Going for the Award: To Apply or Not to Apply?

Contrary to popular belief, the awards season does not culminate with the presentation of the Oscar for Best Picture. Awards spring up all year--and the important ones have nothing to do with Hollywood.

We're talking everything from national, industry-specific awards to the most local, community-driven business and customer service awards. The best award to receive is the one for which you didn't apply--some wonderfully considerate customer, client, vendor or friend spent time to tell the people who matter that, well, you rock. But in reality, the majority of these opportunities require you to put yourself out there and your fingers on the keyboard.

So, how do you decide which awards to "go for"?

We seek awards for credit, legitimacy, even status. And they look great in marketing content--on our websites, in our brochures, or in our storefront windows. But we receive awards based on relevance, quality, and well, a darn good application.

A thoughtful submission requires time on top of your established workload. The next time your boss passes an opportunity your way, ask yourself these essential questions before spending hours--yes, hours--filling out that application.

1) Do we qualify?

OK. It sounds obvious, but the instructions are a great place to start. Read them forward, backward, and upside-down. Before you spend any time thinking about what you will submit, make sure your organization qualifies: look at geographic limitations, the time period in which the award applies, and the details for each category, if applicable. If submitting creative material, quite possibly the worst realization to make is that your absolutely perfect application was submitted as the wrong entry type!

2) Can we measure our success?

Qualitative evidence such as reviews and testimonials is imperative. But as marketers, we have it ingrained in our minds that it isn't successful unless you can prove it, quantitatively: increased sales, lead generation, customer retention, return on investment.

Whether you're a small town cafĂ© entering the Tayloe Murphy Resilience Awards, or a web development company submitting a website redesign to the EMMA Awards for Excellence in Marketing, or the executive producer of an Oscar-nominated blockbuster, metrics matter.

Simply put: the more evidence that your work is supreme, the better. The more numbers and percentages you can supply, the best.

3) How will it benefit us?

Will the award distinguish you from your competition? Will it add credibility? Will it improve or reinforce your reputation? If the answers are yes, yes, and yes, and filling out the application won't distract you from the daily service of your customers, what are you doing? Get typing!