From the Influencers

Applying for Industry Awards Can Help Small Businesses Spread Out Their Marketing Dollars

January 20, 2016

So you’ve started (or are managing) a small to medium-sized company. You’ve got your business processes or your products and services down pat, and you’re continuing to fight the good fight with customer support. Marketing dollars remain relatively scarce, and you’re trying to find the right balance between online display ads, print ads, direct marketing, search engine optimization and social media. There may be one large piece of the puzzle you’re missing when it comes to low-cost marketing: winning some awards.

While you may never win a Pulitzer or a Nobel Prize, most industries feature a number of awards specific to a business sector. According to a recent article that appeared in PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit, it’s worth the effort to seek out, apply for (and hopefully win) a few awards.

“Most industries have groups and associations that offer competitions, awards, and accolades for outstanding members of the industry, but in order to be eligible to win one such award, you have to apply, and some applications require minimal effort,” wrote PR Newswire.

Essentially, winning one of these awards – think a small business or innovation award for your state, or a an achievement award offered by a trade publication that covers your industry – is a great way to get exposure you otherwise couldn’t receive. Often, these awards have low application fees, but the winners are featured both online and in print. It also gives you a reason to issue a press release (to announce your newest accolade), and you’ll likely be able to use the award’s logo on your press materials. Another advantage is that it may help you understand your competition better.

So how do you find them? The awards are out there: a few minutes with a search engine should help you discover them, according to Heather Wied of Pubsoft writing for PR Newswire.

“Often there are specific industry related award opportunities at local levels,” wrote Wied. “Check with your Chamber of Commerce, your local business development authority, and/or local chapters of national industry and professional organizations for opportunities. Another great place to look for small business opportunities is with financial and lending institutions. They are often looking to give back to community businesses in the form of financial awards for outstanding small businesses.”

Some ways to make the applications process easier include appointing someone within your organization who can keep track of the awards application processes and deadlines. (You know who that enthusiastic, speedy and organized workers in your business is…tap him or her.) Have that person build a network of others within your organization who can help answer any industry-specific questions that might need to be supplied during the application process. Make friends with the people who are responsible for administrating the awards (so you can always reach out for help, more information or extended deadlines), and be sure to involve your customers if you think their input might help. Also make sure that the deadlines are realistic, or you’ll be wasting time and maybe an application fee on something you simply can’t pull together on time.

“Find opportunities that provide you with enough time to put together a worthy submission,” wrote Wied. “Maybe you can find the time to apply for only one per year, or maybe you can find the time to apply for one per quarter. And the worst that can happen is that you may be out an entry fee, but you’ve gotten your name in front of a judging panel that often is a body of industry influencers.”

If you win – and you’re bound to, eventually – don’t keep it to yourself. Let everyone in your industry know it, including your customers, prospects and even your competitors. Everyone feels good about a little recognition. In business, however, you often need to go out looking for it. 

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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