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How to Leverage Industry Awards in Your Marketing Strategy

This story originally appeared on PR Newswire's Small Business PR Toolkit

Who doesn’t love awards? They make us feel like we’re accomplishing great things and they validate our hard work. They can also be a great marketing opportunity and add value in the form of prestige and messaging for small businesses. Are you missing marketing opportunities because you’re not applying for awards and competitions? 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.


Whether they are local, national, industry specific or belonging to a broader category, if award applications don’t currently fall into your marketing strategy, maybe it’s time to rethink your opportunities.

We’ve developed some tips for finding and applying to industry awards to help boost your overall marketing and PR strategy.

Research your opportunities.

Start with Google, but don’t limit yourself. Often there are specific industry related award opportunities at local levels. 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. 


Understand the eligibility requirements of the competition.

 Some competitions require membership to a particular organization or association. Others simply require an application that may require submitting a case study or portfolio of work. Additionally some require entry fees and some do not. Others have limits on the size or your business, number of employees, or business start date. When you find an award or competition appropriate and beneficial for your business, first make sure you are eligible for entry before you start doing any heavy lifting. 


Choose an opportunity with an attainable deadline.

Picking something with a deadline a week away sometimes isn’t impossible given the entry requirements, but if you want to deliver a quality submission plan out your competition entries in advance. Find opportunities that provide you with enough time to put together a worthy submission. 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.


Enlist help if you need it.

Make sure everyone is on the same page. In small business settings teams are slim and resources are stretched, but if everyone can do their part to help make it happen it makes the process more inclusive, fun, and rewarding for all. Whether that be securing customer testimonials or having the support of your team members to help you get the project done.  


Exercise your bragging rights.

If you do win an industry award or competition, congratulations, that’s a big deal, so you should be sharing your good news with your existing clients and prospective clients. Any kind of placing or honorable mention is worth sharing. Send out the news in your company email blast. Write a press release announcing the good news. Share it across all of your social channels and take the opportunity to include the social media accounts of awarding bodies and/or other winners. 

Overall, if you take some time to do a little research and a little work on the application side, and are willing to cough up a few bucks for the entry fee, the return on what is sometimes a minimal investment can be huge for gaining momentum for your small business. Winning awards and competitions can help you establish credibility and put you on the path to influencer status.

Written by Heather Wied, Pubsoft