How to run a successful awards program

How to run a successful awards program

Every year, more and more organizations use award programs to help them access the world of business innovation. Awards are a great way for companies to build their brand, establish thought leadership, ignite enthusiasm within their organization, and gain exposure to new talent and ideas. Here are some tips on how to run the best rewards program so you gain value and achieve your business goals.

Determine the goals of your rewards program

What goals do you have for your awards program? Do you want to find innovative ideas? Do you want to reward excellence within your organization, customers or business partners? Do you want to make your business and offers known? Do you need to generate additional income for your company?

Companies have different goals for running an awards program. This can range from corporations wanting to brand their company or wanting to honor employee innovation. Some companies honor their clients or, in the case of a media outlet, their readers for the best use of their product or the most creative idea, etc. Whatever the reason you’ve decided to run an awards program, make sure it meets your corporate goals.

Identify the target audience for the award

Companies need to determine who the target audience for this award is in order for it to be marketed properly. Is this technology award for engineers or a marketing award for marketing directors? Make sure that the award naming and all associated messages use the language of your target audience and correctly identify them.

Spread the word about your award

You can list your prize challenge in an email newsletter and send it out to your target audience. Don’t have an email address? These can be purchased from various media outlets, associations, consulting agencies, list marketers, and other places. Announce the prize contest on your social media. You can create a Pinterest contest page, Facebook listing or page, even a YouTube intro video. Some companies run ads in publications, both online and in print. Write and issue a press release about your prize contest and invite participants. Just be creative and diligent and news about your awards program will quickly reach the right audience.

After the prize program, you will need to provide winners with a press release template announcing the prize winners. Encourage winners to use social media to announce their prize. Talk to bloggers and reporters who cover your industry and send them updates on the winners.

Determine award criteria

Consider the criteria for your award. Should you ask for work samples? Do you want to receive a complete business plan? Will a short article on the performance of a software solution be enough compared to a detailed product plan? Think about the time commitment you must make to read and sort through all the required materials; then decide your criteria. Make sure the deliverables clearly help you select the winners.

Select prize packages

What prize would the participants want to receive? Could it be a badge or a website logo? Does your prize have to have monetary value? Be sure to select a prize that will motivate people to want to participate. You can often solicit prize donations from vendors, sponsors, and business partners. Make sure you have the prizes in place before you send out a call for entries so you can include prize information in your marketing materials.

Be clear about the details

Make sure contestants are clear about the deadlines, what the important dates are, and what key deliverables are expected at each stage. If there are restrictions regarding eligibility, please clarify this immediately to save time. Allow 4 weeks to recruit participants and 2-4 weeks to test, assess, and compute.

Use software to facilitate the adjudication process

Use a prize management solution that automates the entire workflow process, from the call for participants to the distribution of prizes. With a computerized solution, you will be able to obtain real-time information about your adjudication process. You can see how many submissions you’ve received, monitor judging progress and send reminders, and automate email reminders for participants and judges. You can even request feedback from your team. This is particularly useful for competitions with multiple judging rounds and a large number of entries, and it’s a less labor-intensive way to keep everything organized.

What worked? No? Comments and analysis

Identify what worked with your rewards program and what didn’t. Poll participants or send them a survey with questions about your award process. Be sure to set up ways to track the impact of your outreach campaigns as they happen so you can adjust and put more effort into the most successful channels. Install Google Analytics on your website to track where visitors come from and how they interact with the content. Go one step further and set conversion goals to see which sources provide the most signups. Use an email software program like Mailchimp to take the mystery out of your email communications with easy-to-understand reports illustrating open rates, clicks, and website traffic generated.

Listen to the feedback, make improvements, and do it again! Happy Awarding!

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