For many businesses industry awards are seen as adding important value to their offer. It’s a way of demonstrating their credibility, trust rating and expertise. What better way to impress potential customers than to say, “award-winning”? Surely there’s no better way to stand out from the crowd? At The Business Village we have many award-winning tenants and definitely see the value in being recognised in this way.
Every business owner is looking for that unique selling point that will give their company the edge over its competitors. Unless you’re operating in a very niche market, it can be difficult to find. When someone searches the Internet to find the product or service you offer, it’s likely that Google will present them with several options. In that small space on the results page, you have to make them want to click on your link. You have just a short line of text to tell them that they should, because you’re the best. You’re the experts. YOU are recognised as industry leaders. So, when that email comes through telling you that you’ve been nominated for a ‘National Association of Your Industry Award’, you think it’s just what you need. Or is it?
What if your marketplace is flooded with ‘award-winning’ companies? How does that help you?
Whilst there are many award schemes that will add great value to a business, some are no more than marketing schemes for minor industry publications, to help advertising executives hit their monthly targets. The key is to do your homework, consider carefully and only choose awards that are going to bring a worthwhile return for your business. Here are some of the key questions to think about:
Is the awarding body recognised in your industry or by your potential customers?
Industry awards from organisations such as Good Housekeeping and Which? are held in high esteem and can make the difference for consumers, when they’re considering a purchase. This is because both of the organisations behind the awards are recognised and respected by the people who are likely to be influenced by a product or service carrying the logo.
This is an important point to consider when deciding whether to accept a nomination – or indeed to put your company forward for one.
Of course, an industry body may not always be known to your customers, but if they click on the logo, will they find a bona fide source of standards and information? Generally, most people will have heard of the local Chamber of Commerce, or specific industry bodies such as the Federation of Master Builders, or ABTA for example. They have an established reputation for being experts in business matters or their sector. Carrying logos from organisations that are recognised as a source of industry information is better than having a random one no one has heard of on your homepage.
Will the award add value to your business, beyond providing a logo for your website?
This is something that may not initially be on your list when thinking about an award, but it should be. Many awards require a considerable investment in order to enter or accept a nomination. This could be financial, or the time it takes to collate and submit the information they require.
Some awarding bodies request reams of information and have a lengthy application process; make sure you have the time and resources to do it right, or don’t bother. There are also registration fees for some of the award schemes and then of course you have to consider the cost of attending ceremonies, where the cost for a table can run into the thousands – and that’s before you even tot up the bar tab.
Think of an award process as you would any marketing activity. What will it cost in terms of time, money and resources and what are the predicted returns? Set a budget, project manage and assess the return.
Will the award have a positive impact on those you do business with and your own employees?
There are many ways in which winning an award can benefit your business. Assess each scheme for its merits. Generally, you’ll be looking for awards that give you:
- Publicity and marketing opportunities
- Increased credibility with customers and suppliers
- A boost to staff morale
Often, for SME’s with a mainly local or regional customer base, local awards will provide good value and have a positive impact. They give companies the chance to demonstrate that they’re recognised as providing a reliable, trustworthy and quality service, within the town or area in which they’re based. Organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Businesses, local authorities and local media outlets often organise local and regional awards. There is usually excellent potential for exposure and business impact, for both award recipients, as well as those who are shortlisted.
Will you learn and gain from the process, even if you don’t win?
Awards are a great way to line up with your competitors and if you choose carefully, you’ll see a benefit from being selected as a finalist, even if you don’t come first. You’ll be able to benchmark what works and what you need to work on. You’ll find out what your competitors are doing well and compare their offer with yours.
Going through the nomination process itself can also be a valuable experience. If done right, it can serve as an internal company review, as you assess your business performance and compile the evidence for the award judges. It’s a good way to measure how you stack up against other businesses in your sector, or local area.
Words of Warning
There are ‘award schemes’ around that should just be avoided. As mentioned above, some are no more than a money-making exercise for the organisations running them and have little or no value for the recipients. They are usually easy to spot, often beginning with an out-of-the-blue email or phone call, telling you you’ve been nominated for an award you’ve never even entered, not to mention heard of…
You can fall victim to strong-arm selling tactics, unless you have your wits about you. Hearing that you’re the only business in your local area that has been shortlisted is designed to appeal to that little bit of vanity we all have hidden somewhere. You may also receive a ‘fantastic offer’ to incentivise your acceptance of the award. This could be the promise of advertising and exposure in their publication. Before you know it, you could end up with an invoice for several hundreds of pounds, if not more. You could even have to pay for your own certificate and cough up several hundred pounds more, if you want to actually receive the chunk of engraved glass or mounted plaque for your wall.
Awards can be a brilliant way to secure recognition, give you a marketing boost, gain exposure and give you and your employees something to shout about. Just be sure to do your homework, treat it as you would any working project, assess the time, resources and budget that’s required before you go all in.
I write from experience, as The Business Village has literally just been shortlisted in The Business Growth category in The Barnsley and Rotherham Business Awards. This prestigious event is being held at Magna on Friday 19th October and I know we are up against some fantastic competition. Watch this space and follow us on social media on the night to find out how we get on…