I really like awards. Actual awards, the kind where the selection criteria are known and the award represents a specific achievement and/or a specific period of time, do a lot to validate your business and earn clients’ trust. I’ve read a lot of arguments that certain awards in the wedding industry don’t mean anything, or are given to too many businesses, but that doesn’t really faze me. I say, use the awards you’re given for the purpose they serve, and find other things to stress about.
What I do find irritating, though, are the people who blatantly misrepresent awards, or who invent accolades that don’t exist. I saw one company that claims to be “rated consistently in the top 5% in the industry” for 15 years. The only wedding industry accolade I know of that refers to percentages like that didn’t exist before 2009. The same company claims to have achieved “placing 1st place” in the cities in which they operate. What does that even mean? It also states it’s been named as “The Best” by WeddingWire and The Knot — those sites don’t have an award for that. (No, being one of dozens of “Best of Weddings Picks” doesn’t count.) I’ve read about one of the so-called “rockstar” photographers who claimed to have been named “photographer of the year,” glossing over the fact that this so-called award was bestowed by a company he shills for. I’ve seen people conveniently drop the corresponding years on the awards they’ve received, as though a 2008 award somehow is a permanent acknowledgement of ongoing glory.
Then there’s “purple prose.” Of course every business wants to put its best foot forward, and it’s certainly every business owner’s prerogative to make statements about his/her worth in the market. For example, we have chosen to use the phrase “the area’s best reputation” in some of our marketing. We do this because we not only believe it’s true, but believe we can back it up with our actual awards and the quantity and quality of our public reviews and endorsements. It’s okay with us if our competitors disagree! But I do wonder sometimes if everyone is as deliberate in their choice of language. How do you back up a claim of being “the most highly-requested” DJ/photographer/officiant/whatever? How do you know how many requests someone else receives? What does it mean to be the #1 <enter service category here>? What entity is responsible for ranking companies that way? Choosing these kinds of descriptors, without any thought as to how you’ll explain your reasoning if asked by a client or a fellow wedding professional, seems like a pretty imprecise way of marketing your business.
If we want the few legitimate awards in our industry to mean something, we have to stop embellishing them. Let them represent an actual accomplishment so that earning them is something to celebrate.