Want more visibility for your brand?
Why you should enter your natural / organic sustainable product or service into an awards programme….(not just mine. Though I hope you do take a look!)
I LOVE awards, running them, presenting them and receiving them, and I hope to convince you that as part of your marketing, entering your products or services into some kind of awards can be hugely beneficial towards building your personal brand. It’s not only about winning…of course one would hope that you might win every award you enter, but I hope to show you that whether you get the gong or not, it’s worth getting into the running.
Why am I the right person to convince you?
I run the JANEY LOVES Platinum Awards for natural products and services, it’s been running for 5 years and I think it’s fair to say that we have helped to make a lot of natural brands, therapists and authors very proud, but also helped many of them get increased visibility, sales and kudos for their entries and winning products.
But this isn’t just about my awards, there are lots out there and I would encourage you to look into the best ones for your niche, (they do say the riches are in the niches…wait a minute that doesn’t rhyme!) and of course you can enter more than one, the more the merrier.
It’s not only my own awards that I have been involved in, I have been a judge for several awards in the last few years, including ‘The Best You’ Personal Development Awards, The Natural Health Magazine Beauty Awards, the UK Bloggers Awards, and I’ve been the presenter at lots of award ceremonies too including The Natural Health Awards, The Federation of Holistic Therapists, and every year I present the FreeFrom Skincare Awards. I’ve also been a co-presenter at The Green Awards, The Pea Awards, and more…
In addition I’ve been the recipient of several awards, you could say an ‘award’ kick-started my career in a few ways, I won an award for the first radio shows I did, the Gospel Show on what is now BBC London, and around 12 years ago I got an Amazon number one best seller for my first book which also won an award. I’ve been awarded Number One in ‘Who’s Who in Natural Beauty’ industry yearbook for three years running, and just last year, I was thrilled to win an award I hadn’t even entered, having been nominated and winner of a ‘Positive Icon Award’.
So I’ve been there, done it – got the t-shirt! I’ve seen the benefit of awards from a few different angles, and I’d love to encourage you to take the step if you are thinking about entering awards and raising your profile. Trust me entering awards can be good for business!
So which awards will you enter and why?
Sometimes this is obvious of course, if you have an excellent new beauty product you may be thinking of The Beauty Shortlist, if it’s a natural beauty product, the Natural Health Magazine Beauty Awards are great, if it’s specifically ‘Free From’, then the FreeFrom Awards are for you. If your product or service could fit all of the above, if it’s health and well being, organic, natural or eco, or if you are a therapist, coach or well being author, then I hope you will consider entering the JANEY LOVES Platinum Awards!
Because I am always passionate about looking at the holistic picture we are a bit different from other more ‘niched’ awards in that we have lots of categories and sub categories so there are lots of opportunities.
So do your research as to what awards you’d like to be part of, and check out your competitors, what badges are they currently displaying?
Clarity on your USP
In order for you to decide which awards and which category to enter it’s super important to have clarity on your USP, that may seem obvious, you may be thinking, ‘of course I know my unique selling point’… it’s that I have a great facial oil, excellent supplements, or it’s that I offer reflexology, or I’m an NLP life coach…but are you really aware that YOU are the brand?
As you may know I have written a book called ‘You Are The Brand’, and I’d like to encourage you to think a little more about your USP – I call it your ‘YOU-nique brilliance,’ Go back to basics and ask yourself – ‘What’s really unique about my brand, my service? What is it that makes people buy from me?’ We all know people do business with those they like, know and trust, and it’s especially true that if what you are selling is health and well being, whether that be products, advice, coaching or treatments, then it’s even more important to recognize that YOU are the brand, in order to like know and trust you, your clients and community need to see you, they need to know something about you.
Ask yourself….Why did you start your business? If you are working in some kind of holistic business it’s likely you came into the work, not because you wanted to make big bucks – (though I sincerely hope you will be financially abundant), but in most cases it’s because you want to make a difference, you want to help people, make them well, improve their mind-set, or whatever it is you do.
