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How to Promote Your Business by Entering Contests

You are probably hard at work promoting your business (and if you're not, you should be!), but if you haven't submitted your profile to any contests yet, you may be missing a golden opportunity.

Receiving an award for your business can increase your company's credibility. Winners can brand their businesses as "Award Winning" in subsequent advertising and often receive a logo or emblem to note the achievement on web pages and promotional materials. Participating in events like these can generate valuable exposure to the business community and the media loves to cover these events and often interviews participants for stories. Even if you don't win, simply participating could open doors you didn't even know existed.

Your local chamber of commerce, small business administration center or trade association may sponsor an awards event. Many contests charge an entry fee so you must weigh the cost against the value of participating. If the rewards and/or exposure are great, the entry fee can easily pay for itself. There are also a number of events that you can enter online. Here are a few to consider:

The Small Biz Games
(http://www.SmallBizGames.com) offers cash prizes from $500 to $2000 for winners in categories such as Entrepreneur of the Year, Best Internet Business of the Year, Best New Company of the Year, Best New Product of the Year, and Most Creative Marketing Campaign. Winners will be honored at an awards dinner at a small business conference in Las Vegas with keynote speaker Jay Conrad Levinson (author of the ever popular Guerrilla Marketing series of books). Deadline for entry is December 31, 2005.

The Webby Awards
(http://www.WebbyAwards.com) are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence in website design. There are over sixty categories including Arts, Blog, Community, Events, Games, Lifestyle, Health, Sports, Travel, and Weird. The deadline for 2005 has already passed, but you can sign up on their website for notification of future contest details.

The Stevies Awards for Women Entrepreneurs
(http://www.StevieAwards.com) honors winners from 18 categories including Best Company, Best Entrepreneur, Best New Product, Lifetime Achievement, and Women Helping Women. This contest is open to all U.S. based women-owned businesses with fewer than 100 employees. The 2005 contest details should be announced soon and there is an opt-in mailing list on their site for notifications.

The folks at InsideBlogging.com hosted their first Business Blogging Awards (http://www.businessbloggingawards.com/) in 2005. Some of the categories included Best Blogs: Overall, Entrepreneur, Leadership, Marketing, About Small Business, and PR. The prizes were donated by sponsors and the winners were selected by voters from the public, providing great exposure to entrants. Watch for updates from this site and an announcement on a new contest for Technology Awards.

While entering awards may not be a traditional venue for marketing your business, it can certainly pay off in exposure and other opportunities. The best strategy is to enter these contests early, be thorough with the details, and participate in any events or forums offered by the hosts. This is a great chance to "sell" your business to the public so be sure to word your entries carefully. Use the opportunity to network with other businesses and make new connections. Soon your advertising strategy may shift to hype your "Award Winning" business.

Stephanie Chandler is the author of "The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide: Seize Your Entrepreneurial Dreams!" and the founder of http://www.BusinessInfoGuide.com, a directory of free resources for entrepreneurs. Sign up for the BusinessInfoGuide newsletter to receive hot resources and tips every month.

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