With an economy that seems to be increasingly competitive, many businesses are struggling to stand out – seeking that elusive ad campaign, viral video or endorsement that changes the game for their company’s revenue. The truth is, in a vast majority of examples, there is no single “secret to the sauce” to increase visibility and improve sales. Instead, an integrated marketing and communications strategy, with messaging that is both consistent and widespread, is a better way to see results. Among the key strategies for building credibility for your business, for both B2B and B2C brands, is winning industry awards.

For any business, creating what is known as a “category of one” is essential to dominating your marketplace. Your business must be so unique and provide such a phenomenal experience to your clientele, they won’t even think about comparing you to another service provider.

Winning an industry award can create this profile for you. Industry awards give an objective, third-party look at your business and clearly demonstrate that your are superior to your competition. Not every business wins an award, and prospects know this. That’s why when they see one, it instantly inspires additional trust and credibility, making your business stand out.

Properly leveraging the award is critical to make it a success. If, for example you’re a PR firm and you receive an award for providing great PR work but then you do nothing with it, your business will only benefit slightly. Instead, grab your market’s attention by sending out an email to your clients or hosting a special event to celebrate your victory. Whatever method you choose, get the word out about your award and use it to attract attention and bring in new customers right away.

It’s also critical that the award is relevant to the needs of your clientele. If you’re a PR firm and you receive an award for “cleanest building”, it won’t mean much. A ridiculous example, perhaps, but the concept is true nonetheless.

Two awards that are exceptional in the PR space are the Sabre and Stevie awards – awards in which 5W has received multiple nominations and wins in 2012 and 2013, including PR Firm of the Year (Stevies), PR Executive of the Year (Stevies) and Consumer Health Campaign of the Year (Sabre). These are both world-renowned and excellent for attracting your clients’ attention and ensuring your business stands out. The reason, of course, is that they are well established and respected, the last factor your must take into consideration when competing for an award. Receiving an award with credibility behind it will go a long way to ensure you maximize the benefit your business.