An essential short guide to business awards

Rob Baker of B2B specialists Turquoise PR explains how awards can offer real value to businesses. Here he gives a brief guide to the decisions small businesses need to make to get the best results from their resources.

Awards from well-respected bodies and trade publications are a highly credible sign of recommendation and achievement, which can give businesses additional competitive advantages.

Awards can give your business:

  • Greater credibility to attract new business leads
  • Increased visibility in target markets
  • Marketing opportunities in newsletters and blogs and on social media
  • Used to gain coverage business and trade media
  • Recognition for your team 

What are the options?

Awards are competitive processes and there are vast differences in the types of awards and the material required for entries, it might seem overwhelming at first to select the awards for your business to enter, after all you’re unlikely to have the resource to go in for all opportunities.

What type of awards can you consider?

  • Local and regional
  • Trade – magazines such as Business Matters publicise nominees and winners to their large business readerships through their websites and social media
  • Professional & industry organisations – e.g. Federation of Small Business, chambers of commerce, industry bodies such as IoD
  • Media – business and trade publications run awards for their areas of interest. Some run separate awards for a variety of industries such as finance, export andproperty.
  • National – awards such as the National Business Awards and Queen’s Awards

What materials do you need?

Award entries can be straightforward; others are far more demanding and time consuming. Each award has its pay-off (for winning entries), which has to be measured against theinvestment in resources required. The following are some of the types of awards which can be considered:

  • Financial performance – these awards are judged purely on financial results and the forms can often be completed in less than a couple of hours.  Examples include Deloitte’s Fast 50, FT 1000 and The Sunday Times Tech Track.
  • Professional & industry awards – these can demand more in-depth information and crafted answers. There is some variation but often questions give the opportunity to demonstrate achievements and they usually can be completed with under 10 hours’ work.
  • National awards – The Queen’s Award and National Business Awards are two examples in this category. Such awards are highly prestigious and the rewards of winning can be immense. They require detailed preparation – often taking around 50 hours to complete –organisation and planning, gathering new information on topics you might not have considered before and crafting of message.
Digital Business minicabit
Richard Alvin, Group Managing Director of Business Matters publishers Capital Business Media, presenting National Business Award to Minicabit

What awards should you enter?

There are potentially many awards your business could enter but unless you’re a very large enterprise, it’s impractical to pursue every opportunity.

There is no guarantee of landing a gong, so make best use of your resources and chance of winning it is worth asking these questions:

  • Prestige – Does the award carry real weight in your industry and possibly in the wider business community?
  • Requirements – It’s worth looking at the entry forms and seeing if you can provide strong answers.  Do you have the time to do your entry justice?
  • Popularity – If you’re entering a popular award or category your chances are reduced. There might be some calculations as to whether you want to go in for an award on a purely statistical basis.
  • Cost – Many awards are free to enter but some such as the National Business Awards charge, in this case £295 if you miss the early bird rate.

In-house or outsource?

It takes resource and skill to craft a competitive awards entry, so is in-house or a PR agency the best option?

While it appears to be saving costs doing it in-house, this can prove a false economy as staff are taken away from other pressing duties. Experienced agencies can take anadditional burden away and should be able to write a submission of real quality.

Yet, many in-house teams produce award-winning entries and agencies don’t have a monopoly of skills and award wins.

Whether you do it in-house or through an agency, if regular submissions are undertaken not only are your chances naturally improved of gaining recognition, but they often become easier and quicker to do.

Whatever choice you make, awards should be considered as a powerful way of developing your business’ pipeline of leads and improving its reputation.