Have you heard? YDOP and WTM Digital have merged to become Central PA’s powerhouse digital agency. Click here to learn more!


Digital Marketing

Guide to Winning Small Business Awards

admin | Feb 27, 2020

Tips & Resources to Get Started

If you are like most small businesses, you struggle with growing brand recognition and separating yourself from the competition. You may provide excellent customer service and value, but are looking for help in building a reputation within your community or industry.

There is one way to fast-track your brand awareness campaign: winning awards.

How To Become an Award-Winning Business

In this guide, we will be covering everything you need to start winning awards for your company, including:

By the end of this guide, you’ll know exactly the type of award to target for your company in 2020, as well as what you need to do to get started.

Sounds promising? Let’s start.

Why Earn Awards for Your Business?

There are a few reasons why you might want your company to win awards.

  • Community/Industry Recognition – Some awards – especially ones given by your peers – is a great way to receive much-deserved recognition within your industry or community.
  • Brand Recognition – When you win an award, you will get your company in front of new customers and others who may have never heard of your brand before.
  • Showcase Work – Project-based awards are awesome at elevating and showcasing your work and capabilities.
  • Selling & Marketing Advantage – Awards are important trust symbols that can be used throughout your marketing and sales efforts.
  • Improve Recruitment – In addition to workplace-related awards, winning local or industry-specific awards can help with attracting and retaining talent to your team.

Types of Business Awards You Can Win

Here are some of the types of awards available for businesses to apply for and win. Specific awards will depend on your industry or location; since we are a marketing agency in Lancaster, PA, many of the examples are local to central Pennsylvania.

Local Awards

Every city, community, and state has a nearly endless supply of awards they hand out to local businesses. Often sponsored by a local newspaper, lifestyle magazine, or business journal, these awards are either judged by a local panel or are voted on by the community.

Within these local award competitions, there may be dozens of categories. Make sure you read through all the categories because you might qualify for several of them.


small business awards - local awards

Industry Awards

Within your specific industry, there are plenty of awards or recognitions given out by a trade association, membership group, or industry publication.

The criteria for winning changes based on the type of award. Some are selected by a panel of judges, while others may be tied to revenue or growth, using publically available data or info that you submit when you apply for the award.


small business awards - industry awards

Manufacturer/Supplier Awards

Many manufacturers, suppliers, and dealers offer awards based on sales, revenue, or customer service. To win these awards, you usually need to be selling a lot of their products and participate in their contractor or dealer program.

In some cases, if you hit certain benchmarks you are recognized as a top-level or elite dealer/installer. This often comes with increased visibility in their marketing, longer warranties, discounts or co-op funding, and invitations to training and other events. 


small business awards - manufacturer awards

Company & Workplace Culture

Do you have an amazing company culture? Do your employees love your office and the atmosphere created there? You may want to celebrate this by applying for local or regional workplace awards.

These awards reach across industries and are determined by employee satisfaction surveys and other data you provide. Winning one of these awards is a great validation to the hard work you’ve put into shaping your culture, and will help in attracting and retaining talent.


small business awards - company culture

Individual Accomplishments

In addition to the numerous awards your company can compete for and win, there are just as many awards for founders, owners, salespeople, and other team members. To win these awards, you usually need to be nominated or apply and then be selected by an awards committee or panel.

Business owners can be nominated for awards based on their leadership, entrepreneurial skills, and community involvement. Sales reps should look at earning a spot in the President’s Club or other sales-based achievements. And most local chambers of commerce have specific awards for women and young professionals.


small business awards - individual awards

Additional Award Opportunities

In your city or industry, there are plenty of additional awards you may qualify for. Always be on the lookout for awards that might be a good fit for your company.

Historic Commission Awards – Your local historic preservation committee may honor projects that save, restore, or adapt historic buildings in your community. These types of awards are great for architects & contractors who work on the projects, individuals & organizations that support these projects, as well as community-minded property or business owners who want to save a piece of history. 

Non-Profit Honors – Community nonprofits rely on the support of local volunteers, donors, and other champions to further their mission. Many of them celebrate this support with honors, awards, and other types of recognition. If your company or employees support a local not-for-profit organization, you may be recognized for your support. While you don’t support them for the recognition, you may want to promote your award as a way to elevate the profile of your company or the non-profit you support.

Online Directories – Online marketplaces – like HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, or TripAdvisor – offer awards for listed companies. These are normally based on customer satisfaction, reviews, or other user-generated metrics.

Marketing Awards – Proud of your new website, video, or social media campaign? See how it compares with others in your space. There are several national and international marketing award competitions that businesses or their marketing partner can enter. Most of these competitions rely on a panel of judges who rate entries and determine winners.



The Secret to Winning Business Awards

Interested in winning awards for your business? Here are some tips to help you rack up the trophies.

  1. Focus on Your Business & Reputation – Simply put, you won’t be winning any awards if you have poor customer service or a bad reputation in your community. Make sure you are creating an award-worthy business before you try to win awards.
  2. Track Your Competition – There is nothing like the thrill and satisfaction of winning an award over one of your competitors. Keep track of the awards they are winning and consider adding those to the top of the list of awards to pursue next year.
  3. Plan Ahead – Keep track of application deadlines; if you miss one this year, put it on your calendar for next year. Some awards have an entry fee; set aside marketing dollars for the awards you intend to apply for
  4. Create a Killer Application – Don’t fill out your application an hour before the deadline. Take some time to create a thoughtful, well-written application. Depending on the award, you may need to submit essays, testimonials, or photos/videos of the project. Be sure to invest in quality imagery and content that will help your application stand out among the rest.
  5. Engage Your Supporters – For some awards, there may be a poll or vote to determine the winner. In this case, mobilize your customers, clients, and community to vote on your behalf. Create an email campaign, send a postcard, and boost a Facebook post to get them to participate in the process.
  6. Participate in Events – Most local and industry awards have in-person events where they announce the winners. Plan to be at these ceremonies to meet the organizers and make connections with the other nominees. If you can, be sure to bring others from your team; it will make it much sweeter to celebrate a victory with others!
  7. Enter Next Year – Know what’s better than winning an award? Winning the award again! Make sure to enter the contest next year to defend your title and keep your streak going.