How to Create Your Own Awards Show & Come Out a Winner – Part One

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Have you ever considered running an awards show as a way to build reputation and credibility in your market? One awards program that a small local firm ran in 2013 netted leads from 124 unique referrers.


Let’s go more in-depth on how to execute on an awards program to earn high-quality referrals and a whole lot more, like:

  • Brand engagement signals
  • Client engagement signals
  • Prospect engagement signals

All of which are either directly or indirectly influential in helping your practice grow.

Handing out awards can also help you generate a ton of publicity that you can turn into leads, assuming you create the right offer.

But beyond leads, ranking signals, and soaring inquiries, giving back and celebrating people in your community who have done something notable just feels good.

Handing out awards can also help you generate a ton of publicity that you can turn into leads, assuming you create the right offer. Click To Tweet

You see, local marketing doesn’t have to be entirely self-serving all the time. In fact, when you focus less on leads and more on benevolence, that’s when you build the best reputation.

The Impetus of Awards

We originally got the idea for industry recognition awards from the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards. If you don’t know, the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards is an annual awards event that recognizes the best nest small businesses in markets around the world.

EY, PwC, KPMG, Deloitte, BDO, BCGm and alll the others have staff to handle an awards event because for them it is needed. A large event like they handle is a ton of work. In fact, having run a few myself now, I’d say it’s probably the most time-intensive lead generating project I’ve ever been a part of. However, it can be the most successful and personally rewarding.

Today, with modern software, such as DAP and Fast, Secure, Contact Form, the industry awards concept is a viable one that can easily be mapped to any small market. Because no matter how boring your target niche is, someone out there is working in it with passion and purpose, and producing some really unique and growing enterprises.

How to Format the Awards

Like the small business awards offered by the large firms, the folks at Practice Builder Publishing wanted to honor the best small firms as they prepared for the upcoming tax season. From a timeline and task perspective we:

  1. Started the process of planning the program in mid-August 2013
  2. Launched the awards in early September 2013
  3. Did a bunch of outreach and promotion to get the word out
  4. Let voting run for three weeks (yes, there was a voting component)
  5. Announced the winners and runners-up in the second week of October

So start to finish, the entire project ran about two months, took approximately 40 man hours and cost us around $500 all-in (including man-hours, design and promotion). Here’s how we did it.


We developed a separate blog for the site we hosted the awards on. Then we went through the process of finding accounting blogs, and articles to nominate for the awards. A local practitioner would easily do this part of the program by sending invitations to target businesses in their niche or market.

Once local businesses begin to submit their applications, the judging can be handled by a panel of local authorities. The judging usually revolves around how well-written and informative the applications are.

With the nominations, as you are starting out, you’ll need to cast a pretty wide net, since the more local businesses and entrepreneurs you recognize, the more interest and coverage for the awards you will generate.

I’d suggest you nominate roughly 10 small businesses from 10 different categories, which ranged from general, all-purpose niches to categorical subsets in the niche (like how Bars are a subset of Foodservice).

In sum, you might wind up with over 100 different businesses nominated for an award.

That’s a lot of built-in promotional opportunities. I mean, your goal may be to feature the best small businesses, but you also want to amplify exposure for yourself as much as possible.

I’ll continue this is the next posts tagged Awards Programs.

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