I was recently asked by Marketing by Minal to guest blog about award entries and as I do a fair few of them, here are my thoughts! Hope it helps!
This post originally appeared here.
Now, let’s face it, none of us here would say no to winning an award for our business, would we? For all that hard graft, blood, sweat and tears to be acknowledged and applauded by your industry and your peers – there’s no better feeling.
Coupled with this, an increase is awareness, stature and reputation that will directly impact your business commercially, then it’s a win/win to enter them, surely? Hmm.
I am still staggered about the amount of business owners who don’t factor awards into their plans or have it as a cemented fixture in their marketing strategies. Not only are awards brilliant for the reasons already stated, but they can catapult you into brand stablemates and kudos partners that might otherwise take years to get into. But, for many, awards just aren’t on their radar.
Now, this can be for many reasons: confidence (the biggy – it’s tough telling people how good you are), you don’t really know how to go about it or you don’t dedicate the time to them as, you know, you’re too busy running your business!
I’m here to tell you to make time, do the research and get entering. I am completely guilty of being too busy / uninterested to enter awards and it is only experiencing entering my clients into awards and the impact it has had on them over the past few years that my eyes have been opened!
Of course, it’s nice to win but even if you make it as a finalist, that can add huge scope to awareness of you and your business and, as the old saying goes, you have to be in it to win it – but where do you start?
The business awards landscape is vast so it’s no wonder that a lot of business owners find it intimidating and overwhelming at times. There seems to be a lot of awards out there but, as with everything, you need to spend some time doing your research first.
First off, look at the awards people you admire or who are in your sector are winning. Are they winning for the type of business they have or, perhaps, are they going for specific men/women in business awards?
Have a look at the ones they are entering and see if they are a good fit for you. Ask yourself, what do you want to win for – is it your business, your team, your story or all of the above? Dedicate some time to really look at the awards on offer and pick the ones that resonate with you the most. Don’t forget to check the entry criteria, what they need from you and how much it costs as these will all be factors on your decision to enter. Also have a look at their previous winners and try and decipher what winning the award has done for them.
Collate your stuff!
Once you have decided on the awards you want to enter, get a clear spreadsheet going with dates: entries open, deadlines, costs, additional / supporting materials needed. The last thing you want to do is do a cracking entry and then find out you need to send a one-page of your financials or testimonials that you didn’t know about and you haven’t prepared.
Do everything on word
First rule of fight club – do not write straight on to the entry form, it will end in tears. Always do your entry on a word doc, that way you can check word count, spelling and, most importantly, you have a copy. Make sure you have all the questions that are going to be asked with word count for each, and you have read all the literature from the awards to guide you. Set your word doc out with everything on there that you can just copy/paste onto the awards entry form, even the fiddly bits like your social media handles.
Be true to yourself
Now, we can all be humble, but this is not the time or place. Make sure you really think about your achievements, your successes, what clients / colleagues have said about you and why you deserve to win this. If you are finding this tricky, send out a note to your trusted clients and friends and ask them why, they feel, you are great at what you do, and I guarantee it will unearth things you would have never included.
Always answer the question
Sounds obvious but it is so common that answers have no relation to the question asked and even if they are from the most impressive business out there, the judges are immediately turned off as you have demonstrated that you can’t read a brief. So, ensure your responses are really answering the question posed.
Give yourself enough time
I’m sure we have all been there – few hours to deadline, frantically getting everything finished. It doesn’t help anyone and sadly, there will be mistakes and rushed errors in your entry. Take your time, give yourself time to re-read your entries and try and enter a few days before deadline if you can.
Get fresh eyes on it
Having someone else read over your entry can really work wonders as by this time, you can’t see for looking so ask a trusted friend and often someone who doesn’t know your industry to see if it makes sense, if anything is unclear and they get a good picture of what you do and what you offer and why you’re so kick ass at it!
Award entries can be laborious and slightly tedious at times but so worth it and if at first you don’t succeed, do keep trying as judges love to see brands and businesses evolve and grow.
Now, let’s get that mantelpiece dusted!