A few years ago, I would never have dreamt of entering my company into a competition. The thought terrified me! Even the idea of being marked on reviews, social media and merit was a ridiculous prospect! Why would anyone put themselves through that?! How much preparation is needed?
So, once you finally agree to entering, there are more questions that enter your head, like what do I wear for the awards? Who would we be against? What face do I sit with if we lose? Then the idea of winning creeps in; What do I say in the speech? Who do I thank? How do I arrange an open top victory bus through my town? The last question probably slightly overboard but you get my point.
The upshot is we entered the “The 2020 Wedding Industry Awards” (or TWIA as I will refer to it from now on). It was easy to do and Damian who heads the operations was extremely helpful from the beginning. I studied previous years and researched the TWIA organisation because if I was going to enter then I wanted to ensure it was legitimate competition and not one based on who knows who or who does the most Weddings or which competitor has the most money etc. I studied the judging process and was more than happy to proceed.
This, for us, was never about winning or losing, but to learn the process of how to even begin to pursue this kind of venture. I used to look at companies that had all the award tags and think to myself “how pompous”, but in fact, it’s them that were having the laugh at those that don’t. There are huge advantages that I just didn’t see on first look.
As a wedding supplier you are always looking for ways to differentiate in a competitive market. Just by entering the Awards we were putting our hand up as one of the best in the business. I feel we could do this as we have nearly done 1000 events in the 4 years of operation.
One huge advantage we saw was the marketing opportunity. As an entrant you have access to the TWIA branding for your website and social media platforms. Let’s face it, a larger proportion of business is coming from these areas year on year. If you are shortlisted for a regional or national award you get a specific logo to use in all your marketing and advertising. This in turn then helps at the Wedding Shows we attend. Getting involved with TWIA can help generate excellent content and a strong narrative for your social media, increasing interest in your business and giving you something to shout about.
Our clients, past, present, and hopefully future, loved the fact we had entered the awards. We received a lot of love! We could show that we have self-confidence and that generates confidence in future clients. Just being involved in TWIA is another string to your bow and good for your business.
On a lighter note it was a way of thanking the staff and for them to see appreciation. The first round is about getting as many reviews as you can from the Brides and Grooms which is good for us all to see. Ultimately with the hope of a great night out and experiencing something they wouldn’t have usually.
One of our main focuses was to learn from the comments. This brings it round to wanting to learn from the whole process, winning is great, but learning how to make the company better and offer the best service is what I know is most important.
Luckily for us we had plenty of votes and we were a regional finalist in the category of the Wedding Special Touch of the Year. From this point, the judges then look at a portfolio of what you have sent which includes answering questions, photos and a film. A lot of work goes into this part, but this makes you evaluate what you do as a company and allows you to stand back and see your company the way others may do. Consequently, I have already improved a few things, which I won’t go into right now or I’ll never finish this blog. Anyone wanting to improve their company should go through a process such as this. We will be stronger for it and for this I am truly thankful to The Wedding Industry Awards.
So, what happened on the night…
For a moment I can't deny I was a little disheartened but sitting back from it I have seen all of the great advantages this had to offer. Of course, I’d have loved to take my staff to the finals, but we now have a definite target to focus on for next year. Also, the staff had a great night out with a few even taking to the dance floor. I met Damian who had been my first contact in all this, and he was as great in real life and just as helpful. The TWIA put on fantastic canapes, entertainment and overall a brilliant Awards Evening. If nothing else, we all had a great day!
I will take the opportunity to say a huge well done to Birdie Camper Van, as they are a fantastic company and great people, I can’t recommend them enough.
Also, a big thank-you to the venue Ashfield House for hosting the event and of course the biggest of thank-you’s to our customers for the on-going support, we certainly wouldn’t be where we are without you.
I’m certainly not put off competitions from this experience, only now more inclined to compete. The Added Extra already have first place in LUX Magazine this year as well as featuring in Bride Magazine and Merseyside & Cheshire Magazine so onwards and upwards!