This morning, driving to work, I listened to David Lee, the manager of a cobbler’s shop in Mansfield, chatting to Chris Evans on the BBC Radio Two Breakfast Show. Ever heard of him? No, neither had I. And neither, I expect, had many of the show’s nine million listeners. And the reason this ordinary guy from Mansfield could tell a seventh* of the UK population about his shoe repair shop? Because he’s set to become only the second British shoe repairer in history to claim an award at the SSIA 113th Convention in Long Beach, California.
Of course, it’s not just the United States that offer a huge range of business awards. The UK has a growing number of awards designed to recognise the achievements of our homegrown industries, too. Some, such as the National Business Awards, celebrate major national and international firms, but there are also many geared towards the small businesses that are the bedrock of our economy.
That said, most business owners are stretched to do the essentials, let alone enter awards. So why do it? Well, as David Lee knows, business awards bring a range of advantages – from refining your business model to great publicity – regardless of whether you eventually win.
Whether your business is just starting out or firmly established, you can benefit from entering the right business award. Here are five reasons why you should consider putting yourself forward
1. Maximise visibility of your brand
The PR opportunities that come with making an awards shortlist, or a win, mean your business will be in the spotlight for all the right reasons. Reputable business awards can generate significant publicity across local and national press and social media, and with the award process running across several weeks, or even months, you’ve a constant source of traffic to your website and social pages. Make sure you share your involvement on social media using any hashtags associated with the awards, connect with other businesses involved and include news on your website and in your newsletters. Take advantage of this exposure to promote your business to new customers, as well as increasing respect from your existing client base.
Winning a business award can open doors to getting contracts, finding new supply channels and breaking into new markets. Comments from the judges about why you won can be used as quotes in press releases, and add the award logo to your website and other marketing materials.
2. The opportunity to evaluate your current business model
The awards application process can make you look at your business from a different perspective. You’ll need to make sure that you stand out from the competition whether that’s through
innovation, diversity, growth, customer service, investment in people or strategic thinking. Award wins add value to the work being done in your business and are a great indication you’re moving in the right direction. Didn’t win? Use the experience to consider what you could be doing better and identify how to do this; which could be more valuable than winning the award itself.
Business awards are often judged by successful business owners and being shortlisted can give you the opportunity to discuss your business with leaders in the industry. Additionally, awards attract similar businesses and are an excellent opportunity to network and forge new relationships.
4. Increased credibility
A business award win, short-listing or nomination acts as a third party endorsement for your business, increasing your credibility and positioning you as an expert within your industry. Winning a business award clearly differentiates you from your competitors, and can provide a real competitive advantage when seeking or retaining customers, or speaking to suppliers. If you’re seeking investment, demonstrating that your received recognition as the best or most promising firm in your field can really help your case.
5. Boost staff morale and attract new talent
Awards recognise the hard work and achievements of your employees so winning one can help boost staff morale and improve motivation as it acknowledges their contribution to your business success. Business awards will also help attract and retain new recruits, too. Who doesn’t want to be associated with an award-winning company?
6. Creates a point of differentiation
Award entries allow you to benchmark yourself against others and truly stand out from the crowd. To gain maximum value, do your research beforehand and choose an award that is most closely aligned with your business and its core values. By carefully selecting the category you can create a niche to make you stand out from your competitors. Whether it’s your green credentials, your contribution to society, education, training or improving the lives of others, show how you are making a difference and ensure there is something that makes your customers pick you over other businesses in your sector.
*The UK population grew to an estimated 65.1 million in 2015