Why you should enter business awards

Louise Attenborough, Chocolate Collective

Hot on the heels of the North West VA Conference and coming runner up for the North West VA of the Year, we got chatting with our industry peers about why, as small business owners, we should be entering business awards.

Myself and Jane’s marketing and advertising backgrounds means that entering awards was almost a full time occupation at certain times of the year. But working for big organisations, we had the man power and status to stand up more easily and shout: ‘We are worthy of that trophy!’

It’s tougher for young, smaller businesses, who are already struggling for time and perhaps lack the confidence to put themselves forward. But we’re big believers in ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it!’    And, even if you don’t win it, there are plenty of great PR opportunities and lessons to be learned for the next one.

So here are our top 3 reasons for entering business awards:

In 3rd place: Awards force you to stand up and stand out

Don’t be shy, be proud! If you’re running a successful business, whatever the size, there’s an award out there for you. It can go against our innate British-ness to shout about our achievements, but if you’re running a business then you’ll often find yourself out of your comfort zone, so this is just another challenge to overcome and reap the rewards from.

To get you off the starting blocks, begin by looking at your industry awards, then what business awards are popular in your region.  The key is not to overthink it or you’ll end up talking yourself out of entering; comparing yourself to other ‘names’ who you think are bigger and better. Why not let the judges decide? And on that point, we have been on the judging panels of awards, as well as entering a fair few over the years and you’d be surprised at how hard the organisers have to work to encourage people to enter. It’s a competitive market and a lack of time and confidence is often a barrier for small businesses; so don’t let fear hold you back.  A few hours of your time is all it takes and there’s so much for you to capitalise on after you’ve entered…

In 2nd place: Benchmark and Learn

Entering awards really makes you think about your business. We’re often so busy working ‘in’ our business that we don’t stop to look up. Writing an award entry makes you do this. You’re forced to look at your business from an outside perspective. What makes you stand out? What have you done that you’re proud of? What does the future hold? You get the gist.

Each award entry is different, but the process of writing your entry can be enlightening. Then there’s benchmarking. Judges will consider your application against other companies and you will therefore have an opportunity to assess your position in relation to that of your peers and competitors. Some awards will even give you feedback on your entry.  This is valuable stuff!  Not only could it help your business, but it will certainly help when it comes to writing that next award.  It’s also worth looking to see if the award organisers publish the winners’ entries (or an abridged version). Again, these give you an insight into what a winning entry looks like.

In 1st place: PR, PR, PR

Simply by entering an award you’ve instantly got fodder for your social media – tagging in the award organisers or other companies who are throwing their hat in the ring, can start some great conversations and help to raise your profile. And that’s just for submitting your entry! You can multiply that should you be shortlisted, with congratulations pinging back and forth. You’re showing yourself as a confident business, expert in your field and general all round go-getter!

Then there’s the awards ceremony, a perfect opportunity to meet, greet, praise and network your socks off.  The room will be filled with businesses who could be of benefit to you, or you to them. You’ll have spent valuable time and perhaps money entering an award, so win or lose, make the most of this chance to make an impact.  Of course, if you win, then the world’s your oyster. You should have a press release on standby, someone ready to take your photo, a flurry of social media prepped and don’t forget to piggy back on what the award organisers can offer. Know who’s handling their PR so you can provide a quote, offer to be a case study for their website and grab a copy of their logo for your website.  You’ve worked hard to get there so make the award work hard for you!

We’re now waiting nervously for our next two awards to announce their shortlist – but whatever the outcome we have no regrets. We hope you’ll feel the same way, should you take our advice and enter. We’ve got our fingers crossed for you…providing you’re not in our category 

If time is of the essence and you need some help pulling together an award entry then get in touch. We’d be happy to help with the art of award entering.