You've put in the hard work and been shortlisted as a finalist in a business awards, or even won! But now what do you do? In this presentation learn practical and actionable tips on how to leverage the business awards program to showcase your business.
Key learning outcomes:
Hello, I'm Caroline Lovett. I'm from a company called Credible Source Solutions. And today I'd like to share with you raising business awareness through award submissions. I'm an expert in award submission writing, awards planning, judging, and I've had over 20 years experience. So today I wanted to share how your business can actually get some leverage when you submit an awards submission.
Okay. Some of the ideas I'll share with you today are simple and innovative ideas. They'll position your business as an eligible business in a rewards program, and also help you to be picked up and identified as a credible business that has actually had some really good results. So how do we do this? How do we raise that awareness?
Well, the first point when you've entered an awards program and you've been identified as a finalist, or even a potential winner in your program, or even if you've just submitted, the best avenue to raise that awareness is to take to social media. To let your customers know, to let your connections know, to let your family know, and even your local community Facebook pages know - you've entered an award, you've entered for a leadership award, a team award, whatever award category it is.
And through the social media, whether that's Facebook or LinkedIn (if you want to raise your business profile), Instagram, even Twitter, make sure that you do capture some really good information about what you've entered. It builds a fan club for your business.
If you haven't been identified as a finalist or winner yet, your fans will ask how you're going and you keep doing updates. You can say we've just received notification. We've received our nomination. We're so excited. If you're nominating an individual, put their photo up to say, Janet from accounts has been nominated for her customer service. We really have our fingers crossed for Janet. You generate that social media excitement.
The next point is - when you're generating that social media excitement - make sure you have some relevant hashtags. Now hashtags have become over-utilised in recent months and it's been a very interesting exercise to watch how people have got bored of them, and haven't being able to read through the 70 hashtags that have been put on a Facebook post. And some of those hashtags are fun hashtags, some of them are relevant business hashtags.
So, what we share with you is in a Facebook and Instagram forum, you've got more opportunity to play. Put some relevant hashtags about the awards program, about the awards category, your business hashtags, tag some people in there that are part of the awards nomination process. Whether it be the business that's running the awards, all those categories to make people realise that you're actually in this great program, that you've nominated people for this, and that you've made that connection on your social media.
When you go into LinkedIn, you want to keep it as a professional posting. Recommendation is no more than five hashtags, just because the way LinkedIn works. Make sure you pick the right five, make sure you pick the leadership hashtag (if it's leadership) or if it's innovation or product, anything that's very relevant to the award category you're in. Tag the awards program in there as well.
And if you're nominating an individual, there is nothing more wonderful than your staff member being tagged in whatever social media platform you're using. It's a real sense of achievement and you're proud of them. You're proud of the team. That type of activity. So, make sure you get your hashtags right when you're tagging your brands and your awards in social media.
Another way to promote your business and create amazing business awareness of your success is to - when you are identified as a finalist or a winner in your category - (and of course, because you've listened and watched my previous one about it, writing excellent award submissions, you should be in those categories by now.)
Those businesses and awards programs like the Moreton Bay Region Business Excellence & Innovation Awards, and the Brendale Business Awards will give you a little logo, or a little icon to put at the bottom of your email signature for your emails. Even give you consent at times to use on your business cards etc.
Do not think that is irrelevant. That is so important for you, because as people receive communications from you, you are a business of calibre now. You are a finalist or a winner in a recognised awards program. The Lord Mayor Awards in Brisbane city council is another one that allows you to use those logos. Anything like that. Don't miss that opportunity. Those signature blocks and those business cards that identify as a finalist or a winner, give you great business awareness. They give you that clout that you are a business that we want to work with, that we want to engage with, and we want to be a customer of.
The next point is looking at your connections. If you are an awards submitter, a finalist, or winner in your category. What you do next is really important.
When you are finalist or when you are submitted in the awards submission, you'll find a lot of these awards will create network groups, pre-awards events, where you catch up with other competitors and also at the awards event.
So to go through each of those individually. At your network events, when you're meeting with people, let them know you've gone in for this award. Let them know a little bit about it, and how excited you are. If you become a finalist or a winner in your category, let your network groups know that this is a real great achievement. It starts to socialise that there's an awards program, and that you are a high calibre business that's been selected to be a finalist or a winner in that category.
The awards programs - when they hold pre-events - they'll get together all the finalists in the categories to meet and to mingle. They'll bring judges in, they'll bring people from the awards program business. For example, the council awards, Moreton Bay council or Brisbane City Council, they'll have potentially senior executives, senior people there to meet and introduce themselves to you. Take that opportunity to network, to introduce yourself, and to tell them about what you do, what your business is, why you're excited about the program, tell them about Mary in accounts and that you're very proud of Mary, because she's a nominee.
Make sure you sing the song so they know that this is something you take pride in, and you're not just going through the motions because you really should just nominate for an award. This is important to you. It's important to your team. It's important to your business, and you need to make sure that these people know that and you make some great connections at these pre-events because you meet likeminded people. And you can grow some business opportunities and work with other businesses, as well as getting to know you are of a high standard in business, like them.
