Having written hundreds of award entries for clients across the country, we’ve seen first-hand how winning an award boosts a business’ profile. Even being announced as a finalist is a huge accolade and does wonders for how your customers view your products and services. In fact, the whole process of entering is a ‘win’ in itself because your business will benefit from the often rigorous assessment of your operations. So, what’s the best way to go about maximising your chances of award success?
It goes without saying that you need to answer all criteria and stick to any word counts – that’s just common sense. But in addition, what judges are really looking for is a compelling story. Amongst the hundreds of entries they’ll receive they’re on the lookout for one that’s been written confidently; that has a ‘voice’ which clearly outlines where progress has been made and challenges have been overcome. Think about these three key elements to help get you on the right track:
1. Allow plenty of time
Most awards have quite long lead times. A good thing because strong entries take time to put together – often much longer than you think. Lock yourself away or leave the office if you must, but go somewhere without distraction, take a long hard look at the criteria and begin to plan your approach. Jot down thoughts for each question to form the basis of your responses. Many awards will ask for facts and figures, so make a note of where you will source these or who else will need to get involved.
2. Honesty is the best policy
Everyone’s journey is different, whether for an individual or business award. So, be frank about it. Describe truthfully your challenges, making sure to include the outcomes and how they benefitted you, your staff, your business or customers. The judges aren’t expecting perfection, but what they are expecting is detail on how you went about moving things forward.
Equally, if you’ve experienced some great successes, don’t hide your light under a bushel. In a matter of fact way, describe how well you’ve done. Your hard-won achievements deserve recognition and will add support to your entry.
3. Write in first person
Whether you’re entering as an individual or as a company, using the first person ‘I’ or ‘we’ adds an element of warmth and personality to your entry. It’s a personal approach that speaks to the judges – almost as though you’re engaging them in conversation. Importantly, because using first person makes an entry more readable your key points come across more easily and make a greater impression.
Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy the process of entering an award. Look back with pride on where you’ve come from and look forward with anticipation to where you’re aiming to go. Be in it to win it!