Hints and tips on how to enter business awards
Entering awards can feel a bit scary and the amount of work involved in putting together an entry can be overwhelming. Here at Pillow May we have only just started entering awards, so we know well how easily this can be a low priority.
Sophie has put together some hints and trips based on a training course she attended recently run by the fantastic Denise O’Leary, who founded Purpol Marketing. Denise has won lots of awards, including Best Business Woman 2018, and she has also helped many other small businesses write winning award entries. We hope our clients will find this content as useful as we did.
What are the commercial benefits of winning / being shortlisted for awards?
- Great PR is a huge competitive advantage.
- 3rd party recognition is good for building trust and credibility.
- Peer recognition and networking, building professional contacts.
- Improve employee morale and retention, and recruitment by attracting high calibre staff.
- Improve client retention.
- Generate new opportunities and revenue by attracting new clients.
- Improve your firms’ worth if independently valued.
What is the right award for your company?
The first step is to look at the above and think about your reasons for wanting to win awards; what is your agenda and then from this decide what is the right award for your company to enter?
- There are so many different award categories; sector based, job roles, gender, environment, culture etc – think about primary and secondary categories too, it also can help to look at previous winners.
- Are there high entry categories and more obscure categories – if there are more specific categories that are still relevant to your business, this can be an easier way to stand out?
- Think about timings – there is no point entering an award whose deadline is in your busiest month.
- What is the agenda of the award promoter, are they genuine?
- Cost – is it worth the entry fee, time, effort, resources?
Tips on writing your award entry
Stage 1 – Planning and research
- Evidence gather, read instructions and hints, check word count and eligibility.
- If you are entering multiple categories, tackle each award individually.
- Find the information that will enhance your application, use facts and figures, look at the judging criteria.
- Time management – plan your work back from the submission date. Schedule the time it will take you to research, procure data, write drafts.
- Allow time for someone to internally review the draft against the entry criteria, proof read and double check.
Stage 2 – Writing your entry
- Always generate offline first, in word for example, so you can save and spell check.
- Keep thinking what will make your company stand out, play to your strengths.
- Be innovative and demonstrate your value within your industry.
- Ask others / seek feedback – what is it that your clients and employees love about your company?
- Cross reference your themes between questions to reiterate the key message you want to portray.
- Think about your communication – tone, positivity, value, connect with the assessors.
- Format as requested. If the form isn’t pre-formatted – make your entry stand out visually – think about branding, colours, imagery, headings / subheadings, graphs & tables.
- Do not use jargon / acronyms that are industry specific.
- If you need to write an executive summary sometimes it can be easier to write this last.
- Remember you are telling the judges a story so introduce your company with some context, but do not ramble.
- If you are writing an award with a very tight wordcount restriction, think about ways you can insert supporting data without it increasing your wordcount. E.g. upload a video to you tube and link to it, or add a graph, soundbite.
Evidence you might need to include in your entry
Each award will have specific entry requirements so not all this list will be relevant but here are a few things you may wish to consider starting a library of:
- Your strategic aims / mission (doesn’t have to be profitability, you quantify your success against your aims)
- Client testimonials
- Raw data – facts and figures, graphs – ideally which evidence reaching or exceeding targets
- Business plans and company accounts
- Marketing campaigns, new websites, published articles etc
- Employee satisfaction, data on retention, personal development planning, training records
- Evidence of community and social engagement
- Records of charitable giving
- Case studies with evidence
- Photos / videos / soundbites.
General tips to maximise your chances of winning!
- Start early, writing award entries takes a lot of time, particularly if you are new to it.
- Try to showcase strategic thinking.
- Detail how you have adapted to events that didn’t go to plan, dealt with challenges, reacted to change.
- Financials need to show core growth.
- Examples of innovation and improvement are great, especially if supported with evidence.
- Keep it relevant – keep checking your content against the entry requirements.
- Testimonials and endorsements are brilliant for credibility.
- Take the judges on a journey, beginning – middle – end.
- Look at the personality of the judges, what are their pet projects.
- Think about sustainability and future goals.
After the submission date
- Keep track of progress.
- Get feedback if you are unsuccessful.
- Make a lot of noise if you are successful!!!!!!
- Start an awards entry content library so you can recycle and tweak content and evidence for future entries.
- Build a target award plan, schedule the number of entries per year and when the deadlines fall.
We hope you found these hints and tips helpful and we look forward to hearing about all the awards that our clients have entered in 2019. Good luck everyone.