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Why Winning Awards Doesn’t Help You Win More Business

Why Winning Awards Doesn’t Help You Win More Business

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Promoting your tech company as award-winning can be backward marketing. Here’s what to do instead. 

Years ago, I headed into a restaurant for lunch with my coworkers. In the parking lot several cooks were barbecuing and smoking ribs. In front of them a large banner read, “Award Winning Ribs.”

My witty coworker asked, “Who voted?”

Winning an award by a third party does not indicate in any way the work helped the client grow. There is no shortage of organizations offering an award to businesses, as long as you pay them for the recognition. This is so backward. For $2000, I can make Creative Stream Marketing a Top 10, award-winning marketing agency, top web design firm, graphic design firm, or anything else I want.

People love recognition and are, sadly, willing to pay for it.

I happened to get an email from a representative at a (maybe) wonderful company. His email signature included a statement that it was an award-winning X type of company. Ironically, that statement was hyperlinked to the company granting the “awards.” It clearly stated that for $2500, you could receive an award and be listed in the top 10. I can’t get those red flags out of my mind. It made me question that company’s credibility and competence.

Most buyers of technology solutions and professional services won’t bother to investigate these awards. In part because they know these awards are meaningless and don’t bring them value. In part because they care about what you can do for them, not your award.

Even if you might receive a legitimate honor, here are three reasons why it’s backward to use “award-winning” in your marketing.

Disclaimer

Most of the “awards” I’m referring to here are those you pay for. They are offered as packages you can purchase. The larger the package, the more supposed benefits you are given.

There are legitimate awards or recognitions granted by objective, third-party research firms. In these cases, an objective team of analysts studies the various technologies and solutions available in the industry. They then publish a list of top tech solutions.

When an objective party says your technology or solution is the best, you can, and should, promote that. It can open doors not previously possible for your company.

The difference is you can’t buy that recognition.

3 Reasons Why Promoting Your Business as Award-Winning is Backward Marketing

1. Marketing should be about your customer, not you. 

You’ve won a legitimate award, meaning, not one you paid for? That’s wonderful. Celebrate with your team.

A former boss once told me he was irritated with the ad agency our company used because they had a shelf full of awards but he felt that same agency didn’t do much to help increase business. Isn’t that what your business should be about? The most effective businesses make everything about their customers, not themselves. I’m not interested in any company’s self-aggrandizement. What can you do for me?

2. It’s the wrong way to build credibility.

Awards should be reserved for restaurants and pies, not used to build credibility by a tech company or marketing agency. Ironically, some of the best restaurants in any city are not award-winning. The food is so good, word gets around. Have you ever eaten at a restaurant simply because it won an award? Maybe, but awards are never the primary driver of restaurants, let alone tech companies.

Most of my family and many friends have been buying pizza at an iconic pizza place in my town for over 50 years, in spite of an overabundance of authentic pizza shops. This hometown favorite ships pizzas around the world (frozen) because once you taste it, no other pizza comes close. They may have won awards, but most locals wouldn’t know that.

This is obvious but worth mentioning. Have you noticed no one ever bought a Mercedes because it’s an award-winning company? Did you buy your iPhone because Apple won an award? Does Tiffany & Co. sell award-winning diamonds? Exactly.

3. It’s very 1980’s-ish.

Marketing yourself as award-winning is very old-school. It disregards social media, the internet, and the thinking of current culture. Who hasn’t Googled a restaurant or hotel, or read a product review on Amazon? That’s what buyers (who are people) do today. Award-winning really means nothing. Have you ever heard a friend say he booked a certain hotel because it won an award? Me either.

Did you find shoes you love on Amazon? What matters more, that the shoes are award-winning or that numerous reviewers said the shoe was really comfortable and didn’t wear out like other shoes?

3 Things to Do Instead of Promoting Your Business as Award-Winning

1. Share a client testimonial.

This can be a simple, one-sentence quote or a 30-second video. When I say simple, I mean free, fast, and not a major project.

Maybe your client is willing to take her phone a record a quick testimonial like this: “Hi, I’m Jenny from ABC Company. We had a challenge with X and looked to XYZ Company for help. Within three months, our efficiency and profit dramatically increased. They are true partners with us.”

