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dear strictly business: are business awards worth the effort?

dear strictly business: are business awards worth the effort?

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Does the thought of entering a business award send a chill down your spine? It can be terrifying, but it's true that you've got to be in it to win it.

Look at you over there! Getting shit done. Building a business with your grit, sweat and tears, despite the obstacles thrown in your path (pandemic, anyone?). Surely now’s your time to shine? You deserve a bloomin' win! But how on earth do you go about entering and winning an award? (And without the ick-factor of feeling like a big ol’ show-off.) Let’s talk about the value of business awards.

BUSINESS AWARDS – WHAT’S THE DEAL?
Whether you’re a business newbie or you’ve been working for yourself for a while, you’ve probably seen people in your universe sharing their award wins. Perhaps they were recognised at your local ‘women in business’ awards or maybe they took part in a national online awards program for small businesses.

There are plenty of award programs out there, but not all them are created equally. Some are simple to enter with just a few short qualifying questions, while others ask for thousands of words and pages of answers. Some are free to enter. Others come with a hefty entry fee. And some will even assume that you’ll attend a shiny event if you become a finalist and want to be in the running to win.

If you’re thinking of entering an award, do your research. If you see someone sharing a win, bookmark it as something you could enter next year. And if you spot an awards program, read through the eligibility criteria before you commit. (Nothing’s more heartbreaking than spending hours on an entry, only to realise you’re not eligible.)

WHY BOTHER ENTERING?
Yes, there’s work involved when it comes to entering an award, but think of it as an opportunity to gather some solid information on your business. It’s a chance to reflect on your success over the years, and it might force you to actually analyse your growth. It’s also the perfect opportunity to reach out to past customers and ask them for feedback and testimonials (which will give you all the warm and fuzzies).

The copy you write for your entry can also be repurposed as content for your own marketing channels. It might help you update the ‘about’ page on your website or your LinkedIn profile bio, or you could even grab some of the answers and turn them into mini-blogs or social media posts. Make the most of your entry by recycling the content in new ways. That written content could also come in handy for future award programs, as questions are sometimes similar.

IS IT HARD TO WIN?
Well, it’s impossible to win if you don’t even enter. It’s a cliche for a reason – you’ve got to be in it to win it! Remember, it’s also a fairly level playing field; everyone’s answering the same questions and taking part in the same interview process. It might be competitive, but if you’ve got a great business story to tell, you could be in with a good chance.

The awards themselves are often a great opportunity to network with other business-owners, and to create some social content to share – especially if there’s a people’s choice award. You can encourage your audience to vote for you, and they’ll love being official cheerleaders for your brand or business.

SO, YOU WIN… NOW WHAT?
First up – even being a finalist comes with great kudos, so share the fact that you successfully made it to the final round, and share again when you win! You might feel a bit awkward or boastful, but your community will get a thrill out of seeing you succeed.

Share on your socials, and add the award badges to your email footer, website, LinkedIn, and anywhere else you can think of. Don’t be shy, because winning an award is an instant credibility-booster and a great way to build your authority as an expert in your field, or as a brand that’s doing awesome things.

Award wins are also about profile raising; some programs will send out a press release on their winners and you’ll land some media coverage, and award events are a great way to showcase your business story to new audiences. So, what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath, get those questions out and do it. The spotlight is just waiting to shine on you.

Erin Huckle is the founder of Chuckle Communications, and is in the business of profile-raising for her talented clients. See more from Erin over here. For more small-business stories like this, visit frankie.com.au/strictly-business, or sign up to our monthly e-newsletter. Have a small-business story you’d like to share? Pitch it to us.