Awards Season is Here: Are You in the Running?

Written by Paige Dawson

While we love to watch entertainers get decked out and vie for coveted honors like a Golden Globe, Grammy or Oscar, helping our clients win business awards is much more fun for us.

If you’ve never considered awards as part of your brand awareness and marketing strategy, this is the year to start applying! Before you know it, you’ll be prepping an acceptance speech and dusting off a shelf for some shiny new hardware. Read on to find out why and how, as well as some links for awards we especially love.

Why do awards matter?

We always preach the importance of third-party validation in the eyes of prospects—just like positive media coverage about your business, prospects are much more likely to believe something is credible if it is stated by someone else. No amount of artful convincing from your marketing materials, your website, or your salespeople will carry the same weight as an objective outside source (in this case, some vetted award). An award is the ultimate third-party endorsement and you can use the heck out of it in your marketing materials for many years after winning…think in news releases, company timelines, sales presentations, etc. We’ve even worked with clients to create blog posts, webinar and conference presentations with tips and insights on how they operate or what they did to achieve success: it’s the ultimate thought leadership piece as we lead with an award from a third-party and then share how we achieved it by our client’s employees.

How do you enter? And, how do you win?

Most awards programs are surprisingly easy to enter and may require less effort than you might expect. And, the majority are free to enter though some have a nominal entry fee, so read the fine print. Also, in that fine print be sure to see if certain data points, such as revenue numbers, are shared publicly in media coverage or are used solely by the judges.

As we work with privately owned companies, many of our clients prefer to keep revenue numbers close to the vest, so some awards, such as the Inc. 500 awards, may be something they skip as that award releases actual revenue numbers whereas the Dallas 100 awards share publicly the percent of revenue growth versus actual numbers. As you evaluate award opportunities, ensure that you understand how data could be shared.

Typically, you can enter or nominate yourself though in a few instances you may want a third source to nominate you such as your law firm, accounting firm, past award winner, etc. as an easy way to add extra credibility to your nomination.

Some awards are based solely on objective facts and figures such as revenue growth, while others are judged more subjectively.  We often help our clients draft or beef up this type of award application content to really make the case on why a company or individual deserves to be recognized. The more popular ‘Best Places to Work’ awards are driven by employee surveys, so participation by your team member is critical.

What type of awards should you consider?

At MPD, we love to help clients achieve awards across several categories so that they all build up to our goal of promoting an organization as the best in show if you will. So, we look at local, national and industry opportunities as well as those that recognize achievement in terms of revenue, human resources, technology, and leadership categories.

Dallas-Fort Worth Area Awards

If you are based in our hometown of Dallas-Fort Worth, check out the below options that are notable for companies and individuals. We’re honored to have quite a few of our clients featured on these over the years…and for some, every year. If you’re outside of Dallas, most likely your local market has similar type awards.

If you’ve built a great culture and happy employees, consider one of the two employee-driven awards that are free to enter and are awarded based on the results of an employee survey. (NOTE: both are accepting applications for 2019):

If you’ve experienced considerable fast growth over a three-year period, apply for the Dallas 100 award. Applications open in Spring. This is by far the most high-profile award for privately held companies locally and one that we happily find most of our clients on over the years. In fact, the 2018 winner list included MPD clients: CONTI, pawTree and Vonlane…hooray.

If you’re all about doing the right thing, consider a new Torch for Ethics award by the Better Business Bureau in Dallas. And, for strong leaders, the ultimate locally and nationally is the coveted EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards. MPD fav Alex Danza of Vonlane won the Southwest Region award last year…such a treat and well deserved.

If technology is your game, the annual Tech Titans awards are a must for nomination and consideration. Awards are available for companies and individuals. We had fun celebrating client CTO Michael Boren with Beck Technology when he won two years ago. Nominations are open now. You’ll also find if you explore awards for functional roles such as Finance, Marketing, Supply Chain, Legal, etc. with other award providers.

Speaking of individual awards, the Dallas Business Journal awards provide a plethora of categories and programs. We scan the open listings weekly to assess good fits for our clients. Some of our recent winners include Diane Waghorne of Tech Safety Lines as a Women in Business winner and Richie Butler of Project Unity as a Minority Business Leader winner. We also like to assess options with the D Magazine family.

National & Industry Awards

Just as there are top workplace and fast-growth awards locally in Dallas-Fort Worth, there are also the same type of awards at a national level. For our entrepreneur and privately held business clients, the Inc. list is a target for many to achieve.

  • Inc. 5000 – the venerable publication’s annual ranking of the fastest-growing companies in America. (Note: early deadline is mid-March.) One note on this one—your revenue figures will be made public so best to avoid if you want to keep these numbers under the radar.
  • Best Places to Work – employee-based survey (Note: deadline is Feb 22.)

By far, we love exploring the associations and publications in our clients’ industries for award programs. You may be surprised at how many you find! These awards are often specific in nature so are a great way to showcase an important value or strength and to build credibility in your industry.

For example, our client Skiles Group is hyper focused on Safety and Lean Construction for its construction firm projects. Last year they took home multiple awards for safety to set themselves apart. The coveted awards included TEXO’s ABC STEP Diamond Award, TEXO Distinguished Building Award, AGC Certificate of Commendation, Build Texas Proud and an AGC Construction Safety Excellence Award. Whew!

P.S. A word to the wise…do your homework. If an award seems too good to be true, requires you to purchase a plaque or provide a list of your vendors to hit up for advertising, seems super goofy or skimpy, trust your gut. I’m betting almost everyone reading has been nominated for the “Who’s Who Lists” at one point or another.

Congratulations to our clients who have claimed some well-deserved honors! If you’d like to develop an awards strategy for your organization or would like help tossing your company’s name into the hat for an upcoming award, please contact us today.

About Paige Dawson

With expertise in marketing, business strategy and public relations, as well as ‘in the trenches’ experience as a business owner, Paige Dawson brings a unique blend of talent to clients. As president and founder of MPD Ventures Company, Paige works with executives and entrepreneurs throughout the country to develop key messages, marketing strategies and measurable campaigns, driven by client business goals. She has extensive experience providing counsel for professional service firms, technology companies, associations and nonprofits.