One of the time-tested ways of establishing yourself as a standard in your industry is to win an award. An industry-recognised award serves as an independent endorsement of your company’s quality. And more importantly it’s an evaluation that potential customers are more likely to trust, than any marketing material you can produce.
We know that social proof is one of the most influential factors in a consumer’s decision making. In a survey by Zendesk, 88% of participants were influenced by an online customer service review and consumer reviews are nearly 12 times more trusted than descriptions that come from manufacturers.
Awards are like the ultimate review or testimonial. Usually, they come through from a trusted, independent authority with the expertise to give a well-informed judgement on your business, so your customers and the wider marketplace are going to see that as proof that your business can be trusted.
Many business owners already know this. They do put aside time to enter and craft good applications for awards and are, rightly, proud of the awards they win.
However, what they fail to do is take full advantage of this win and leverage it for the massive authority-building opportunity that it so easily provides for their business.
Where you can find awards to win
Before I explain the five ways you can leverage your award’s success, there might be some business owners wondering what awards I am talking about. Are there generic awards that I can recommend to all business owners to apply for?
In short, no. There are no awards that will encompass the entire business world and that all business owners should target. In the end, the awards that you might possibly win, and would want to win, will depend on your industry, what kind of authority you would like to build, and also your business network.
For almost any industry there will be some sort of industry-specific awards available. In some industries, this may be more competitive than others. The best thing to do is to do a search online with a search term including your industry and “awards”.
If your industry has an association then that would also be a very good place to find awards. You may also consider attending conventions and exhibitions surrounding your industry for awards opportunities available there.
When it comes to awards, different businesses will require different types of authority. For example, a food industry business would likely be more interested in gaining awards that compare them against other food providers rather than, say, an award for best community impact – which would be important to something like a healthcare service or even a recruitment agency.
You will also want to explore the opportunities in your business network. Your suppliers or some of your strategic alliances may run awards, or know of awards, for which you may be a suitable applicant.
A good place to source awards are the agencies that you work with. If you work with a PR agency, they are the perfect people to be on the lookout for awards for you as they will likely be receiving a lot of the marketing materials from awards providers. If you work with a business coach, there are likely to be awards opportunities they are aware of for you as well, since their clients’ success reflects on them as well.
Reach out to important people in your business network, and you might be surprised to find there are opportunities to win awards you did not even know existed.
5 immediate actions to take when you win an award
Once you have won an award, you should make sure that you make the most of your success. So to ensure you reap the full potential, here are five actions you must take as soon as you’ve picked up your gong;
1. Write a Press Release
While this might seem like a lot of work, writing a press release can be one of the best ways to get leverage off an award.
Once you have written a press release, you then have some base content which you can then adapt into a whole slew of marketing materials – for your blog, for your social media channels, to send in emails etc.
If you are working with a PR agency, they may be able to assist you with writing a press release and will be able to help you with the distribution of that press release to the appropriate channels.
Even if you are not working with a PR company, though, you can easily write the press release yourself and upload it to PR distribution sites, many of which are free (although for the widest coverage you will likely have to pay). Get it right and you can get pages of free publicity.
2. Add it to your website
It is so important to add your awards to your website. Even if you do not appear to have many leads coming from your website – even if you do not have a lot of traffic – there will be those that go to your website to look for proof of what you do, and the quality of what you do. An awards section that is easy to find on your site will help this tremendously.
If you run a blog or a “latest updates” section of your site, you can easily convert your press release into a blog article to let your readers know about your win. Those reading your blog are likely to be interested in you. This is likely to contribute to your status for anyone sitting on the fence, and reinforce the belief of those who already believe in what you do.
An ideal place on your website could be a ‘Press Kit’ page which you then start including in your marketing material.
3. Add it to social media
If you have written a press release and/or a blog, it can be as simple as sharing a link on your social media channels to where the release has been published or to your blog post.
It is also a good idea to take a snippet from your press release that you can put into your social media posts. Something short, sweet and natural sounding, which is in line with the tone of your business.
If you are not sharing a link, then I recommend you share a small announcement (make sure you keep it short) along with a picture of either the award/ certificate or a picture from the awards night. This is because social shares with photos tend to capture attention better than those without.
Sharing to your social media is essential in today’s digital world, as often your consumers will look to your social channels to find out more about you and gauge your quality.
4. Send an email to your existing contacts
Even if you have uploaded it to your site and your social media channels, you cannot expect your existing customers, previous customers, and your leads to constantly be keeping an eye on these channels. They need to be informed directly about your win if you want to build up your authority.
Using your press release as a starting point, you will want to write a short announcement to those who have opted in to receive your emails about the award and why the win is important to you and your company.
I would recommend uploading any photos you have of the awards and the awards celebration to your Facebook or other social media platforms. You should then place a link to the album of photos within your email, referring people there to see them. This can encourage those on your list to engage with your social channels and may also encourage them to share this via their own channels. Gaining social shares boosts your authority further.
It is also recommended that towards the end of this email, you mention a way for your contacts to get in touch with you, or one of your latest offers, to encourage those who have become more convinced of your quality to convert now.
5. Celebrate with your team
Winning an award is not only an opportunity to build authority with the public, but also to foster a sense of achievement among your employees. You should be including your team in this win – it is their win as well and they need to see that you understand their contribution to the business winning the award.
Create a break in your day-to-day activities and really celebrate this achievement. Pop open a bottle of champagne in the office. Take them out for dinner and drinks and spend some recreational time with them.
This will allow you to get to know your team on a personal level and have a good time with them. More than that, I can promise you that it will contribute to motivating your team to keep on working hard in helping you and your business continue on a trajectory of greatness.
Putting into action these five steps whenever you win an award may take some time out of your hectic schedule. However, the time taken to leverage something like this is worth it for the authority building that has far reaching effects with your customers and with your team.
About the author
This guide has been written for ByteStart by Shweta Jhajharia, Principal Coach and founder of The London Coaching Group. Despite a competitive economy, her clients across sectors consistently achieve measurable double digit growth (over 41%) and are the most awarded client base in UK. Other articles by Shweta include;
- 4 Steps to building your business by hiring ‘ugly ducklings’
- The 3 issues you’ll need to overcome if you want your start-up to reach £1m turnover
- How to turn your customers into your best sales force
More help on promoting your business
You can find lots more help and ideas on cost-effectively promoting your business in these other ByteStart guides;
- Making your business a success online – A Digital marketing guide for small business owners
- How to create business cards that make a big impression
- 21 killer ideas to get free publicity for your small business
- How to plan and implement a successful email marketing campaign
- A Practical guide to Content Marketing for small business owners and start-ups
- 7 Brilliant branding tips for start-ups
And these will help you to succeed with your online and social media efforts;
- 10 Top tips for small businesses starting out with social media
- How to get started with Twitter
- Tweets that get you followed and your business noticed – How to build a loyal following, 140 characters at a time
- 5 ways to maximise your business with social media
- How to use Facebook to grow your small business
- Marketing your small business through YouTube – The 4 essential steps to success