As we work in the world of fashion, it’s no surprise that around this time of year our attentions turn to awards and award ceremonies. After all, this is the time of year when you can’t open a paper or log on to your favourite website without seeing some speculation on what the stars will be wearing at The Oscars.
Yet awards don’t just have the power to make or break a career in film or TV. They can have an immensely powerful effect on the fortunes of all kinds of businesses too. There are awards in every business sector – from British retail fashion to ready meals – and they all offer companies like Dressipi the chance to make a name for themselves, something that can be invaluable for a start-up.
When you’re a business like ours that is breaking into an established industry from the outside, awards represent much more than just a pat on the back for doing a good job. They’re an opportunity for you to sell yourselves. Entering an award is your chance to pitch your products and your projects to a panel of people who might, in their every day lives, be your ideal customer.
This can have big benefits. Getting a nomination is a signal that to the rest of an industry that you have a place in the mainstream. It means that a group of experts has taken a close look at what you do, compared you to your competition, and decided that you have the edge. Getting nominated alongside a big name or a huge company can be nerve-wracking but it’s also a big thumbs up. It says that big, intimidating company is your peer.
Of course winning – when that happens – is even better. An industry gong is more than a piece of glass or metal; it’s a validation that something you do is objectively better than the competition. A nomination or better yet an award can be a powerful shot in the arm for a start-up’s morale, but they can also have a positive effect on your business, if you’re prepared to make the most of the experience.
For example, at Dressipi we were fortunate enough to win a Retail Systems award last year, and are now in the running for two Drapers Digital Awards, which will be announced in April. We put a lot of effort into applying for these awards. As anyone who’s tried before can tell you, it can be surprisingly difficult to distill what makes your business down to just 500 words or so. Yet we also know that getting shortlisted and even winning is just the beginning of a whole new round of hard work.
Awards give you credibility but it’s still up to you to ensure that everyone knows about it. The moment I knew we’d been nominated for those Drapers awards, Donna and I went straight back out on the hustle. We emailed our contacts, said thank you to our partners and immediately got back in touch with the retailers on our prospect list. It was another round of emails and phone calls in search of face-to-face meetings; the bread and butter of the entrepreneur’s day. But it got us what we needed. The seal of approval from a major award ceremony was enough to get us four further meetings with retailers. And that’s a good day’s work.