Ask yourself….Why do you do what you do? Its sometimes called ‘the big why’ – this is your story and it can be more important than you think.
Getting real clarity on your ‘big why’ is really critical I think for you to realise that you are the brand and that you can share something of your story in order to resonate with your clients. What’s this got to do with marketing your products and services entering awards? Well everyone loves a back story, we’ve all seen Britain’s Got Talent, and The Voice, before the performer comes out on stage, the audience are treated to a little film. A behind the scenes of their life, it’s often there that we learn that they have had some hardship, or that they have a lifelong goal of performing. In some cases we are on their side before we have heard a note, if they do live up to expectations, we are rooting for them and when it comes to the voting they get our vote, back stories can be very persuasive, why?
‘because emotions not logic inspire action’
You may be thinking, ‘This doesn’t apply to me, I have a brand making organic skincare, or I’m a reflexologist …so it’s not about me, it’s about the creams or the treatment.’ Well I’m sure it doesn’t take me to remind me that there are literally millions of organic skincare brands, which is great news by the way according to the soil association the organic market has grown massively.
If you are an author, a coach, a therapist, you will probably have felt a bit daunted at one time because there are so many people offering the same message, or treatment or method, But there’s only one YOU, and your own story, your big why is part of your USP, it sets you apart. So get absolute clarity on which bits of your story are relevant and you’d like to share and ask how that relates to the products or service you want to see promoted. Perhaps you trained as a hypnotherapist after you had been transformed yourself. Perhaps you created gluten free snacks because you couldn’t find any that your child with gluten intolerance enjoyed. One of the entrants to the Platinum Awards last year was working full time but wanted to do more aromatherapy treatments, taking the step of entering the awards and winning, gave her the push she needed to create her own products and set up her own treatment rooms.
What is my specific USP, what sets me apart?
If I did win an award, or get promo for one of my products or services which would I prefer it to be?
Which of my products or services is my ‘hero’ product that sums up my unique niche?
Some award programmes allow you to enter up to three, or even more, but more isn’t always better, it’s about getting the right one that stands out and sets you apart.
To win or not to win
Once you have done a bit of research on awards you could enter, you will need to choose which product to enter, obviously if you only have one product this is easy, but if you have several, make sure you choose something that stands alone, with its own unique features, something innovative or unusual.
Always think about what category you are entering, and what your competition will be. However it’s important not to stress too much about the category you are entering. Last year in my Platinum Awards for natural and organic products and services, the Hayo’u face restorer massage tool was entered into my awards, it’s a unique jade ‘stone’ that is used to increase circulation and make your skin look younger, they entered it into the skincare and beauty category, but while our judges all loved it, it didn’t seem to ‘fit’ ‘with the other skin creams and oils etc. so we literally created a new category for it, the most innovative skincare product, and of course it won!
First impressions count
Think about the judges and testers who will be receiving your product, chances are they will get a whole bunch of products to test and it can become overwhelming, this is your opportunity to ask yourself whether your packaging, your USP, directions on how to use your product etc. are really clear and concise. Put yourself in the position in your mind of a judge who has been asked to judge your product. Close your eyes and imagine someone opening up the package, with no previous knowledge about your brand, what does it tell him or her at first glance? If there is a marketing flyer or supporting material with it how does that look? Before she even tries the product will it be clear to her exactly what the USP is, why it should potentially be an award winner?
Let’s imagine for example that she is judging the ‘moisturisers’ category for a beauty / skincare awards, if she is sent 25 creams to sample, the chances are she will in truth make her decision on a variety of things, not just the efficacy of the cream, similarly if you are entering health and well being supplements into an awards programme, the person judging may not be ‘suffering’ at the start of the process, and with only a month or so to judge a bunch of products it’s unlikely they will be able to really testify to the product making a huge difference.
