I'm pretty excited for my company VerticalResponse. We've been on the Inc. 500/5000 list for 5 years in a row, this year #1570. What an accomplishment for my award-winning team! I'm really proud of them and really thankful that our small business customers like what we have to offer, easy-to-use and affordable email marketing tools.

It was about 5 years ago that we actually started to apply for industry awards. At first I was a bit skeptical, I thought that these awards are time-consuming to enter, and some even cost money, money that we don't easily have. But back in 2005, when we won our first award, Bay Area's Fastest Growing Company list, it was a really terrific feeling. It's tough enough to grow a business in the Bay Area but to get public recognition was superb. Then in 2006 we won our very first Inc. 500 (#402) award. What prestige! Everyone in the company felt great which was all I really needed to observe to know that awards are worth it. Happy and proud employees translate to happy customers.

There are a bunch of benefits your business will get out of applying for, winning and marketing any awards you get for your company.

•    Prospective employees like to work for a winning company and current employees have pride in where they work. Again this translates into happy customers. So it's important to communicate your big wins with them so they can see the impact they have on the company. In the end it's a reassurance that their company continues to thrive and their contribution is recognized.

•    Sales people could win a sale because of a specific award you've won. Awards show that you are proud and you care about your products, services and business and prospective customers want to do business with a company that does.

•    Awards can help with potential investors and bank loans. They look to do business with a quality business. From time to time when we get calls from investors, they mention they've seen us on the Inc. 500 list.

•    Lastly, a pat on the back doesn't feel so bad, especially when you're the one usually doing the patting most of the time. When I found out that we made the Inc. list 5 years running, it was really a proud moment.

But you can't just 'win' an award, you need to win AND tell everyone you won. We distribute a press release and use the term 'award-winning' wherever possible. We include the award logo on our site, in our email marketing campaigns, in our marketing materials and if we had a store window we'd put it there too.

Awards are a great way to gain recognition for you, your team, your business and your website. They bring prestige and more traffic to you, and they enhance your credibility as a business. Check out your industry award possibilities today and congrats to all of the Inc. 500/5000 winners.