Top Tips for... Entering and Winning Awards

Posted by Claire White ¦ Business Skills

Here are our top ten tips to give your award entries the X Factor…

1. You’ve got to be in it to win it

Think carefully about which awards to enter. Choose ones that are relevant to your sector or your local area. For example, you might consider that you have more chance of success in a regional award than a national award. If it’s a project based award, choose a project that’s successful but also one you know you can write a good story about and that demonstrates a high level of achievement.

2. Put deadlines in diaries

Give yourselves plenty of time to think about your entry and put it together. Make sure everyone who needs to be involved knows the deadlines and set clear targets for everyone to complete their contribution. Allow plenty of time to submit the form and don’t leave it to the last minute in case of IT/postal difficulties.

3. Learn from the best

Take the time to research previous winners and highly commended entries. You can often find details of these on awards websites and they may give you some hints about the types of projects or businesses that gained recognition. You can then tailor your entry accordingly.

4. Stick to the facts

Use real figures to back up your statements. Present hard evidence of your achievements and emphasise the benefits of these to customers and the business itself. Make your supporting evidence clear, concise and easy to read. Be selective. Judges don’t want to drown under the sheer weight of your content!

5. Read the instructions

It sounds obvious, but this is where a lot of award entries fall down. Check the category criteria carefully and make sure your submission answers the question. Focus your material to create the biggest impact. Don’t just do a content dump of all your existing sales and marketing materials. Make a compelling case to win!

6. Don’t be too modest

Celebrate your achievements. Don’t exaggerate them and make sure your evidence backs up your claims, but don’t undersell yourselves either. You need to prove you’re the best. Give examples of innovation, of providing a positive impact to stakeholders of strategic success, strong leadership and excellent customer service. Don’t be afraid to blow your own trumpet.

7. Tell a story

Make your entry a compelling read by focusing on narrative. Create a clear structure and build up a picture step by step. Take the reader on a journey through your project or business successes, creating memorable key messages. You could even give the story a theme or create an attention-grabbing introduction to hook the audience and make sure your entry stands out from the crowd.

8. Avoid waffle

Any details that are not completely relevant to the story you’re telling are just a distraction. If it’s not answering the criteria, don’t include it. Focus on outcomes rather than ‘what we did’. That will keep the content focused, help you stick to the word count and make your entry fresh and engaging.

9. Remove jargon

The judges won’t give you the award if they don’t understand what you’re saying. Write in plain English, use short sentences rather than long sentences and remove any industry specific phrases or acronyms that other people won’t recognise. If possible get someone from outside of your business and industry sector to read the entry as if they were a judge and give you objective feedback.

10. Imagine you didn’t win

When you’ve finished the award submission read it through again but this time, imagine that you were unsuccessful. You missed out on the prize. Why? What could you add, remove or change to make your entry have a bigger impact.

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