No matter what industry you’re in, there are organisations that recognise and reward those that excel above the competition.
When you’re concentrating on finding your feet as a business, you may think that awards should be put on the back-burner. However, you can learn a lot by paying attention to industry awards.
As a start-up business, industry awards offer you a chance to quickly research what other emerging companies are doing to succeed, how you stack up in comparison, and potentially even earn yourself some major publicity in the process.
You can learn from three vantage points:
1. Outside: Researching previous winners
Even if you aren’t looking to enter any ‘top companies’ lists or regional awards, it’s worth finding out what awarding bodies there are for your industry, area of the country, and company size. Their lists of previous years’ nominees and winners will show you similar companies that have been in your position in the past and succeeded.
Companies and campaign teams often have a video or written case study to explain how they approached their winning submission. Spend some time researching this information and you may find crucial advice to aid your own business efforts.
The Startups 100 is an annual list of the top-performing start-up companies in the country and also a great way to see which industries are leading the charge in the UK’s SME market.
An analysis of the last three years’ Startups 100 lists found it has been dominated by technology businesses, with food, retail, finance, and marketing also leaving their marks.
If your business is in one of these industries, be on the lookout for award-winning companies and follow their activities online. When they speak about their success, you want to make sure you hear them and take on their advice.
If you find an insightful interview with another company’s founder or CEO, follow them on Twitter and look out for any events they may be speaking at.
Don’t be afraid to get in touch with them to ask questions about their work – many people are more than happy to share what they did to achieve their results. You may even find yourself sparking up a new business relationship that’s beneficial for the both of you!
Remember that awards aren’t only given for business growth – you can be recognised for excellent customer service, service to your local community, or championing your employees, to name just a few examples. By researching how other companies have succeeded in these areas, you can find ideas and initiatives to improve your own company.
2. In the thick of it: Composing your submission
If you’ve enjoyed some recent success, or found your business growing ahead of your projections, you may want to consider entering your company (or one of your campaigns) for an industry award.
Each award will ask you to compile a submission that demonstrates why you believe you should win, and they’ll often include their judging criteria. This information is a great opportunity for you to evaluate your results and address any areas that fall short of the judges’ expectations.
Different award bodies can ask for their own unique applications – some may want a video of the people behind your nomination, while others can ask for a template document to be completed.
Consider your application carefully and make sure you explicitly hit all of the criteria identified. If you need to show ROI for a client, include the statistics. If you need to show a PR campaign’s coverage online, attach screenshots from major publications.
Don’t forget to gain valuable insight from others when putting together your submission. For awards that recognise excellence in employee development and customer service, canvassing some opinions on how you operate can help you learn how to improve.
Depending on the size of your company, it can be difficult keeping track of the input different departments have on a campaign, so arrange some sit-down meetings with those involved to ensure you learn not only what they think made the project a success, but also how they would further improve things.
Applications for award nominations can take a long time to be processed, and you may find out you didn’t make the cut. Don’t be discouraged – by completing your application you’re already learning how industry leaders see success in a certain field.
You can use this criteria to inform your next project or how you work internally and make yourself not only a stronger nominee for next year but also a better business as a whole.
3. At the top: Capitalising on winning an award
If you’re lucky enough to nominated for (or even win) an award, you can capitalise on a great amount of publicity and prestige.
You’ll be contacted by the awarding body and given the details of the ceremony. Most organisations will run social media campaigns with hashtags to not only promote the event itself, but also its nominees in each category.
If you’re asked to provide a written interview or short video about your company, take the opportunity to promote yourself to potential new customers and clients. It’s also worth reading,
Industry recognition should be worn as a badge of honour for your business. Ensure you keep a ‘Press’ page on your company website updated with your accomplishments and consider including any official award logos or banners on your company’s email signatures and document templates. It’s a small touch, but they can make a great first impression at sales pitch or conferences by quickly highlighting commendations that your work has earned.
Industry awards can help your business grow internally, too. When you’re recruiting for a new position, you’ll be able to attract top candidates by showing the national recognition you’ve received.
If you’re repeatedly recognised by others in your industry, you’ll be shown to have a culture of excellence and that you hold your work to a high standard. The best talent wants to work for the best companies, so don’t miss an opportunity to prove that’s what you are.
About the Author
This article was written exclusively for ByteStart by James Story, a digital content specialist for the stationery and office products supplier, Viking.