At the awards event, you might not be a finalist. If you're there, if you want to go, because you want to celebrate others' achievements, you'll be on a table of people you've never met before, potentially. Introduce yourself to people around, have your business cards with you. Make sure they know that you're a nominee. Make sure they know if you're a finalist, let them know what your business is and strike up interactions and congratulate them on being there as well. It's not all about you. It's about everybody else's sense of achievement. Make sure you share that when you're making these connections at these events.
And the other thing as well, I'm a big advocate for this. It is not all about you. When you go back to your normal networking groups - that you might regularly meet on a weekly or a monthly basis - share the awards with them. Tell them your story. It's really good to stand up and tell them your story. There are a lot of other businesses in that room that you network with who would never consider entering an awards program. By sharing your story, you're allowing them to consider that they could be potentially eligible as well.
And what you're doing is you're creating a nice environment of trust. A business awareness that they're in a network group with a really good credible business that has won awards or has been finalists and awards. That allows them, when they're promoting your business to other customers, clients, or other networks, to say, "Have you met Paul Jones? He's from an award winning business in the Moreton Bay area." And that just gives you that extra leverage and gives you some business opportunities to know that you're a good business to engage with.
The next point I have is a cheer squad. Now for some of you might feel quite uncomfortable with this, but this is one way to maximise creating business awareness about your successes and awards programs.
A cheer squad is to get a group of people together (on social media or through any other networking opportunities) where you ask them - when you put a social media piece up about how successful you've been - to turn to your cheer squad and ask them to like, to comment and to share.
If you're at a networking meeting, your cheer squad will help to socialise how well you and your business have done to people that they're talking to while you're in the same environment. What this does, is it creates a sense of engagement and how good your business is because everybody's talking about you, and that increases your business awareness. What's so special about this company? Why is everybody talking about them?
And a cheer squad isn't anything that's dodgy. You're not forcing people to promote you. You're telling people you'd love them to help you to grow as a business. And you'll find your biggest advocates and your biggest fans will want to help you to grow. It's a hard thing for a lot of people to do. They don't like that because of 'tall poppy syndrome'. But you'll find your cheer squad will come to the surface very quickly and they will help to promote your business. And that helps to grow that awareness. And that will help you to grow in business as well.
And then one of the last points is about reviews. When you are a finalist or a winner in your awards category, you will be interviewed, you will be in local magazines, local websites, business websites. You'll have some exposure. Do not shy away from that exposure.
Make sure you're versed and rehearsed in being able to talk to the media, to talk to the TV cameras ,and talk to the journalists that are going to write your story and share it on social media. Have your messaging consistent. Have your speech - if you're going to be able to go up and give a thank you speech - ready, concise, consistent, and make it sound important that people want to listen to what you've got to say.
Your reviews are very important. Now you've all seen the Oscars. You've all seen how people have mucked up when they were taking away that big Oscar. And we always remember the failed thank you speech. We never remember why they got the Oscar. Don't be an Oscar sad story. Be a story that actually has great reviews because you're proud of what you've achieved.
And to share with you finally, before we finish and summarize, I want to give you some positioning examples. I've told you I'm an expert in this. I have some great clients that have won some exceptional awards and I've built relationships with these clients.
My first client is a gentleman called Steve Cook from Signs Australia. He was a finalist in the Lord Mayor's award last year for a micro business. He started a new business, Logonets, which were netted load covers actually labeled with customer company brands on them.
Steve has never entered for an award before, and he has an amazing story. And I love people with amazing stories. At the pre-awards event, he introduced himself to the Lord Mayor. He introduced himself to everybody else that was in the room. He gave out his business cards. He also entered into a Government award for Queensland government award and he introduced himself to all the key people he could find.
Now we all know an overnight success, not an overnight success, but Steve rang me last week. So excited because he's getting traction. People are now ringing him back saying, tell me more about this. Don't feel just because it didn't happen overnight. (Like the Pantene shampoo adverts. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen) give it time, but you need to create that awareness.
And my biggest success story. And he'll sit here watching this and he'll laugh to himself, is Mike Arieni from Solar Bollard Lighting.
Mike and I started working together two years ago. We started working on the Brendale business awards program, which I'd helped to establish. And then we started the first Moreton Bay Business Excellence award submission. And Mike did quite well in those awards programs, but we knew he could do better. So last year, I actually got to know the real Mike Arieni. We spoke about business exposure for him. Getting his name out with Innovate Moreton Bay. He worked really well with the team here as well. And then he and I sat down and looked at his award submissions for last year.
At the last Moreton Bay Business Excellence Awards, Mike won three out of his four categories, and he was a finalist in his fourth category. And he took home the business of the year because he worked to make sure that he had his business in check. And then with that he made sure that he had all the exposure on his social media. He had all the interviews right. He talks about it. He uses the tags in his emails and on the awards logos. And he has people now asking, who is this solar bollard lighting.
So never, ever, ever underestimate building your business reputation up through the power of nominating your business, your team, or your individuals in your business for an award.
Don't forget social media, email signature blocks, making those connections at networks and events set up by the awards program, sharing awards information, because it's not all about you. Others deserve to know about and help them to succeed. Set up your cheer squad and make sure you've got your wording right for your reviews and your thank you speech.
I'm Caroline Lovett from Credible Source Solutions. My website is crediblesource.com.au. Please contact me. I'd love to help you with your rewards program and give you some business exposure. Thank you.