A friend in the specialty food business recently asked if entering industry award competitions, like the sofi™ Awards that were given at the Summer Fancy Food Show recently, are “worth it.”  And I have to give the classic consultant’s answer, “It depends.”

If winning an award is seen as a validation of quality, worth and success for a particular food-preneur, then it absolutely is worth it on a personal level.  If, on the other hand, someone is hoping the award will have a positive impact on sales, that’s another matter entirely.  Awards can lead to greater sales, IF you have a plan to capitalize on your win.

Here are five strategies that will help you get more than just a trophy out of an award-winning product:

 

  1. Don’t just rely on the competition’s announcement of the winners to get the word out. Issue your own press release to your local news media and to the trade news media that cover your market areas, whether that’s specialty food, grocery, gifts, natural/organic, foodservice, etc.  Consider an Internet press release.  I like PRWEB.com, which has affordable options.  Using the SEO enabled release option and including keyword phrases in your release helps people find your product.One tip: please, please do not issue a release that says you are “pleased to announce” the award.  That kind of flowery wording is never appropriate for a news release, and frankly, probably isn’t very effective for any marketing piece.  Be honest.  Do you read something that starts out with self-serving, self-congratulatory language like that or are you more interested in reading something that is relevant to your likes and needs?
  2. Send your press release and/or an email announcing the award to the contacts in your database. Don’t tell me if you don’t have a database.  Keeping an up-to-date list of customers and potential customers is your single most valuable marketing tool.  After all, these are people who already know you and, if you make a point to stay in regular contact, they are more likely to purchase from you.
  3. For even more of an incentive to buy, whether wholesale or for consumers, let them know you are celebrating your win by offering a special purchase price or maybe free shipping. If you participate in social media, followers love a special deal just for them.
  4. Consider incorporating mention of the award on your packaging. Think about how effectively wineries are using award medallions to differentiate their wine from others on the shelf.  Something similar can help your product stand out.
  5. Last, but not least, don’t forget to update all of your marketing materials with a mention of the award, including your ads, website, and even email signatures. One of the secrets to effective marketing is that whatever you do, leverage your efforts by doing it consistently.