In this era of information hyper-overload, leaders in business and government rely more than ever on reputable sources to identify proven high-performance companies to partner with.

The number of websites on the Internet recently hit 1 billion. Members of business social network LinkedIn now number almost 500 million. Here in South Africa, the Advertising Standards Authority – the guardian of authentic marketing – is under business review. In this frothing soup of companies freely promoting their products and services, how do you know which ones to invest your trust in – let alone your venture capital?

“Before they’ll even look at another company, today’s business decision-makers require a solid reputation with a proven ability to deliver.”

So says Lance Fanaroff. Joint CEO and co-founder of Integr8, the largest privately-owned ICT management company in Africa, he leads this year’s National Business Awards’ panel of judges. Fanaroff knows all about awards; he holds several himself, while Integr8 has won the Innovation through Technology Award at the National Business Awards, as well as being a Technology Top 100 Companies winner, Cisco Service Delivery Partner of the Year winner and ranking as a top 50 Managed Service Providers, globally, in the MSP rankings.

In an information-saturated marketplace, where shrewdly-placed Facebook and Google ads jostle for position on every street corner of the Internet, businesses like Integr8 realise the strategic advantage of selectively harnessing the credibility of reputable business awards.

“These awards, for example, have built a reputation over the years, of encapsulating only
the finest talent and businesses that South Africa has to offer.”

Fanaroff says that success these days hinges on credibility, authenticity and proven ability.

“Big business wants to work with industry leaders and to differentiate themselves as leaders in their respective fields. Reputation and credibility is essential for the success of any business, big or small,” Fanaroff says.

Awards should be seen and not hoarded

Winning an award is one thing, Fanaroff says. The trick is to leverage it.

Statistics back this up. An international academic study has shown that three years after receiving an award, 120 award winning companies outperformed comparison companies by an average of 17% for sales and 36% for share value.

“It’s more about what companies do with their award, and the mileage and marketing they can leverage from winning, or being a finalist, than the actual award,” he says.

“At Integr8 we ensure that our clients, potential clients, suppliers, business partners and everyone we work with know about the awards and accolades bestowed upon us. This gives them a sense of comfort that they are working with the industry leaders, who have a proven ability to deliver.”

Through the last 14 years of the National Business Awards, many companies seemed almost bashful about promoting their accolades. Now more are realising the value of marketing their hard-earned success via social media platforms and in their marketing mix, by using the digital certificates and accreditation badges rushed to finalists, and later winners, upon verification.

Such awards also serve a higher function, says Fanaroff. By contributing to the winners’ and finalists’ growth and success they help towards job creation, skills development, growing the economy and setting a benchmark towards which other companies, entrepreneurs and business leaders can continuously strive to better themselves.

Meanwhile, at Topco Media (the organisation behind the National Business Awards, CEO Ralf Fletcher underscores the power of external accreditation over ”marketing speak” (which is often met by sceptical eye in the marketplace):

“In the current tight economic climate, acknowledgement by an outside organisation that your business has thrived against fierce competition by other successful businesses, can go a long way towards boosting credibility externally, as well as confidence and staff morale internally.”

“A business award prominently displayed on your company website, or up on the wall in reception, can be a very powerful publicity tool with evergreen impact. Its perceived value extends long beyond the night of the awards, or the year in which it was bestowed. Many of our past finalists and winners have fed back to say they’re still experiencing a positive impact from their award 3,4 or 5 years into the future.”

Now in its 15th year, the National Business Awards has its roots in 2002, before the second age of digital disruption; a time when companies still flowed much of their marketing spend into traditional channels like print and radio, with unknowable outcomes. “Now”, says Fletcher, “the companies we speak with want to engage their target market through more focused platforms while wielding genuine marketing gold – credibility – to open the conversation.”

Some of the organisations who have invested their confidence in the vision of this year’s National Business Awards awards include sponsors GreenMatter, Richards Bay Industrial Development and Public Sector Manager manager.

National Business Awards winners will be announced at Emperor’s Palace on 16 November.

Ends

Contact details: Rose Setshoge, Rose.Setshoge@topco.co.za, 0860 009 590

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