The East Midlands Chamber of Commerce business award ceremonies are just around the corner, and as we gear up to help our clients celebrate or prepare to present awards to the winners, we thought now would be a great time to discuss the benefits of entering and sponsoring business awards.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic many organisers have either delayed events until 2021, or reverted to holding virtual ceremonies. This might have diluted the ability to meet and network with like minded businesses owners and professional advisers, but don’t let this put you off! There are still many advantages to be gained. For starters, there is more time for you to get your entry submitted, and even more time for your brand to be exposed due to the longer period of publicity.
Benefits of entering business awards
There are many advantages to be gained from entering business awards. The processes that are required to prepare the entry can help to improve business operations and profitability. Gathering the evidence can help get your people working as a team and then, if you get shortlisted or win an award, there is the motivational boost and enhancement of your corporate credibility – not to mention the great time you can have celebrating as a team!
Having been shortlisted as a finalist or winner an award, your company should also benefit from significant PR which will raise your profile and boost brand awareness. The organisers will undoubtedly publish the list of finalists and winners, there will be photography and news stories that can be shared on social media, and of course you can also add an article to your own website and use it as part of an email newsletter. The logo can also be added to your website and email signatures.
If it is a physical event, both finalists and sponsors may also have the opportunity to display banner stands and marketing collateral which will further promote your brand. Sometimes, the organisers will visit your company to make a video about what you do which you might also be able to use for ongoing marketing purposes.
We discuss the benefits of sponsoring an award further down in this article.
Which awards to enter?
Most business award judges will be looking for evidence of a robust business plan and a focused marketing strategy. For this reason, once business owners start too explore the criteria by which winners will be assessed, they are usually kickstarted in to thinking about where they want their business to be. Generally, this highlights areas that are worthy of an award or those where there is room for improvement.
It is true that the drafting of a compelling entry can be very time consuming. So, our advice is to firstly ensure your business and marketing plan are robust and that you have at least progressed towards meeting the objectives set out in these plans.
Once you are confident you have enough compelling evidence you can begin the search for suitable awards. The initial decision is whether the awards should be national, regional or related to your industry sector. Once you have identified those that are relevant for your business, it is time to review the categories to highlight those where you have compelling story to tell.
That said, don’t be put off if you can’t tick all the criteria. Having been judges ourselves we know from first hand experience that the quality and number of submissions varies each year, so if at first you don’t succeed please try again in successive years. After all, you now have another year to improve in these areas. Writing the first awards entry is always the hardest, but once you have done one, the evidence from this can be added to for other awards and for next year if not successful.
Most regional awards have categories related to best business, customer service, teamwork, marketing campaigns, commitment to the community. These awards often lead to winners going forward to national finals. Don’t be afraid to enter more than one category!
Here are are links to some of the most prominent business awards in the East Midlands.
The Leadership Awards – The Business Desk
The East Midlands Chamber of Commerce Awards – Separate awards for Notts, Derby & Leicester
Nottingham Live Awards – Nottingham Post
Leicester Live Awards – Leicester Mercury
Derby Live Awards – Derby Telegraph
There are also some really good sector based awards suitable for East Midlands based businesses involved in property, construction and manufacturing, such as:
The East Midlands Bricks Award – Business Link East Midlands Magazine
ProCon Awards – Leicester
Made in the Midlands – Insider Magazine
There are also many national awards that may be worthwhile entering such as the Family Business Awards, Institute of Directors Awards, and those organised by business and trade magazines. As you can imagine there are loads of them so be sure to check our their credibility too. We have had plenty of emails and phone calls telling us that we have been shortlisted for an award only to find out that there is a big fee to attend a dinner to accept the award or use the logo. So be careful, as the benefits of these gongs can be very questionable as highlighted in this article!
If you’d like to compete on a national level, there are awards notification services available that will send you a list of all the awards that have opened for entries that month but there is a fee to subscribe. When we are retained by clients, this is something that we track as part of our service.
Writing the awards entry
Many of our clients do see the awards preparation process as a great way to work through and shout out about improvements highlighted in their SWOT analysis.
Before you begin to write your entry make sure you have carefully read the criteria the judges will be using to shortlist finalists. Start by writing down some key bullet points which demonstrate your achievements under this criteria. Once you have enough evidence think carefully about how this will be presented in answer to each question. There is often a word count, which means you might not have enough words to convey all your credentials in a particular section. However, sometimes the evidence you have can be used as a response to another question. This is where specialist knowledge from people like ourselves can pay dividends as we know how to write succinctly to ensure key messages are conveyed within the word count for each question. Yes, you’ll be paying us a fee – but whilst we are doing this – you can be focused on running your business. And if it results in a winning entry, then surely it’s a worthy investment?
Benefits of Sponsoring a Business Award
Let’s now discuss why your company would benefit from sponsoring an award.
The rationale for sponsoring an award must always be part of a focused marketing plan which is aimed at positioning your brand in front of the right target audiences. So the starting point is to ascertain what types of businesses will see your brand if you sponsor an award. If there is a strategic fit, the next choice is to determine the budget and the likely return on investment. Based on this you weigh up the benefits of being an overall sponsor, a category sponsor or a sponsor of specific items such at the menu’s, drinks bottles, programme sponsor etc. Each will have a different cost and range of benefits.
The overall benefit of sponsorship is to raise awareness of your brand to prospects who might buy your services and be positively influenced and more engaged with your company from having seen you support their industry sector.
Within the sponsorship there should also be opportunities to be quoted within publicity about the event. You may also get the opportunity to judge and meet the companies that enter the awards or just your category. The opportunity to get these 1-1 meetings alone could be worth the sponsorship fee when compared to the time and cost it would take to get these meetings via other marketing tactics.
As ever, a good marketer will also maximise the publicity of your involvement and use the awards logo across all your marketing platforms. These should also include adding articles to your website announcing your sponsorship, who has been shortlisted and congratulating the winner. These articles can can then included in an email newsletter and be shared on social media with the relevant people and companies tagged to ensure maximise reach!
Planning your awards strategy for 2021
Sadly, the ongoing pandemic means that any awards ceremonies will have to be held virtually for the foreseeable future, but this may also mean there could be a great deal to be negotiated as the organisers costs are reduced.
If entering or sponsoring awards is part of your business or marketing plan for 2021 and you’d like our help to negotiate a good deal, maximise your exposure or write the awards entry please get in touch.