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Awards Best Practices: Securing "Readers' Choice" Award

by Emilia Petkova

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Earning awards should be an important part of every organization’s PR and marketing strategies. They are one of the best tools to gain recognition and build trust with your clients, prospects, partners and peers.

Most people believe that awards should come naturally once you have a great product or service. While it really does take an award-winning offering, being great at what you do is not always enough.

In most cases, you cannot get nominated if you do not apply or participate in an awards program yourself. The so-called People’s Choice or Readers’ Choice awards are the most important ones, as they represent direct feedback from real users and your target audience. Earning this recognition can bring tremendous value to your PR and marketing strategies.

However, securing the nomination is only the first step—your fans and clients won’t be able to vote for you if they do not know you were nominated in the first place. This is why it is very important to have a solid plan to spread the word about your nominations. Here are some ideas to help you rally your fans and give them the opportunity to vote.

Preparation

Before you start a voting campaign, you need to make sure you are well prepared and sending the correct message. Here are some tips to help you in your preparation work:

  • Know the Organizer’s Requirements: What are the exact steps to vote (be sure to test it yourself)? Are your employees allowed to vote? Can people vote multiple times? Is providing an email address necessary in order to vote? You need to know all these requirements in advance.
  • Make Voting as Easy as Possible: Add clear, step-by-step directions in your voting invitation and don’t make the process sound more complicated than it is. Some sites have really easy one- or two-step voting, but others might have more complex procedures, including a sign-up process and additional requirements. This is why you need to make sure you are including very clear and simplified directions in your message.
  • Make Voting a Positive Experience: This might sound like common sense, but it is very important, so it’s worth mentioning. Engage your fans with a positive message and make them feel like they are contributing to something big. And of course, show them your gratitude for supporting you.

Reach as Many People as You Can

Here are six ideas to help you invite as many people as possible to vote.

  1. Employees: If the awards program allows employee voting, engage your employees as much as possible. Your employees are one of your greatest assets and often your biggest fans. Send an email to all of your employees with the nomination news and voting steps. Don’t forget to thank them for being such a great and supportive team. It really helps if you also send them a reminder one or two days before the voting deadline.
  2. Email Signatures: Ask the client-facing employees (sales teams, customer advocates, account managers, etc.) to put a voting invitation in their email signatures. Prepare a really short message or, even better, a banner that they can use. More of them will change their signatures if they know exactly what to put there and it’s easy to do.
  3. Reference Customers: Keep a list of reference customers—customers who have very positive feedback and support you in all types of initiatives. Maintain close relations to them, and always send them a separate, more personalized email whenever you have a nomination going on. Make reference customers feel special when you ask them to vote and thank them for their continuous support.
  4. Social Media: A social media campaign is a great way to spread the word for your nomination and get more votes.
  5. Newsletters: If you are sending any newsletters to your customers and/оr subscribers, you should include some information about your nomination and invite them to vote in the newsletter.
  6. Blog Post: You can publish a blog post announcing your nomination, including a short summary of other recent awards and nominations, and invite everyone to vote. Don’t forget to thank your fans for the support.

peoples_choiceWe have used these tactics to much success to promote a variety of Progress nominations in the past. The latest Readers’ Choice award that Progress won is from the Cloud Computing Insider magazine in Germany, side-by-side with Amazon and Google.

Winning awards is always good for your business, and there are many strategies that you can use to improve your chances of winning. Remember that once you have a really great product and/or service that your clients love, it is important to market it and create great content around it. This helps tremendously for winning more awards and gaining industry recognition.

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