How to create an awards program as an effective marketing channel

by | Mar 11, 2022 | Articles, Blog

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

That’s what an awards program truly is – a powerful way to showcase your brand, engage your community and support your marketing initiatives.  

An awards program is a way to recognise excellence in your industry. It’s a way to shine a light on the movers and shakers and engage your community. But it’s also a clever way to shine a light back on you as a trusted source and steadfast player in the industry.  

Read below for ways you can create an awards program to build buzz for your brand and organisation. 

The benefits of creating an awards program

How exactly does an awards program benefit your business? How does it make room for your brand to grow? 

An awards program can: 

1. Enhance your marketing and public relation efforts

The first big advantage of running an awards program is that it fetches your brand a lot of attention. With awards programs come lots of media coverage, social media posts, reposts and general engagement. From open entry announcements to judge profiles and shortlist and winner announcements, you’ll never run out of content to share.

All this content – whether it’s press releases, blog articles or social media posts – drives traffic and generates traction. You’ll get a great deal of publicity because the marketing efforts surrounding the awards program will link back to your organisation. The steady designs, branding strategies and messaging will leave an impression on your audience.

Your audience will note the brand behind all these efforts and will want to know more about your organisation.   

2. Establish authority and credibility

An awards program helps build credibility, authority and prestige for your organisation. This is because, firstly, you’re rewarding other businesses for doing good. In essence, your brand encourages other brands to make a positive impact in the community.

The natural outcome of such selfless aspirations is reverence and esteem for your organisation.

Awards programs don’t have to be a one-and-done event. And if you run a successful program, with every season, the program will grow in popularity. A growth in popularity for the program is a growth in popularity for your brand.

3. Create opportunities for positive impact

Are you looking to do good in your community? Would you like to further your industry or support a good cause?

Then an awards program is just what the doctor ordered.

If your organisation is passionate about a good cause whether it be welfare, the environment, supporting science and technology, or providing amenities and infrastructure, an awards program can help raise awareness and power initiatives for your program mission.

Having an awards program that rewards and recognises organisations that excel in these areas encourages more organisations to do the same. At the end of the day, you’ll have a positive domino effect of businesses powering positive change in different areas.

4. Grow more business opportunities

Another benefit of an awards program is the opportunities it helps foster. Brands love forming alliances with organisations of good repute. As your brand gains recognition and visibility from the awards program, other brands will also seek you out for possible collaborations.

 Additionally, the awards program provides the opportunity for you to collect the contact details of many brands as they submit their entries. You’ll be armed with enough contact information for marketing and sales pitches. Having gained recognition and made an impression with the awards program, there’s a greater likelihood of conversion whenever you pitch your product or services to these brands.

Since you’ve figured out the advantages of an awards program, read on to know how to create one and make the most of the awards program buzz to grow your business.    

How to create an awards program with marketing  buzz

So, as we’ve discussed, an awards program can do a world of good for your brand and business growth. But, then comes the question of how to actually create a program. 

What’s more? It’s imperative to know how to create buzz for your program and organisation in every step of the awards program lifecycle. Let’s go over that now.  

1. Power your program with a useful awards management tool

An awards program involves multiple participants and it’s expedient to stay organised. Without the organisation, the participants will find the process onerous, time-consuming and generally frustrating. 

Thankfully, awards management tools are available to eliminate these concerns.

Our awards management software, Award Force, is your best bet. Its well-rounded features discard the need for manual operations and save you the stress of dealing with physical documents. As an online system, it monitors, saves and handles all the stages of entry, submission and judging.

Award Force takes it a step further by creating an onboarding package that promptly connects you with a Client Success Manager who will give you the necessary guidance for your program to hit the ground running. 

An effective awards management tool makes the process swift, seamless and hassle-free for all participants. The outcome? Your organisation gains popularity for understanding and meeting the needs of your participants.

Staying ahead of the curve is good for business.       

2. Plan thoroughly

Meticulous planning is of the essence when creating an awards program. Failure to have it all mapped out could cause the program to fall short and possibly negatively affect other aspects of your business, such as your image and brand.

