Awards for sale: Not a rewarding experience

The Ballard Agency has won plenty of awards in their 45 year history, but this isn’t one they were interested in:

The Ballard Agency - Best of Bellevue Award
Chris Ballard, President of the the Bellevue-based insurance brokerage was surprised his company was selected. He’d never even heard of the U.S. Local Business Association.

Here’s the email he received, with hyperlinks removed:

I am pleased to announce that Ballard Agency has been selected for the 2008 Best of Bellevue Award in the Insurance category by the U.S. Local Business Association (USLBA).

In recognition of your achievement, a 2008 Best of Bellevue Award plaque has been designed for display at your place of business. You may arrange to have your award sent directly to Ballard Agency by following the simple steps on the 2008 Best of Bellevue Award order form.

The USLBA “Best of Local Business” Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USLBA identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Also, a copy of the press release publicizing the selection of Ballard Agency is posted on the USLBA website. USLBA hereby grants Ballard Agency a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to use, reproduce, distribute, and display this press release in any media formats and through any media channels.

In order to provide you with the best possible service, you have been assigned an award code that can be used on our website for quick access to your award information and press release. If you have any questions or comments, please include this code with your correspondence.


Ashley Carter
Selection Committee Chair
U.S. Local Business Association

After doing a little sleuthing, the folks at the Ballard Agency realized it was a marketing scheme to sell overpriced plaques.

Chris didn’t appreciate having his time wasted, but took the time to share it with me, and now you.

Here’s a marketing tactic I hate: Winning fake awards or being “nominated for a “who’s Who” list, and all you have to do is pay for $100 award!

Clearly, this is a deceptive marketing tactic in the same category as the phony domain name and Yellow Pages bills that are sent in hopes your A/P department will pay them in error.

“The only way they’d ever get our business is on accident,” says Ballard.

And that, my Responsible Marketing friends, is no way to grow a business.

So, have you or ever been targeted for one of these “faux-wards?”

Comment below to share your experience.

UPDATE: Let’s fight vanity scams together is a follow-up to this post.

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Full disclosure: Outsource Marketing is a Ballard Agency client.