Why are awards important?

Why are awards important?
Written by Jo Allen, Queen of copy
Posted on Monday, 22 January, 2024

First off, winning isn’t everything. And this is one of those cases when we actually do mean it. 

Sure, taking home a fancy glass trophy with your name etched into it forever more isn’t something to turn your nose up at - far from it, own that win if you ever find yourself up on a stage stumbling over an acceptance speech - but the real value that lies in awards comes way before that ‘and the winner is…’ moment. 

When it comes to awards, it is in fact the application process where those golden nuggets of business wisdom and insight can be uncovered. 

We can already hear the cries of ‘but what small business owner has the time to fill out one of those…’

So before any high horses are mounted, let us precede the rest of the blog with a precursor. Yes, unless you pay a professional copywriter to create your application for you, most award applications will take some degree of time. 

That said, most awards that fall into the realms of ‘business awards’ offer up ample lead time, and usually extensions, meaning that even for the one-man-band businesses out there some pockets of application time can be carved out. Dip in and out of your application even for ten minutes every few days, and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can knock those word counts down. 

Once you’ve made a start - which like so many things is often the most challenging part - award applications open the door to the wonderful world of reflection and review. 

Get used to talking about yourself.

First up, award applications make you better at the one thing most SME owners hate doing - talking about yourself. But far from being a cringeworthy exercise, writing an application helps you take stock of everything you have achieved to get to where you are. Successful or not in your bid for glory, writing an award application will shine a light on so many aspects of your business - where it started, how it’s grown, what’s changed, challenges it has overcome, and successes you probably haven’t taken the time to celebrate. All things you will have achieved without even stopping to notice. 

Putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, will also give you the opportunity to reevaluate your business, revisit your goals and direction, innovate your offering, and even pull into sharp focus areas where you know you can further improve, making that client journey even better.  

Writing about all of these things also forces your hand when it comes to defining what you and your business stand for and what it will look like over the coming years. 

Word counts are often tight when applying for awards, so every word that you pen, every word a judge will spend precious time reading, has to count. 

Bearing that in mind, award applications also level the playing field, often putting SMEs head-to-head with some of the big boys. No matter who you are or what you do, the criteria and word count don’t change - every business entering will get the same opportunity that you’re now faced with. Which brings us beautifully to the next, very important, advantage of entering awards. 

Benchmarking. 

Whether you’re shortlisted or not, you will see where you stand against the competition.  A peep through the keyhole at how your peers perform on this level playing field. If you don’t get shortlisted - even then applying won’t have gone to waste. You’ll usually receive feedback from the expert panel tasked with judging the awards you’ve entered, leaders in their fields and subsequent business communities, this free advice is something of a golden ticket, so don’t delay to act on the points they raise. 

Now, if you do find yourself on the shortlist.

Yay! Now you’re on the next rung of the ladder, you’ve leveled up to stage two where a plethora of prizes awaits.

Ding, ding, ding - bonus round.

A place on the shortlist comes with all sorts of neat bonuses, free marketing for starters. This often comes in the form of a press kit, full of social media graphics, logos, email banners, badges of honour, all created for you to utilise and show your initial success. You may even receive a press release template to personalize, ready to send to local and industry press or be included in the press release from the awarding body itself declaring who this year’s finalists are. 

Publicity in the run-up to awards may result in coverage online and in print, radio and TV interviews, podcast invites, social media take-overs, all manner of opportunities to improve your brand awareness and strengthen your existing brand, raising your profile and promoting your business to new customers as well as your fellow shortlisters who may well be open to partnerships in the future. 

We aren’t saying all of this will be handed to you on a plate - we mean, it might, especially with the more prestigious awards or those that have media partners - but if these opportunities don’t present themselves, put yourself out there. The worst thing people can say is ‘no’. And trust us, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t ask. 

Tap in on your new network.

Being shortlisted and/or winning an award too is a great chance to expand your network. Especially when it comes to any awards that fall into the industry or business remit. Picture it, you’re going to be walking into a room full of like-minded business owners that have all been successful enough or showed enough enterprise to be shortlisted too. Make sure you take the time to work the room, introduce yourself, and take full advantage of this captive audience. This is valuable exposure that you’d struggle to put a price on. 

Showcase your success.

Whether you win or not, being able to utilise an award’s brand kit, immediately increases your credibility. We all love a recommendation, don’t we? It’s why websites like TripAdvisor still have a huge marketplace value. The same premise applies to awards. Experts, the best in the business, have selected you - this is one of the best peer-to-peer recommendations you could hope to get your hands on, so make sure you shout about it. It shows clients, new and current, that you and your business are not only authentic and genuine but one of the very best at what you do. 

High-fives all round. 

Ah - also, for those of you with a team big or small, entering awards presents you with the chance to deliver a huge dose of morale-boosting buzz. From winning awards for your business as a whole to putting particular teams or individuals in the spotlight, by involving your team in award applications you’ll not only go some of the way to showing them just how much you appreciate the hard work they undertake on your behalf daily, but also show new talent that you are an employer of choice. 

Winner, winner?

If you do end up on stage, stumbling over that acceptance speech, all of the above applies ten-fold. As an award-winner, there will be more interest in you, your business, and your win. That said, time is of the absolute essence. The big dog, head honcho, big cheese… an award win will put you up there and position you as a desirable voice for comment in future newsworthy pieces related to your industry. However, once you have that trophy, time is ticking on how long your win will be considered ‘news’. As harsh as it sounds, it’s a BIG deal for you and your business, but as far as the media goes, it’ll become old news pretty quickly. 

If you want to handle the post-win PR in-house, get a press release written and get it out as soon as you can. Even draft one prior to the award winners being announced, just in case. Make sure you include photos from the night, and you with the award, as well as the judge's comments once they are made available to you. If you’re posting to social media on the night of the awards too, be sure to tag any news channels, publications or strategic individuals you think should be hearing about your news. 

If you need some help with getting the good news out, we’re pretty sure we can give you a hand. If you’re considering entering an award and need support with your application, or you’ve already entered, maybe even won one, and need help making the most out of your PR opportunities, get in touch. 

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