Knowing When to Apply for Industry Awards

Industry awards and accolades can add credibility to your brand and establish your company’s position as category leader.  While it is a nice surprise to be notified of an award or recognition without applying, many programs require a thorough application process to even be considered.

How can you quickly identify which awards are worth your time and which are just worthless? Below are key questions to ask when deciding if you should devote the time to applying for an industry award or recognition.

1. Is the award credible? Consider how long this award has been around, which company is sponsoring it and how important it is to other industry leaders. Check the website for past winners; are they brands you recognize? Admire? Aspire to be like?

2. Do my customers care? Take some time to do a bit of research.  Are competitive past winners calling attention to the award on their website, in a news release or in ads and other marketing materials?  Are customers in your target audience talking about the award, the ceremony or past winners with merit on blogs, forums, Twitter or Facebook?

3. How does the focus of the award align with my marketing goals and key messages? Perhaps the focus is on innovative product design, and your goal is to position your product as such.  Perfect fit, and it sounds like you will be a contender.  But don’t waste time applying for eco-friendly awards when the best idea you can submit is a corporate recycling program.  Ask yourself if you can make a strong case as an entrant and whether winning the award fits into your larger marketing plan.

4. Will the award support additional business objectives? Will winners have the opportunity to network with potential customers at a ceremony or event?  Is the recognition something key consumer and trade media outlets would be interested in?  Can this accolade act as a key selling point in a sales presentation?

5. Is there an entry fee? It is common for a reasonable entry fee to be associated with an award application.  In fact, nominal fees may indicate a certain degree of formality – like a third-party judges panel – that add to an award’s credibility.  Extremely high entry fees for awards that fail to deliver any tangible benefits should raise a red flag.  On the flip side, a free application shouldn’t be an automatic invitation to throw your hat in the ring.  The key is weigh the benefits you will achieve with a win versus the cost of entry.

While there is no exact combination of correct answers to the questions above, they should all factor into your final decision of whether to apply for an industry award.  Ultimately, the decision is about whether the time and effort you put into the process will yield results that add value to your business.

Jennifer Manocchio


After starting her career with Edelman in Chicago, Jennifer joined Sweeney and quickly established herself as an exceptional industry innovator. In 2004, she opened Sweeney’s first full-service office outside of Cleveland and quickly rose through the ranks to become agency president. Jen leads by example and without fear. She has been critical to agency growth throughout the past decade and continues to lead the agency into the future.