My childhood room was filled with trophies, plaques, and photos of my achievements. While I was on a fair share of winning teams, I didn’t expect to win an award if my team didn’t perform well. The norm today is to give a trophy to every kid on the team—even the losing team. But, I’m not convinced this is a good way to build character and sportsmanship. After all, someone has to lose.
Recently, a local firm approached me, asking if I would apply for a local technology business award. The application fee was $2,500 and I was a shoo-in. However, being asked to self-nominate and pay for my company to win an award set off alarm bells. It also made me think through a series of questions. Who evaluates these awards? Are they valuable tools that enhance your brand or just revenue-generating devices for the awards’ firm?
Over the years, my company has been fortunate to win a variety of industry awards. Some we’ve applied for, and others we’ve received through nominations. Awards motivate my team and enhance our reputation. Yet, given that I don’t believe in awards for just showing up, I don’t want my team to become reliant on the little hit that winning an award gives. If the team is always working for awards, it misses the real point, which is working for our customers.
If I’m feeling iffy about how to select awards and whether they are truly valuable or not, I know other entrepreneurs and business owners feel the same. The dilemma requires an objective look at the pros and cons of industry awards:
- Credibility. Awards help raise your profile and, regardless of the source, they look impressive.
- Marketing and PR. Awards give you an excuse to send out a press release and reach out to your clients and customers.
- Morale Boost. Your team gets a real boost from being acknowledged for their hard work. As a company, an award gives you the excuse to celebrate; you’ve received outside confirmation of your firm’s quality.
- Competitive advantage. Can your competitors say they have won awards? Awards differentiate your company from others. You can mention awards in proposals and other write-ups about your company.
Marjorie Adams is president/CEO of Fourlane, a firm that improves the efficiency of client accounting departments through bookkeeping, tax, software consulting and business process training. The firm specializes in showing customers that they can continue in higher level QuickBooks products as they grow. In her spare time, Marjorie catches up with one of her six sisters, sweats through a morning run, reads a business book or watches the latest AMC show.
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