Aug 31, 2021 Design + Creative

A Guide to Agency Award Submissions

Are you wondering if applying to all the web agency awards is worth the time and money? 

Agency owners know that winning industry awards provides real value. Not only does winning boost credibility, employee pride, and team morale, but it just feels good to be recognized for the hard work that you do.  

Have the flood of awards out there watered down their value a bit?  

You have some award organizers that create their accolades to give agencies bragging rights. Others simply host ceremonies to make money for themselves. In fact, the award phenomenon is gaining so much momentum that there are even consultants for hireout there with clever design strategies for the application. 

So, before you apply, take a step back and first ask “Why?” and “Is it worth it?” Keep reading for our guide to navigating the award space. 

The Importance of Industry Awards  

Agencies spend countless dollars on award entries, dinner tickets, and travel expenses – not to mention the time spent preparing entries and the time away from the office to attend a ceremony. Is it worth the time? 

The answer is still a resounding yes. Why? It’s not just about adding awards to a trophy case in the lobby.

Surveys Say… 

According to a Podium survey of hundreds of decision-makers: 

  • 82% of those taking part admitted to being influenced by awards when buying products and services for their business 
  • 76% agreed with the statement, “Awards are important for generating business or improving the value of a brand.” 

Awards are becoming increasingly valued by agencies and by prospective clients. Bottom line: Your competition is going to keep applying for awards. If you’re not in it, you can’t win it. 

Recognition & Motivation 

Everyone wants to be a winner. Whether it’s a prospective employee looking at your agency as the place to be or a prospective client seeing your agency as the agency to hire, it is undeniable that the recognition you receive from winning these awards pays dividends. 

 It is not just hiring and marketing that gets a boost. Your internal teams receive recognition and the motivation they need to keep producing high-quality work.  

The Journey Itself 

It’s not the destination but the journey that is important. The award is not the goal. Great work is the goal. By appeasing our need to “win,” we can push ourselves to produce higher quality work.  

Sure, winning the award would be great, but the submission process itself is full of opportunities.  

  • Reflect on your marketing story. First, the chance to step back and take stock of what you have created and why it is worthy of award submission is a powerful tool. Award submissions force you to slow down and document case studies that become an essential part of your brand story. 
  • Benchmark yourself against the competition. The award submission process provides an opportunity to compare yourself against others in your industry. 
  • Boost brand awareness. Being listed as a nominee can drive brand awareness and promote your agency to prospective clients.

Finding the Right Award Competitions for Your Agency  

The number of awards available is staggering, but that doesn’t mean you should apply for every one you see. Awards must be relevant to your agency to deliver benefits. 

Many specific verticals in the industry have their own marketing awards. Finding the right award for your agency means identifying awards that fit your unique value proposition, your style, and your talents. Finding suitable awards isn’t difficult when you take a proactive approach: 

  • Include awards in your overall marketing strategy. Just as you would for any other element of the process, set milestones and establish accountability. 
  • Designate a point person. Identify a member of your team as the lead, and have that person set aside time each month to research new awards.  
  • Know where to look. Finding objective information about the best web design or development awards can be tricky. Professional organizations often keep a list of reputable awards. Check your competition to see if they’ve won any that might be worth competing for. Keep an eye on industry publications for ideas. 
  • Specify criteria. Again, applying for every award is not the answer. Set specific criteria against which you can easily measure the relevance for your agency. For example, if your agency’s unique value proposition is responsive web design, you might consider only throwing your hat in the ring if the words “responsive web design” are in the RFP or award evaluation criteria. 
  • Prioritize documentation. Keep an ongoing, updated, and detailed record of awards. Include a brief description, the cost, and timing details. This will eliminate recreating the wheel every time you want to apply, and you will always know which awards are coming up. 

When to Apply to Agency Awards

Just like the Oscars or the Grammys, some agency awards have a cyclical season. There is no formal “submission season” for public relations, advertising, and marketing awards. Award application deadlines span throughout the year.  

It’s a good idea to develop an award-specific calendar to help your team keep track of the most relevant awards. As your portfolio and budget evolve, you might find more competitions that are relevant. Keep adding to your calendar the dates and specific case studies that might be pertinent.    

Preparing Award Submissions  

Before you spend any time preparing award submissions, check your predetermined criteria. Ensure an award aligns with your agency’s value proposition before you allocate time, effort, and money to winning it.  

Then, as you begin preparing your award submissions, be sure to take time to read exactly what the judges will be evaluating. Consider what will motivate the judge to select your agency. You can uncover insights by reviewing past winners and their case studies. 

Include what makes your agency unique. What are your strengths? How have you emerged from an event like the global pandemic of 2020 even stronger? Explain how the crisis has made your agency stronger

Once you’ve compiled the submission materials, consider using an integrated project management system to package them efficiently. This can help minimize the time it takes to compile and submit other submissions going forward. Plus, you’ll be able to add to your case studies and portfolio pieces across other marketing platforms. 

Highlighting Success  

When you win an award or an honorable mention in a list of finalists, it’s important to share that news. It’s even more important to do so tactfully. Here are a few ideas for highlighting agency success with awards: 

  • Issue a Press Release. Some awards will announce their winners via press release, but why not amplify the honor and issue one yourself? 
  • Update Social Platforms. Announce the award across your social platforms.   
  • Leverage the Award Logo. Find the award logo, and give it prime real estate on your website, email signature, business cards, social media profiles, and other marketing assets. 
  • Blog and Email About It. Share your award news with your blog readers as well as your email or newsletter subscribers. Include informative content about the critera and selection process along with the announcement to provide value to your audience.  

The awards submission process requires time and money, but the rewards – both from a win and the experience of submitting – are worth the effort. The opportunity for self-reflection, the marketing assets built along the way, and the possible prestige of winning, all provide significant value for your agency. The insights you uncover will make your agency stronger. 

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About the Author Allison Bondi is a copy writer who focuses on the tech world and human interest pieces. She has worked in the SaaS and Telecom world for 10 years. When not writing, she enjoys reading, traveling, and identifying plants. More by this Author