Does Your Business Apply For Awards?
Awards are a great way to boost your business’ accolades and credibility. Here’s how UpCity customers are taking charge.
Awards are great for your business, not to mention it always feels good to be the recipient of one. But the truth is we’re not always nominated by someone else for one and sometimes you need to apply yourself to be a winner. That can feel awkward, especially in a society that praises those who are humble and don’t brag.
Sometimes, the only way to get the recognition your business deserves is by taking matters into your own hands and applying for an award yourself. Here’s how UpCity customers are making their presence known amongst their competitors and target audience.
What Types Of Awards Has Your Company Applied To In 2022?
“Applying for industry-specific awards is a good way to achieve recognition from your peers, shine a spotlight on your company and highlight your business achievements in the press. Red Banyan applies for awards that recognize achievement and has won several over the years. Awards are a great way to establish credibility and relevancy and make your business stand out in a competitive market.” –Evan Nierman, CEO of Red Banyan
“We look for awards that relate to the kind of business we do and the service we provide. For example, in 2022, we’ve been recognized as one of the best legal marketing companies in Chicago by Expertise.com. We’ve also applied for and received awards from UpCity recognizing us as excellent local and national service providers. These awards reflect that we are dedicated to providing excellent customer service, industry expertise, and local knowledge our customers can rely on.” –Asad Kausar, CEO of Dabaran Inc
“It is important to research, identify and nominate your business for local and industry awards. Awards establish your business as an authority in their industry. Every business owner thinks their business is the best (whether they are or not), becoming a finalist or award recipient speaks prominence, increases visibility, and establishes concrete branding of your business being the best. All of our client PR plans include award pitching and we’ve had massive success in the category. In 2022, myself and/or BrandBomb PR has been a recipient of the following awards: SD Metro Magazine’s “San Diego’s Top Marketing Executive,” Sunny 106.5 FM’s “Women Who Shine 2022,” Real Vegas Magazine’s “Women Who Wow 2022,” Clutch’s “Top B2B Provider, 2022,” AccelHERate Success’s “2022 Las Vegas Neighborhood Award.” –Lindsay Feldman, Founder of BrandBomb PR
“We’ve found that the most attainable awards are locally-based and very specific to our industry and type of business. This year, we’ve maintained our “listed” status for awards like “Colorado’s Top Women-Owned Businesses” (by ColoradoBIZ Magazine) and “Top 100 Small Commercial Printers” (by Printing News Magazine). We’ve also been honored with recognition for our design team through agency listing sites such as UpCity, Clutch.co, DesignRush, and Expertise.com.” –Cynthia Ord, Marketing Manager at YellowDog
Which Awards Are Worth Applying To?
“The awards we apply to directly relate to our goals as a business. As a leader of local SEO in the Chicagoland area and beyond, we look for awards that reflect our commitment to local and national marketing. We also strive to be a company that engages with our audience, so awards that recognize these efforts are at the top of our list.”–Asad Kausar, CEO of Dabaran Inc
“We vet our award pitching process by only nominating ourselves and our clients for media outlets and award programs that are well-known and credible. We do not pitch awards that are ‘pay to play’ or in other awards, awards businesses automatically ‘win’ by purchasing advertisement sales.” –Lindsay Feldman, Founder of BrandBomb PR
“We look at the credibility of the organization, the clout that would come from the recognition, the adjacent PR opportunities, where our competitors are seen, where our clients read/view trustworthy content, how tough the nomination process is, the likelihood of success, and whether or not there is a submission fee attached to the submission process.” –Marie Swift, Founder and CEO of Impact Communications Inc
“Our decision-making matrix for applying for awards includes factors such as time cost to apply, monetary cost to apply, and the likelihood of gaining the award based on estimating the total applicant pool.” –Cynthia Ord, Marketing Manager at YellowDog
“We decide based on the reputation of the competition, appropriateness of its categories for the sort of work we do (naming, brand strategy, visual ID), and, to a lesser extent, cost of entry.” –Erin Milnes, Creative Director at Catchword Branding
“There are several criteria that matter to us when choosing awards:
Relevance to our business goals: what is our current focus? For example, if we need more hires, we’d go for the ‘Best Employer/Culture/Place of Work’, or if we need to promote our experience and service excellence: Best in Sales/Marketing, etc., to promote brand awareness: Best Company/Business.
