B2B companies compete every day for customers, and marketing is one of the ways that they wage that battle. Marketers in all B2B categories try to make their own business stand out from the crowd, to make it shine.
Awards, in any part of society, exist to show others what you are great at. Awards are a validation of your skillset and your trustworthiness. And business is no different.
But being good is not enough any more. You need to be able to prove that you are good.
Enter business awards.
Business awards are not just there to get your business a certificate that you can frame and put on the wall in your office (although that may help motivate your employees). Business awards are there to get your business public validation.
Why you absolutely need validation
Studies show that 70% of consumers claim to look at product reviews before they make a buying decision.
This means that 70% of your potential customers look for third party validation that you can do what you promise you can do. And if they cannot find validation, they will probably not buy anything from you. These 70% are the reason why so many landing pages show customer testimonials.
But testimonials aren’t a way of standing out. Everybody has them. They are only a way of showing that you aren’t too far behind the competition. And they often don’t sound very sincere.
Winning awards is different. Winning an award means that you ran in a competition and came out on top. Showing an award on your web page, marketing brochure or during the checkout process shows your customer that you were evaluated by experts – and that they not only deemed you worthy, but found that you are the best of the best (as cheesy as it may sound).
Awards provide you with social proof, trust seals and third party validation, all at once. But that’s not all.
Awards programs can be like a marketing and PR agency on steroids. Most awards programs run their own PR programs – and they pitch their winners. The story of success that is validated by the shiny awards you can win is a lot more compelling to journalists than your own pitch will ever be.
“But I’m not the best…”
Ok, I get it. Entering a business awards program may seem strange at first. Maybe even a little scary. Competing against others bears the risk of failing, right?
Right, but there is one thing that you need to keep in mind. Every company and every business is great at something. If it’s not, than it may not be in business long.
And this also means that almost every business that exists in this world has a chance of winning awards. Because you are the best, at least at something, then it’s more a matter of finding out what you are the best at.
There are thousands of different business awards programs worldwide. They range from free ones to ones that cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to enter. They range from locally-focused programs to programs that have an international reputation. And they offer many different categories to enroll in. You can win awards for any aspect of business life – from business development to product innovation, from marketing to customer service.
Ok, so you can win… how is that a marketing strategy?
Now, this is the real question. Just entering an awards program and possibly winning is not a marketing strategy. But business awards program can be a very successful marketing strategy!
Here is how you use business awards as a marketing strategy:
Phase 1: Preparations
As I said before, one key element of using business awards programs as a high potential marketing strategy is to identify what you are good at. What aspect of your business can win awards?
But you shouldn’t stop there – because you also need to identify which aspects of your company need third party validation? What you are after is the cross section of what you are great at and what you target audience wants to see validated!
This is not trivial – and it may require some research. Let’s say you have a cloud data storage service and you want more customers signing up. What validation do these customers need from you? It may be one of many different aspects of your business. These are things like data security and privacy, customer service and user experience. The key is that you should know these differentiators before you enroll in business awards programs.
Start researching business awards programs that fit your company, strengths, needs and budget. Make a list, filter it and finally select your first awards program to enroll in.
Phase 2: Enroll
Business awards, like any competition, have rules. Make sure to follow them! Usually you submit a written entry that highlights your strength. Expert judges will then review your application and determine whether you win or lose. Even small things, like going over the maximum wordcount can mean that you are disqualified.
One thing to keep in mind with your application is that you are pitching your business to the juror. Jurors, even though they are experts, like a good story. So tell a compelling story about your business!
Phase 3: Implement the results
Once you have submitted your application, then it’s out of your hands. You may win or lose, that’s not for you to decide any more. But the key to turning business awards into a marketing and business growth strategy is to accept that both of these options hold value. Value for your business.
If you win, great. It’s now time to profit. Stick your winning badge on your website or checkout page. Tell the story on social media. Enjoy the heightened press attention that you get from the press releases of the awards program itself and pitch the story to journalists yourself. Monitor the results. Find out whether the validation you got from this award was worth the effort.
But even if you lose, find out what the problem was! Most business awards programs will give you feedback. Was it your application? Did your story not relate to the juror? Or did the juror identify a flaw in your business?
Implement this feedback for next time. Your chances of success will improve drastically.
Phase 4: Repeat
A marketing strategy isn’t a strategy if you cannot scale it. You need to repeat the process with another awards program. With your results from the last awards program you participated in, the process should become easier. And at a certain point not too far in the future, the benefits will multiply!
Business awards can become your growth strategy, the integral part of your marketing strategy that elevates your business onto the next level.
Are you ready to win?