I possess a talent for winning awards. Yes, I’m an “awards junkie.” Is this a talent or a cultivated activity? I believe it’s a little talent peppered with a lot of cultivated activity. I have the marketing background to identify the awards that would be best for my company. However, I also deliberately plan what will happen before and after I win the award.
It is irrelevant if you were nominated for the award, or if you paid a fee to apply for the award. The only relevant thing is to GET the award or a nomination. Notice I did not say “win.” Awards are given for different reasons, categories and levels – Top Ten Businesses, Best Business of the Year, Most Promising X, Ugliest X.
It started in 2002 when my business partner and I formed a company with very little savings right after 9/11. After we purchased our computers, we realized we had no money to pay for necessities like public relations. How would our potential corporate customers learn about us and the fantastic new service we were offering? Publicity filled the gap.
We volunteered to do a project with a non-profit organization because we had no current client and time to burn. We created a targeted, on-point, five-year strategic planning roadmap for them. They were grateful (and we did an excellent job) that they gave us a beautiful plaque as our first award. That plaque elevated our business profile.
Here is why I apply for awards and how you can use these tips:
Such a new business rarely gets the opportunity to invite people to an event due to the cost. Take advantage of things you can do before receiving the award:
2. The organization took lots of pictures with our award.
The organization asked us to speak to the press in a 2-minute interview and distributed the pictures with the interview. We landed in NJ Biz, a top business paper at the time. We did not yet have the connections to bring the attention that the press gave us.
3. We issued a press release.
A press release was costly – around $80 at the time – but it was well worth it.
4. We created newsworthy moments with the pictures.
5. A recognized entity said we were awesome!
The organization was extremely well-known and highly thought of in the local tri-state area where we lived and worked. Getting accolades from such a prestigious organization was public validation of our company and helped to create an atmosphere of success that we didn’t have as yet.
The combination of publicity and PR had a positive effect on our business. Awards beget awards – other organizations reached out to us to speak or to give us awards as well. I parlayed my learnings from that first event into numerous awards and accolades over sixteen (16) years in business. We made the Inc. 5000 Fastest Growing Businesses in America list six times, plus was a featured Entrepreneur of the Week. We landed the July 2007 cover of Money Magazine. We won a coveted place in the 2006 Make Mine a $Million Business contest – which I freely credit with giving us publicity along with business advice that catapulted us over the million-dollar revenue mark.
An award definitely means press and interviews for my business, but the most important lesson that I learned was that it’s not whether or not I win or lose, but how I played the game!