Innovation Blog

How to Launch a Successful Awards Program


Simple planning and strategy tips for success.

Creating an awards program through your professional organization can be a rewarding process for all involved. Not only does this allow your business to honor and recognize certain people or organizations for any number of accomplishments or milestones, but it also creates positive engagement and goodwill among your professional community. For those being recognized, it can enhance brand awareness and credibility.

According to data from Best Business Awards, small businesses that have won awards see a 63% increase in income and a 39% increase in sales. For large companies, award recognition translates to a 48% increase in income and a 37% growth in sales.

Recognition for individuals has been shown to improve employee morale and engagement. According to Quantum Workplace, “When employees believe they will be recognized they are 2.7 times more likely to be highly engaged.” Individual recognition programs have also been shown to help with higher loyalty and satisfaction scores from customers as well.

If you are starting a new recognition program from scratch, there are a few important questions to ask as you get the process started. In journalism, the basic foundation of writing a good news story starts with what is known as the “5 Ws.” Answering the “5 Ws” can be a solid place to start when building out a big project like an awards program as well.

The “5Ws” ask the questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why?

WHO is being recognized? Is this an internal award program for employees? An external award program recognizing customers, members or industry associates?

WHAT is the purpose of the recognition? Create a mission statement that helps define the purpose of the award. Also, what will the winners receive: a classic engraved crystal item, a plaque, a monetary prize?

WHEN How frequently will the honor be given out? Set clear deadlines for nominations and when the awards will be officially announced and presented. These deadlines can be used to create a schedule for internal deadlines as well. Work backward to determine the dates to order awards, start promoting nomination deadlines and booking an event location, if relevant.

WHERE will your program be held? Where will it publicized? Online, direct marketing, print materials? Will you hold a live event to celebrate the awards program?

WHY is this award being established and why are the winners selected? Make sure to establish clear criteria, which is incredibly helpful for both those looking to nominate individuals as well as for your selection committee to use as a benchmark for selection choices.

Once you’ve answered these questions it’s time to map out your launch plan. The easiest way to do this is to take those 5 “Ws” and break them down into smaller action steps. Identify who will be a part of the team. Create a punch list of everything that needs to be done, broken down by the various phases of the project and review the list regularly to prioritize and reprioritize based on status updates from the team.

Some steps in the process will include:

  • Establish a team for the project and assign tasks (PR, graphic design, judging, etc.)
  • Create a complete timeline for the whole project start to finish
  • Set your deadlines
  • Establish the award criteria
  • Create a nomination form
  • Pick a judge or selection committee
  • Event planning
  • Budgeting
  • Establish a communication plan for the program
  • Schedule post-program evaluation and analysis

While the idea of establishing an awards program from scratch may seem daunting at first, you will find once the initial program is established, it can easily become a well-oiled machine year after year, and one you and your organization will find incredibly gratifying.

Amy Antenora is the Editor of aftermarketNews

Contact Amy at [email protected]

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