How to Leverage Award Nominations and Wins to Build and Solidify Your Brand

If you’re in business, you can’t help but notice that it’s awards season! There are SO many business awards happening right now and loads to enter for sure – they range from broad, international programs like the Stevie® Awards offers, to smaller, more niched ones like the Australian Rural Business Awards, for example.

Why Entering Awards Programs and Showcasing Your Wins Are Important

Business leaders constantly leverage awards to get more brand awareness and build creditability—and to then (hopefully) get more sales. Awards from established organizations demonstrate credibility, and awards have a long shelf life, so your win has a long shelf life too.

One big pro tip – if applying for awards isn’t in your marketing strategy, then try to make it part of your marketing strategy! Seriously, if you want due credit in your space, if you want to become the “go-to person” in your industry, or if you simply want to “up” your competitors and stand out from the crowd, then entering awards is 100% the way to go!

Not only do you get leverage, but honestly, a huge benefit you get from applying for awards can be found in the process of crafting and preparing the submission applications themselves.

By taking time to look back at what you have achieved, where you have come from, and where you are now, you’ll gain a better appreciation of your achievements. In business, we rarely take time to reflect and look back at how far we have come, so if you get nothing else from applying for awards, you will 200% get that!

So how do you leverage achievement awards—whether you’re a winner or only a finalist? 

Below, I’ll detail all the ways you can make the most of your participation in awards programs.

Note, you don’t need to do all these things immediately (although many you should)—you can milk the award and its honors for months and even beyond if you frame its future use as a “remember when” mention or posting. Here is a list to get you started:

1. Use the winner logos and graphics provided by the awards organization everywhere, especially on social media. Award hosts typically create and provide a variety of graphics for winners to use to promote their win. This is your license to add those image everywhere, including:

  • Your LinkedIn profile – in the banner, in the awards section
  • On Facebook – again in the banner/cover and in the About section
  • Instagram – in your bio
  • Twitter – in your profile
  • Pinterest – in your profile
  • In your email signature or at the foot of your emails – how many of them do you send out a day!
  • Your website – in the about section, on the front page, in the footer

2. Update your physical and digital company information and storefronts with “Award Winning” or “Multi Award Winning” business, depending on if you won more than one award. Update your bios and website pages. If you have a place of business, put it on the front window, at reception, on your door, in your “out of office” notice – if you can manage to add those words in, do it!

3. Update all business directories, websites, and partner websites that list your business. Use the words “Award Winning” or use the graphic/tile/image mentioned above. You might need to google yourself or google your business name to find all the places that need to be updated.

4. Create a new default photo for social media that includes the words “Award Winner,” or the name of the award you won, under your bio photo. After you or your art team creates a new image, use that photo to update all professional bios across social media platforms too. You should be able to easily do this using programs like Canva, but if you need a hand, you can easily find reasonable assistance on freelance websites like Fiver or Upwork.

5. Don’t forget to tag and congratulate other winners, finalists, and people in your category on social media. Not only is it good to be humble, but it’s good for brand awareness to be tagging other businesses (Okay, it may not exactly be humble, but it’s business, and we want the most out of this win!).

6. Consider adding the win to your business cards and brochures. If these items are electronic, then do it straight away. If they are printed, do it for the next round of printing.

7. If you do presentations, webinars, or your work requires you to introduce yourself, make sure you add “award winner” to that introduction. Not only just after you’ve won the award, but at least for a few years.

8. If the award hosts don’t supply you with a press release, write one yourself! Getting your win into the media is a fabulous idea and isn’t going to be that hard. If you need help with a press release, sing out, happy to share what I have (jenn@jenndonovan.com.au), but most awards will supply one. Simply sending an email to your local newspaper, local radio station, or local news station will probably result in some media attention—written or spoken (radio). Even if you feel nervous, do it anyway! The people who think you are “full of it” or “talking about it too much” are likely jealous of the honor.

9. Sit down and write a blog for your website about your win.

Use parts of your award-winning application to construct a blog about your business—the ups, the downs, the highs, the lows—and share it with your community. Not only will you increase your brand and customer reach, but you will also inspire others with your own successes and practical lessons learned.

10. Write an email to your customer/client list telling them the good news and thanking them for supporting your now award-winning business!

11. Go live on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or whichever platform you perform best on or do them all! Share about your win and say thank you to your community who have helped you and your business thus far. You can spread these live streams out of over a few days and post on a different platform, different days.

12. Use this award-winning application to gain recognition for more awards! Use the win as a fabulous excuse to pitch yourself for podcast interviews, guest blogs, articles, and so on.

All this might seem a little too much self-promotion to some. But you honestly need to leave that feeling behind and permit yourself to feel proud of the fact that you won or were a finalist. You took the time to fill out the application, the judges reviewed your work and successes, and felt you deserved recognition. Your network, community, audience, and followers will ALL want to hear about it and congratulate you.

And remember winning isn’t everything – even being a finalist needs to have the heck leveraged out of it! Push down the imposter syndrome, get over the “what will they think” and sing loud and proud about your win and how amazing your business is. Because it is!

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