Women’s Leadership Exchange

Connect … To Your Brand Through Business Awards

By Diane Valletta

In a crowded marketplace your brand connects you to your customers. Brands are more than logos. Your brand is about what you represent – your professionalism, commitment to service and quality, and your values.

That’s why winning awards can be an effective branding strategy. When you are recognized by your industry and your peers, you reinforce what you stand for in the minds of clients and prospects.

There are countless business awards. You can be honored for your business achievements, for overcoming adversity, for leadership in your industry, for advocacy and mentoring, or for civic and charitable contributions.

Consider the pursuit of awards as a part of your marketing or PR strategy. Even if you don’t win, the nomination process is valuable. Getting your story down on paper – who you are, what you do, why you do it – can be a revelation. Plus, you can adapt your initial nomination package for other awards, or for use in proposals, promotional materials, or feature articles.

Here are a few simple and reliable tips for creating a winning award nomination package:

  1. Go after the right award.
    Look for national, local, industry-specific or association-sponsored awards programs that match your business achievements. The Small Business Administration, for example, offers numerous awards at the state, regional and national levels.
  2. Study the guidelines.
    Allow the guidelines to dictate how you present your qualifications and what angle you use as a "hook.” Check the submission deadline and make certain you can meet it. A late entry is a losing entry.
  3. Identify in detail why you are qualified for the award.
    Take an objective look at your accomplishments. As you do, resist the temptation many women have to downplay their significance. Don’t overlook your volunteer activity. No matter what the award, include what you "give back" to the community.
  4. Present your nomination in a narrative form.
    Answer every question and write in a dispassionate style using the vernacular of the award program.
  5. Adjust your "basic" story as needed.
    Recast your narratives to fit each award's specific criteria and organization.
  6. Include supporting documentation.
    Third-party items, such as articles and testimonial letters, help distinguish you from other nominees.

Awards place you front and center in the minds of your customers, as evidenced by the experience of Rachel’s Bus Company. This school bus company in Chicago’s inner city was known for hiring the hard-core unemployed and motivating them to perform and develop. Winning the prestigious Business Enterprise Award, presented to businesses who “do well by doing good” caused a ripple effect of visibility and honor.

As a direct result of winning this award, Rachel was featured by ABC-TV news anchor Peter Jennings as the “Person of the Week.” She was cited by then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in her book, It Takes a Village, and appeared with Clinton on Oprah.Rachel was then invited to serve on President Bill Clinton’s Welfare To Work Task Force and was named to the Board of the National Welfare to Work Partnership.

That’s a pretty spectacular result for a reasonable investment of time and effort!

Source: http://www.womensleadershipexchange.com