Whether you are a job applicant, a consumer, or on the hunt for a supplier, it seems like every company is a “top 100 employer” or a recognized “customer service champion”. We can confirm: you’re not crazy - there really are a lot of business awards out there. And the truth is, not all awards are created equal (1) and the judgement criteria varies greatly.
For example, companies on Canada’s Top 100 Employer list pay $1250 to apply and are judged by the editors of the awards program on eight different criteria (2). In contrast, the nominees for the Small Business BC Awards do not pay a fee to enter, the win is decided by consumer votes, and the winners receive $1500 and resources to help them grow their businesses (3).
Business awards are largely a marketing opportunity involving an expense in both time and money. But do customers value them? How does it affect business performance? Is it worth it? As a business owner these are valuable questions that we aim to answer.
Deciding which award to apply for, understanding its benefits and the optimal utilization of an award win are all key steps in making the most of the time that the process takes.
Choosing the Award That Best Supports Your Company’s Brand Marketing
A discouraging, yet common, myth about business awards is that no matter how good your application is, there is already a winner (1). While it is true that not all awards are ethical, a key step to maximize award benefits is doing your research. Gain a clear understanding of the judgement criteria and who is doing the judging. Is the award judged by the sponsor? Did previous winners have a relationship with the judges? (1).
Many awards are industry specific or have multiple categories. Stick to your strengths to search for the awards and categories that best match your business profile (4). In addition, the size of your business may prove some awards to be more appropriate than others. For example, the Small Business BC awards will likely be bestowed upon a different type of company than one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers.
We conducted polls on both Twitter and Linkedin to see how consumers think about companies that have won business awards.
Effect on Corporate Communications and Business Growth
An academic study from the UK found that the benefits of winning awards is generally subjective (5). Although the benefits are difficult to objectively measure in hard numbers, a positive impact on employees, increased press coverage, enhanced reputation with suppliers, and an overall positive impact on brand identity provide value in their own way (5).
Many companies report increased employee morale and motivation after winning a business award; the “feel good factor” provided a positive impact on company culture (5). An award can provide extra press coverage and a new marketing tool to promote a business, improving their brand identity and exposure to suppliers (5). The award’s third party recognition creates a unique awareness and visibility (4) that can open up opportunities for future business partnerships and brand growth.
Is the Payout Worth the Pay-Off? Extending the Short-Term Boost with Effective Communications
A participant in a study on the impacts of awards on SMEs noted that, “[the initial] press coverage was more of a short-term impact with the staff morale and initial pleasure and excitement of winning the award.” (5)
The relatively short-term effects of winning an award can be prolonged via effective marketing and PR campaigns in the immediate aftermath of the win. Companies that did even the slightest form of promotion through social media saw increased applications for job postings (5). The coverage you’re given from the win doesn’t have to stop; businesses can continue to reap the benefits from the award through extended campaigns.
The continuous participation in business awards not only expands your experience, it grows your exposure and provides content to continuously freshen up your marketing. Building your award wins into exciting employee incentives can motivate your staff to push to even greater heights (5). Putting a little extra effort into the award application process can reap significant benefits for your company.
It’s worth the time to research the pros and cons of available awards. At the end of the day, the right award is another opportunity to showcase your business and third party recognition can be a very valuable marketing tool.
1 MinuteHack. “Busting the Biggest Business Award Myths.” Accessed July 22, 2020. https://minutehack.com/opinions/busting-the-biggest-business-award-myths
2 Canada's Top 100. Canada’s Top 100 Employers (2020). Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.canadastop100.com/national/
3 Small Business BC Awards. How it Works, FAQs. Accessed July 22, 2020. https://sbbcawards.ca/how-it-works/faqs/
4 Business.com. “Do Awards Really Do Anything for your Company?” Accessed July 22, 2020. https://www.business.com/articles/do-awards-really-do-anything-for-your-company/
5 Jones, Packham, Peisl, Pickernell, Scherle, and Heather Skinner. “Fool’s Gold, the Value of Business Awards to Small Businesses.” International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation 15, no. 2 (May 2014): 89-100. https://doi.org/10.5367/ijei.2014.0151