In an increasingly crowded global marketplace, it can be hard to stand out. Back in the day, competition came from companies that looked just like yours. That is no longer the case. With an always-online hyper-connected economy, your competition could come from an industry so far removed from the one that you are in that it hardly makes sense…and yet if you aren’t watching, your business can find itself on the precipice of being made redundant by a company you never saw coming. (Think Uber to cabs or AirBnB to hotels…or even more recently Amazon to grocers.) It is not at all far-fetched…and with artificial intelligence and other forms of digitization, who knows what the future holds?
Frankly, it shouldn’t be surprising that some of the best ideas may come from outside your industry…that’s one of the concepts that SIG holds dear. During a plenary Summit session, we had everyone work with the people at their table to discuss a challenge that one person at the table was facing. Because the tables were random and the people at those tables represented different positions and industries, the results provided some breakthrough moments with complete out-of-the-box thinking.
Most of the time when companies are focusing on innovation, transformation or process improvement, they embark on projects with the sole purpose of improving things internally in some capacity. But it is those outside-the-norm projects that can really help an organization stand out in a cluttered marketplace. Not only can you have internal results that provide top-line growth or bottom-line savings, but you can also influence the external market as well, which amplifies the rewards. How? One easy way is to enter your projects into award competitions. The benefits can provide impact far beyond the original goal of your project:
- Brand recognition and free PR – Being shortlisted as an award contender gives your organization free publicity from the awards organizer as well as the other nominees and possibly even the judges. And if you win, the publicity is even more far-reaching and impactful.
- Instant credibility – Winning an award opens numerous doors and gives you instant credibility with potential customers. Let’s face it, we all look at reviews before we make purchases. Third-party endorsements are critical, and an award shows that an outside organization with no skin in the game thought something you have done warrants recognition. The rewards can be further amplified if you shout the results to the rafters and include any “badges” showing the win on your website, in signature files and on social media.
- Increased morale – It almost goes without saying that winning an award provides intrinsic motivation and improved morale for those on the team. The nomination alone, which recognizes hard work and a job well done, is a celebration of the hours the team put into the project and can significantly—and positively—impact employee satisfaction and talent retention.
- Talent attraction – When potential employees see your company recognized and your teams being celebrated, it can go a long way toward creating a new talent pipeline. According to a recent Deloitte study, millennials are looking for an opportunity to make a difference in their workplace and in the wider world. In fact, 74% of millennials believe that business has the potential to solve the challenges that concern them. That is a powerful statement. We routinely hear that talent management is one of the hardest things our member companies face. If young talent sees your organization addressing and tackling big issues, your problem with talent attraction and retention could be a thing of the past.
- Easy benchmarking – Imagine being exposed to dozens of projects simultaneously tackling similar—and different—issues and challenges. Time and again, we’ve seen SIG members have aha moments by listening to someone in another industry present thought leadership and then transform their own businesses by implementing those takeaway ideas. By nature of the event, awards programs provide you with quick access to the best of the best, with greater potential for those insightful moments!
- Differentiation and leadership – At the end of the day, aren’t all companies—whether on the buy-side or sell-side—seeking leadership in their industry? An industry award allows you to differentiate yourself from your competition and showcase your leadership. It can open up new doors and plant your organization at the top of the pedestal (quite literally).
Statistics support all these benefits and more. A joint study between Georgia Tech and the University of Western Ontario tracked 600 recipients of quality awards over a five-year period and found that they experienced 37% higher growth in sales, a 44% higher stock price return and a 48% growth in operating income over a control group of similar companies that did not receive rewards. The benefits of awards can be both tangible and far-reaching…so even though they take time and resources to enter, the results make it difficult to justify NOT participating!