The golden ticket

Sep 17, 2023

Awards present a great opportunity to market to your clients, prospects, community, and future employees.

There are many awards programs for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s another chance to showcase your firm or a project you’ve designed or built. If your firm does receive an award, take advantage of this opportunity to market to your clients, prospects, and community, as well as current and future employees.

Receiving an award helps to build your brand and reputation. Firms need to promote these wins through public relations, website, and social media platforms. This is a prime opportunity for you to be in front of your target audience and share your firm’s well-deserved accomplishment.

When you win a project award, you can (and should) also showcase your client, therefore building a stronger relationship with them. It gives you another opportunity to interact with your client when you take them to the awards ceremony and deliver the project award. The positive buzz shouldn’t stop with the conclusion of the ceremony, either – keep it going by posting about the award on your social media, website, and via press release. There are also publications that will promote the award. Another creative way to get even more mileage out of an award-winning project is by featuring it on your firm’s holiday card.

Equally important is considering things from your employees’ perspective. Winning awards builds morale! It makes them feel proud to work for a firm that continues to “win” and earn recognition for their efforts. Similarly, firm awards are also a great way to recruit new employees, especially in this talent war our industry is currently facing. It gives human resources and recruiters something really positive to say about your workplace culture.

There are a variety of workplace-related awards presented by chambers of commerce, business journals, local business newspapers, and industry associations (AIA, IIDA, ACEC, NSPE, AGC, DBIA, SMPS, ASHRAE, etc.). Zweig Group has several awards as well! Do your research to find out which ones make sense for your company.

There are many different types of project-specific awards, too. These can be affiliated with an industry association (as listed above) or a market segment (historical, retail, education, etc.), so make sure to engage your project owner in the process. Many times, they are aware of awards within their own industry, so you can collaborate on the submission. This also gives you the opportunity to strengthen that relationship with an owner. When you win the award, you can attend the awards banquet together and help them promote their project/business.

Preparing for award submissions does take planning and coordination. You’ll need high-quality photography of your firm, office, construction jobsites, employees, and completed projects (both exterior and interior). Make sure you take photographs throughout the entire project, because many project award committees want before, during, and after construction. Coordinate with other industry partners to split the cost of professional photography. Those deeply involved in the project will be a great resource for information, along with the client. Receiving client feedback helps you understand from the client’s point of view. You can also ask for a testimonial that can be included in the award submission.

Not only is there time involved in submitting for awards, but usually there is also a fee to submit your project. Look at the cost associated with the submission along with the other expenses. Photography expenses should always be part of your marketing expense anyway, so those shouldn’t be coded toward your award expenses. The submission fee, printing costs, and labor time should be the only expenses associated with the awards submission.

The investment of resources is a small price to pay for the marketing opportunities that will follow from winning an award. Showcasing projects and employees is important from multiple perspectives, from marketing to client development to employee recruitment. Make the investment and go for the win. It will be well worth it.

Lindsay Young, MBA, FSMPS, CPSM is a marketing services advisor with Zweig Group and president and founder of nu marketing. She can be reached at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.