Credibility: who is the organizer? What is the level of participants (from previous years)? What is the level of partners and sponsors, if any? Who are the judges? What are the media platforms which feature this project? We would not apply for an award no one knows about.
Eligibility: Do we have the right company size to apply for this? Is our revenue enough? Industry, location, etc.
Price: Is this award and our time worth it?” –Anastasia Chernenko, PR Manager at Belkins
“Awards are all perceived by your clients. Getting any award makes you an award-winning ‘whatever you do’. Being able to put that in your marketing is priceless. All awards are worth applying for when you think about the marketing potential.” –Dotty Scott, Website Designer at Premium Websites LLC
“The best way to vet the awards worth applying to is to evaluate the awards’ legitimacy and balance the cost of the application submission against the anticipated impact on your business. Well-known awards already have an established history of awards and their impact on your business is relatively easy to determine. Lesser-known awards, however, need to be examined with more scrutiny, especially with several new industry-specific awards popping up in recent years.
Some of the newer awards offer very little in return while requiring substantial investment in the form of high application submission fees–their site may show the awards and photographs of award gala events, but a simple search of the award name plus the word ‘scam’ will turn up the true reality of these awards.” –Serge Alokin, Founder and Creative Director at zeropoint7 Studio
When Your Company Wins An Award, How Do You Promote It?
“We promote awards across all channels, from social media posts on LinkedIn and Facebook to badges and blog posts on our website. We are proud of our achievements and want to share them with our clients. We will also draft press releases for our awards to extend our reach to new channels and guest post about our efforts and achievements on related blogs.” –Asad Kausar, CEO of Dabaran Inc
“It’s important to maximize it across every platform you have access to. You want to promote it on Google, Yelp, and social media, via a newsletter to your audience, and on-site. We also use it in our media pitches to establish industry expertise when pitching journalists.” –Lindsay Feldman, Founder of BrandBomb PR
“We promote our awards through badges throughout our website–especially on our homepage and portfolio. We’ll announce it in social media posts, blog posts, email campaigns, and press releases. Another tip is to include it in our email signatures while it’s fresh news.” –Cynthia Ord, Marketing Manager at YellowDog
“[Social media, blog posts, and badges] and we inform our clients via newsletters and in our email signature. We also have listings of our awards on press kits and company listings.” –Amanda Masick, Director of Marketing at Event Solutions
“We try to make the most of it: badges (put it on our website and company profiles on other platforms), social media, and blog posts. We also mention our awards when introducing our company to new clients and employees. We promote this achievement in our internal channels to inspire and motivate the team.” –Anastasia Chernenko, PR Manager at Belkins
“When my company wins an award, we take the time to photograph and present the award in the same thoughtful and creative manner as we do with all of our work. The award feature is then displayed on our website in a space specifically dedicated to our company’s awards and publications. The awards are also prominently displayed in our studio so our clients and visitors can observe them. We also include the award’s badges on our homepage, as well as create social media posts promoting our awards.” –Serge Alokin, Founder and Creative Director at zeropoint7 Studio
What Tips Do You Have For Small Business Owners Trying To Win An Award?
