People love lists and awards.
When making decisions, these lists offer some guidance and help.
They’re kind of like reviews. If you’re not sure what to buy it’s good to get the opinion of others. It helps speed up the decision and saves you even more time by not having to do quite as much research.
Perfect? No, but if it works out most of the time you’re going to be more than happy.
And lists are simple. They’re easy to take in. They make it easy to compare items.
The list could be a blog post that someone has created for the 10 Best Plumbing Services In Minneapolis. Or it could be 20 Best Project Management Software Tools of 20XX.
Some lists have been around for awhile and if you pay close attention a few of them are branded. That means there was a brand behind the list and they have benefited from a marketing point of view by having their brand associated with a respected list.
Some examples include:
- Fortune 500
- Inc. 500
- Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year
- Digiday Content Marketing Awards
- Facebook Awards
The first two have become so well known that people might even forget that Fortune and Inc. were (and I think still are) print magazines.
Anyway, branded content is likely going to rise in prominence in the future. Why? Publications like magazines, newspapers, etc. are going to struggle to charge subscription fees and their advertising models also seem broken. Consumers aren’t going to pay for content that they can likely get for free elsewhere. We can see news on Twitter. We can get opinion from bloggers. There is no need to pay for it or be overwhelmed with ads.
Brands, however, can give away content for free and all they’re looking for in return is an increase in awareness for their brand.
One example over the last 5-6 years has been Callaway golf. I’m a golfer so I’ve noticed it, but the company has been going all in on content. They have all kinds of podcasts, a video series and much more. They’re also sponsoring all kinds of other content including other people’s podcasts and more.
All that type of content is wonderful, but don’t overlook the awards strategy.
If you’re in business there is no reason you can’t start your own awards. Here are a few tips.
1. Identify The Need
If someone was going to create a list of growing businesses and startups they would struggle to compete with the Inc. 500.
There isn’t a need to determine a list like that because the list already exists.
There also may be no demand for certain types of lists. Or the need may be too small. For example, A list of the Top 50 Organic Celery Growers In Eau Claire, WI might be a great list, but it may not really help that many people. They’ll just keep buying it from the seller with the best price at the farmer’s market or in the closest grocery store.
If you’re looking to create a list start with your customer. Consider all the decisions they make in their daily lives. Work and personal. That is where you can begin to find ways that lists and awards could help them parse through information and make faster and better decisions.
But don’t overlook local awards. My home area has a great one provided by a local publication.
2. Determine What Would Help Businesses & Consumers
A trick that might catch you up on this is focusing too much on what would be good for you and your business.
But that may not be what’s most useful for your customers. It could be, but don’t get caught up in what’s most useful for you. This is more about your customers.
For example, a web designer may want to create a list or awards for the best web design software. That might be very helpful for other designers, but not really helpful for businesses that the web designer is probably trying to target with their services.
Let’s say you’re a lawyer. You realize that 75% of your clients are golfers. Odds are good that if you target more golfers they will fit your ideal customer profile. You could create a list or awards for golf in your area. The best golf courses each year. Even just a guide list for all the courses in the area. Updated every year.
Or maybe you’re a dentist and you realize that families are the top clientele. You could create a list of family activities in your area or an awards series for the best family entertainment each year.
3. Determine The Rules
Next up you’ll have to put thought into the criteria or the rules. It could be just your own judgment. Or maybe it’s strictly financial like the Fortune 500 or Inc. 500. Or maybe you want to do some kind of voting system. That’s what the local publication does here when it rates the best businesses in various categories.
People that read lists and look for awards want to know the criteria in most instances. They want to at least know that the information can be trusted. Not always, but usually. They may trust you once, but if they choose the top item on your list and it doesn’t work out they’re going to question your criteria.
Work through multiple scenarios. Look for holes in your reasoning. Get outside opinions. Talk to a few of your customers to see if they agree with your early assessments.
4. Assess Time Commitment
Not one you might consider at first, but it’s real and it can ruin your efforts and excitement. Any type of content marketing and branded content that you want to do will require time. And usually much more time than you think at first.
Doing a list or awards series will take time. You’ll want to be thorough. Remember, your brand will be associated with it. You want the information to be respectable and valuable.
If you don’t have the time you’re better off not doing it in most cases.
5. Assign Responsibility
However, you can assign responsibility. Maybe you help work out the criteria early on. Maybe you even work on the list the first few years. But after the process is figured out you can certain delegate the task. You can hire someone. Even an intern or virtual assistant to help build the list and collect all the information. And you can have final say and review everything before it goes live.
A list or award series can be a great form of content marketing and branded content. Even though there are seemingly lists for just about anything I think there are voids that can be filled. And there is no reason that a business like yours can’t fill the void and have your brand associated with a very valuable type of content that your customers would find very useful.