From Theory to Triumph – How to Launch a Successful Awards Program

If your organization has a vast network, solid reputation and industry influence, you’ve probably considered launching an awards program.  The potential benefits are plentiful: industry leadership, media coverage, even good business karma. And while your organization may be an ideal candidate for a program, careful planning and consideration of the following can turn your idea from theory to triumph:

  • Start early. The best programs have the benefit of ample planning time. Time needed may vary based on the scale and scope of your plans. Don’t underestimate the time it will take to frame your idea, create a marketing strategy, get approvals and set up an infrastructure to make the awards work. Not to mention the event logistics – finding a venue, securing presenters, etc.
  • Research competitive awards programs. Awards programs are not in short supply. Look at the associations, publications and leading companies in your industry to find out if they have competitive awards programs. Then, do some broader Googling to determine if your planned award categories are already in the marketplace.
  • Identify your differentiator. The ultimate goal of competitive research is to ID gaps in the market and determine what will make your awards program unique and attractive to entrants. Is your sector under-recognized? Are your award categories distinctive?
  • Start small, grow over time. It’s tempting to start with a big bang. Hundreds of guests, high profile sponsors, many award categories… But the problem with a big bang is that it can lead to a big explosion. By starting smaller, you can identify what works and what could be improved or expanded on in future years.
  • Manage your expectations. Unless your organization is Apple or the White House, your awards program is probably not going to make “Good Morning America” or A1 of the Wall Street Journal. Success metrics in the first year should be based around the basics: Did honorees attend? Did the event run smoothly? Did a sizable audience show up? Were winners featured in local or trade publications? Are attendees calling for a repeat next year?


Have you considered launching an awards program? How did you find your differentiator?


To reach Keri:

Phone:  212.584.5471
Twitter: @keritoomey