If you visit almost any commercial website, especially those in the security industry, you will find a page dedicated to awards. Awards the company has won, awards the companies products have won, and awards the companies people have won. Most of these awards have required a significant investment of the comapnies time and resources, and many require application fees as well.
So, is it worth it?
We have recently entered into several award competitions, one is over, one os ongoing, and the third is looming on the horizon. So this is a significant question for our small company. Let me describe where we are in these processes.
ASIS Accolades 2012 is an award sponsored by the premier international organization for physical security. Each year between 50 and 100 companies apply for one of ten “Security’s Best” awards. The competition is tough, especially for a small company like ours. There is a hefty application fee, although the organization does provide good media coverage for those companies that do apply. There is a significant amount of work for the application, including white papers, videos, essays describing the value of the new product, etc. All in all, we probably invested 20 to 40 hours of effort into the application. Fortunately, we were selected as a winner. So was it worth it?
For us, yes. We are a small company with no track record in the security industry. We were attending a major trade show to introduce our new product, and we could easily get lost in the 700 to 800 other exhibitors at the show. As it happens, the award made a significant difference to our trade show results. The organization featured us prominantly on their show promotions, we got numerous blog postings and traditional media coverage. And our booth was swamped. All in all it was definitely woth the investment. But, that was because we won the award.
We are currently in another award competition. Fortunately, it is local, but there are still significant investments of company resources. Again, we will gain benefits from simply applying, and being accepted for consideration. A few thousand people will hear our names, and see our products in action. But it also requires dozens of hours of preparation, execution and documentation. So, it may be too early to tell if this one is directly cost effective.
But, there is another benefit to the industry awards process. When a potential customer is considering using your product or service they are confronted with a terrible decision. Yes, they have a need, and yes, your offering looks like it will end their pain, but will it really? If they guess wrong, their company pays the cost and their reputation takes a hit. So there is a lot of down side that makes them (correctly) cautious. This is very strong in the security industry, where reputation rides on continued successful delivery. Can they take the risk on a new product or service?
This is one strong benefit of an industry award. Suddenly, it is not just some smooth talking salesperson, with some high gloss brochures. The industry as a whole (or the industry trade group at any rate) has said – yes this product or service _is_ as cool as it looks! And that seems to carry weight, and makes the customer’s decision a little easier.
So, for us at least, the time, effort, and money are worth it. and we will continue to pursue industry awards. Of course, now I have to find the time and resources to modify the website, the sales collateral, and build an awards case to feature the awards, but I guess that is a good problem to have.