Leveraging Awards: Making Them Work as Hard for You as You Did for Them

By Betsy Weaver, Ed.D.

[This article originally appeared in Enterprising Women Magazine]

 

Congratulations—“You are a winner!” If your business has earned a spot on the medal stand, there’s a good chance you’re already using the Internet to reach your target audience and grow your business.

That said, even if you are “wired,” statistics change fast. Here are a few for context:

  • 89% of all Americans are online and small screens (smartphones and tablets) dominate.
  • 2.8 million emails are sent every second.
  • LinkedIn has 6 million unique, 6.9 million visits and 53 million page views per day.

And in the past couple of years, there’s been a virtual stampede to “go mobile.” Though many people associate this solely with texting, the fact is that most of us are doing much more—even all of our online activities—primarily through handheld devices. Texting is only one mobile strategy; optimizing all of your messaging for mobile is imperative.

Still, a mobile communication strategy will return a big fat “0” if you haven’t already cultivated your audience. How do you build a following so that when you do win an award, people will care about and promote your success, thereby attracting business?

A good place to start is by establishing your company as a thought leader in your industry, providing your audience (your potential customer base) with high-value, need-to-know information when they need it. Keep this in mind when following these 15 must-do’s to leverage your award.

 

Before You Win

Beginning in January each year, put a structure in place for quickly and effectively announcing good news about your company when it happens. This structure blends traditional public relations and new e-relationships.

1.  Build your best basic press release NOW. Be sure to include “About Us” details, your bio and access to your website, blogs, Facebook page, Twitter feed, YouTube channel and LinkedIn profiles.

2.  Once developed, keep this release updated and at the ready.

3.  Make sure it’s on your website and electronically distributable, with all URL links checked.

4.  Establish an “interested party list” for your company. This goes beyond the traditional “press list” to include all of those you reach through your outreach efforts and who through their connections with you—via liking, following, subscribing or attending—have shown interest in who you are and what you do.

 

Make the Most of Award Events

5. Once you receive an honor, use your communication structure to get the word out 30 days before the award event or ceremony.

6.  Attend the ceremony and network like crazy. There are business and press opportunities there (think video clips, photos, award organization press releases, etc.).

7.  Talk with past and present winners. Ask them what they’ve gotten out of the award and how? Adopt the best strategies for your own use—this year or the next time you win. You can also blog about and promote those ideas—giving the sources credit, of course, and letting them know you’ve done this. They’ll likely reciprocate.

8.  Live tweet the award event, or have a colleague handle the tweets while you work the room since face-to-face encounters yield the strongest relationships.

9.  Update your website and internal content (boilerplate, power points, signature lines, etc.) to promote your win. Don’t forget your company’s email footer; it’s a great mini billboard.

10.  Notify your team, friends and family (and your “interested party list”) about your win. Always share this news along with key stats that your audience can immediately use. You want them re-tweeting and commenting about you in relevant groups, but they won’t do that unless you give them something relevant to pass along.

11.  Mention your award in all descriptions of your company’s expertise—on your website and other outlets, and in your press materials, bio, proposals, white papers and any articles you have published.

12.  Do what your mother always told you to do: Write thank-you notes! Graciously thank those who helped you make the award happen. Personal letters, or even audio or video thanks, are always appreciated.

 

It’s Not Over Until You Assess How You Did

13.  An important part of leveraging the value of winning an award is assessing what you made of it and learning from your mistakes as you prepare for the next one. So, quantify what happened:

  • What are the open rates of your communications before and after your win?
  • Was there any feedback or response from your connections pre- and post-award event?
  • Can you attribute any new sales to your activities?
  • What have you learned and applied that came from winning the award?

14.  What brought you the biggest return for your investment of time? Incorporate that into your business, so that you can do it again—ideally, sooner than your next win.

15.  Remember, any evaluation efforts you invest in now become a baseline for the future. Commit to capitalizing on this. Use and reuse what worked.

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