According to the American Marketing Association, the average U.S. consumer receives more than 10,000 advertising messages every day. These ads are delivered across a broad range of media, including television, radio, print, email and social networks.
Given this deluge of marketing messages, it’s simply not possible for any individual to sort through all of this information.
This is why we’ve come to rely on heuristics — i.e., mental shortcuts that allow us to get through the clutter. For example, if 10 million people buy the newest book from Dan Brown, you’re more likely to pick up a copy. It must be good.
The same is true for box office sales or “number of hamburgers” served.
All of these are examples of social proof. We rely on the wisdom of the masses to make our own purchasing decisions. But in many ways, the wisdom of experts can be even more compelling. After all, if 9 out of 10 doctors use a particular migraine pill, it must be effective. Right?
However, getting that stamp of approval can be tough. What business owner has the time, money and resources to survey the top influencers in their respective fields? Fortunately, there’s a much easier way to earn street credit.
You can become an award-winning business.
The Unbelievable Power of Winning Business Awards
Units sold. Customer reviews. Yearly revenues. All of these can add legitimacy to your core offerings.
However, these “metrics” can be faked — and consumers know this.
Independent credentials from objective sources are much harder to fabricate. Winning business awards from credible third parties can go a long way in solidifying your reputation as a trustworthy brand that delivers.
It’s worth repeating that last point. Award-winning businesses are consistently seen as more reputable and honest, even if consumers aren’t consciously aware of this perception.
Michelin-starred restaurants, for example, have an easier time attracting new patrons than do their non-starred counterparts. This is true even when the dining experience is comparable across both types of establishments.
This is why award-winning businesses frequently highlight certifications as much as possible — whether on shopping carts, landing pages or hard copy brochures.
Is this marketing strategy a form of gloating? Maybe. But there’s nothing dishonest about showcasing one’s “honesty.” When done tastefully, this approach can help attract more customers.
But the value of business awards extends well beyond reputation or foot traffic.
Additional Benefits of Becoming an Award-Winning Business
Want more reasons to strive for awards for your small business? Here are three more to consider.
1. Improved employee morale
When you receive a prestigious award, everyone on your team feels better. They appreciate being recognized for their hard work.
This is great in the here and now, but it also means your employees will be more inclined to defend their position moving forward. Nothing looks or feels better than being “best in class” for two-plus years in a row.
2. Increased visibility
Winning business awards can help boost your company’s profile. This increased awareness doesn’t apply just to consumers. You’ll also receive more attention from suppliers, vendors and investors — many of whom survey articles and award ceremonies for potential business partners.
3. Higher prices
When you become an award-winning business, you can charge more for your products and services — and justify doing so.
Consider the Michelin restaurant example above. The lauded restaurant might offer the same fare as an upscale bistro down the street, but with an award under its belt, the 3-star restaurant can afford to charge higher prices for its food — and few patrons will question those higher prices.
After all, Michelin doesn’t make mistakes. Thus, the dining experience at this 3-star restaurant must be superior. Right?
The question is: How do you go about winning awards?
How to Become an Award-Winning Business?
There is no universal template, but the most important part of any contest involves putting your name in the hat. If you don’t play, you can’t win.
The good news for you is that most businesses don’t even try. So, the biggest hurdles are homework and paperwork.
And a good place to start your research is with major award organizations such as:
- Deloitte Technology Fast 500
- Dream Big Awards
- Entrepreneur Magazine's Entrepreneur Awards
- Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year
- National Small Business Week Awards
- SCORE Awards
- The Stevie Awards
Most of these have subcategories, so it’s a matter of finding one that fits your niche.
But don’t limit your search to the big guys. The more prestigious the award, the more competition you’ll face. Therefore, consider expanding your research to include:
- Awards hosted by your local chamber of commerce
- Awards listed in trade magazines or industry-specific sites
- Google search of “your city/state” + business awards
- Google search of “your niche/industry/product” + business awards
- Google search of “your competitors” + business awards
Can Awards Really Help Your Business Grow?
Every business, industry and product is unique, so we’re reluctant to make sweeping generalizations about the value of business awards.
We can say, from personal experience, that winning awards is ultimately a net positive. At BluePay, for example, we proudly broadcast our accolades. Doing so has made a big difference.
So, we wish you the same success as you begin racking up win after win. Best of luck.