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Marketing An Accounting Practice With Small Business Awards

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It seems to be Awards Season among the larger accounting firms, so I got to looking at them a bit more when I saw that the ‘Big 4’ plus almost every mid-tier firm had an awards program of some sort, usually focused on small business.

 

Along the way, I learned that there were two reasons these firms were operating an awards programs were:

  1. To represent the professional purpose of the firm
  2. To further the firms marketing goals

I also noticed that most small independent practitioners do not operate an awards program of their own. Many will contribute to a local organizations fundraising for their own awards program, but the practitioner does not achieve the maximum value as a participant, whereas the organization receives the bulk of the publicity and goodwill.

Whether you’re a new practitioner, just getting started, or a seasoned veteran, take a step back and ask yourself: can you benefit from offering your own awards program and will your program benefit your firm if it aligns with these two criteria?

A successful awards program will be focused on what the practice is all about and create an opportunity for others in the community to showcase their similar interests.

can you benefit from offering your own awards program and will your program benefit your firm if it aligns with these two criteria? Click To Tweet

If this isn’t happening it can be confusing to people, because they’re not sure why exactly your firm is running the awards program it is. This will decrease your credibility and lower the number of entrants you’ll receive.

The main reason the large firms run an awards program is to serve as a promotional vehicle for the firm. Following their lead, and operating in your market, it can become a significant part of your firm’s brand and messaging.

Consistent messaging, design and branding are essential to getting the most potential benefit from your awards program.

‘Consistent messaging’ means carrying over your firm’s goals and mission into not only the awards, but also into advertising and marketing. This reinforces your firm’s purpose and gives credibility to your awards program.

In doing so, you’re creating trust with people who are already familiar with your firm, by highlighting that your awards program is an extension of that.

One example would be when designing your program’s logo, keep some elements of its parent in it, like the color scheme. This allows your program to distinguish itself with a unique design, but still hark back to your firm.

Getting your awards program ready for the opening of your call for entry requires some work, but it can be minimized if you have a pre-written plan and a supply of marketing and promotional resources. In order to get everything done in time and get it done properly, every awards program needs to have these resources.

The best awards programs will have specific goals for the program with specific deadlines. Instead of letting a couple people attack the to-do list willy-nilly, having a kit of resources already prepared ensures that everything gets done well and in time for your launch, and prevents your staff from getting burned out or going insane.

Finding the perfect judges for your awards program is essential, as they can be a huge source of publicity for your awards program.

Think about it, having a judge who is well known for being an expert in her industry’s field, will greatly add to the value and prestige of your awards program.

And on top of the prestige, it also lends legitimacy to your program.

It shows that in your industry, your awards are at the top of the game, because not only do you recognize the best of the best, but these entries are being scored by someone in the top of the field.

having a judge who is well known for being an expert in her industry’s field, will greatly add to the value and prestige of your awards program. Click To Tweet

Look at it this way: If you’re running a restaurant in your city and just entered a restaurant competition, would you rather have Jamie Oliver evaluating your entry or someone you’ve never heard of?

Winning an award because Warren Buffet thinks your entry was awesome proves to you and your industry that you’ve got what it takes to succeed. After all, he’s at the top of his field, so he should know, right? If someone like your local Warren Buffet is selecting winners for your prize, it obviously means something.

After all the time, effort, and work that’s gone in to your awards program you’re as ready to celebrate at the awards gala as the winners are. And you should! You and your team definitely deserve a chance to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

But, the work doesn’t end there. Truly successful awards programs, don’t just sit back and take a break from things until the next awards season rolls around. They analyze their awards program’s data in order to understand who entered, and who didn’t, and how they can use that information to market their firm.

After all, that why you started the program and how you are using it to stay ahead of the competition in your market!

After all, that why you started the program and how you are using it to stay ahead of the competition in your market! Click To Tweet

When firms are getting ready for their awards program, one of the struggles they face is organization. Different parts of the program are dealt with on a variety of systems, like emailing submissions, loading supplementary files onto their portal, mailing submission packets to judges, and tracking it all in Excel. This can quickly become a tangled mess and more often than not, you get overwhelmed and frustrated.

More and more firms are taking steps to remove these hassles and frustrations from their awards program and they’re doing this with pre-written and designed awards kits along with online systems that tracks, stores, and manages all stages of submission and judging.

Kits mean no more program development, filling out spreadsheets, binders, or form-builders. The entire awards process is streamlined and hassle free for entrants, administrators, and judges.

By taking out the struggles of the awards process, an awards kit can help to increase submissions and give your team more time to focus on other vital tasks.

Practice Builder Publishing Awards Kits will be available online by next Monday. Pre-Ordering will be available, and a link will be posted here.

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