How I Used Local Buzz to Win a National Award

Christine Librojo is the Marketing Coordinator at Alligatortek, a Chicago-based corporate software development company. Read on for a transcript of her presentation from our September 19, 2017 Here’s How Startup Marketing Conference, where she describes how she used local buzz to win a national award.

Hi, everyone! I'm so excited to be here today. I'm Christina and I lead the marketing efforts at Alligatortek. We are a corporate application development firm focused on using technology to overcome business challenges for our clients. We've worked with an amazing group of clients like US Foods, Feeding America, Wrigley and recently, BMW.

We're a two-time Chicago Innovation award winner and a current finalist for this upcoming program. We're a four-time winner of the Chicago's 101 Best and Brightest Companies To Work For and we were recognized as a 2015 Microsoft Partner of the Year. We've also been named on Entrepreneur Magazine's Top Company Cultures. And this year, we are excited to join Propllr as a finalist for Chicago Inno's Top 50 on Fire. If you are free, please come cheer both of us on at the big reveal in November.

I joined Alligatortek in March 2014 and our leadership shared with me their vision of creating an award strategy. A lot of these awards asked for, or even required, prior external validation. Four months into my job, the awards programs began and I had no idea where to start.

Here’s how I did it.

1.  I gathered ideas from the team

When I heard about the Chicago Innovation Awards, which is a program of multiple events and multiple opportunities to create local buzz, I thought it would be the application to start with, so I leaned on my team and I gathered ideas from them. I asked, “What projects were we most excited about working on and why?” They gave me the story of our project with Feeding America.

2.  I told a story

We had previously created a case study for Feeding America and in May 2014, we also created a client testimonial video. I used those two to tell a story. With Feeding America, we automated a key business process. Something that used to take up to a week has now been reduced to mere minutes. And Feeding America's mission is to get food to Americans facing hunger, so the product was for fresh produce with a limited shelf life. And so, they were able to get more fresh produce faster to Americans facing hunger.

3.  I had SMEs fact check

I made sure to have our subject matter experts, our business architects, double-check my story and validate the numbers. I also documented our journey. I saved the application with all of my answers and then I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. When we were announced the winner, we had the exciting opportunity to meet with local government officials, like the Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Bruce Rauner, as well as ringing the NASDAQ bell in New York City.

4.  I documented our journey

We hired videographers, we took a lot of videos and photos and recorded all of the speeches. At the event, we also invited Feeding America to join us on stage. We gathered all of this coverage as an outcome of the award and then we were written about in Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business and Blue Sky Innovation.

5.  I leveraged resulting media coverage

When it came time to apply for Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards, which is a global awards program with all of the Microsoft Partners, I repurposed that prior application. I took the answers, the videos, the case studies that we created and the local media coverage. I even submitted the photos of our team with the mayor of Chicago.

6.  I aligned the application with the interests of the judges

When I submitted the application, I also made sure to align the words that I was using with the interest of the judges. Microsoft's vision for that year was "One Experience Across All Devices,” and I made sure to say that word for word in my next application.

The Results

We were recognized as a 2014 Chicago Innovation award winner and a 2015 Microsoft Partner of the Year. And then Microsoft also helped us generate more buzz and develop even more assets. They produced a partner case study and a testimonial video with Feeding America, and then they also connected us with the staff writers at Chicago Inno for additional local coverage.