Why you should face your fears, roll up your sleeves and enter the running for industry awards
It’s often much easier to get someone else to shout about your successes than doing it yourself; bragging is not an attractive quality. But as a business owner, I’ve discovered just how important it is to overcome that hesitation and build your reputation. One of the best ways of doing this is by entering – and hopefully winning – awards.
Often just taking part of a competition gets you in front of interested people and highlights your brand to a wider audience. At the HSBC Women in Business Awards 2016, I was lucky enough to have been nominated and then shortlisted in two categories. The ceremony itself was very impressive and sometimes it’s just nice to have a treat, glam up and get out of the office. The compound effect of an awards nomination is fantastic and it does wonders for your self-confidence and the morale of those around you.
Once your nomination is in, you often have to wait a long time to hear if you’ve made the shortlist and then there’s the build-up to the ceremony, during which time you can make the most of the marketing opportunities. Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, once said that if he had to spend his last marketing dollar on anything in business it would be PR – and he was so right. Positive press coverage is very valuable and being involved in awards ceremonies creates the best PR stories, especially if you’re able to share the story surrounding your entry with journalists. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn can play a crucial role in building anticipation and sharing any press coverage you earn.
Being associated with a prestigious awards ceremony raises the profile of your franchise network among customers, suppliers and key contacts in the industry, which everyone in the network will benefit from. Your brand will also reap rewards from the endorsement and if you publicise your nomination on all your marketing collateral, that shine can last throughout the year.
That being said, the work involved in entering awards can’t be underestimated. Local awards need to be sought out by franchisees and as a franchisor you need to be looking at the national awards. You should also make sure you consider and nominate franchisees, administration staff, apprentices or other talent from across your network when you’re scouring the categories. And while it helps to enter a large number of awards, selecting niche awards or categories can pay off too. We carefully select which awards to enter and make sure they’re relevant to our target market.
Often a franchisee or franchisor may be put off entering awards because they’re too busy or they lack confidence. But you have to put yourself out there and shout from the rooftops. Believe me, winning an award is a far more professional way to market your products and services than telling people how good you are yourself. You need to push yourself out of your comfort zone and just make the time. It certainly gets addictive and competitive, which I’m sure most people in business will understand.
Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t pay off at once. It’s the small, consistent steps that lead to success. I remember waking up on January 1 2015 and thinking ‘this is the year that Little Voices is going to win an award’. It was my New Year’s resolution and it came true when parents voted us the UK’s Best School-Age Music Activity 2015 in the Kallikids Best Awards.
You won’t win every award and that’s OK. Being close to the top will often do just fine. Although I wasn’t named HSBC’s Woman Franchisor of the Year in May this year, the experience of being in the top five was amazing and I will always have fantastic memories of the pre-ceremony reception in London at the Gherkin. The people you’ll meet at these events and the relationships you can build with fellow franchise owners, franchisees and business people in general is worth every minute of the effort of entering the awards.