Winning industry awards can catapult your business into the spotlight within your sector and beyond – providing a massive independent endorsement of your quality and bringing exposure that cannot be bought. So how do you nail those all-important award entries?
Making an awards shortlist – or better still taking the prize – provides a benchmark against competitors, a raised profile, increased enquiries, client trust, prospect awareness and internal pride.
But like much in business, if it was easy, everyone would be winning them. So how do you improve your chances of success when submitting award entries?
Give them the attention they deserve
The benefits of winning are significant, so why are award entries so often an afterthought? Put the planning, the resource, the expertise and the passion in to the entries that reflect the value to your business should you win.
Don’t fall at the first fence
Award wins are much coveted. So entry numbers are high. The judging panel will look to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff and form a shortlist – so entry criteria are non-negotiable.
Stick rigidly to the parameters put in place regarding format, deadlines, word count or method of submission. Don’t give an easy justification to discard your entry.
Make every word count
Hit them hard and hit them early. Tell them exactly why your award entries should be victorious. Then demonstrate it with clarity. Treat each section of an entry as a clearly defined and separate brief. Write what the judges need to know to assess each section, not what you’re keen to promote.
Tell a compelling tale
It’s important to focus on facts not fiction but judges, like any readers, want to be engaged. We’ve already touched on the importance of a talented writer. Put your best available on the job. However, they don’t just need to write well, they need to write with purpose – convincingly and consistently highlighting how your product or service meets or exceed the category’s key criteria.
Build your case
While your products and achievements mean the world to you, the chances are that the judges know little about them. All they have to go on is the content you provide. If they are to understand how brilliant your entry is, they must first understand the challenges that you or your customers faced. It’s therefore crucial to articulate the need for your solution before explaining how well you’ve delivered it.
Use the right tools for the job
Just as you would with any other communications challenge, you should establish what you want to convey with your award entry – then select the most effective way to convey it. Just because you can upload a video or interactive device as part of your entry, doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Only choose materials that will enhance a first time reader’s understanding of your achievements.
Provide tangible evidence
If a category ever comes down to the final two, the winner is guaranteed to be the one that can most clearly prove its effectiveness. Always back up your submission with clear supporting evidence. Statistics are the most persuasive, preferably showing commercial improvement. However, testimony from users, customers or clients that have experienced the impact you make can all add weight to your cause.
Keep your eyes on the prize
Successful award entries require focus and ruthlessness. The time to please everyone is when you are called up to the stage to receive the trophy… not when compiling your entry. The key to success is effectively meeting the entry criteria, not massaging the ego of the boss, client or product designer. Filter out the jargon and focus on the detail that answers the brief.
Look the part
While it’s crucial not to overcomplicate, first impressions count. So make sure all elements of the submission are clearly presented, uniform and on brand. If you need to supply crucial supporting evidence, make sure it is clearly signposted, easy to access and visually appealing.
Before you hit the button
Check and double check: your content, the entry criteria, your supporting documents and that you’ve fully answered the brief. Then all that remains is to choose your outfit for the ceremony.
Ladies and Gentleman, we have our winner!
We’ve evolved this approach over many years of compiling B2B award entries on behalf of our clients. Most recently it’s proved successful for Gi Group UK, one of the UK’s leading recruitment specialists. Their work with schools – The Workforce of Tomorrow – scooped them the Best CSR Practitioner prize at last week’s Institute of Recruitment Professionals annual awards.
Get in touch if you’d like us to help ensure you’re the next up on stage.