Sales & Marketing

Industry awards – are they worth it?

5 min read

01 February 2018

Black tie dress code and glamorous locations, industry awards are a great opportunity for business promotion – but only if targeted in the right way.

With the turn of the new year, businesses will be looking to the future and taking the opportunity to reflect on developments from the previous 12 months.

For those achievements over the last year worth shouting about (achieving things to shout about is partly why we’re in business after all), one area to consider is industry awards. Are they worth it, and should we enter them or not? This is a question we at Christopher Ward have been asking ourselves in the New Year following a very positive 2017.

The starting point is to establish exactly what you want to achieve by entering industry awards, and this will differ from business to business. Typically, companies will only enter the most prestigious awards, solely with the intention of winning. These brands will have the ambition that, if successful, each can then upload a nice logo to the company website, promote the company as the best at what they do, and ultimately boost reputations and sales.

Other companies may take a more targeted approach, and enter awards to raise awareness of success in an area they may not be traditionally well known for, such as CSR or apprenticeships. Startups or SMEs in the first year or two of trading may enter industry awards just in the hope of securing a nomination, as acknowledgement of breaking through and establishing a presence in a target market.

Alternatively, companies may enter industry awards with no intention of securing wider promotion or publicity from a potential nomination or win, but simply as a means of internally acknowledging the team’s achievements.

From our perspective, having now been established for nearly 14 years, if we do enter an award, it is primarily to secure greater exposure around our products and elevate our position within a very competitive industry and highlight our team’s achievements.

As an online-only brand, nominations and wins also afford us an added degree of credibility. It enables us to talk about a new product or aspect of our business in a different way; most companies can, through a good PR agency, get media coverage around their company or product, but an award is an independent verification granted by industry peers that can help you further stand out from the crowd.

In our experience, the awards worth entering are those that are prestigious and well respected, and by extension provide the winner and nominees with media coverage (and don’t base the award results on the number of award ceremony tables the nominees buy).

However, at the same time, award entries and nominations can be draining on both time and resources (as well as expensive). Is the award you are entering realistically going to give your brand or product increased exposure? If the answer is no, because the award lacks gravitas or media reach, is expensive and time consuming to enter – or realistically you don’t believe you are likely to win or be nominated – it is unlikely to be worth entering.

The key to deciding on whether to enter an award or not is to focus on whether it offers quality benefits, backed up by value (both time and financially). An award entry should never be a distraction or drain on resources that it impacts on customer service or resources. However, if the right award is targeted, and you are successful, the benefits are there to be reaped.

Interested in getting some well-deserved recognition for your business? Nominate now for our Future 50 programme or check out our 20 year-old Growing Business Awards.

This article is part of a wider campaign called Founders Diaries, a section of Real Business that brings together 20 inspiring business builders to share their stories. Bringing together companies from a wide variety of sectors and geographies, each columnist produces a diary entry each month. Visit the Founders Diaries section to find out more.