Bragging about your business can feel awkward. That’s because most of us don’t exactly feel comfortable singing our own praises. But when it comes to your business, the person best qualified to boost your reputation locally is…you.

So it’s time to give yourself a pat on the back and let your community know how great you truly are. Feeling shy? Sorry, but there’s no room for shyness when it comes to local marketing.

Earning Local Business Awards and Badges

There’s a common misconception that businesses who receive sought-after accreditations and awards were simply gifted these by the small business marketing gods. Not true. For the most part, small business awards are actually meant to be applied for and earned at your own discretion. That’s right, with some effort, you can start earning small business awards and badges for your business.

What’s the value of a small business award or badge?

Great question. First, let’s clear something up. When we say, “small business award” or “small business badge,” we don’t mean “trust seal” or “trust badge.” Those are the website security badges you place on an ecommerce page that let consumers know they can trust your business and your website not to misuse their information. More about those here.

Instead, we’re talking about reputation-boosting small business awards. Why you want ‘em:

  • Social Proof: Aside from bragging rights (and the warm and fuzzy feelings that come from being recognized), these awards can boost your social proof in a big way. People trust seals of authority, so if it seems like outside organizations trust you, consumers will likely follow their lead.
  • Free Marketing: Many of these awards also offer free marketing and press opportunities. When these organizations certify new businesses or release annual “Top 50 (Whatever) Lists,” they typically issue press releases and invest some advertising bucks to promote their latest news.
  • Financial Gain: Last but not least, there are also several regional and national small business awards that come with monetary prizes and grants.

Getting Recognized

As we mentioned earlier, getting recognized comes down to putting in the time and effort to apply for these awards. How it works:

1. Identify the organizations you want to recognize you.

Think about the benefits listed above, and research organizations that fit your unique goals.

Some top general award organizations:

There are also plenty of industry-specific awards, such as Zagat for restaurant owners. A quick Google search will help you find organizations and awards specific to your industry.

2. Research the application process.

Once you’ve set your sights on a few awards, research the application processes. There will likely be some overlap from organization to organization, so you can repurpose information for more than one award app. Pay special attention to application fees, deadlines, and terms and conditions (to make sure you qualify before you waste your time).

3. Complete the applications, and cross your fingers.

Once you submit your applications, the waiting game will begin. Don’t be afraid to continue applying with additional organizations until you earn the recognition you deserve.

4. Put those awards to work.

Once you’ve earned recognition, put the awards to work for your business. Ensure you have the rights to use any badges or seals, and incorporate them into your website and other marketing materials.

Don’t forget to promote your awards in these places:

  • Your website
  • Emails, below your signature or in the template’s header
  • Social media profiles
  • Printed marketing materials
  • Your storefront, near the entrance
  • Any branded vehicles
  • Business cards
  • Coupons (digital and printed)
5. Follow the Rules

It’s important to note that not all recognition is free. Some organizations will charge you a regular fee to use their badge on your website or in your promotional materials. So it’s important you weigh the expected benefit you’ll receive by using their badge with any related cost of doing so.