You can add a strong quote to a graphic and post it on social media. Share it on your website for longevity.

2. Create a case study or success story.

Case studies can be powerful opportunities to share your success stories. In fact, many companies now refer to case studies as success stories. It’s less stuffy and a bit more positive. Further, success stories can be brief without page after page of details. They can be an interesting recap of how you helped a company improve in some way.

Case studies can take many forms and can be presented in various formats. Typically, case studies present a problem/solution story. Many times, your client won’t give permission for you to mention their name. You can still tell your success story in a way that resonates with your prospects.

3. Design an Infographic.

Infographics are a modern way to present facts. They tell, in visual form, stats you’re proud of. They can include stats like this:

  • How many minutes it takes to sign up
  • How much money a customer can save in a year
  • How long (or short) it takes your customer to see ROI
  • How much time your solution can save a mid-sized business
  • Number of tasks or dollars you manage for your clients

Note the items above are about your customer, not you. That’s how it should be.

To me, most of the time I see a company promote itself as award-winning, it’s a red flag. Follow the points above. Make your marketing about your customers, not yourself.

As for credibility, your work should speak for itself. When our clients tell us they’re seeing results of our work, that’s far more satisfying than paying to be recognized.

How Social Media Works in B2B Environments

How Social Media Works in B2B Environments

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Is social media a waste of time for a B2B company?

I’ve been asked this question many times. The question stems from a lack of understanding of social media in general, or at least unrealistic expectations. Further, B2B marketing is different than B2C marketing. The marketing principles are very much the same in both cases, but the approach to gaining sales is different.

Real World Networking

In the B2B tech world, sales happen more slowly than anyone would like. I’ve worked with top sale teams, and its common for someone in sales to attend an industry event where they hope to make good connections and leave with a stack of business cards from prospects, or to scan badges at a large trade show. Some sales cycles for tech companies can take a year, even longer. The stack of business cards a salesperson collects at an industry event may literally be step two in a hundred step process.

No one, ever, is going to get a prospect to buy a $500k to $5M tech solution during a networking event based on the wonderful conversation he or she had with a salesperson. Ever. Most people in sales understand that scenario. Yet, that same salesman will look at months of social media posts and wonder why his phone isn’t ringing because of those posts. The answer appears to be that social media in a B2B setting is a waste of time. This couldn’t be more wrong.

Social Media Networking

Social media marketing and networking are very similar. Our impatience and wrong perceptions cause us to look at social media in B2B environments as ineffective. Social media is wonderful, amazing, nearly free, and can help us reach prospects from around the world. That said, it’s not a magic bullet. Like real world networking, it takes time.

Many salespeople in the B2B tech space say most sales come from referrals. That’s only part of the picture. Referrals from someone you know can be powerful. In reality, how is the person referred going to validate that referral? They will check out your website, see what you post on social media, read your case studies, and judge whether or not you’re the expert solution provider. Social media is, in many ways, the digital equivalent of a networking event.

Conversation on Their Terms

Unlike real-world networking events where your prospects may be tired and want to leave the event, social media let’s prospects learn about you on their terms. Of course, no one person will see the majority of what you post in a continual stream unless they intentionally look for it. That’s why you need a social media content plan and calendar. Over time, will a prospect who sees 6 of your social posts get an idea of how you approach an industry challenge? Maybe a little bit. If you post on a regular basis, prospects can learn how you think, start to see your values and feel the passion you feel for improving an industry problem.

The way you think, your values, and your passion can’t be communicated as well in a 4-minute conversation at a networking event. Social media lets your B2B prospects learn these things about you before they ever accept a phone call.

5 Guidelines for B2B Social Media Content

  1. Educate your audience. Don’t try to sell. I follow a B2B tech company on a particular social platform. Every single post sounds like this: “Have a problem with X? Try our new solution that eliminates this problem.” Every single post. Provide valuable content that shows your audience how you solved a problem for a client. Share some challenges and practical steps readers can take—without you—to solve a problem.
  2. Be consistent. It’s better to post one time per week, every week, than to have four posts per week for two weeks, followed by three months of silence. It’s nearly impossible to have consistency without a content plan.
  3. Be realistic. Social media marketing is part of a larger sales picture. It is valuable in itself, most effective when integrated into a well-planned marketing strategy.