How can you avoid this?

For a start, ensure the program aligns with your organisation’s values. Then, have your team focus on the relevant tasks, with the responsibilities effectively divided so that no one feels overwhelmed.

The next step is identifying what exactly you want to recognise. There are different award types; be sure to take a pick that dovetails with the core of the awards program. To achieve this, you have to consider the whole range of award types and group them rightly. Itemise the ones that align with your organisation’s and the program’s values. 

This makes room for more entrants and also gives them the opportunity to stand out.

Some award categories include:

  • Industry-specific awards
  • Local, regional, national and international awards
  • Social impact awards 

Whichever category you feel is appropriate, take it and proceed.  

The next aspect of planning is the timeline; it can make or break the success of the program. Pay attention to the timing of every aspect of the award program to avoid recklessly postponing and dealing with crunch times. Additionally, consider the costs and have a solid budget so that nothing slips through the cracks and there’s no mismanagement of your funds.

Proper planning exposes any weak link in the program and leaves nothing to chance. With adequate planning, other areas of your business won’t be swayed by the preparations for the awards program.      

3. Instil credibility into the program

Another crucial step when creating an awards program is to imbue it with credibility and authenticity. It should be clear that the awards program is not skewed to favour any particular entrants above the others.

Also, it should be certain that the program does not expose the sensitive data of the entrants. 

While building credibility fetches and preserves the faith of the general public in the program, it favours your brand too. For one, it will improve your brand’s trustworthiness and general reputation, leading to better business. That’s one way to growth-hack the business awards buzz.

Some pointers on how to instil credibility into your awards program are:

  • Find reputable judges who are experts in your industry. This tactic gives honour to the program and even helps with its publicity if the judges are popular. On the other hand, it also helps the judges if they’re keen on making a positive impact and making a name for themselves.
  • Publish your judging criteria for all and sundry to see. This way, there’ll be no questions about the fairness of the selection process.
  • Make use of award management software to protect your entrants’ data and more. Award Force, for example, is the leader in awards management software with world-class security and compliance features such as data encryption, registration requirement for all participants, audit logs, plagiarism detection, the ability to judge anonymous entries and more.     

4. Market the awards program with gusto

You didn’t commit all that time and money to build an awards program only to hear crickets. Visibility is the name of the game. Devote resources to the marketing side of the awards program so you can fetch the publicity it deserves. 

Here are some steps you can take to effectively market the awards program: 

  • Set up an easily accessible, navigable and informative website that will inform the public and answer their questions about the awards program.
  • Make good use of social media. Promote the awards on multiple social media platforms, and use a hashtag for the award so interested parties can follow along. Use social media for communication of everything from program entry dates to the requirements of the program. Also, post the profiles of the judges and tag them. They’ll most likely reshare – more visibility for you! 
  • Create and distribute press releases about your awards program to bring more positive media attention.

Marketing the awards program is helpful to your business as well because while it draws attention to the program and secures more entries, it also showcases your brand, keeping your brand at the forefront of the conversation.

 Talk about killing two birds with one stone.     

5. Gear up for a grand closing

When creating an awards program, you should begin with the end in mind. After all, that’s the culmination of it all.

Once your judges have picked the winners and finalists, it’s time to celebrate!. Yes, all participants are worth celebrating. An awards gala event works wonders for this purpose. You can properly recognise the winners, finalists, program managers and judges by bringing them on stage and handing over whatever goodies are available for them. 

It’s also natural to have the logos of your brand and your sponsors all over the venue. This way, you’re generating publicity for your organisation and the others who have supported you along the way.

It doesn’t have to be a party though. You could also consider a non-festive path and have a media session with the various participants. Or perhaps embark on a project together. This path isn’t less effective at all because the project will certainly make a positive impact and will speak volumes about your organisation, the awards program and its outcomes.

Ultimately, while an awards program can help you recognise other entities, it can also do your brand a world of good. Do you want more publicity, credibility and business opportunities? Then, an awards program should indeed be your next growth hack.


Eager to create an awards program right away? Get started with Award Force, the industry-leading award management software today. 

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