Award Wins Can Help Build Brand and Sales – Here’s How

Companies seeking credibility, a leading edge over competition, favorable publicity, and a way to accelerate sales are gaining value from award contests that reinforce their core values, strategic initiatives, and marketing claims.

Just as travelers rely upon the star rating system to choose a hotel or a Zagat survey to choose a restaurant, buyers of any variety of products and services want to spend their money with winners – and they do.

In fact, a research study by Hendricks & Singhal of the University of Western Ontario and Georgia Institute of Technology, revealed more than 600 quality corporate award winners had 37% more sales growth and 44% higher stock price return than their peers.

Here are a few more benefits to justify your investment of time and effort in award competitions:

1. Get to “yes” faster. Winning prestigious award contests can help unknown, unproven, or emerging companies better compete for and win new business. Award wins make choosing a company less risky for buyers and potential employees.

Dave Caple, president of Northwest Suites & Housing Services, winner of a variety of Better Business Bureau, Eastside Business, and housing industry honors including Company of the Year, said, “The biggest bang for the buck on the awards is the fact that they validate and help promote the strength and quality of our company in the regions and industries in which we do business.”

2. Demonstrate ethics through credible endorsements. If a prospect is evenly divided between quality companies, the company with the most stellar ethics as demonstrated by a Better Business Bureau award may have an advantage. As reports of corporate ethics violations become more commonplace, consumers are seeking out companies with track records of integrity. An award recognizing a business’ demonstrated ability to navigate the market without compromising integrity can help separate it from competitors.

3. Support marketing claims. Winning gives advertising copywriters more to talk about so cash registers can ring. When JD Powers & Associates grants awards for customer satisfaction, consumers listen. T-Mobile has a pattern of winning these prestigious awards. Is it any wonder that their billboard offers three words that say it all: “Bling, bling, (and) bling.”?

Keith Jackson, president and CEO of Charter Bank, winner of the 2004 Eastside Business Award for Small Business of the Year, said, Receiving an award definitely lends credibility to our message. Whether we’re recruiting employees, clients, or investors, being recognized for excellence by a third party supports our claims. It can also foster a sense of pride and accomplishment among our team members.”

4. Pack a powerful punch through publicity. Favorable local, trade, or national publicity and word-of-mouth referrals often result from contest wins, filling the lead generation pipeline.

Chelsea Shipp, marketing manager for the Better Business Bureau of Western Washington, says that report wins don’t affect the bottom line in a quantifiable way, yet several BBB award winners have said that employee pride in the company goes up after an award, and this can influence staff productivity and the quality of the service customers enjoy.

5. Tip new business to your favor. Just like Avis — the rental car company with a reputation for trying harder to beat Hertz out of the number one position — award winners may be perceived as working with greater diligence to demonstrate their value.

6. Compel judges to become your customers. Judges often visit award candidate’s businesses because they like what they read in award applications and want to experience the company’s services and products for him/herself.

If you are convinced that award wins can pay off for your business and your brand, follow these tips when putting pen to paper:

o Prioritize. Choose legitimate and prestigious contests that reinforce your company’s core values, strategic initiatives, and marketing claims.

o Do the application justice. Assign the task of creating award worthy entries to someone who has the passion, storytelling ability, and time to do the job right. Last minute efforts rarely deliver a winning result.

o Prove your points. Call out winning ways in easy-to-read bullets. Share anecdotes, customer and employee testimonials, and press coverage to prove why your company is award-worthy. Steer clear of hyperbole and “blah, blah, blah” commentary that will take up space and bore the judges.

o Meet and address all the award criteria. Only then will you have a fighting chance to earn a place in the winner’s circle. And be sure to submit entries on deadline.

o Presentation counts. When given the choice to make a hard copy presentation or send a fax, go with the hard copy every time. A fuzzy fax won’t catapult your story to the top of the stack when compared with other applications with better overall presentation quality.

o Go in to win. If you can’t weigh in with a stellar effort, sit out the competition and save your time and money until you can.

Vacancy in Hammond: What Does It Have to Offer?

Famous location site for NBC tv series, In the Heat of the Night, Hammond is a small town in Louisiana. It was resided by some 20,000 people in 2009 and has kept on growing since then with vacancy in apartments quickly occupied. It owes this mostly to its location which is a very strategic place for a home. Likewise, the city contains most of the mass media in New Orleans and Baton Rouge making it an ideal residence for those who are intent to pursue a career in journalism.