These examples show the importance of how your product stands out. In the example of the moisturiser, if that’s what you intend to enter, ask yourself is the packaging nice? Does it have any ethical credentials, is it biodegradable or recyclable? Ask yourself is your product clearly labelled, is the ingredients list clear? If it is free from parabens, preservatives, sodium laurel sulphate does it say so? Does the cream smell nice, is it easy to apply? Is it obvious how much is needed? Is the price point commensurate with the luxuriousness or otherwise of the branding? Are there any marketing materials that sit along it? Are there videos to show how it’s used or client case studies? The latter is even more important for vitamins and minerals, in addition to being able to easily read ingredients, ensure that you comply with regulations and again, if one of the USP’s is that it is free from fillers, artificial colours and preservatives, make that’s clear in supporting information and client testimonials.
If you are an expert, a therapist or coach then you have to find a way to present your work to the judges, this can be tricky of course, in many cases they won’t be able to come and sample your treatments or take your online programme, but again some of this is intrinsic in the first impressions.
Let’s imagine you are a therapist and are entering as such, perhaps you offer aromatherapy treatments and also have your own range of aromatherapy oils. You could send in a document detailing what you do, how much you charge and send a link to some testimonials from clients. In my opinion that would be the absolute minimum and you may not stand out. Again put yourself in the position of the judge who is trying to read between the lines. Firstly they would need to see an image of you, as we have already said first impressions count, so create a ‘one page’ doc which includes your image, your ‘mission statement’ your credentials, a brief description of your treatments / programme and then add in some concise case studies, preferably with a head shot too, remember this isn’t for publication, but the judge needs to be sure that your case studies / testimonials are from real clients. Remember we do business with those we like, know and trust, and in order to like, know and trust you we need to see you!
Before you enter, get your ducks in a row!
You’ve already identified your ‘hero’ product or programmer or service, the one that you would like to get recognition for, and ask yourself if it’s ‘entry ready? Does it stand out, does it do what it says on tin, and importantly does it actually say what it does on the tin? What is the marketing around it like?
Will it wow the judges?
Are there any tweaks you can make to the presentation that could make a difference? I’m not talking about going back to the manufacturers and repackaging (unless that’s the stage you are at), I’m taking about little things like having a well-designed postcard that comes with the product, that gives some info about the brand, includes your Social Media addresses etc. On that note it sounds obvious but always include your contact details in with your parcel that includes your products, for a judge who is receiving a whole batch of stuff, if your contact name is different to the product name don’t make them waste valuable time searching for you online or via their email, make sure they have the brand name, the product names, and how to contact you both by email and on Social Media.
If your product is unusual, could you add in a really nicely designed simple ‘instructions’ guide…if you are entering purely by email, perhaps in the case of a therapist or app creator who is sending everything virtually, then give the judge a clear easy ‘one click’ link that goes through to a video to see you in action or to access your app.
Make your entry stands out, and don’t forget, ‘YOU are the brand’ in most cases it isn’t just about the pot of cream, the mascara, the supplements you are entering into an awards programme, it’s about the whole picture, the brand. So ensure that the judge can see at a glance who is behind this brand, what is the ethos?
I love encouraging new ‘one man band’ type businesses alongside the well-established ones, but if I receive a small inexpensive organic moisturizer that perhaps says…. raw organic hand cream, I may well sample that and love it, but how much more engaged will I be if the cream arrives with a bit of background info explaining that the creator couldn’t find the right cream to help her dry sensitive skin so she created her own at the kitchen table using some of the herbs in her own garden? Suddenly I have an image of the person behind the brand, and it brings it to life and makes much more of an impact.
How do you use being part of an awards programme to get more engagement / more PR for your product or service?
