Tips on How to Win Awards
View from the Judges’ Table
What’s the best way to promote your company’s achievements on the local, regional or national stage? There are many, many business awards around now; do you take advantage of them? You can choose from very localised ones say covering one town organised by the local Chamber of Commerce, to regional bodies, industry sectors (e.g. for accountants, builders or hotels) or issue-specific (e.g. environmental or PR).
Just entering an award scheme has many benefits. It’s an excellent learning experience & satisfying too putting the application together – show the best parts of your business & share your achievements. Also it’s a good opportunity to look outwards, at the competition, what customers are looking for, what best practice is. Position yourself as a leader.
At the awards ceremony, finalists get their name up on screen in front of the numerous guests. Why not bring your staff along to say thank you for their hard work? For the winners – not just a glittering trophy, it’s the prestige, the recognition for all of the company & it’s great to be able to use the strapline ‘award winning company’.
I’ve been involved in business awards as an entrant, organiser & judge. For many years now I have been judging for national schemes that recognise environment in business – the Environment & Energy Awards and the Sustainability Leaders Awards.
I thought I’d share some of my experiences as a judge, which may help you in your submission. Now I should point out that I am not a marketing expert or copy writer. This reflects my thoughts of reading & assessing the applications.
- Make it easy for the judges to understand what you do as a business & the project / product / achievements you’re submitting for the awards. The number of times I’ve had to stop & check out a company’s website just to see what sector they’re in!
- Treat the Entry Form like a job application or sales proposal – take care to provide all the information required, comply with the ethos of the awards and answer the questions!
- We all like deadlines, but really don’t leave it to the last minute! Give it enough time to put a good quality application together.
- Be concise. It takes a LONG time for judges to go through all the applications. Don’t overload them with reams of paper. Keep to the maximum word count.
- Tell a story & show your passion for what you do. Make the judges believe in your business, like you do. Don’t be shy, show off and mean it!
- Make your entry stand out – if there are dozens of applicants for each category you need to be extra memorable. This is especially important if judging is very close.
- Show how you’ve made a difference and support it with data, testimonials, surveys, KPI dashboards or anything else. Do make reference to the supporting info – don’t just give a random attachment, explain it & say which section it applies to.
- Testimonials are good – but not just saying “this company is great”. How did you help the client, what difference did they see?
- Don’t just write the application on your own. Get your team involved. It’s good to get a wider perspective, different ideas & approach.
- Check your spelling & grammar. Simple things can detract from the impression you give.
- Find out what the judging process is. It’s easier to wow the judges in person, but if it’s just a written application, then everything needs to be included in that. Most of my national awards involve an initial desktop review and then a meeting where we discuss & challenge each other. These can stimulate a lot of discussion, so make your application easy to remember!
- If there should be a site visit or presentation, prepare for this too. Make sure the judges feel appreciated & that you are pleased to see them! Get your staff to meet with them, do a site tour, maybe even line up a customer to sing your praises.
You can use the information gathered for your entry to write up a case study of your work & achievements. These are useful in your sales activities – can be put on your website or attached to proposals. It all helps.
After the judging you’ll soon hear if you’ve been shortlisted to attend the awards ceremony. Why not the make the most of the marketing opportunity? Raise your profile all along saying you’re proud to be shortlisted, looking forward to the ceremony etc etc. The PR opportunities are endless!
Awards are a useful part of your marketing strategy & should be given sufficient attention & time to make it really worthwhile.
Good luck and I hope to see your entry to the next awards I’m judging.