This one marketing hook can skyrocket your brand and increase your sales conversions

About the Author: Ashley Thomson
Ashley Thomson

business coach tips for entering business awardsTrust sells. It’s as simple as that. When prospects are considering which business to buy from, the biggest risk they’re weighing up is, “What if I make the wrong decision?”

Making a mistake can be costly – whether that cost is actual dollars or time wasted or a missed opportunity with a better option. Prospects are always looking for proof that they’ll get what they pay for – they want be assured that the business they choose is trustworthy. And that’s exactly what awards do.

Imagine this: your computer system has crashed and you might lose everything: all your pricing, all your quotes, all your clients’ details. There are 2 businesses that can recover all your electronic data: Company A and Company B. Side by side, they’re almost identical: same quoted price, same solution, same timeframe. And then you see that Company A won the IT industry’s top award for data recovery. Who do you choose?

Awards instantly convey trust and credibility, which is why they can skyrocket your brand, increase your sales conversions and take your business to the next level.

Many of the businesses I coach using our unique coaching program have won their industry’s top award and it’s inspiring (and if I’m honest, a bit gratifying) to see them recognised for being the best in their field. Along with giving you something to strive for, there are a few other ways your business can benefit even from applying for an award.

From free marketing through to boosting team morale, there’s more than just a trophy on offer – and often all it will cost you is the time to fill out an application.

So, let’s take a look at what you can gain by throwing your hat in the ring.

Six benefits of nominating for an award

One: Awards attract attention AND new business

The most valuable thing about awards is that they provide credibility that converts. The objective nature of awards what makes them one of the most powerful and compelling marketing hooks. Social proof (that is, what other people say about their experience with a brand) has a significant role in increasing customer confidence. The ability to sprinkle the phrase “award-winning” (or even “award nominee”) throughout your marketing is definitely worth its weight in award applications; many businesses report significant measurable growth in the year after winning an industry award.

Two: Awards make you look at your business in a different light

In my role as a business mentor I work with business owners on looking ahead and focusing on the ways we can improve their business. Entering awards often involves looking in the rear-view mirror; you’ll have to provide details of your business’ history, growth, challenges and achievements. Even if you don’t end up with a nomination or a win, the opportunity to look at your business’ achievements can help you appreciate what you and your team have accomplished, which can be a refreshing change if you’ve been bogged down in the reeds of just getting stuff done.

Another advantage of preparing an award application is that it can provide a framework for conducting a business planning process. Use the application process to reflect on what your business does well and what could benefit from a little improvement. Also think about any extraordinary wins and how you won them so you can consider how you can replicate those conditions and embed those activities as part of your “business as usual”.

Three: Awards are a benchmark for industry performance

It’s not often that business owners get an inside look at how others in their market operate; many business owners keep their heads down and get on with doing their own thing, hoping that it stacks up. Winning an industry award can be great confirmation that you are doing the right things.

That said, even if you don’t win, awards offer business owners a forum in which to share their stories, ideas and innovations – you’ll get to peek under the hood of the top operators (and competitors) in your industry. The insights you gain might inspire you to make changes that can help you level-up and maybe even take home the prize next year.

Four: Awards raise your public profile

There’s a saying in marketing: “Advertising is what you pay for, PR is what you pray for.” And that’s because free PR (public relations) is like someone else promoting you. Many awards, along with the winners and top nominees, gain coverage in the local (or sometimes even national) press, you may find your public profile enjoys a little boost. A little extra business advice: this is no time to be shy – get a little more juice out of this by sharing the news about your 15 minutes of fame on your website, blog, socials (LinkedIn or Instagram) and email marketing.

Five: Awards are a chance to network with big names in your industry

If you want to make the kind of connections that will help build your business, then you have to go where the right people are. Networking can sometimes feel overwhelming (or tedious), but on an awards night everyone is in a good mood; you’d be surprised how many partnerships are formed at these kinds of events. Business coaching tip: be sure to congratulate the winner and keep an ear out for tips on how they achieved their amazing results.

Six: Awards help attract and retain a talented team

Who doesn’t want to work for an award-winning business? Even just putting yourself out there amongst the top players in your industry raises awareness amongst potential employees.

Possibly even more important, however, is the morale boost your current employees will get from knowing that you feel their efforts are worthy of recognition. Doing this in such a public way helps your staff feel appreciated and excited to be part of a successful team. And look, just going to the awards event is an opportunity to come together as a team and celebrate your collective achievements, which is a great bonding experience.

Bonus: an award-winning business coach’s top tips for entering business awards

  • Don’t take a scatter approach by applying for every award out there – make sure the award is relevant and that you actually have a decent chance of winning (i.e. you meet the criteria etc)
  • Do your homework and make sure that it is worth the effort of applying
  • Be clear and concise in how you address each criteria or question in your application (don’t pad it out with fluff)
  • Make sure you follow the application directions exactly and have someone check the documents closely for typos, grammatical mistakes etc. You want to make the best impression you can
  • Pretend you are one of the judges – think about how you can present your business in a way that would appeal to them
  • Don’t be shy about your achievements – this is no time to be modest or downplay what you’ve accomplished. Be confident, bold and assertive as you explain why you should win
  • Back up your claims – don’t make vague statements about your results; instead, providethe hard data and plenty of examples of what you’ve achieved
  • Have a plan for how you can leverage a win, should you take home the prize
  • Don’t give up – just because you don’t win something your first time out, don’t let that stop you entering another award or trying again next year. Practise makes perfect and you’re bound to learn something new every time you go through the process

You’ve gotta be in it to win it

Apart from the time it takes to fill out the award application, you really have nothing to lose from entering industry awards. The benefits your business will gain just by entering are often enough to make it a very worthwhile experience. Of course, if you do take out the top podium position, the validation, shiny trophy (and sometimes even a little prize money) are a nice bonus. As a business mentor, however, I usually find that, for many of the business owners I’ve coached through the process, it’s the knowledge that they’re up there amongst the best in their category that really has them bursting with pride.