Posted: Thu 31st Jan 2013
Having the seal of approval for your products from (industry peers) fellow foodies and customers can be a fantastic boost to sales and company morale, writes Bruce (left). In my area of expertise - the food sector - such awards are a vital part of the industry for small producers; it's thrilling to be recognised and for your produce to be admired for being best in class. It's also a great marketing tool.
There are many different types of awards with many given by regional organisations. In the food industry, for example, these include the Guild of Food Writers and the Guild of Fine Food. Like the Oscars for the movie world or the Brits for pop and rock musicians, foodie awards are keenly sought by producers.
The Heart of England fine foods (HEFF) Diamond Awards were launched six years ago to recognise, reward and celebrate the range and quality of food and drink being produced across the West Midlands, says Bonnie Joplin of HEFF. Bonnie helps organise the annual Diamond Awards, recognising the best food and drink produced by rural producers in counties such as Herefordshire and Worcester, and urban businesses in Birmingham and Coventry. "Aside from all the marketing and PR opportunities that winning such an honour brings, food and drink awards are a great way for producers to benchmark their products against the competition, and in the case of the HEFF Diamond Awards, gain independent, expert feedback to aid product development," says Bonnie. Entering an award can be a time consuming process, but it's worth the effort. "Just the process of considering entering awards is a worthwhile exercise, encouraging you to think about which are your strongest products. Ask yourself honestly if they are good enough and, if not, why not?" says Bonnie. "If you are lucky enough to be a finalist, or better still a winner, sharing your success is critical to maximise the benefits."
Press releases, winning logos on marketing material and spreading the word via social media will all help to raise the profile of your business. "Winning an award not only shows consumers that you have a stand-out product, it is also convincing evidence for buyers to stock your product," says Bonnie. An award rosette or sticker on your packaging helps differentiate your product, allowing consumers can quickly and confidently identify quality products.
So, what are the three top tips to preparing a sample for competition?
You'll need to think carefully about which products you put forward, for example, if your product is seasonal, will it be at it's best?
Make sure you give a good, clear description of the product your submit - in the food industry, many awards are blind tasted so it's important the your product matches the description.
Give clear instructions for how to store, prepare and present your product for the judges.
Many small food businesses are pushed for time, kept busy in the kitchen cooking, packaging and selling. So, is it worth the effort for producers to enter competitions? "Yes!" says Bonnie. They present a simple, straightforward method to put your product to the test and even if you don't win, taking part can give you valuable information. "Being shortlisted and, better still, winning an award can really help you stand out from the crowd, not to mention the recognition and reward for all your hard work."
Cook Wrap Sell by Bruce McMichael has everything you need to know to run a successful small food business from your kitchen. It's available as a downloadable ebook or a print book from the Enterprise Nation shop. [product id="56584"] Photo credit: Lee Cannon