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How To Find and Apply for Business Awards That Will Make an Impact
A group of trophies presented as business awards.

Over the years, I’ve seen and heard a lot of discussion around the merits of winning industry awards. A few executives feel like it’s not a high priority for their company; others believe that there is great value for just about any business in winning the right awards.

I personally subscribe to the second school of thought. And that’s no surprise to anyone who’s familiar with The Doyle Group, since we’ve won several awards over the past 7+ years – including Inc. Magazine’s “Inc. 5000 list” 4 times (2014, 2015, 2016, 2021) and the Denver Business Journal’s “Denver-Area Largest Tech Employers” twice (2020 and 2022).

In this article, I’d like to talk more about why we apply for awards in the first place, how we identify the best ones for our business, and the positive impact that we’ve seen from applying to and winning those awards. Of course, if you’re a business owner or executive, you can take these same principles and put them to work for your company, too!

Why Do We Do It?

One of the biggest reasons we apply for business awards is to promote integration with our community. We strongly believe that as a business leader, it’s really important to support the community in which you live. After all, 90 percent of the time your managers, employees, and clients all live locally, and have strong connections to the area. Strengthening those connections on a company-wide level is not only the right thing to do, but also makes good business sense.

Granted, it may seem like applying for awards is just a thinly veiled form of boasting: “Oh, look at us! Look at what our company did!” But that doesn’t necessarily have to be the motivation behind your award search. For example, it’s important to voice what you believe in – and seeking out the right awards can help you to articulate those core beliefs. If you can define your company and what your values are, then you can attract talent, and differentiate yourself from competitors.

There’s a “domino effect” in play, too. Your initiative can encourage other leaders in the area, and bring awareness to business peers that it is vital to contribute and make a statement in the community. In fact, when The Doyle Group looks at expanding how we support or become involved in the community, we sometimes look to other organizations and see what they are doing. So winning an award isn’t a purely selfish achievement, but can act as a sort of force multiplier for the community at large.

How Do We Identify the Right Business Awards for Us?

Not all awards are created equal. There are “vanity awards” that really aren’t worth your time. There are awards that come attached to a significant price tag. And then there are the awards that really matter within your industry and community. 

You really want to make sure that the company issuing the award is reputable, and offers their readership genuine value. For instance, think about your own interactions with the company. Do you personally read the publication? Have you had positive experiences with the publication? Do you respect and value the companies recognized in the publication’s previous awards list?

It’s also good to recognize that some awards applications come with fees. You don’t want to get caught up in a “pay to play” scheme if there’s no real value in a win – or if the results have already been fixed ahead of time.

So now that I’ve mentioned a few things to beware of, the question is: How exactly can you find the right awards to pursue?

First of all, it’s critical that you define what is important to you. What awards would add value to your reputation? For instance, do you want to be known as “Best Place to Work?” As “Largest Tech Employer?” As “Hottest Tech Company of [Insert Year]?” You get the idea.

Next, you need to identify reputable sources for finding awards. Here are a few that you should definitely explore:

  • Local publications. For The Doyle Group, that would include the Denver Business Journal, the Denver Post, CO Biz, and so on.
  • National publications. Inc. Magazine is a great example of a national publication with awards that add value.
  • Competitor/peer awards. It never hurts to do some research on the awards other companies in your sector have won.
  • Trade organizations. For us, organizations like the Colorado Tech Association would fall into this category.
  • Industry awards. Look at well-known awards that are specific to your industry (tech awards, marketing awards, and so on).

If you have the time and bandwidth, set aside a little time each month to review upcoming award deadlines. Or maybe assign someone to do the research for you. In addition, you can compose and update a document of frequently asked questions on awards applications as you sift through different awards. This will make your overall application process more seamless, repeatable, and efficient.

What’s the Impact?

There’s really a wide variety of areas that an award win (or even a nomination) can influence for the good. It can impact your hiring process since candidates will have a better understanding of who you are, what you believe in, and what you support. It can foster a spirit of healthy pride in your current employees, and boost retention. If you attend the awards ceremonies, you can build your professional network with like-minded people and companies. 

Then there’s marketing: you can absolutely leverage a win into a more effective, impactful marketing campaign. It’s one of the highest forms of social proof that a business can receive, so let your consumer base know about it! And finally, just attending the awards ceremony as a team, win or lose, can be a great team-building event in itself.

Granted, it takes some planning and hard work to identify, apply to, and ultimately win the right awards for your company. But I can tell you from personal experience, the rewards of doing so far outweigh the cost. The big takeaway from this discussion? Don’t sleep on awards for your company; they can make a huge impact on your business, your team members, and your reputation in the community.