A stack of award submission requests are sitting on my desk staring me down and deadlines are popping up all over my calendar. Many associations and local, regional and national companies and groups in the decorative concrete realm host award programs to help recognize the best of the best. If you’re like me, you’re often overwhelmed with the award programs pile, the marketing to-do pile, the change-order pile, the contract pile and the estimating pile — each of which takes up valuable space on your not-so-empty desk.
You must decide which one to tackle first and which ones are moved to the back burners. It is easy to say the marketing and awards piles should be ignored since they do not generate immediate income for your company. However, I encourage anyone with plans for your firm’s long-term success to take the piles of pictures and prose a bit more seriously. Awards contain the merit of third-party endorsers telling the world about your spectacular concrete work.
Of course, don’t just enter projects to see if you can win. Enter work you believe in your heart will win. Each project we create as decorative concrete contractors contains a story behind it, and it’s those stories that win awards. It’s not about how many square feet you poured, how you met the schedule or how you overcame some weather delay. Most projects we install have those elements, and so do your competitors’ projects.
When preparing your award submittal, write the story behind the construction and finished product. Tell why the owner chose your company. Talk about how one of your crew members overcame a challenge with a new idea or technique. Explain what makes you passionate about the concrete you placed — which not only looks amazing, but made everyone happy because of the story behind it. Those are award-winning projects.
But what do you do once you’ve won the award? Do you brag to your concrete buddies and hang the plaque on your office wall? That’s not a bad start. It’s better than collecting dust on your bookshelf, but there is so much more you can do to optimize the value of the award. Here are five suggestions:
Don’t get just one: Create (or buy) copies of the award and give one to your lead foreman, the general contractor, the architect, the owner, the engineer, the jealous neighbor…you get the idea. By sharing the recognition with the people who helped make it come together, you not only make their day, but you also re-establish the sense of pride in the project — both for you and your clients. If you can, invite them to the awards ceremony to partake in the project’s celebration. By sharing the limelight, they’re more likely to call you the next time they have a similar job.
Write a press release and distribute it to the local media: If this is a national award, you can emphasize how you, as a local company in your city, defeated the competition across the nation in your category. Hometown pride and local contractor recognition is a great marketing tool and helps build your credibility on a local level with the national exposure (even if you never want to travel).
Put it on your website: This may seem like a no-brainer, but so often this is a missed opportunity. The third-party endorsement of the award helps build your credibility to your new and existing clients. It is not just you saying how much you rock — it is an outside professional perspective.
Repurpose the material: You put in a lot of effort creating the story and taking the photos, so put the content to good use and repurpose it for other marketing efforts. Use it for press releases, project profiles, blog posts or, at the very least, for fresh content on your website.
Employee recognition: Let’s be honest. You wouldn’t have the award on the wall without your spectacular employees. Be sure to recognize them with the awards, too. They deserve praise for their great work!
As you create and win your awards this season, be sure to captivate the audience with your amazing project story and use the awards to thank your clients, thank your employees and build more work for your company in the future.
Karen Keyes wears many hats at Denver-based Colorado Hardscapes Inc., including business development, marketing, sales, estimating and project management, with an emphasis on specialty rock construction. She can be reached at [email protected].