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Value of winning the awards game

The most recent awards season is well and truly behind the private sector now.

It feels as if every single business in Namibia has one, with the possible exception of the shop at the service station down the road. No doubt the company which owns the chain of service stations got one. Good for them.
In the early year award stakes, everyone gets something. In fact, the only really exceptional moment is if someone doesn’t get one. In the rounds of awards later in the year, the prizes are fewer and further between.
Awards, if handled correctly, are good business for the people who arrange them. There is money to be made of advertising opportunities, attendance, and all of that with a couple of other little bells and whistles.
On the other hand, the cost to a company, of advertising the award, can be expensive.
Let’s start with the conventional wisdom of the thing.
Firstly, although everyone is happy to win an award, there is the small matter of others in the same category winning an award. Participation becomes important if the marketing manager is worried that her or his competitors will win an award, and he or she won’t. In this paradigm, the manager will do everything in his or her power to take part and compete.
Secondly, there is a fear of having a gap in the years in which the award is won. Under the circumstances, everyone participates for fear of not receiving an award in the subsequent year.
Once the award is won, there is the clear need to publicize the award. If not, the reasoning follows, how will people know that we won and award? And what if the competitors publicize their award, and we don’t. And so, marketers spend, not particularly on the nature of the award or its impact, but rather on bases of ego and insecurity.
Is the award really that valuable? It depends on how it is awarded and what the impact is.
Basic economics says that the scarcer a commodity, the more people will potentially value it. If everyone can easily possess the same commodity, the value will be limited. Use salt as an analogy. Plain iodated table salt sells for very little. Add an additional flavour to the salt and it becomes a bit more expensive and less visible on the shelves. Add a bit of clever packaging and the salt becomes yet more expensive and scarce. Finally you can get a couple of pinkish bottles of Himalayan salt which are very scarce on the shelves and cost about as much as really decent coffee.
The simple principle from this analogy is that the most valuable awards will be as scarce as hen’s teeth.
Let’s carry the salt analogy further. Almost everyone has common table salt in the house, so nobody will make much of a fuss about it. On the other hand, if you really want to show off at the dinner party, you will lay out the Himalayan table salt and, all of a sudden, everyone will be interested.
Considering the analogy again, how interested will people be in an award if they see similar awards everywhere they go?
The best awards in general will be those awards which are rare enough to attract attention. If you win an award in an environment in which awards are scarce it may attract some form of interest. On the other hand, even the most rare awards hardly attract attention in Namibia. As proof of this, consider the fact that a Namibian was a member of the IAEA team that won the Nobel Peace Prize. His name is Paulus Nangonya, just in case you didn’t know.
There is another aspect of a good award that has to be taken into account. It’s criteria have to be clear enough to be evaluated by the public. If the public does not see the elements of the award that relate to them, they will not seek that value out. In other words, the criteria for winning the award have to be promoted.
That is the most important thing of all. An award should be a bottom line proposition that drives business. The best awards are turnover, and the customer’s appreciation of the product, or service, and value. Without that, no award can influence a business anyway.

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