The Ultimate Guide to Business Awards: Why Small Businesses in Canada Should Enter Awards—And How To Do It Right

As the winner of the 2023 Top Digital Transformation Solutions Provider, we bust myths and guide you on everything about Business Awards for small businesses in Canada

Let’s address the elephant in the room: If you are a business owner, I’m sure a thought or two in this statement holds true for you when the subject of business awards is brought up:


“What are they, even????”

“I’m not qualified; maybe next time.”

“It’s just too much work, and I am busy as it is.”

“This will just put me in the spotlight, and I have too many trade secrets, so no.”

“Is it even worth my resources?”

“Those are just bought; no thanks.”


Business awards serve as recognition from private and government entities, typically assessed against specific criteria and often regarded as marketing tools. Securing these accolades opens significant growth opportunities for small businesses. However, it's not uncommon for them to be overlooked or dismissed, leaving a less-than-ideal impression. As a business, we didn't think much of business awards, until Altitude B2B was honored as the 2023 Top Digital Transformation Solutions provider by CIO Application!


Altitude B2B is the 2023 Top Digital Transformation Solutions Provider! Learn more in this award write-up

We are absolutely thrilled to have been acknowledged and validated, but what truly made this experience unforgettable were the incredible opportunities it opened up for us!

So, we figured it would be a good time to write this piece and talk about our experience in this award-winning journey.

This comprehensive guide to getting industry awards in Canada talks about:
  • Why you should consider applying for business awards and their benefits, even as a small business.
  • How to create a compelling award application, in a step-by-step guide.
  • How to maximize the limelight from winning awards to give you a cutting-edge advantage in your business.


The Value Of Business Awards For Your Small Business


More than just a stroke to your ego, entering your small business into award competitions has very solid advantages for your business. Here are the key reasons why awards should matter to small companies in Canada:


Validates Your Reputation

Winning awards acts as third-party validation. As an outsider looking in, award-giving bodies provide tangible proof that industry experts and business associations recognize your company's achievements.

This credibility is invaluable when marketing to potential customers and partners. External validation builds trust that your brand delivers on its promises.


Drives Brand Awareness

Simply being nominated for Canadian business awards results in organic press mentions. But winning high-profile awards leads to media coverage. This visibility with the national and trade press builds brand awareness.

It also establishes your company as an innovator. Awards set you apart from competitors, shaping positive brand perceptions.


Attract Top Talent

An organization's culture is enhanced by awards, which show that the business is flourishing and forward-thinking. High-performing employees are drawn to successful brand names they recognize, and who wouldn’t want to work in a stable and thriving organization?

Aside from this, being part of an award-winning business gives staff a profound sense of belonging and morale. This is great for retaining happy, performing workers.


Open Up Partnerships

Award ceremonies provide valuable networking opportunities with corporate partners, industry associations, local government agencies, and the media. These connections open doors to B2B opportunities. Don’t be surprised if you get invited to speak at industry events or mentor other entrepreneurs. This increase in involvement raises your profile, which becomes a good channel for positive exposure within your niche and community.


Spark Media and PR Interest

Media outlets love covering blazing stars, which is why PR teams actively pitch award wins. Even if you don’t have an internal PR rep, crafting releases on awards to send to the press can be outsourced and sent to local media outlets that will be happily picked up for publishing.

This holds true for us, as we got invited to our first podcast feature!

This exposure in mainstream and industry press has compounding benefits: as online searches highlight these achievements, new audiences continue to discover your brand’s award-winning status.  


Turn Customers Into Advocates

Positive word-of-mouth has tremendous influence on purchasing decisions. An award confirms to customers that your business offers an exceptional product or service worth talking about.

Satisfied clients also provide testimonials for your website, marketing materials, and submissions to future awards. Their authentic stories build trust with potential customers.


The Road to Gold: How to Win Business Awards

Now that you know why entering awards delivers real impact for small businesses, let’s explore how to create winning submissions:


Target Relevant Awards

Identify awards that fit your company’s focus, location, and achievements. You can check out this awards list for locations, categories, and deadlines. Organize your journey and create a tracker to note deadlines and requirements for target award programs.

Many are free to enter, and submitting to multiple awards increases the chances of recognition. Plus, awards beget more awards—wins raise your profile for other opportunities.