Because of the town’s strategic location, many residents find it very convenient to live in Hammond Eastside Apartments. This is because the city is situated on a favorable spot at the intersection of two busy interstate highways, Interstate 12 and Interstate 55. The former starting from Baton Rouge and ends at Slidell while the latter begins from Laplace and finishes at Chicago, Illinois. With an average of 40 miles per major towns nearby like Baton Rouge, it is not surprising to expect that a town such as Hammond would be the obvious choice of renters looking to fill in the vacancy of apartments for rent. They can easily travel in and out of the place whenever they have to whether they own a car or not because public transportation is easy to come by especially with U.S. Highway 51 and 190. So, renters who may find the need to work, study or purchase something important in another area can use these roads to commute.

Also, because the town is home to several media companies, it is easy for residents of Hammond Eastside Apartments with dreams of becoming journalists to realize it. Renters who have the urge to become reporters will find several media found in the area including the town’s widely read newspaper, the Daily Star and some AM, FM and TV stations. Depending on their choice of media, these tenants will have the opportunity to learn from them especially if they sign up for an on-the-job training program with any of these stations for experience. They will make a good training ground for the aspirants in case they decide to follow through their dream of becoming journalists after they graduate from college.

Overall, staying at Hammond Eastside Apartments make the perfect home for aspiring journalists who need a convenient place to live in. It is where they can be most themselves while they realize their dreams. And with a number of options for media companies to work for after college, the opportunity to live within these homes that have vacancy is simply too difficult to pass.

Cosmetic Dentist Learns Location is Key to Success

Arlene Shaffer is a New York realtor with the gift of gab. From home inspections with clients to waiting on line at the grocery store, Arlene likes to talk. Her dentist, Dr. Bertman has tried unsuccessfully for years to stop the gab. The best he could do was garble it. Dr. Bertman had come to expect her ending each session with her credo, “It’s all about location, dear”.

After putting Arlene’s porcelain veneers in, and fighting his urge to wire her jaws shut, Dr. Bertman finally took a moment to ask Arlene why she ends every meeting with her seemingly trite credo about real estate. To his surprise Arlene responded, “Who said I was talking about real estate?”

It was at that moment when a light bulb went off in Dr. Bertman’s head, as bright as the veneers he just put in. He remembered the conversation they were having the first time Arlene said, “It’s all about location, dear.” They were discussing Dr. Bertman’s desire to grow his practice. Despite her assurance that his office location was perfect, Arlene had said, “if you want to grow your practice, it’s all about location, dear.”

To grow his practice Dr. Bertman did not have to change the location of his office. He had to change the location of something else. In his case, like many others, to grow his practice he had to change the location of his website.

Like many dentists and cosmetic dentists, Dr. Bertman invested in a very well-designed website. Visitors to his site are always impressed by the site’s design, content and photographs of smiling staff and patients. Also like many other dentists, Dr. Bertman, did not focus on marketing his website. Specifically, he never considered the position of his website in web searches.

There are over 100,000 monthly web searches on Google and Yahoo for dentists in New York as researched in WordTracker®. In fact, the most searched for dental term in New York is “New York cosmetic dentist”. Though this may seem like good news for Dr. Bertman, the fact is his website does not appear in the search results for this term or any other term. His beautiful site goes unseen. This phenomenon is true for thousands of dentists in cities large and small.

Google, Yahoo, and MSN like all search engines determine which websites appear in search results and the order they appear in by applying a complex mathematical formula. The higher a website scores in the formula, as compared to the billions of other webs pages online, the higher it will rank in the search results.

Before going any further it is important to distinguish between “natural” or “organic” results and sponsored results. Though at your local grocery store “organic” may equate to costing more, in search engines organic means they cost nothing. Organic or natural results are the heart and soul of search engines. They appear in the center of the search results pages and are determined solely by how websites score in their mathematical formulas.

In Google, the Sponsored listings are highlighted in beige at the top of the listings, and appear to the right of the natural listings.

In Yahoo, the Sponsored listings are highlighted in blue at the top of the listings, and appear to the right of the natural listings.

Whereas organic results are the heart and soul of search engines, sponsored results are the bread winners. Sponsored links, made up primarily of pay-per-click ads, are placed at the top, bottom and either side of the natural search results depending on the search engine. The sites that appear in these sponsored link sections are determined by an auction system meaning whoever is willing to pay the most will appear on those search results pages. It also means that you pay anywhere from $1.00 – $10.00 for each person that clicks on that link. In the natural or organic listings you do not pay these fees each time someone clicks on your website.

Dr. Bertman who happens to hate math is at first delighted by the prospect of being able to have his site appear in search results through sponsored ads. The thought of his site competing in a mathematical contest is about as appealing to him as the sounds of dental drills are to most patients. Just before he started to research sponsored ad placement he remembered something very important. Whenever he searches for things online he always ignores the sponsored listings and first looks at the natural or organic listings. It is only if he does not find what he was looking for on the first two pages of the search results that he looks at the sponsored listings. He, like millions of others, believes that the natural listings will somehow be “better” than the sponsored listings for whatever he happens to be searching for.

