How to win business awards

Winning a business award can thrust your business into the limelight and boost your standing with customers
Think your small business is head and shoulders above the competition and want the world to know it? Winning, or even just making the shortlist for, a business award can provide external validation, credibility and visibility.

Google local, state and national awards and you’ll discover a range of opportunities. These run the gamut from local Chamber of Commerce prizes and Australian Small Business Champion Awards through to the prestigious Telstra Business Women’s Awards and Stevie Awards.

Don’t be tempted to have a crack at them all. You’ll do better targeting just a handful that are relevant to your business, Award Winning Accelerator co-founder Annette Densham advises. “Look at your target audience – what’s going to be impressive for them?” she says. “Select four or five awards and make entering them part of your annual marketing plan.”

Create a killer submission

Not sure how to write a killer submission that will get your SME shortlisted?

Print out the questions or selection criteria, highlight keywords and start brainstorming, Densham suggests.

Media profiles of previous award winners – or their application forms, if you’re able to track them down can provide inspiration. If waxing lyrical about your business achievements isn’t your strong suit and the marketing budget permits, you can outsource the task. Someone with writing expertise, such as a copywriter, is your best bet.  

For a shot at gold, you’ll need to provide evidence you’re the real deal. Think testimonials from clients, newspaper articles, analytics from your business’s website and social media accounts and recordings of your public-speaking appearances.

It takes time and effort to do it right. You should budget for 5-40 hours per award. Blocking out plenty of ‘award-application sessions’ in your calendar and starting the process well before applications are due is recommended. 

Don’t be shy about self-promoting

There’s no need to wait until you’ve won to blow your own trumpet. Being nominated or shortlisted for an award is an opportunity to share a good news story with news outlets and your social media following. You can provide a follow-up yarn – featuring glamorous photos or video clips of you receiving your trophy and making a speech – if you’re lucky enough to place or win.

Don’t be bashful – people like to support people who are having a go, Densham says.
“A lot of business owners don’t enter awards because they’re scared of big noting themselves. But you’ve got to brag a bit because if you don’t, no one else will do it for you.”

Shooting for the stars: how Laser Tag in a Box has leveraged its wins

Outdoor-laser-tag entrepreneur Nicole Lander began entering awards 18 years ago, shortly after setting up shop.

I thought it was a good way to get some PR and build a profile for Laser Tag in a Box,” she says. “We were brand new, with a brand-new product. I wanted to get the word out

She’s since entered 50 awards and been shortlisted for, or won, 35 of them, including a prestigious Telstra Business Woman’s Award in 2009. “The big awards get the best results, publicity-wise,” Lander says. “When I won the Telstra award, there was an article and a photo in the Sydney Morning Herald. I was also on the cover of some magazines.”

“Winning awards shows someone independent has deemed you are a quality business.”

You literally can’t buy that kind of publicity.

“Many of our customers can’t visit our shop and meet us face to face,” Lander says. “Winning awards shows someone independent has deemed you are a quality business.”

Secure your success

Protecting the small business you’ve built into an award-magnet success story is vital. A Steadfast insurance broker can provide the advice you need to safeguard your industry-leading enterprise.      

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