So far this year we’ve been blazing a trail not only for our clients but for ourselves too, entering, being shortlisted and winning awards.

Sometimes overlooked as they can be time-intensive to complete and expensive to enter, awards are an excellent way of raising the profile of your business whilst credibly endorsing it.

Below I have outlined my top tips for identifying and entering awards.

Do your research – if you don’t know where to start, the most obvious place could be to look at your competitors. Have they won an industry accolade that’s relevant to your business and what sector-specific conferences and events are on the horizon, that are being regularly plugged in trade news? Awards are continuing to grow in popularity so keep a diary of those happening throughout the year. Take note of the entry submission dates too – many have early bird entries which tend to be considerably cheaper than extended deadlines.

Consider brand-fit – before entering every single award you find and blowing your marketing budget on award entries alone, consider how well they align with your brand. Question whether winning or being shortlisted for this award will benefit your business. Entering fewer that complement your offering and profile the excellence of a product or service, makes much better sense than entering an award for vanity purposes.

Stop procrastinating and start doing – one thing I regularly hear is business people saying ‘we could have won that!’ Up here in the North East the saying goes that ‘Shy bairns get nowt’ and nothing could be truer, than when it comes to awards. You have to enter to win, thinking about it won’t make it happen, so rather than reflecting on the award that ‘could’ve been yours’ – enter.

Stick to your budget –developing submissions and attending awards can be costly, so earmark budget and stick to it. Plan a few throughout the year which are best suited to your business and don’t pull too tightly on the purse strings.

Be realistic – we all like to believe we’re the best in the business, but when it comes to awards, grand statements need to be backed up with hard facts. Ensure you can quantify your successes with statistics, research and client endorsements. Without these your hard work and hard earned cash could go to waste.

Don’t forget to share your achievements – if you are shortlisted for an award, or are in fact the winner, then make sure your customers and competitors know. Accolade wins should be branded on your website, included within company signatures and profiled in relevant news and on social channels, using appropriate hashtags.