Award programs can sometimes get a bad rap. Not only does it seem like there are a million of them, but submitting for them often means paying a fee and boasting to excess about your company’s or team members’ accomplishments. Many businesses aren’t comfortable with that and so they decide they don’t need the “ego boost.”

But, applying for – and winning – the right awards is much more than flattery. In fact, awards can actually do a lot for your business strategically. For B2B businesses in particular, which don’t always have as much opportunity to publicly shine, they can be downright important. Here are a few reasons why.

Credibility in the eyes of your buyers.

When a prospect comes to your website, they’re looking for differentiators. Awards can provide that. Think about when the owner of a small business goes looking for accounting software, and checks out multiple vendors, including you. Almost all of the websites say the same things, but one of them has several award badges prominently displayed. If that company won a “best customer service” award and a “best new accounting platform of the year” award, the small business owner is going to feel more confident about giving that vendor a try over the others.

You can also pursue specific awards to try to rectify a poor public perception. For example, your flagship product might have gotten a lot of bad press and subpar online reviews. But you’ve come out with a new version, and are eager to flip the script. Use this story and go after awards that will validate the intuitiveness, functionality and innovation of your product. In this way, you can use awards to change the public conversation around your business.

One final note about credibility: Not only does talking about and putting award badges on your website make you seem trustworthy in the eyes of customers, but award wins also often come with “free” PR. It’s not truly free, since you likely paid to submit your award, but it’s still a helpful added bonus. Depending on the program, you may get included in a press release, a feature story or see your company name appear on a website that gets a lot of relevant visitors.

Just getting in front of the judging panel can be the real win. 

You may apply for awards, and not win them all (or any of them). But not all is lost. If you’re choosing the right awards, you should also be selecting them based on the caliber of their judging panels. Let’s say you have a new technology solution that is unlike anything else on the market, but you’re struggling to gain awareness.

If you find an awards program with a judging panel that includes a top tech writer, a principal at a highly trusted analyst firm and a venture capitalist who is known to invest in new technology, you’ve found a goldmine. Simply knowing that these individuals will review your application and learn about your company and product in the process paves the way for awareness and further connections down the road.

Value in recruitment. 

Today’s job market is pretty hot, and good talent has a lot of leverage. You need to stand out from all the other companies who are trying to get the best people, the same ones that you want. Winning “best places to work” and “best culture” type awards go a long way in piquing the interest of top candidates. After all, would you rather work for an unknown company, or one that has clearly demonstrated its ability to go the extra mile and make its workplace attractive for employees? That’s an easy answer.

So as you think about how you can use PR strategically in your B2B business, we recommend giving awards some consideration. And if you need help figuring out which ones to pursue, and how to write a winning submission, we’d love to help.