Chris Robinson, Managing Director of Boost Marketing, a UK-based international business awards entry consultancy, uses research to argue that simply entering the Stevie® Awards, the world's premier business awards program, can provide such substantial benefits that literally everyone who goes to the trouble of putting together a well-researched award submission is a winner. Here Chris discusses his findings.
If I were to ask you: “Who benefits the most from entering the Stevie Awards?” you would be justified in answering: “The winners, of course.” You might even think it a ridiculous question.
Is it a ridiculous question, though? In my job at Boost Marketing, I help companies enter awards, and I often hear the line: “I only want to enter if I’m going to win.” I find this a frustrating sentiment, because it is based on a flawed assumption: that the only people who benefit from The Stevie Awards are the winners.
Crafting a strong award submission requires a substantial amount of research, evidence gathering, and writing. Furthermore, attending an awards presentation consumes even more time and budget. So how can you possibly justify all this when there is a significant likelihood you may not actually win?
An obvious answer is that even a small chance of winning a prestigious award is a chance worth taking. But this again assumes that only winners benefit. So are there other benefits—benefits you can enjoy even if you fail to win?
To answer this question, my company surveyed some awards finalists before the winners were announced (to ensure people were still open-minded). We were delighted that, when prompted, 70% of them could name specific benefits that they experienced by simply entering the awards.
The benefits people listed were extremely varied, but three of them were clear winners in terms of popularity:
- The submission process improved evaluation (the measuring of a company or organization’s success to provide evidence in its award entry);
- It demonstrated the company or organization’s commitment to excellence; and
- It motivated employees.
The most popular benefit, that of improved evaluation, might seem odd to those who have not recently taken a shot at winning an award. To help illustrate this, I would like to share a story.
One recent Stevie Award winner, whose business had been established for over a decade, had always resisted running a customer survey because she feared the customers would use it as a stick to beat her. Eventually, she ran a survey in order to prove to the awards judges just how customer-focused her business was. When she finally saw the scores and comments, she became quite emotional: The survey showed that her customers had an extraordinary affection for her and her business.
Without that quick and inexpensive survey, the business owner would never have known just how much her customers appreciated her business, nor would her business have won the award without the confirmed approval ratings. In other words, she was a winner before she actually won the Stevie Award.
The simple process of putting your business and its achievements under the microscope for an award submission can be extremely beneficial. Measuring a company’s outstanding achievements can give employees pride in their work, increase internal credibility, and boost confidence and morale. Employees can discover whether their perception of what they do, day in and day out, bears up under scrutiny.
This process requires courage, but it can be worthwhile if used properly. Lessons learned can lead businesses to raise the bar and make further improvements.
Commitment to Excellence
CEOs will often use awards as key performance indicators. I have seen this in a broad range of industries including automotive, banking, insurance, and training. Is this just an exercise in Public Relations? Well, maybe a little, but the main reason why CEOs tout these awards is because they want their businesses—and the departments in them—to aim for more than just best practice. They want their employees to focus on being the best.
These days there is a big difference between simply achieving best practice and being the best in an industry. It’s the difference between being the leader, and being in the pack trying to catch up. CEOs know that a credible award like a Stevie is a true measure of success.
The Positive Effect of Competition
When one department wins an award, other departments see the attention and praise heaped upon their colleagues and want similar recognition. This has an extremely positive effect.
People also soon realize that you cannot win an award simply by writing a great entry. Judges are too smart for this. It is not good enough just to sound outstanding. Awards are for those who actually are outstanding. A badly written, badly evidenced award submission prevents the judges from learning just how good a company really is.
Awards are rather like Olympic medals in that they discourage people from settling for best practice and encourage them to raise their game and to leave their competition in the dust.
Motivation goes to the very heart of why The Stevie Awards are so important. Look more closely at the crystal pyramid held aloft by the 16” tall, 24-karat gold-plated Stevie Award trophy and you will discover another reason to enter these awards: The pyramid represents the Hierarchy of Needs, developed in the 1960s by psychologist Abraham Maslow, who observed that after basic needs are met, human beings seek the esteem of their peers.
Maslow was referring to individuals, but the principle applies just as well to teams, departments, and whole businesses. This is why The Stevie Awards recognize all of these categories in their business competitions.
Do you need to win an award to gain recognition from your peers? Of course not. But to have a peer tell you or your team: “I am so impressed by you that I want to enter you into an international awards program,” and to follow that up by writing a glowing award submission, will have a positive effect on the self esteem and motivation of your employees, win or lose.
Whether you are confident about entering one of The Stevie Awards competitions or not, understand that while winning one of these handsome trophies is enormously beneficial, so too is the process that you have to go through just to put together an entry. It will focus and sharpen the awareness of what you are doing right; it will provide a catalyst for continuing improvement and motivation; and it will help satisfy that basic business and human need: appreciation and respect.
The Stevie Awards are now conferring Silver and Bronze Awards in addition to the main Gold Stevie Award, meaning that you are three times more likely to be a winner.
About Chris Robinson:
Chris Robinson is Managing Director of Boost Marketing, the world’s first award-entry consultancy, which now has a team of 15 award-entry consultants based around the world. Since the company was founded in 2006, Boost Marketing consultants have helped over 200 businesses win over 400 awards.