Last week the company I founded was named the No. 1 Trademark Firm in the United States by Intellectual Property Today magazine. It was a tremendous accomplishment and a testament to all those who have worked so hard for us over the years to reach one of our initial goals.

A famous sports coach once said that awards are nice, but they are nothing more than reminders of your past accomplishments. What's next?

Although this may be true in sports, in business the landscape is slightly different. If used properly awards are tremendous marketing tools instantly establishing your credibility with prospective customers.

Consumers want to see accolades. They want to know something good about you. Awards provide valuable third-party corroboration of your value propositions.

So in reflecting upon our most recent accolade I thought I would share how we use awards in the day-to-day marketing of our business.

1. Research

First, establish a program wherein you routinely seek out awards and ratings in your industry. A great starting point is your local Better Business Bureau wherein you should endeavor to apply for membership and maintain that all important A+ rating. Also, make sure to check industry-specific publications as well as general business and entrepreneurial publications as they often have awards for various criteria.

2. Apply

Second, after understanding the qualifications, apply for the awards you have identified that would be indicias of reliability for your goods or services. Keep a list and know when and how you have to re-apply each year.

3. Shout It from the Mountain

Finally, when you win awards or are rated highly by a rating service shout it from the mountain. No one knows how great you are unless you tell them. Make sure when an award is bestowed upon you your potential consumers are surrounded with information announcing your accomplishments. Press releases. Advertisements. Banners on your website. These are just a few means to let them know.