Star on Red carpet for Oscars awardLast night in the UK we saw the annual BAFTA awards for film. Soon we will be getting wall-to-wall coverage of the Oscar Ceremony. And the publicity machine for the MAN Booker Awards for fiction is already working hard. In fact, you cannot move for award ceremonies. Every night of the week, somewhere, there will be an award ceremony of one kind or another. Your business is not short of awards to receive.

However, does winning an award do you any good?

New research suggests it could be damaging to your business, rather than a good thing. In a study of book reviews, researchers at the University of Chicago found that when a book won an award the proportion of negative reviews rose once the title had won an award. Award-winning books got increasing numbers of negative reviews once they had won an award.

How does that work?

It turns out that the mere presence of an award brings a book to the attention of a wider audience – people who would not normally read that kind of book. They buy the book, read it and then discover they do not like it – simply because it is not the kind of book that they would normally have read….!

In other words, winning awards appears to widen your market too much, taking you away from your real customers to a wider marketplace of people who didn’t really want you product in the first place.

Awards are great for your ego. But are they good for your bank balance?

Award winners point to the dramatic increase in sales following their prize. No doubt this week will see a surge of people visiting the cinema to see the BAFTA-winning movies. It’s all cash in the bank for the film makers. Similarly, if you were to win the MAN Booker Prize you would see a massive sales surge in your novel.

But is it all too short-term? With more people giving poor reviews and sharing their thoughts on social media it creates a negative environment for future sales. In other words, winning an award might be great for short-term cash flow, but looks like it can be bad for long-term business.

Far better to stick to your focused group of customers and bask in the adulation of the long-term cash receipts they give you. Awards are for egos. Focused customers provide long-term success and awards take you away from that focus, it turns out.