Awards can increase an organization’s credibility, providing an official third-party endorsement. Aside from attracting new customers, business awards can also help recruit top talent. They can make employees feel better, too, raising company morale and motivation. But where do you find these awards? Here are eight tips and tricks for uncovering stellar award opportunities and some best practices for creating winning submissions.
Check out national awards. You’re probably already familiar with national awards such as The Stevies and may even consider not applying since the submission pool is so large. Keep in mind, award programs of this magnitude often have Gold, Silver and Bronze winners, making it more likely you may win. I recently submitted an executive at a small, niche company to The Stevie Awards for Women in Business and, while she didn’t win Gold, she did secure Bronze. Despite the larger applicant pool and fierce competition, if you feel your submission has what it takes, don’t hesitate to apply.
Look at the competitor’s award wins. Say you’re job hunting and receive offers from two different companies. If one was an award-winning business and the other… not so much… which offer would you accept? Investigate direct competitors to see what recognitions they’ve secured and apply for them. It’ll knock out any advantage the competition may have over your organization.
Take a look at trade publications and industry websites. These resources are a treasure trove for award opportunities. For instance, Security Magazine, an outlet dedicated to both physical and cybersecurity, has a whole page dedicated to a number of cybersecurity awards, like “Top Cybersecurity Leaders” or “Profiles in Excellence.” Individual-based awards are a stellar way to boost confidence, while group awards are a fantastic way to bring teams together.
Check out sites such as MeetUp for industry events that may have a ceremony component. While the smaller awards might not bring in as much publicity, they will provide more recognition in your organization’s community. Another great place to look is your local Chamber of Commerce – they often have business-related awards.
Now that we’ve covered how to find awards, let’s explore how to win them.
Don’t wait until the last minute. Many award programs require company stats, past revenue and other minute details that you’ll need to put together. Flag award opportunities well in advance and give a little buffer room in case you’re down to the wire or the flag gets buried in endless email threads.
Show, don’t tell. Award judges receive hundreds, if not thousands of submissions so make sure yours stands out. Don’t just list past accolades or profits, include case studies, white papers, marketing collateral and testimonials to beef up your application. Highlight why your organization’s services are innovative or how an employee was instrumental in spearheading a new product launch.
Be mindful of word limits. This may seem like a no-brainer, but editorial guidelines and word limits can get lost in the weeds during review cycles. Not only that, some submission portals’ word limits don’t always match up to Word or Google Doc’s count. Give yourself time to double check so you don’t end up editing submissions 20 minutes before the entry deadline.
K.I.S.S. – Keep it simple, stupid. Unless it’s a very niche award, don’t use a lot of jargon. Judges may not have a complete understanding of your offerings and the technical details that go into said products and services. Again, judges are faced with an onslaught of submissions and if yours’ isn’t easy to ready or confuses the judges, they might just throw your nomination out the window.
Hopefully the above tips can up your odds at winning awards. Recognition and honors go a long way in generating publicity for organizations, in turn bringing in more potential customers and talented recruits.