It’s human nature. We all like to be associated with success. If you are looking for customers or seeking to strengthen customer loyalty, receiving public acclaim for your company and your products or services can help. Furthermore, gaining public recognition provides a boost to your employees, investors, and community.
Subjecting your company and your products or services to the scrutiny of industry gurus, editors, and high-profile users and to direct comparison with the competition is also a bold statement about your confidence in their quality. Having been chosen by end-users as a product or service that works successfully for them is one of the best endorsements a prospective buyer can have. Selecting a product or service that’s a winner — proven in the market — provides a huge comfort margin for the purchaser.
So, how do you go about becoming a winner? One way is to enter an award competition.
Marketing and image consultant Lynne Marcus, in her occasional publication, The Scoop, has provided the following set of simple hints to ensure your entry gets the consideration it deserves and to increase your chances of winning.
* Read and follow the directions carefully. They are not for your benefit, but to help the sponsor and the judges organize the entries and select the winners. If your entry does not follow the submission rules, the judges may have difficulty understanding how it fits the competition and they will not select it as a winner. Even worse, your entry may be disqualified.
* Make sure your entry meets all the eligibility requirements. There is no point in taking the time to submit an entry that does not meet the basic requirements of the competition. For example, don’t submit a product when the competition rates end user applications of products. Don’t submit a product that doesn’t meet any shipping or introduction restrictions listed in the eligibility requirements. You will just be wasting everybody’s time.
* Send in your entry on time to the proper place. Although some competitions are more strict about receiving items on time than others, and some are more willing to bend the deadlines slightly, most are not interested in dealing with entries that come in late without a really good reason. If your entry must be late, make sure you clear it with competition sponsors first.
* Avoid misspellings and messy entries. It’s a good idea to make a copy of the entry form and fill out a sample. Your final entry should be typed or written neatly, and everything should be spelled correctly.
* Make sure you include the appropriate companies, people and organizations that should be credited if your entry is a winner. Who gets the actual credit (the marketer, the client, the developer, the president) can lead to major misunderstandings after the competition. Settle this issue before you submit your entry, not after the winners are listed in a magazine.
Once you’ve won an award, make the most of it. Announce the award as part of your public relations campaign; brief your sales force; notify your customers and prospects; employ the award logo in your advertising, on your packaging, on your corporate letterhead, in your employee newsletter, and on your website; and display it prominently in your corporate lobby and your sales offices.
By all means be sure that everyone understands exactly what the award is and what it was about your product or service that earned you the honor. Don’t claim anything that is not truly reflected by the award.
Seek a variety of award venues to submit your products or services to and remember that many of these competitions are annual and you generally can and should seek repeat recognition. Nothing confirms your leadership position more than winning again.
Add awards competitions to your toolkit for marketing and public relations, and watch it win for you.