It’s always good to receive an award.  When you’ve worked long hours and kept going, seeing your efforts acknowledged brings a welcome glow – and is a great motivator for your team.  But some awards aren’t really awards.

Most local awards are free to enter, but some national and industry awards have an entry fee involved.  This is usually to cover the administration costs, sometimes also to pay the fees of the judges who have to read all the submissions and, perhaps, meet to discuss the short list and winners.  So having to pay to enter doesn’t necessarily make an award invalid.

However, there are some organisations that invent their own ‘awards’ and not only do you have to pay, but there is a whole package of costs too.  These may include:

  • An advertisement in their ‘special awards publication’
  • Promotional material for the awards ‘event’
  • Email campaigns promoting your business to their database
  • A minimum number of seats at the award dinner

Of course, you will be promised exposure to lots of potential clients as part of your investment, but this is really a marketing service masquerading as an award.

Does this mean you should refuse anything that is beginning to look like more of a marketing service than a bona fide award?  Not necessarily, but first do your due diligence.

If you don’t have the money in your marketing budget for this kind of investment – then don’t be tempted. 

If it seems like a good deal anyway ask for their audience demographics, circulation numbers and results for entrants into previous awards they’ve run.

If they can’t give you numbers think twice before parting with your money.

If they’ve run these awards before ask to speak to a couple of former entrants.  They should be pleased to put you in touch – if they can’t or won’t, then walk away.  Actually, if previous winners are showing on their website, it should be pretty straightforward to contact them directly.

Don’t forget the additional costs

  • Your award submission will need writing – you’ll have a better chance with a professional writer putting this together
  • An article for their award publication needs writing – copywriting fees
  • An Ad needs writing – copywriting/ad agency fees
  • An Ad need laying out – graphic designer fees
  • If you want people to take action you’ll need a web page – copy and web set-up fees
  • If you’re aiming to grow your list you may need a giveaway – cost of production and fulfilment (even if it’s a download, rather than an actual product).

That ‘too good to be true’ fee will now have escalated.  It still might be very good value if it reaches your ideal audience and results in sales, but don’t just say ‘yes’, without doing your sums first.