“Evaluate awards applications carefully and make sure they truly recognize achievement and are not just marketing ploys.” –Evan Nierman, CEO of Red Banyan
“Apply for awards that are in line with your company’s goals. You know how hard you work to achieve your goals, so it should be easy to narrow down which ones to apply for. You also want to make sure you can back up the achievement down the line. If you promote an award for excellent customer service in 2022, you should continue these practices into 2023. As for promotion, it’s important to make your achievements visible to the people and companies that matter to you, so wherever they are, that’s where you should be promoting your awards.” –Asad Kausar, CEO of Dabaran Inc
“Know your brand. Hone in on the storytelling of your brand so you can articulate what makes your business stand out from the competition. Prioritize award nominations and hire a solid publicist to take this off your plate as a busy business owner.” –Lindsay Feldman, Founder of BrandBomb PR
“Other small businesses who are trying to win more awards should pay particular attention to the amount of work it will take to be named a finalist and/or winner, follow the instructions exactly, reduce jargon and focus on proof points and specificity in the application, show that this work effort is not just a one-time thing but rather an ongoing passion, and be as colorful as they can in their narrative.” –Marie Swift, Founder and CEO of Impact Communications Inc
“My biggest tip is to start a spreadsheet to organize all award possibilities and opportunities you’ve researched. If you can compare them side by side based on cost and feasibility, this will help prioritize them. Also, for promotion, be sure to include ‘award-winning’ in your brand messaging. Don’t be afraid to self-promote in that way–you’ve earned it!” –Cynthia Ord, Marketing Manager at YellowDog
“First identify why you want awards. Is it for validation internally, to persuade potential clients that you’ve got the goods, to improve your score with agency rankers, SEO, or something else? Once you figure that out, you’ll know how and how much to promote a win. (Note that potential clients aren’t likely to choose your agency simply because you won some awards—which they most likely haven’t heard of unless they are in the business—but these accolades could edge you out over a competitor). –Erin Milnes, Creative Director at Catchword Branding
“Highlight what makes you stand out. Every company has that one thing that is unique in your industry–put that first.” –Amanda Masick, Director of Marketing at Event Solutions
“When starting, go for a couple of submissions per category per award competition. You want to be able to show prospects you care about the quality of your design work. And when you win a few, it provides important external validation. Plus, clients love the surprise of finding out their website won–it reinforces their decision in hiring you. And it opens the door to talking about further add-on projects after the site launch–to sort of ‘stop by’ and see how things are going in their world.” –Robbie Moore, Founder of Rushminute
“Award application and promotion are two critical stages of one activity. So you need to make an effort for both steps–preparing a worthy presentation of your company and achievements and then spending some time to promote your win (otherwise, why spend your time and money?)
Here are a few tips for your application form:
- Applying for an award, you need to understand the purpose. A clear goal will keep you excited and more creative while filling in the application form and promoting results.
- Answer all questions in a document. You’ll keep the data safe in case of technical issues with your application form. And this way, you will have time and the opportunity to collect all the needed data.
- Proof your achievements with facts. If you can’t disclose something, be creative and say it in other words.
- Reach out to other experts in your company while searching for the facts. You might not know everything.
- Make sure you mention everything they ask you about. Attach files with the appropriate names and format required. Everything should be nice and tidy.
- Proofread the text.
- If you are not sure about something, ask.
Award is always a newsmaker, so there is only one tip for promotion–use all possible channels and tools; make it work in the long term.” –Anastasia Chernenko, PR Manager at Belkins
“Apply for the award, then follow the guidelines. Some are ‘popularity’ contests. You have to gain votes. For those, I usually ask my past client base to vote, ask for votes through social media, and bring it up in all my networking groups.” –Dotty Scott, Website Designer at Premium Websites LLC
“Small business owners trying to win an award should focus on producing superb work for their clients. Small business owners have to be the harshest critics of their work as the competition for the awards is fierce, with some awards having over 3,000 to 5,000 other small businesses competing for the awards, so subpar work will never receive the judge’s vote.” –Serge Alokin, Founder and Creative Director at zeropoint7 Studio
Keeping Your Credibility Status Up To Date
At UpCity, we recognize the ever-growing challenge and need to stand out from your competitors in a tight market. That’s why we host awards twice a year (Best of and Excellence) to encourage our customers to gather reviews and boost their credibility status for potential buyers.
We also know the importance of showing off your award. After all, you’ve earned it! UpCity Best of, Local, and National Award winners receive a custom badge to add to their website, a custom-written blog post, and more depending on the award. For more information on how you can be eligible for an UpCity award in the future, contact your customer success manager.
About the author
Rebecca helps keep all things content running at UpCity. Prior to joining, she was a magazine editor at an agency for several award-winning publications based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and a content specialist for several brands within the SMB/B2B landscape. She also has significant experience in digital content creation, most notably targeting hunters and anglers (despite being a vegetarian) during her time at Gander Outdoors. Rebecca has also worked in PR, covering a diverse terrain of products and events, including the promotion of local musicians and music festivals and the latest craft beer offerings from local breweries.