for entering, you can start to gather the information and hard evidence that will help you create a winning entry.
It All Starts When You Hit Submit
Hitting the ‘submit’ button is by no means the end of the business award entry process. In fact, it is just the beginning. Your marketing and communication strategies related to the award should be ready to go. Sure, you don’t know if you have been shortlisted or won yet, but this is the time to start the conversation around your business excellence.
Utilise a content plan, and start talking to your team, colleagues and clients about why you entered, how far you have come, and the goods things you were able to include in your entry thanks to their support. These conversations can take place in person, via email, your website – whatever channel is appropriate, and can generate interest in your success, boost any activity around a shortlisting or win, and make the right people care.
Shout-out For Your Shortlisting
Making it through the ‘eye of the needle’ and becoming a finalist in a business award is a great achievement, and one that should be shared across a variety of platforms. Sure, a shortlisting isn’t a definite win, but it is still an opportunity for you to connect with your clients, and generate further social proof of your business excellence.
To amplify this achievement, consider some of the following activities:
Produce a Press Release
Local media love local success stories, and your story of being shortlisted as a finalist in the local business awards could be just what they are looking for.
When creating a press release around your success, be sure to find something unique and ‘news worthy’ to share. Perhaps you are the only business in your industry who has been selected? Maybe your entry includes a great story? Whatever the focus, ensure it is relevant to your audience, as a well written press release can earn you greater reach.
Write a Blog (or Two)
Blogs are a great way to share your business stories and success. Not only do you have creative control over your blog, including what is said, when it is posted, and where it is shared, you also have a piece of content that is perfect ‘food’ for both Google and your followers. By feeding your followers (and Google) with well-crafted content, you are not only encouraging engagement, but driving traffic to your website. This traffic can then be turned into real business leads.
Wear the Badge with Honor
If the awards program you entered offers an official finalist logo, wear it with pride. By that I mean utilise the artwork on your website, email signature, social media profile, your blog, newsletter, brochures, print ads, and point of sale collateral. This badge can help validate your work, and show the world that you and your team have been recognised among other leading businesses.
Leverage the Love
Your clients, colleagues, team members and friends are all potential ambassadors for your business, and what better way to leverage their support than by giving them a great story to share.
A well-written piece of copy distributed internally can spark interest and be an effective means of spreading the word. Likewise, producing social media posts that include enticing imagery and the story of your shortlisting can be very effective in spreading the message. By providing your supporters with a sleek piece of content that is easy to integrate and share on their own channels, you can open the ‘virtual’ door to a whole new audience who are eager to engage with a successful business.
Network with Nominees
We all know the benefits of networking for business – you can build your professional network and open the door to new referral sources. But networking with fellow nominees could be more than just a foot in the door. The nominees could be businesses that you would not ordinarily associate with, and have connections with a broader scope of professionals. And we all know that more connections can mean more business leads.
Shine at the Awards Ceremony
Make sure you and your team utilise the opportunity to join with fellow nominees and celebrate success when the actual winners are announced. If you are amongst the winners, you want to be there to receive the award on stage, and show the business community who you are. After all, this is a wonderful photo opportunity that can provide visual proof of your success, and a finishing touch to your content.
If You Win
Well done! You did it! Now it is time to celebrate, but more importantly share this amazing achievement with the world. Take the opportunity to share your excitement, particularly via social media. Your followers, friends, team members and colleagues will be eagerly awaiting the results from the awards ceremony, and real-time posting can be very effective. But what happens next?
Let’s Do It Again
As soon as you have recovered from the celebration, go back to the top of the list in this blog and start all over again, but this time with a bigger splash announcing that you are an Award Winner! With finely tuned marketing exertions, potential clients will soon be aware of your success and eager to work with a winning business.
Create More Content
With a win on your hands, you now have wonderful fodder for content (including blog articles, videos etc.) that is based around your area of success. If you won a customer service award, for example, you can create blog articles that speak directly to your customer experience process and how it benefits all those you work with. Likewise, if you won a business leader award you could consider creating a Q&A series about effective leadership skills and how to develop them. Both examples highlight a way to engage with new and existing clients, and demonstrate your expertise and authority within your field.
Monitor, Engage and Share
Social media is obviously a wonderful platform for sharing any story of success, and it is important to monitor and respond to all activity. In other words, share the love. Give your followers the information they are seeking, and personally respond to any comments of congratulations.
It can also be beneficial to check out the profiles and activities of other winners, and engage with their content. Offer congratulations and be active in forums that are discussing the awards. This will ensure you remain active and visible while the hype is high.
Repurpose Your Entry
We’ve already spoken about the content possibilities that come from a win, but you should also look out for opportunities to repurpose the entry you spent so much time on. After all, it is a winning entry, so why not try your luck in a different awards program. Who knows, you could take out a regional, state or national award.
What Do You Have to Lose?
With the right objective, plan and actions, your business award entry can be an effective driver of new leads. Through the stories you share, and the connections you make, you can be a winner regardless of what the official results dictate.
If you’re considering entering a business award or have just been named a finalist, drop me an email. I am always happy to share my experience and help you craft a winning submission and content strategy.