Agony Lance: Expose me

Agony Lance: Expose me
So you’ve just won your first business award (congratulations!) and you're riding high on the wave of adulation. Now what? Lance Wiggs weighs in.

So we’ve just won a Deloitte Rising Star award, but now what? What should we do to maximise our exposure after winning this or any award? - James Alder, BookMe

BookMe is too young to make the official Deloitte Fast 50, which requires companies to be three years old. That surprises me, as it feels as if it’s been around for longer, but in any case it’s growing fast. But sadly the main impact of winning a competition, beyond the initial press, is everlasting calls from providers of all sorts of unwanted services. That’s what happened for me with PowerKiwi’s second place in the Deloitte Fast 50 last year, and I’m glad the calls will stop when this year’s list comes out.

Overall, awards should be a recognition of what you have achieved, not how good you are at applying for awards.

Firstly, spend very little time applying for any award, and by that I mean two hours or less. The Fast 50 is compliant here, as its form was simple, and sharing the Xero accounts made everything easy. There was an enjoyable interview as well. The Hi-Tech awards are also simple, with a web-based form to fill out. One company I know started to fill it out after the time had expired, and eventually ended up with a Highly Commended.

Secondly, apply for the awards that you respect. There are many low-quality awards in our ecosystem and the simple way to determine the quality of the awards is to look at the previous winners, the judges and the sponsoring organisation. If you respect these, then consider applying. To me, the judges are the key – if they’re not smart industry insiders, then the final results may be somewhat random. This can result in awards being presented to the glitziest application or fastest-talking individual. As a judge in several competitions, I’ve been very firm that the quality of the application is irrelevant versus the quality of the company, and I always look well beyond the application itself.

Thirdly, let the awards generate the publicity for you, not vice versa. Focus on growing your business rather than theirs, but use the award judiciously in your promotional materials. Xero did a very good job of this in its early years.

And finally, remember that it’s all a game – the sponsors, organisers, judges and participants are all gaining from a well-run event. It can be an expensive endeavour and someone has to pay for it, often the companies themselves. If you’re invited to take part in any of the roles, make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Be aware that being part of a low-quality event may be damaging to your own personal or company brand, but on the other hand, a great event can be enhancing for everyone.