How To Win Awards

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Startups struggle when it comes to establishing recognition and credibility. Winning awards can help small businesses achieve both and lead to long-term growth.

The benefits of awards

Never underestimate the power of winning of awards. Awards can:

  1. Attract venture capital – Investors and the banking community review awards, lists and rankings to identify high-growth businesses.
  2. Woo new customers/clients – People want to buy products and services from companies with proven track records. Awards give you a leg up over the competition.
  3. Enhance employee recruitment/retention – Everyone wants to work for an award-winning organization.
  4. Open doors – Journalists, influential businesspeople, investors and/or government officials serve as award judges. Your award application increases their awareness about your company, your leadership strengths and your products and services. Business award ceremonies afford you rare opportunities to rub elbows with prominent industry leaders. And winning an award can ensure immediate recognition in local media.

Award application tips

Identifying the right award programs and acing award applications is an art form. If you don’t apply, you can’t win. A good place to begin looking for contests is, a site that helps groups publicize their awards. Some other helpful tips are listed as follows:

  1. Start local – Apply for awards from local organizations or local chapters of national organizations. You’ll have a greater chance of winning and will have more victories under your belt when it comes time for the bigger and better award competitions.
  2. Target industry awards – Identify awards sponsored by industry associations that highlight your expertise. Apply for awards that leverage your company’s strengths.
  3. Do some detective work – Choose awards competitions carefully, applying to awards that optimize return on investment (ROI). Approach award submissions as you would any other important company project. Scour award Web sites for more information and ideas about what to highlight in your award application. Determine the specific criteria, submission word count and submission deadline; research the awards program judging panel; and take a look at past award winners and their submissions.
  4. Ace the award application – Judges determine winners by the information submitted and the wording of the award submissions, so make your application as compelling and detailed as possible. Use strong words and adjectives; back up claims with facts and supporting material; and share measurable, quantitative achievements, such as percent growth, number of employees, new-client wins, new product launches, growth in the customer base, etc. Mention endorsements that you’ve received from customers, the media and bloggers. And don’t forget to proofread your application!

Promoting your awards

Once you’ve won an award, be sure to promote the win to increase your ROI.

  1. Issue a press release – Share the news about your victory. A search-engine optimized (SEO) press release with keyword-rich copy will improve your ranking on Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
  2. Announce victory via social media – Announce your win and post links to the award Web site and/or your award press release on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.
  3. Use award logos – Display the award logo prominently on your Web site and in your marketing materials. Add the phrase “award-winning” to your Web site and marketing copy.
  4. Showcase your awards – Ensure that employees and customers see the award. Frame it, display it, or feature it in your office or at events.

Any entrepreneur will tell you that, in the end, it’s about the work, not the awards you get for doing the work. But winning awards brings big benefits and can help you build and sustain your business. Compared to the cost and benefits of advertising, awards are one of the most efficient and effective means of marketing.

About Kirsten Osolind 1 Article
Kirsten Osolind is CEO of RE:INVENTION, a nationally noted marketing consulting firm that helps companies sell more of their products and services. Since launching in 2002, RE:INVENTION has served Fortune 500 companies like Genworth and Vanguard, in addition to high-growth startups like Deal Current, Phatnoise and Jajah. A Duke MBA and a former Entrepreneur Magazine monthly columnist, Osolind currently serves on the Board of the International Stevie Awards for Women in Business. Her previous board roles include: the National Leadership Council for the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Springboard Enterprises Venture Forum Midwest and various planning committees as an elected member of the Economic Club of Chicago.


  1. I believe winning awards is where most of the success should be earned. Awards can bring a company respect. I am more likely to buy from a comapny I respect over the companies that offers the lowest price.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Mel. Entering award competitions requires careful research and hard work. When you win, it takes effort to effectively capitalize on it. The prestige, however, can boost your company reputation and credibility — ultimately helping your company create sustainable growth.

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