When the products and solutions awards are announced at your next trade show, will your company be in the winner’s circle (and thinking about how to get your plaques and trophies home) or will you be on the sidelines looking in and wondering what your competitors know that you don’t? They either have superior products OR they have a crack team working on their awards entries. Sometimes it’s the former, but oftentimes it’s the latter—those people that know what awards organizers are looking for and can write award-winning entries.
Trade shows are starting to make a comeback, and one of the things we’ve missed most about them are the strong awards programs they promote. While some programs did go on in 2020 and early 2021 minus their trade show component, and many organizations and publications stepped up to fill the awards “gap,” they didn’t have the same cache as when they accompanied a large event.
So how can you get your company into the winner’s circle? Get started with these five tips. Some sound like absolute no-brainers … until you forget to include the URL, or a product shot, or …
Plan ahead. There’s no time like now to start preparing for the next round of awards. You know from previous awards the general guidelines and approximate deadlines. Trust us, they won’t change too much year to year (unless the trade show dates change, which has happened a lot in 2021). So, start thinking about your award entry well in advance—at least a month before the deadline and even earlier, if you can. You know, for example, that award organizers are going to ask for a product URL for a product award. Set one up in advance (and hide it if you’re announcing AT the show). Get little things, like your company description, taken care of. Everything that you can do early should be done early.
One of the best times to do a basic awards entry is actually when you prepare for announcing the product or solution. If you do it as part of the process, you have all the materials you need for your awards entry. You know the product differentiators, the metrics (cost effectiveness, efficiency savings, etc.), and the initial customers, photos, and all the other details that go into award-winning entries.
Define your audience. Make sure you tell the judges who your target market is. Hint: For B2B companies, it’s unlikely “everyone.” You figured that out in alpha and refined the market in beta. Now you know exactly who you’re targeting. Make sure that’s crystal clear to the judges. Be as specific as possible, naming both the type of target within an organization and any vertical markets for which the product or solution is well-suited. Make sure your customer benefit statements are well defined for each type and market.
Make the value proposition clear. Right out of the gate, tell the judges what the benefit is to your end users. Don’t bury it under piles of corporate speak. If your product can reduce time to market by 30 percent, tell them that. If it can reduce costs by 25 percent, tell them that too. The more value you can show for the end user, the stronger your entry. At the same time, cut way back on the jargon. You know what we’re talking about. It’s annoying to read (and probably annoying to write over and over, too!) It’s better to take a “just the facts” approach and let the benefits of your product or solution take center stage. If you have customers, make sure their voice is heard as well.
Keep materials in the same folder. This isn’t the only award you’re going to be entering, right? Keeping materials that every awards program requires—company logo, company description, photos, etc.—together means you can assemble your entry that much more quickly.
Pick the right PR partner. Public relations teams should be in contact with awards organizers throughout the year, looking for any new qualifications that this year’s program holds. It’s best to find that partner who can help you manage, submit … and WIN awards.
We’re really looking forward to seeing some of the bigger events return in 2021 and 2022. Although some companies are still planning for virtual presences at events due to the ongoing pandemic, there are signs that events will still go on, and with them the awards programs we all know and love. Be prepared for any eventuality by prepping your awards entries in advance.
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