Small businesses priced out of awards

Business today is extremely competitive. Customers have access to a large number of products and services and are hesitant to make buying decisions.

So understandably, some startups and small businesses are doing whatever they can to get their slice of the market pie, even spending thousands of pounds on awards to boost their credibility and gain a competitive edge.

New research has revealed that businesses can spend up to £7,000 throughout the awards process. 

The findings from Avid Panda reveal that nearly two-thirds (64%) of awarding bodies require businesses to pay an entry fee to simply submit an application. This may price out many smaller companies that have limited marketing budgets and resources. 

Naturally, as your business grows, it makes sense to look for ways to set yourself apart from your competitors and get more eyes on your company. While interest in business awards has started to pick up following the easing of lockdown restrictions, searches for ‘business award scams’ have also increased by 69% since 2018. This highlights growing concerns about fairness and trust in the awards industry. 

On average, businesses can expect to spend around £220 on a single entry. However, some industry awards can set businesses back by over £1,000. And, when you factor in the cost of attending awards ceremonies, the costs can really start to add up. For instance, if you want to celebrate your achievements with your team and avoid potential office politics and drama, a table of 10 can be purchased for just under £6,000. This means that businesses can easily spend up to £7,000 on a single award entry.

As there is no guarantee of winning or that being awarded will actually help businesses generate more sales and leads, this raises questions about the types of awards that businesses should invest their resources into.

Of course, businesses can cut back on costs by only applying for awards that are free to enter. But even if you do not have to pay an entry fee, you may have to pay for a trophy if you win. In one case, the cost of a trophy was found to be 39.5% higher than the average entry fee.

The report highlights that other methods of boosting credibility, such as getting customer reviews can be more impactful and cost-effective. For example, customer reviews can increase your revenue by up to 230%. Receiving an award, on the other hand, only increases sales by up to 37%. This suggests that what your customers have to say about your products and services may have more of an impact on your bottom line as opposed to winning an award.

But entry fees, trophy prices and ceremony tickets are not the only barriers that prevent fairness. The average entry timeline for industry awards is between 1- 3 months. While this may not be a problem for larger companies with a dedicated marketing or PR team, many small business owners wear a number of different hats. Therefore, many may struggle to not only get their applications in time but also write an entry that is on the same level as the rest.

When it comes to writing an award-winning entry, it seems that there is still some confusion about what businesses actually need to do. In fact, searches for ‘how to win a business award’ and ‘how to get a business award’ have increased by 34% since 2018.

As a standard, most applications require businesses to provide a few details about their company and why they deserve to win. However, the survey reveals that there is no industry standard when it comes to fact-checking applications. 61% of awards companies do not require businesses to provide supporting documents to back up the claims made in their entry submissions. 

This raises doubts about how judging panels determine which applications are accurate and true, especially given that nearly half of awards companies only have one stage in their judging process (43%). This means that you could potentially lose out to an undeserving business that has simply exaggerated or lied about its work.