Align To Selection Criteria

Award organizers outline what they look for in judging applications. Strategize and closely align your responses to their criteria. Address how your business delivers measurable outcomes across their benchmarks for excellence.


Create and Emphasize Unique Points Of Difference

Judges can receive hundreds of applications, and your goal is to stand out. Set your business apart by emphasizing its competitive advantages, innovation, and business growth.

If you feel you need to work on points to set your business apart, don’t fret. Since you have set your target award in sight, assess your business against the criteria and target date, and work with a business advisor to help you. Together, you can plan with actionable goals within a timeframe to prepare you for the award. Better yet, choose an awarded business advisor who can offer cost-free digital transformations through governmental grant funds (yes, that’s us!)


Quantify Achievements

Don’t just fluff your own feathers; back up claims with quantitative results, milestones, and testimonials. Numerical data quantifies how you fulfilled award criteria like driving revenue, boosting productivity, or achieving superior customer satisfaction.


Secure Leadership Endorsements

Support letters from business groups, government officials, or high-profile industry names reinforce claims made in your application. Proof that business leaders recognize your achievements adds credibility and increases your value as an entity.


Stand out with Visuals

Since your main goal is to stand out, take the creative route and include visuals to champion your brand. Charts demonstrating growth, infographics highlighting milestones, images of products and services, and client testimonial videos break up text and drive home accomplishments.


Refine Before Submission

After completing a draft application, set it aside for a few days, then revisit it with fresh eyes. Refine sections that seem light on details or take out unnecessary bulk that distracts from points that need to shine. Having a successful entrepreneur proofread it to identify gaps can also do wonders to make sure that you have a readable, relatable, and concise application.

Finally, carefully proofread before sending your submission. Typos or formatting issues undermine professionalism. With these tips, your business can develop winning applications for awards that deliver ROI.


Bragging Time: How to Promote your Awards

Now that you know why and how to win business awards, it’s time to get recognized! With over 5 million small businesses across Canada, you can leverage awards to accelerate your success. And with all your achievements through hard work, you want to make sure that you amplify your badge in the right channels:


General Promotion

  • Update your website and social media profiles to prominently display the award.
  • Issue a press release to local and industry-specific media to generate coverage.
  • Include your award logo on your marketing materials, such as business cards, brochures, and email signatures.
  • Include images of your awards in business profiles or listings to boost credibility in search engines


Social Media Engagement

  • Share the news on your social media platforms, thanking supporters and expressing gratitude.
  • Create engaging content about the award, such as behind-the-scenes glimpses, employee interviews, or stories about the journey that led to the win.


Email Marketing

  • Showcase the award in your email newsletters to clients, customers, and partners.
  • Use the award as a hook for special promotions or discounts to celebrate with your customer base.


Optimize Website Content

  • Create a dedicated section on your website highlighting the award, including details about the recognition and any associated ceremonies or events.
  • Update your "About Us" section to reflect the recent achievement.


Networking Opportunities

  • Leverage the award to network with other businesses in your industry.
  • Attend industry events and conferences where you can showcase your award and connect with potential partners or clients.


Employee Recognition

  • Celebrate the award with your team, acknowledging their contributions.
  • Feature employees in promotional materials or on social media to showcase the people behind the success.


Customer Testimonials

  • Encourage satisfied customers to share testimonials related to your award-winning status.
  • Use these testimonials in your marketing collateral to build trust with potential customers.


Community Engagement

  • Engage with your local community by sharing the award news with local media, community organizations, and chambers of commerce.
  • Consider organizing events or promotions to involve the community in your celebration.


Strategic Partnerships

  • Use the award to establish or strengthen partnerships with other businesses in your industry.
  • Explore collaboration opportunities that can further enhance your business's profile.


Continuous Improvement

  • Use the award as a motivating force to continue improving and innovating within your industry.
  • Showcase your commitment to excellence by sharing updates on ongoing projects, achievements, and milestones.


As the saying goes, the harder you work, the luckier you get. Business awards recognize top performers that demonstrate measurable success. Earning recognition may seem daunting, but you must be in it to win it. And more than winning our own awards, Altitude B2B wants to see you win. Send us a message to get started on opportunities that spotlight your small business as an industry leader. Our goal is your success.