In most awards programmes it’s a case of …pay your entry fee, (or not as the case may be) enter, and then wait with fingers crossed, but in my awards we absolutely assist you and do everything we can to help create more visibility, along with lots of other programmes, we offer you as the entrant a ‘vote for us’ button. In our awards while we have a panel of great celeb judges, we also ask readers to vote for their faves and we throw that into the mix. Mostly this is a great opportunity for you to go onto Social Media and direct marketing and promote the fact that you have entered, and ask people to vote for you. It’s a fantastic way of reminding your customers or your tribe about your hero product, and asking something of them, if you think about the brands that you love, if you received an email from them saying…’We know you love our …. face oil…vitamin d supplement …bamboo leggings…or whatever …we are proud of our best-selling product and have entered into the …xxx awards….please show your support and click here to vote for us….You would!
You can use this as an opportunity to remind people of the benefits of your product entry. Hopefully the awards programme will offer you some graphics to use, but if not create your own, use a programme like CANVA and knock up a simple ‘we’ve entered…please vote for us’…kind of image which you can use on Social Media. Ask the awards programme for their logo, if they haven’t given you the marketing materials to use already. In addition, especially if there is a decent amount of time between your entry and the date the award winners will be announced ,you have nothing to lose by creating a press release to promote your entry, this works especially well for marketing in your local area.
Create a press release that talks about your brand and the story behind it and the fact that you have entered and you just never know they may print it….wishing you luck encouraging their readers to vote for you and giving you some valuable publicity in the process. You could offer a competition to win a few of your products, local newspapers and mags often love being able to offer competitions form local businesses. Take this opportunity to research which newspapers, magazines and online publications would be a good fit for you, and if you get that press release right, with good images and a good story behind it, you will only need a heading tweak for it to be ready if you win!
Make sure you use Social Media to your advantage through the waiting process, follow the judges and the awards programme and retweet, share or like any posts around the awards, don’t worry about the competition, by aligning yourself with the awards ‘hashtag’ you are keeping your brand name visible.
Once the award winners are announced, if you haven’t won on this occasion, don’t be too disappointed, maybe it just wasn’t the right time, hopefully you have benefited anyway from creating the best entry you could and perhaps you feel there is something you could have done better. Rather than wallowing in the disappointment, have a look at your competitors’ products, especially the ones similar to yours and ask yourself objectively… Why their product may have got the gong over yours?
Now if you have won, at whatever level – be loud and proud!
Sing your own praises across Social Media, and in your marketing, thank your fans, offer them a discount or special offer to celebrate the win, congratulate other winners too, (all good for your name to be seen) and of course now is when you really do need that press release. This time of course it will state …Local Brand Win National Award….or similar.
Ensure that it goes not only to local press, who will surely want to feature you as a local award winning brand, but also send to the publications where you would like to be featured. Don’t forget trade publications in your chosen arena, and if you feel there is a story / an angle around what you do, approach your local radio station and offer to be a guest, if they have a lifestyle show or similar.
Hopefully if you have won, you will receive a winners badge or logo and it may be appropriate to have these printed, ask the awards programme for their artwork if this is something they support, and you can create stickers to add to your products, at the very least add the ‘badges’ or winners logos to your website and Social Media posts.
In summary then, don’t make the mistake of thinking … I’ll wait till my new products are out before entering awards, chances are your products may be ‘new’ to judges anyway. Treat entering awards more like a low cost marketing exercise, which has the added value of a possible accolade which will help to catapult your marketing.
If you have any questions or comments I’d be pleased to hear them, I wish you a huge amount of luck and success and of course I would hope that you may consider entering the JANEY LOVES Platinum Awards, we have a big list of categories because I love to cover all things holistic, so whether you have organic or natural skincare, cosmetics, health and well being supplements, eco fashion, mother and baby products or eco home and garden kit have a look. We also have categories for authors of books on well being and spirituality and there’s a category for therapists and coaches. We have a fabulous team of celeb judges, (and moi!) and unlike many awards programmes we do everything we can to promo you throughout the process!