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How to use an award entry to promote your company and win more customers

Nov 4, 2022

Winning an award can be satisfying and so much fun. Not only is it fun to compete against the rest of the industry, beat your competitors and get your work validated, but it is also quite intriguing to imagine yourself and your team posing with a shiny award trophy, World Champion-style.

The exultation of winning an award can also be extended to actual business results. That is, in all honesty, the true value of participating in any marketing award programme.

New clients may actually come knocking when they hear the buzz about your company's excellence - IF you play your cards right.

RELATED: How 24sata leveraged 11 Native Ad Awards

With a focused effort and an overall objective to use your award entry to generate increased brand awareness among your peers, you can use your shortlisting or win to ultimately drive new sales leads to your company.

Set your own objectives for your award entries

Entering an award programme simply because “it would be nice to win” doesn't actually justify the hours it will take to put together a stellar application. You know it, and your boss knows it.

So before deciding to spend a chunk of your marketing budget on award entries, make sure you have a bulletproof answer to WHY applying is relevant to you and your company. Would it matter to your customers? Your business partners? Your fellow co-workers? Your organization? Your overall business goals?

Once you have covered that and framed the objectives for your entry, you can start looking at WHAT you have to do to meet the objectives. What case material would be relevant to showcase your organization’s true expertise and boost actual strategic business goals?

It’s not over when you hit ‘submit’

You should keep in mind that an award entry is not finished once you hit the ‘SUBMIT’ button. In fact, this is where your own communications and marketing efforts should start.

If you are not prepared, a shortlist nomination or a potential winning streak could go unnoticed by your peers or be limited to a ‘light breeze’ that has little to no effect.

RELATED: The 8 Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Making an Award entry

If you mean business, you should set aside time to make a proper content plan. This plan should take into account HOW, WHEN and WHERE you are going to reach all relevant stakeholders, keep them in the loop, build social proof, and make them care.

Ideally, making the business case for your application efforts and deciding how you want to measure your efforts might prove worthwhile. We all know it takes time to create a good award entry, so make sure that you are able to prove a return on your investments.

Actual touchpoints to amplify your shortlisting

There are quite a few touchpoints that you can use to leverage your award application and make sure it does not go unnoticed. First of all, it is a great starting point to let others know that you have entered an award programme.

This can be done with a subtle social media update and a bit of internal communication to spark interest among colleagues and clients. Even if you do not win, it is a great opportunity to let your internal peers know that you take pride in what you do and are motivated to showcase it to the world.

If your work is shortlisted, you should be ready to yell it from the rooftops. Although a shortlisting is not a definite win, it is still an obvious touchpoint for telling colleagues, clients, friends and family that you got through the eye of a needle.

A few suggestions for amplifying this are:

1. Produce a press release and earn coverage in your market(s)

A nomination could very well be a most welcome story for your local trade media if you manage to frame the story right.

RELATED: 10 tips for impressing the Native Advertising Awards jury

So write and send out a press release with a unique story. Perhaps yours is the only company in your region or country to be nominated. Or your entry itself might contain a great storyline that is worth mentioning.

Be original when putting together the press release. A well-written press release could earn you more reach and enable positive brand awareness.

2. Use the official shortlist logo in your owned media

If the award programme you enter offers you an official nominee logo for being shortlisted, you should consider using it in your marketing.

Place it everywhere – on your company website, in email signatures, on cover banners, official social media business profiles, showreels, your blog, company newsletters and brochures, print ads, and non the least on exhibition stand material. This a great way to make sure that people notice.

A nomination badge can help validate your work to the outside world.  

3. Leverage the love of your peers

Additionally, your clients and business partners, colleagues and friends are all potential ambassadors for letting the world know that you are a badass. A well-written piece of copy that can be used for internal communication to spark excitement can prove very effective in terms of spreading the word.

Also, preparing a modest media kit with an enticing picture and a social media update framing the news of your shortlisting could go a long way. Team members and other colleagues may share this out of pure excitement.

RELATED: 3 Perfect Examples of Native Advertising Awards Entries

You might be surprised to see how many of your peers are in fact willing to share the news on social media. Especially if they played a part in making the campaign or can deduce value from a mention of this shortlisting. Providing them with a streamlined piece of content that is easy to integrate and share on their own channels is a cool service and it shows that you are at the top of your game.

4. Connect with other shortlist nominees

If you want to be extra cool, you should consider connecting with other finalists to congratulate them on their nominations.

It is a great way to build on your professional network and potential referral source, and it is also a respectful gesture that could earn you credit amongst your peers in the industry.

5. Don’t underestimate the power of LinkedIn

Flaunt your nomination on LinkedIn. There just might be potential clients discovering you this way, or publishers looking for know-how from experts. And your nomination proves that you belong in the pool of experts.

Take advantage of this opportunity and leverage that your name is rubber-stamped and share your expertise with the world.

6. Be there for the winners' announcement

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to be there to shine when the actual winners are announced. If you are amongst the winners, you want to be there to receive that award on stage and show the industry who you are.

The winners of the Native Advertising Awards 2023 will be announced at the annual Native Advertising DAYS. The conference will take place in Copenhagen in Spring 2023 (the exact date will be announced soon). Joining the conference will, additionally, be a perfect way for you to extend your network and get new contacts in the industry while flaunting your success as a nominee or winner of an award. 

And if you do win….

You won!! You did it!! You should celebrate your victory, but most importantly, you need to shout out this extraordinary accomplishment to the World. Share your excitement, flaunt your award figurine and use your credentials in your marketing efforts.

1. Do it all over again

As soon as you can, go through the above-mentioned to-do list all over again - only now with an even bigger splash saying “Award-Winning”. Let the world know that you are a winner and make sure that potential clients become aware of your success.

2. Create content that highlights your expertise

If your company runs a corporate blog, your award win is an obvious benchmark for creating a few blog posts that take a deep dive into relevant strategic and tactical areas related to your work. This will make for great content on your blog and could be a powerful driver to maximize the outcome of an SEO strategy created to drive traffic to your website.

3. Monitor media & share links

You may also be able to leverage social media activity and online mentions from outlets that are not your own. Look out for activities from the awards organizers, sponsors, trade media and fellow award entrants and track mentions, pictures or videos from the event.

RELATED: How to Run a Native Advertising Award-Winning Branded Content Studio

If you add such stories to a section of your website, this will quite likely work wonders for your website’s SEO as well as raise the level of visibility for your award win.

4. Events & morning seminars

A morning seminar based on your award-winning expertise and case story would be a great way to leverage your win. Consider hosting a public event like this to extend your marketing efforts and give current and potential clients the opportunity to spend a few hours with your team to gain new insights and inspiration.

These types of efforts are likely to establish brand credibility, strengthen current and new relations and, ultimately, boost new business.

5. Share the ebook

Last but not least, If you win a Native Advertising Award, you will be asked to share your winning campaign with the world. If you accept this, the Native Advertising Institute will include your winning campaign(s) in the annual premium content piece  ‘Award-Winning Native Advertising Examples’.

Share the link to the ebook on all social media channels and let people know that your winning campaign is featured among the very best native ad projects of the year. You may also use the ebook as a showcase to prospective clients who want to see some of your best work before signing a contract.

Gain momentum

Overall, if you decide to spend some of your marketing budget on award entry fees, the potential return on investment can be huge and your efforts may be an efficient driver for gaining momentum in your market if you plan for it.

Good luck with your award entry!

Haven't applied yet? Read more and try your luck at the Native Advertising Awards.

Image by Alexa from Pixabay

Johanne Eliasson is the former editor of the Native Advertising Institute.

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