Receiving an award highlights good work and makes people feel their work is valued. Entering awards is a great way of bringing your team together and raising the profile of your company and brand with your customers and community. This blog looks at the benefits of entering awards and some of the key awards open to GCA members.
Why enter Awards
Awards offer the opportunity to be seen by the key industry influencers and retail buyers who are usually involved in the judging.
If nominated as one of the finalists in an award it positions your products against your competitors, recognising your expertise and is rewarding for the whole team.
Being nominated as a finalist also gives you the opportunity for additional publicity, both as part of the publicity surrounding the awards and also it is a good story for your own PR, sharing the news with your customers and local community.
Top tips for entering awards
- Check the rules and the dates
- Set aside time to complete your entries ahead of the deadline
- Look at the categories you designs fit into, and enter as many as possible.
- Be clear on the judging criteria, keep any text simple and succinct
- Look at who is judging the award – do you want to get your product in front of them?
- What is the profile of the awards; is the organiser’s marketing reaching your target audience?
- What is the cost of entering the awards? If there isn’t a charge you have nothing to lose – enter! If there is look at who is judging it and the profile (as above) to make sure you’re getting value for money.
- Prepare to win, and have a press release ready along with pictures: If you are nominated as a finalist shout about this to your customers and let your community know. Celebrate it in your shop window/frontage, on social media. This is also great for local media particularly if it’s a national award.
- At the Awards ceremony, make sure you take lots of pictures, and ask someone to take some of you accepting the award if you win.
Greeting Card Industry Awards
The Henries Awards were introduced by Progressive Greetings magazine in 1996 to shine the spotlight on greeting card ranges. The majority of the award categories are for card ranges that have either been launched in the preceding year or for new designs to an existing range.
The Henries awards are open to all publishers (or UK distributors), from the largest multi-national to the smallest one-man band, each year some 14,000 cards are entered!
The judging panel comprises of top retail buyers from across the retail spectrum including specialist multiples, design-led independents, small groups, department store selectors, supermarket buyers etc.
The Henries award categories span the whole range of greeting card publishing, from humour to cute, art to children’s, and Christmas to sentiment – plus, introduced in 2021, there is also an aware for the Diversity & Inclusion Range that is sponsored by the GCA.
These awards are owned and run by Max Publishing, so if your product is shortlisted by the judges you will secure trade press coverage in Progressive Greetings.
The Henries 2023 will soon be open to enter with a closing date in June for all product categories.
So select your favourite new designs and enter! As Frank from Tache says “The Henries is free to enter, so it’d be crazy not to!”
Launched by the USA Greeting Card Association in 1988, the Louie Awards recognize the most outstanding greeting cards, invitations, and announcements marketed in the U.S. during the previous calendar year.
The competition is open to all domestic and foreign publishers of greeting cards, invitations, and/or announcements, and attracts hundreds of entries annually.
The Louies are judged by a panel of industry experts on five criteria: originality, impact, design excellence, sendability, and value.
“The Louies are a reflection of the creativity and vibrancy of the greeting card industry,” says USA GCA Executive Director, Nora Weiser, “and the judging process is a true community effort with experts from across the industry taking time to judge cards and provide feedback to makers.”
UK GCA Members Frank and Pennie from Tache won a Louis in 2022 “In terms of why we enter the awards… It’s such a fantastic opportunity to network, meet a wide range of people in the industry and to let your hair down and celebrate all our hard work. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to get nominated or even win, it’s excellent exposure and credibility for your range and company. Since winning the award in the US we are in talks with a highly respected and fantastic US distributor who we will hopefully be supplying our cards to later this year“
The Retas are the annual greeting card retail awards. Launched by Progressive Greetings magazine in 2005, these awards recognise the tremendous contribution that retailers, both large and small, make to the success of the greeting card industry.
Recognising and celebrating not only the top independent and multiple specialist greeting card retailers regionally and nationally, The Retas awards also fanfare the many different types of retailers who do a fabulous job on the greeting card front – from supermarkets to department stores, gift shops to garden centres.
Stationers’ Company Innovation & Excellence
The Stationers’ Company annual Innovation Excellence Awards encourage entries from across the spectrum of businesses that make up the communications and content industries. Applications should focus on novel products, services or business processes that have a positive financial and/or social impact on customers and on the environment.
There are six Awards in total as well as an overall ‘Innovator of the Year’ who is chosen from the winners of each category. Categories are: • Business Process • Communications and Marketing • Customer Experience • Product Design • Service Development • Start-up
The 2023 awards are now open to enter, with a closing date of 21st April 2023 and an awards ceremony on 25th September 2023.
Gift of the Year (GOTY) awards and the Greats – Gift Retailer of the year
The Gift of the Year awards, owned and run by the Giftware Association, are aimed at recognising the best new products, talent and inspiration in the gift industry each year. There is a charge for each entry.
In 2022 the awards celebrated their 45th year by combining with the Greats gift retailer awards, owned and run by Max Publishing, with all winners announced at a lavish black tie evening event held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel overlooking London’s Hyde Park.
The Greats are free to enter and celebrate retail excellence in the gift industry, finalists are also given additional publicity in Progressive Gift and Home magazine and giftsandhome.net also owned by Max Publishing
In 2022 Mooch Gifts & Home‘s social media was quickly overrun with congratulations from when they announced their win. Co-owner Jon May said “The award is in the window proudly on display, we have had great coverage on social media plus in the local press, I’ve even had people shouting congratulations across the street- I feel like a celebrity!”
Best Small Shops
The Best Small Shops is a national competition run by the Indie Retail Confederation of which the GCA is a member.
The Best Small Shops competition celebrates the commitment and creativity of entrepreneurial independent retailers on High Streets across the UK, and the central role independent retailers play in their local communities. The awards are free to enter and the winners are invited to a reception in the House of Commons.
GCA Member, Stationery Supplies, won Best Independent Stationery Retailer North and was also shortlisted in two other categories at the Best Small Shops awards. Business owner, Sarah Laker, said “It’s an amazing feeling to win an award, but it’s even more amazing, and humbling, to hear from customers how genuinely pleased they are, how proud they are to have my shop in their town and it keeps them coming back as they want to shop with a business that they feel is doing well”.
Sarah also highlights the importance of maximising the PR benefits of winning “…. being able to use awards in PR creates a feeling of trust and awareness amongst both customers and suppliers. It’s also opened doors with suppliers and has created opportunities to be the first to market with products, even being the first in the UK to have a stand from one supplier!”
Two of the over 200 lovely comments Sarah received on Facebook:
“Hurrah! Wonderful news Sarah. We are so lucky to have you and your fab shop in Marple!”
“Congratulations and very well deserved. Know how passionate you are about stationery and your shop and of course Marple. “
Look out for other local or national awards that are reaching your customers. For example GCA member Emma Louise Caresimo, Owner and Creative Director of The Paint Box, won a Welsh in Business award in 2022.
Emma said “I never really thought about entering awards, I rang the award ceremony host before I applied, and he gave me encouragement to enter…the category was Business Growth Wales … greeting cards are a great way of communicating, what better way to spread the Welsh language than with a card!” said Emma
“I would encourage anyone out there not sure about whether to apply to an award category – do it, you have to be in it to win it!”.