Consumers equate quality with search rankings. The higher a website appears in the search results the greater the consumer’s confidence is. That means when searching online for a cosmetic dentist a consumer will be more confident in dentists who have their website appearing on page 1 of Google, Yahoo and the other major search engines.

Research reported by AmericaOnline(TM) has shown that a website currently on page 2 of Google will experience a 1,400% increase in traffic when it moves from page 2 of Google to #1 in Google. Websites that are not presently on page 2 of Google will see an even greater increase in traffic. Multiply this result by numerous search terms and you can easily see why a dentist’s best friend is a search engine marketer.

Search engine marketing goes beyond your website’s placement in traditional search results. For the general or cosmetic dentist it also means having your website appear when consumers are doing image searches, video searches and news searches.

In Google, above the Google icon are links to see Image results, news results and video results of searches.

Consumers considering cosmetic dentistry procedures will do comprehensive research. For example, if they are considering veneers they will want to see images, news articles and possibly even video. Google and Yahoo make it easy to do this research by allowing consumers to do one search and see all of these results. To maximize a practice’s exposure images, news articles and videos that appear in the search results should appear on the practice’s website or link to the practice’s site.

Website marketers employ some of the same techniques for getting your site on page 1 of search engine results as they do to get images and videos on page 1 of the search engines. These techniques include: employing the right internal linking structure on a website, engaging in a link building strategy, optimizing the website’s coding, creating and adding optimized content and distributing optimized content on relevant websites. Online press releases and E-zine article distribution are the best ways to have a website appear in the news section of search results. The goal is to have the practice’s name appear wherever the potential patient is looking for information.

Having your website appear in the search results is an important first step. It is, however, a first step. The second step is making sure that when someone finds your website and clicks on it that they can easily find what they are looking for.

Web searchers make snap decisions about a website. In fact the average online searcher will spend two seconds or less on a webpage before leaving a site if they do not find what they are looking for. That means the page they land on must very clearly show them that they came to the right place. Sound easy? It is not. It takes a skilled hand and a deep understanding of who your potential clients are and how they search for dentists.

Some website searchers are very specific in the way they search and others are not. It is important to know how your target audience searches for your services and make sure you appear in the search results for those terms and your website pages clearly indicate you provide the services they seek. For the dentist there are two primary considerations in the search terms to target: geography and service.

The majority of web searchers search geographically meaning when they are looking for a service they will include a geographic term in the search string. Instead of searching in Google with the term “cosmetic dentist” they will use “New York cosmetic dentist” or Dallas cosmetic dentist, Los Angeles cosmetic dentist, etc. It is important that research be done on various geographic terms. For example, searchers may use any of the following geographic indicators to find a cosmetic dentist located on Lexington Avenue and E. 51st Street in Manhattan: New York, NY, New York City, NYC, Manhattan, Midtown, Midtown East, Midtown Manhattan, Eastside Manhattan, East 50s Manhattan, etc. It takes comprehensive research and a keen understanding of consumers to know which search terms are most important.

Some dentists may focus on narrow geographic areas figuring that their client base will want someone very nearby. Research has indicated, however, that many consumers interested in cosmetic dentistry use broader search terms. The same is not true for general dentistry. For general dentistry needs, consumers search much more narrowly in terms of geography. The research clearly shows that when seeking a cosmetic dentist quality is more important than geography. Consumers are willing to travel a greater distance for cosmetic procedures. This is precisely why the perception of quality is important. With consumers equating search engine placement with quality broader geographic search terms are just as valuable to cosmetic dentists as narrow geographic terms. Whereas a general dentist would not want to use a broad geographic search term like a region or state, a cosmetic dentist would find these terms to be more valuable to their practice.

The second part of the search terms chosen for marketing is the service being sought. Some consumers are very specific in the search terms they choose and others are more general. For example, consumers seeking veneers search a variety of terms including: veneers, dental veneers, porcelain veneers, resin veneers, etc. For some search terms even specific brands are searched for including: Invisalign and Xoom whitening. It is important that search marketers do comprehensive research in the selection of terms and update their research quarterly in order to maximize the reach and effectiveness of the practice’s website.

Dentists are among the most searched for professionals online. With search marketing offering the highest return on investment the location of a website online may prove even more important than the location of the office. Given the fact that research demonstrates that consumers are willing to travel further distances for cosmetic dentistry procedures or other specialty procedures it appears that Arlene’s credo about location is more appropriate for the search marketer than the realtor in the dental industry. Log onto Google and Yahoo and do a couple of sample searches for the services you offer in the city or state your practice is in and see if your website appears on the first page of Google and Yahoo. If it does not your online marketing plan may need its own set of veneers.