The Benefits of Company Awards
Getting Recognized for the Right Reasons
Business awards and quality marks are a well-established part of business life.
But while it's exciting to win big at an awards ceremony, the jury's out on whether they're all worth the expense and hard work that it takes to enter – and whether they have any real meaning.
In this article, we'll guide you through the types of award and quality marks commonly available, and the potential pros and cons of seeking them. We'll also provide practical tips on how to win the ones that you want.
The Benefits of Company Awards
Award and quality marks can boost your organization's reputation, setting you "apart from the crowd." They can also give your people a morale boost by highlighting their achievements.
If you're a young company, winning awards can signal to the world that you've "arrived," and help to cement your credibility. For more established players, business marks and awards not only showcase your heritage, but also prove you're still dynamic and innovative.
Awards can also be great for an organization's bottom line as well. Research highlights that award-winning businesses can acquire a sales boost of 37 percent, as well as a 44 percent jump in their stock price. 
On the down side, creating an impressive and persuasive entry can be a laborious and time-consuming undertaking, not to mention an expensive one. For example, there may be entry fees to take into account, and possibly hotel bookings, flights, taxis, or even booking tables for the ceremony.
One of the biggest risks with chasing accolades is that you may inadvertently damage your reputation. Some awards may have very little industry recognition or credibility. As such, your credibility can easily be lost, you could be seen as just "chasing glory," and potential clients and customers could back away.
Some awards and quality marks are mandatory, such as the "CE" marking found on many products sold within the European Union, proving that a product has been assessed and meets E.U. safety, health and environmental protection requirements. As such, you may have no choice but to obtain them if you want to compete in particular sectors.
Understanding Different Categories of Awards
There are awards and quality marks in nearly every category of every industry. For example, there are industry-specific awards; local, regional, national, and international awards; green awards; awards for innovators and entrepreneurs; and for large businesses and small businesses.
The list is almost endless, and you will almost certainly find one that suits your organization's strategic objectives and needs, no matter the size, age, and nature of your business.
If your primary objective is to win recognition for your organization's community work, for example, you could choose to enter a social impact award rather than others based on industry recognition or sales.
This list of international awards is a good starting point for understanding the different kinds of awards and quality marks that are out there.
Here are some of the main awards categories you can enter:
Social Impact Awards
Winning a social impact award could be the perfect way to showcase your corporate social responsibility credentials. For example, your new recycling initiative, your well-being strategy, or charity partnerships.
Remember, judges are probably sector experts, and they will expect clear evidence of your impact, not vague policy statements.
Senior Leadership Awards
A senior leadership award could help to raise your CEO's profile. Just being shortlisted can lead to invitations to attend conferences, to join judging panels, and to speak at industry events, all of which can raise your profile and help to attract new clients.
However, always check that previous winners are credible, to see if it's the kind of club that your senior leaders would want to join.
This type of award can position you as a leader in your community, when your services or customers are associated with a certain area. They can be great for networking with local customers, clients and suppliers, though it's important to make sure that they're not too small-scale for your ambitions.
Consumer Product Awards
Being an award-winner can boost the chances of customers buying your products, especially if you're a challenger brand (in other words, your company has an expansion mindset, with business ambitions bigger than its conventional resources).
Quality Marks give consumers extra confidence in the quality or origin of your goods or services. The best-recognised marks may charge you a high certification fee and have strict criteria, but they are often the most trusted. They might also be mandatory for your industry.
How to Win an Award or Gain a Quality Mark
Once you've decided what accolade would best suit your company or brand, you need a plan of attack to win it!
The awarding body likely has a demanding list of entry criteria, but you can use these six tips and techniques for getting your application/entry to the top of the pile:
1. Establish Your Objectives
First, establish what you want to achieve by entering the award. This might be attracting new talent to your organization, raising your industry profile, or selling more products.
2. Check the Credibility of the Award
Some awards are money-making exercises for the organizers; others are outright scams. Before you enter, make sure that the awards are credible. Are they well-established, and recognized by your industry? Are previous winners reputable?
3. Nominate an Awards Champion
Creating a winning entry might involve gathering information from across your organization, seeking endorsements from happy customers or clients, and ensuring that your CEO signs off on the content.
Giving one person the responsibility, and time, to project manage your application and collect the information needed will simplify the process, and more likely ensure that it gets done.
4. Speak to Previous Winners
Assuming they're not your competition this time around, find out why previous winners thought they had won. Don't be afraid to ask for their ideas about how to win, and find out whether the benefits of winning made the effort of entering worthwhile.
5. Tell an Engaging and Relevant Story
Before you start writing out your application, take a close look at the criteria. What do you need to include to ensure you meet the application guidelines.
Make a list of the essential facts and figures you need to include. Then build a story of your success around them. It's human nature to respond to stories, so this is a great way of engaging the judges and standing out from the other awards candidates.
Create a strong beginning, middle and end to reveal how you overcame challenges to reach new heights, and back up your claims with hard evidence. This could include sales spreadsheets, customer quotes or case studies.
Remember to keep your application punchy and concise. Do this by using short sentences, imagery and statistics to underline key points. Bullet points are an effective way of ordering your ideas, and of ensuring that judges can absorb them quickly.
6. Check and Re-Check Your Application
An entry needs to be error-free to be convincing. So be sure to double check all the statistics, data and facts that you include in your application. It can also be a good idea to ask someone who isn't involved in writing the proposal to read it with fresh eyes, and to look for spelling and punctuation mistakes.
Awards can benefit your organization, but are often expensive and time-consuming to enter. That's why it's essential to pick the right awards strategy, to really make the most of your time, energy and resources.
This involves eight key steps:
- Establish your objectives.
- Check the credibility of the awards.
- Nominate an awards champion.
- Speak to previous winners.
- Tell an engaging and relevant story.
- Check and re-check your application.
This site teaches you the skills you need for a happy and successful career; and this is just one of many tools and resources that you'll find here at Mind Tools. Subscribe to our free newsletter, or join the Mind Tools Club and really supercharge your career!