1. You might win!
OK, so when you are staring at the five or so daunting questions on the application form this seems a long way off, but one business has to win your chosen category. Why can't it be you?
2. The application is a form of business planning
The type of questions which are asked on business awards applications really help you to focus on your business. What does your company do? Why did you start your business? What are your achievements to date? And others, depending on the category, such as how do you ensure excellent customer service? How do you put things right when they go wrong? These questions make you take a step back from the day-to-day running of your business and really think about your what, why and how. The word or character limit then ensures that you tell your story in a concise way.
3. Evidence of your success
Most applications require you to submit supporting evidence. This is also a useful process. You review your past year of operations to gather the required proof of your expertise in your field. It's a good excuse to remind clients or customers to give you a testimonial.
4. Your answers can be repurposed
Once you have the answers to your what, where and how in a detailed but concise format they can be used in other areas of your business e.g. emails to potential clients explaining what you do and what you have achieved to date; an elevator pitch or content for your website.
5. Social buzz, PR & brand awareness
There is a huge build up to each stage of the awards: the launch, the deadline for applications, the announcement of finalists and then the award ceremony itself. In Merton, there is even an opportunity to meet the judges for advice before you submit your application. All of this takes the format of networking events, chatter on social media and articles in the local press. This is a fantastic opportunity to let your online and offline community know that you are involved. If your category is voted for by the public then make sure you are telling people when and how to vote.
You can take advantage of the associated hashtags to extend your reach on social media. We get some of our highest engagement figures on awards related tweets and posts. We increased our Twitter followers by ten per cent the week of the Merton Best Business awards. These new followers were from the local community i.e. our target audience, rather than the sometimes random accounts which follow us from all over the world.
6. Extend your reach
Business awards aren't just a local affair. If you have a product or service that you are keen to roll out UK-wide or even globally, then look for awards which operate across your target market. Both the Nectar Business Awards and the Small Business Saturday 100 will give you exposure across the country.
7. You could make it to the finals
Some categories are more hotly contested than others, but if you check out the list of finalists from last year, you'll be able to judge, subject to restrictions, which you may have the most chance of success in. Once you have been shortlisted the fun starts. It gives you, your team and everyone connected with you a huge boost. You get a shiny new logo to add to your website, social media and email signature. And it is a great talking point for the next couple of months.
The final itself is a fantastic opportunity to get dressed up to the nines with your colleagues and mingle with your local business community, press and dignitaries. The size of the event varies depending on the awards in question, but there is likely to be 250 to 400 people there keen to talk to you about your business and what you have been nominated for. Everyone is there to celebrate success, so it is a fabulous event to be part of. And after all...
8. You might win!
If you win then you won't need to work the room. The room will come to you.
If you still find the thought of applying daunting, then let us do it for you. We have a 100% success rate for reaching the finals in our applications for both ourselves and our clients in 2016, and have been awarded Best New Business winners at both the FSB London awards and the Merton Best Business awards. Get in touch here
Nicolle Anderson, Business Development Director