Should you enter award programs for your business?
Should you hire someone to complete your award entry?
Sometimes you don’t even have to enter to win. So says a recent email from the U.S. Commerce Association.
“I am pleased to announce that Entrepreneur Advertising Group has been selected for the 2011 Kansas City Award in the Advertising Agencies category by the US Commerce Association (USCA).”
Who is the USCA? Apparently a company that makes money posing as a quasi-governmental entity selling awards with no merit and no purpose.
Should you claim your USCA prize? Only if you want to part with your hard-earned cash in order to place a meaningless plaque on your wall.
However, this is award season in Kansas City and many legitimate programs are well under-way, accepting nominations and voting on winners. Nonprofit Connect’s Philly Awards and I Think Bigger Business Media’s 25-Under-25 Awards are two of the more worthy award programs underway.
Whether to participate or not to participate in these programs takes careful consideration. If your company qualifies, consider these benefits to participating in an award program:
- Albeit a minor consideration, some potential customers will be influenced by your history of awards. While it may not be a significant consideration factor in the purchase decision, it can be a positive influence on the overall selection of you as a vendor or supplier.
- Free publicity is usually one of the stronger motivating factors in award program participation. Certainly, an award program with strong media relationships and a history of promotion adds to the benefit of participation.
- It just feels good. Business owners work hard, often for very little recognition. An award can give reason to pause, reflect and celebrate your hard work. Regardless of what others may think, most business owners don’t do it just for the money.
- Even if your humility as a business owner strongly discourages you from award program participation, think about your employees. An award bestowed upon a company has tremendous benefit in attracting and retaining good employees. It also just feels good for your employees too.
- Some award programs like 25 Under 25 and The Business Journal’s Women Who Mean Business, create networking opportunities and long-term relationships. Both of these groups work very hard to reunite former winners for the benefit of mutual learning and growth.
Should you decide to pursue the honor of winning such an award, the application process can seem like a daunting task but it needn’t be. Weigh the investment in time versus the overall benefit of winning but have a realistic expectation when it comes to your odds of winning.
There are services that can help you prepare your award application. Is it necessary to hire a company to help with the process? Consider this;
- There are no guarantees when it comes to winning a legitimate award (Unlike the USCA award). Any writer, marketer or other person who implies you will win by hiring them is dishonest at best. At EAG we have worse names for people who prey on business owners during award season.
- If you or your company simply does not have the time to complete the process and the award is one you believe has value, then hiring a writer is a wise decision. And if you or your staff have never written an application and doubt your writing ability then again, hiring a writer might be appropriate.
- Sometimes packaging is important but first read the award program selection criteria carefully. Often an artistically crafted presentation package arrives at award headquarters only to be photo copied for 10 judges at different locations. All can be lost in the beautiful and costly presentation. Before you invest, read the fine print.
- For some awards the process of completing an application is like writing a company history and creating a photo album. This may have benefits beyond the award application. If you can find additional purposes or use for a well-developed company memory book, then investing in professional help can have long-term payback.
Many of us are still waiting for Publishers Clearinghouse to show up on our doorstep with an oversized check in their hand. After all, we may already be winners. But when it comes to winning business-based awards, consider the benefits and costs of participation. You might just be glad you accepted your trophy.