I’ve been taking part in a six-week program with Aussie Mumpreneurs to try and get my businesses on track. Yes, that’s right, I now have four businesses on the go. Am I crazy? YES! Do I love to be busy and achieve goals? DEfinitely. However, I need help with that too.
There are around 20 women taking part in the 6 week program, and each week we’re involved in a webinar that helps us to target different areas of our businesses and this week it was all about applying for business awards with the truly amazing Yvette Adams of Creative Collective.
There were several key points I took from last night’s session:
- It’s never too early to start applying for business awards. Too many business women think that they need to get some experience under their belt before throwing themselves in the pool of candidates for business awards. Not true! Yvette won her first major award within her first year of business. Why? Simply because she had an innovative idea, used her marketing skills to spin that to the judges and made an effort to apply. The lesson is that we shouldn’t wait until we’re into our second or third year to start entering business awards. If nothing else, it’s a great way to look at your business retrospectively.
- It can take from several hours to several days to put together an application and you need to take the time to do it well. If your strengths lie in other areas of your organisation, consider hiring a professional to do it for you. I’ve assisted two businesses in their awards application – both won! Having a marketing background gives me the ability to add the correct jargon and buzzwords. Sometimes it’s better to pay a small fee to have the application done by someone with more experience than muddle over it and create added stress to your busy schedule.
- One of the major advantages of being a finalist or winner in business awards is the PR and media coverage that follows. Yvette spoke about the offers she was presented with following her first win, but also that she didn’t rest on her laurels. It’s great to win an award, but don’t wait for the media to knock down your door. Have a press release prepared, send it out to anyone and everyone and follow-up. Media coverage begets media coverage; the more you’re out there in papers, on radio and online, the more you’ll be noticed by other media outlets.
- Make sure you differentiate from other businesses. It’s all well and good to say you offer excellent customer service, but so do many others in your industry. Do you have a live chat on your site to assist consumer enquiries? Do you have an innovative ordering system or website? Make sure you point out those things that really make your business stand out from the crowd.
- Often after the initial screening process, the finalists will undergo a phone interview or site visit by the judging panel. Practice your answers. I’m TERRIBLE at public speaking and the only way I get over that is to make sure I have all of my thoughts straight in my head. I recently attended a Garnier function where I was interviewed on camera. If I had rehearsed the pre-prepared questions first I would have been just fine. As it turns out, I was so excited I thought I’d just wing it. Epic fail! Rehearse with a friend or family member to make sure you can cover everything you want to.
- Sometimes, we’re cash-poor in new business and have the time to go through the application process on our own rather than pay someone else to do it. If this is the case, make sure you proofread your submission, have a friend proofread it, and another friend proofread it. There’s nothing worse than typos in a professional document.
- Provide back up to your broad statements. For example, if you’re a small business and you claim to be ‘green’ in your practices, make sure you talk about your office recycling systems, your email footer that asks people not to print emails or your other initiatives to save on carbon emissions. Just make sure you back up anything you say with evidence. It will make the judge’s job easier as they can see how you’re ‘standing out from the crowd’ without having to delve deeper.
- Have some professional photos taken to accompany your press release and any online media. This is my worst nightmare, honestly I hate being in front of the lens, but I also know how important it is to give an outstanding first impression. If you engage the services of a true professional, they’ll make you look fab regardless of how you feel.
I’m really motivated after that webinar, and I plan to start looking around for some awards to apply for. If you’re stuck for where to begin, there will soon be a site up called awardshub.com which will be a database of various awards from your local area to international opportunities. Too easy.
Have you applied for any awards for your business? Did it help in ways you hadn’t imagined?