Leveraging Awards Even When You Don’t Win


Leveraging Awards Even When You Don’t Win

Putting yourself out there for a business award is a big deal. It is a bold thing to do.

After all, we are told not to toot our own horn or to big note ourselves. If you are shy or lack confidence, it is an even bigger deal. Awards take time to write. It takes time to collate the supporting information you need to stand out. It also is a huge leap of faith and belief, putting yourself out there to be judged.

Many avoid being judged; it is why so many people are Facebook lurkers and not commenters. Who needs a nasty troll cutting you down? Life is hard enough without some stranger having a dig.

So, to put your business, mission and vision on the line in an awards application is a big deal.

There are many reasons people enter awards:

  • Third party credibility.
  • Influence.
  • Benchmarking.
  • Ego.
  • Celebrate achievements.
  • Acknowledging the team.

Awards are a great way to get attention.

They are a valuable public relations (PR) and personal branding tool. When you make the effort, you want to win or at least make it as a finalist.

But what happens when you don’t win?

  • Is it just a big waste of time?
  • Does it mean your business doesn’t have value?
  • Or you have confirmed what you knew all along – you are a fake, an imposter, a loser?

A big fat “No” to the above.

It is nice to win.

My business was only a couple of years old when I entered my first business award. I was still wet around the ears and filled with self-doubt; always comparing my work to my competitors, terrified people would find out I was an imposter. I knew, with my limited budget, I needed to do something, anything, to stand out if it didn’t cost me a kidney.

I remembered, from my corporate days, writing award submissions for the executives I worked with. How they used the win, even the finalist status, to secure board positions, pay increases, media attention and in bios and public speaking introductions.

If it worked for them, why not for me?

I entered the Stevie Awards – International Women in Business. A big deal. I thought, go hard or go home, Annette. I entered in the ‘Startup of The Year’ and won a bronze award. Me! Out of hundreds of business, mine had been judged as making a mark.

Ok, it was not gold, but it was still a place on the podium.

And while the win was a hit to my ego, not every award I have entered has won (and I do this for a living).

I found ways to leverage awards even when I didn’t win.

Here is what I know about PR; it is all about perception, what people think of you. I have seen people bragging about a media win in the most obscure publications, and their fans and followers are so excited for them.

The fans and followers know nothing about the publication the story appeared in but they are still excited for you. That is engagement. That is support. Having a go, putting yourself out there, sets you apart from the thousands who never have a go, who make excuses why they can’t market their business, share their story or enter an award.

You did. You put yourself out there.

Here’s how to leverage the awards process:

  • Tell people you entered.

A simple post on social media about entering an award can generate the most amazing outpouring of support and engagement. The energy of people encouraging you is uplifting. Despite living in a tall poppy syndrome land, most people want the underdog to win; they want to see people achieve. Your colleagues, clients, friends and family do.

You may be reluctant because what if you have to tell them you didn’t win? That is a chance you take; give them an opportunity to support and encourage you. You may be surprised by the support you have. That is a win.

  • Media release.

Send a release about your nomination to your local paper. They love local business and success stories. You can then use this coverage to share across social media to get more eyes on your business.

  • Blog.

Write about why you entered, what you have learnt about your business and how it has helped you, e.g. improve processes, customer service, supply chain. This is a great opportunity to give people an insight into your business and your heart. After all, entering an award is about becoming more visible.

  • Video.

Talk about the process in a video, same topics as blogging, but some people prefer to watch a video than to read.

  • Special offer.

While the sun is shining on you and your achievements, capitalise on it. Send a special offer to your list with the news that you have entered. Use the same offer as a lead generator to build your list. Deep down people like to be around winners (even if you have not won yet, you have still stepped up and backed yourself).

  • Tag.

Be a good sport, tag the winner and congratulate them.

If you don’t win, use the process to:

  • Assess where your business is at – what can you improve?
  • Ask for feedback from the judges (some awards give it to you anyway).
  • Store the information ready for the next one (you’ve already done some of the work, every award is different).
  • Market your business using the ideas above.
  • Pat yourself on the back for having a go.

Just because you didn’t win, doesn’t mean your business sucks or you’re not worthy. One award loss doesn’t maketh a business.

Every award you enter is an opportunity to learn and grow; it is not a personal attack on your worthiness or value. Not everything you do in business is going to be successful; what you get out of it comes down to your mindset.

Like anything in life, keep trying and do not give up.

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  • Rosemary

    Great article, and useful tips. Thanks.

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