Best Ever Material Handling Product
Entering awards can be great PR for your company. But, whether you’re a provider or user of material handling equipment, beware the lure of silverware.
You don’t have to win an award for it to be worthwhile entering. Even being shortlisted can generate positive interest in an individual or business. However, it’s important to plan involvement in awards astutely.
They give prizes for everything these days:
Product of the year, as voted on by magazine readers.
Product of the year, as decided by magazine staff.
Most valuable supplier, as awarded by a trade association.
New product award. Best enhancement of an old product. Best trainer. Most influential leader. Etc. Etc.
The list is endless.
So, if you’ve decided to get your share of the spotlight, where should you start?
A quest for silverware begins by making a connection between an award and a business / person. This can happen in two ways:
- Via various forms of nomination, which can be private or unbeknown to the company entered.
- Entering yourself as an individual or business.
Let’s isolate the second one, given that there’s not much anyone can do about the first, other than be brilliant enough for someone to make a referral or nomination. In these instances, selecting the right award and category is important. We’ve already hinted at how many there are out there, and social media throws up new ones every day, so this takes some research.
What’s important to remember is that a company operates to make money, which it does by engaging with customers and promoting itself to an audience. While business thought leaders (Simon Sinek, for example) make some good points about looking beyond financial gain and many company mission statements avoid references to dollar bills, let’s assume that is generally the idea. Of course the bottom line matters more than a full trophy cabinet.
Entering an award must be in line with that goal. Therefore, whether you win or lose, entry has got to enhance a reputation and improve your chances of achieving long-term success. Treat the awards you enter as carefully as approaching a new customer, launching a new product or expanding a service. It’s got to be directly relevant, complementary and / or help engage an audience. Going for a night out to an awards dinner is great fun, but not the (only) point of entering.
Don’t enter something where success or failure could have a negative impact on a business. For example, you can’t win wireless load cell of the year with a wired dynamometer. If you know your pallet truck or hoist, meanwhile, doesn’t match the specs of other entrants, why bother? For end users, the same rules apply: whether it’s a sector-specific award category or otherwise, the good (and bad) thing about awards is that they get you noticed and get people talking about you. It’s possible to control that noise by entering the right awards.
Give yourself a chance
Always check the judging criteria. First, an award has got to be a match with the location, type and size of business eligible. Second, a business has got to honor certain minimum commitments. If award organizers ask for payment or attendance, are you prepared to invest the time and money? If an award requires a 1,000-word entry, have you got time to do a good job of it?
A good awards entry should be completed like an exam paper. Constantly refer back to the demands of the criteria and apply what you do to what the judges are looking for. A business can’t have a document marked Awards Entry and just send it off every time they see a competition that might suit them. An entry for Best Forklift will be different to Best Forklift Manufacturer, Best New Forklift and Best Forklift Operator.
Top tip: Once you’ve entered, tell people. Get the event hashtag and Tweet that you’ve entered the #ForkliftAwards2021. Existing and prospective customers will associate the entry with a positive, successful business.
Awards also present an opportunity to network. You might meet those who’ve entered other categories and you can interact with each other online. I’d recommend attending awards dinners or celebrations in person. Doing so provides great networking and if you are lucky enough to win, the photo opportunities and exposure are far greater than if you get an email the next day with the good news. Additionally, being dressed up to claim the trophy will offer more mileage than getting it in a box a week later.
If you do attend, be prepared to give a speech. Not all award ceremonies require winners to do so, but having something to say in your head will avoid any awkward silences or blurting out something you later regret. Sometimes a member of the local or trade press will be on hand, which is further publicity if you can conjure up something profound to say. Remember, by the time the lucky winners are announced, a lot of table wine and champagne may have been consumed so it’s advantageous to plan ahead.
A lot is involved in an awards campaign if it’s taken seriously. Thus, it’s important to select only a few (even one) a year and not go for everything. It’s unlikely that a business has time to enter, promote and attend a myriad of events and participation will start to lose impact. Nobody wants to see a social media feed where every week there’s a post about another award.
By Richard Howes