10 steps to your awards success

We all like recognition. And customers like to know that potentials suppliers really can deliver for them. Entering trade awards boosts employee morale, underlines value to existing customers and raises your standing with prospective customers

Benchmark your business as best-in-class, and get prestigious endorsement by being short-listed for an award.

You don’t need amazing international projects to win your award. A well-crafted entry, which brings your project to life, highlighting benefits and ingenuity, will shine a light on your brilliance.

The successful pursuit of your award will take a little time, thought, and careful planning.

After years preparing and submitting award-winning entries, it has been fascinating and rewarding to join judging panels.

In the last few years I’ve seen the good, the bad and the indifferent: These tips will help you to avoid some of the most common pitfalls, and position you for awards success.

1. Matching initiatives to categories
Research internally to identify the initiative(s) that offer the best chance of success, and gather the information you need to back it up.

Select the categories which fit best, but don’t be too narrow in your selection, as entries in several categories will multiply your chances of success.

2. Make note of the instructions
Make sure your awards submission is compliant – not partly compliant or compliant where it suits – but wholly compliant.

Follow instructions for word counts and submission formats, and make sure you hit the deadline!

3. Understand judging criteria
Read and understand the judging criteria, make sure you meet all the requirements and cover all the points in your entry.

When the judges request specific detail like examples, results or tangible evidence, make sure you provide it.

Entries that follow the given criteria are generally far easier to assess, because the judges are not compelled to search for evidence of those elements.

4. Grab the judges’ attention
The judges will have many entries to go through, so they will appreciate it if your entry is concise and easy to read.

Carefully craft your summary. A well-written one sets the scene and gives the judges the best possible introduction to your entry.

5. Preparing content
Keep within the word count and give your entry a structured format. This will make it easier for the judges to follow and ensure that you don’t miss out any important information.

A typical format may include:

  • Outline the situation
  • Highlight the client’s need, or situation to be resolved
  • Explain the process for arriving at a solution
  • The solution implementation
  • Benefits received and delivered – these must be quantified, to be credible*
  • Measurable impact for client(s)
  • Compare and contrast the before and after (figures again are desirable)
  • Next steps and legacy

*Broad statements like ‘This was our most successful project ever’ or ‘The results exceeded all expectations’ simply won’t cut it. The best submissions present quantitative results.

You will need to present facts and figures. These can be constrained to growth, sales, savings, etc, as percentages, if there are commercial concerns.

6. Do not recycle
Be cautious about recycling award entries, as the formats and judging criteria vary substantially and they will stand out, for the wrong reasons.

Don’t be tempted to cut and paste from websites and promotional literature. The text seldom sits comfortably with the entry, and will be spotted by the judges accordingly.

7. Use clients
Customer participation will add more depth and underline the credibility of your entry.

Share client views, figures and testimonials of the situation before and after your intervention.

Use your own people, and your customer’s people to bring your story to life.

8. Keep it brief
Keep your submission as concise as possible. Avoid flowery prose and marketing speak.

Use bullet points and lists to reinforce key points, but ensure that they are not at the expense of understanding.

Remember to include testimonials and facts to back up claims in your entry; a statistic that illustrates success will be much more powerful and credible than a generic Soma and comment.

9. Time to shine
Once your entry is complete, share with colleagues to proof read and sense check.

Keep reading through to refine your text, and identify and remove content that is unnecessary.

The checking, editing and redrafting process will polish your entry.

10. Above all, stand out
Awards submissions are in effect sales pitches. Your challenge is to craft an entry that persuasively and convincingly communicates best-of-breed.

Write your entry in a voice that is engaging; make your case compelling .

Remember, in some categories the judges will have dozens of entries to evaluate. Is yours memorable?

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