Consumers are constantly evolving, and the days of simply slapping an ad on a billboard or in the corner of a newspaper page are fading. Customers now want a more interactive marketing experience that can benefit them. That might seem like a foreign concept, but there’s a way that companies can fulfill this desire while still providing value to their brand: awards programs. It’s not about you Organizing an awards program removes the traditional marketing message of “Look at me!” and puts the focus on the consumers. It’s all about learning what they want and promoting what they can offer. This is an easy way to communicate that you care about your clients, while also enjoying significant benefits: You will gather information for future marketing, products, and services. An application form presents a unique opportunity to start a conversation with clients or prospects. Gathering solid customer information can be difficult, but strategic questions are a natural way to get straight to the point and learn anything you want. You will improve your relationships with customers and prospects. With an awards program, you help customers by presenting a platform and marketing tool. They get to talk about their organizations openly, celebrating their strengths. You will build trust by offering something of value without requesting something in return. It will complete the cycle of content marketing. Awards programs begin and end with content marketing. They provide great opportunities to create content that’s not self-promotional or advertising-based. You create a dialogue that leads clients down a path to an application, creating an excellent lead capture tool. As you gather leads and review applications, you’ll learn more about your clients’ and prospects’ needs. This information will help you improve your content marketing efforts in the future, bringing you back to where you started — but better equipped to begin the cycle again. How to make giving awards work for you An awards program is a marketing initiative that should function as a company-wide project — it should reach all of your existing marketing channels. There are four key strategies to keep in mind as you progress: Involve the content marketing department well ahead of time so the team can create content and images in advance of the award’s conferral. Communicate to applicants how the award can be leveraged in their current marketing strategies and client outreach efforts. An awards program is designed to celebrate the exciting things they’re doing. Help them make the most of the opportunity to share their achievements publicly. When thinking about the judging process, make sure to incorporate social endorsements for the award applicants. Make it easy for them to share the news that they’ve applied for your award with their networks. Everything they share will expand the reach of the award — and your brand. Make sure that your PR team is on board with the award so they can use it to generate additional press opportunities. Celebrating your customers and prospects provides your brand with the opportunity to promote a new type of message about your company. Recognizing your customers’ achievements might seem like a strange marketing strategy, but it has proven effective. Not only are you promoting your customers’ skills and expertise, but you’re also improving relationships and gaining valuable information about your customers for future product or service launches. Awards programs turn caring for your clients into a way to ultimately improve your brand. Images: ”star award with space for text on white background / Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator. Want to get your business featured on Tweak Your Biz? Check out #TYBspotlight.