If you’ve ever dreamt of standing on a stage, holding a little gold statue aloft as you thanked your family, friends and pet poodle, your dream may not be as fanciful as you think.
While you’re unlikely to win an Oscar – unless Meryl Streep has signed up for this blog – you and your organisation may be stars in your own industry.
The Telstra Business Awards are well known for their annual small and medium business awards, and most industries and regions have their own business awards’ nights.
Winning an award, or even being a category finalist, can be a powerful promotional tool giving your business added credibility, raising your profile among your peers and clients. They are also a great morale booster – there’s nothing like being an award-winning team to make staff feel proud of where they work.
While there are numerous benefits, many businesses don’t enter industry awards because preparing the submission can seem too time consuming and overwhelming, with possibly no pay-off.
However, awards’ submissions don’t have to be daunting.
Having written numerous winning awards’ submissions for individuals and organisations, here are a few tips to make the process a bit easier.
1. Use the criteria to help craft your response
Once you’ve decided to submit an entry it’s important to consider the judging criteria. Industry and business awards generally have a dedicated web page that includes detailed information about each category.
The award criteria will be an essential reference tool as it will clearly outline the number of words required and the points against which you will be judged.
It is important that you stick to word counts and respond to each point to give yourself the best chance.
2. Identify what makes your submission award winning
This is about finding the wow factor for your submission. Think about what makes you stand apart from your competitors? If you are writing about an initiative you’ve introduced it’s not enough to describe it. You need to highlight what makes it so special. Is it the first time this has been done in your industry? Does it use new technologies? Does it save your clients time and money?
Likewise, if the award is for an individual, consider what it is about the person’s work that makes him or her stand out. What have they done that is above and beyond normal day-to-day business?
3. Prove it!
It’s not enough to tell the judging panel how great you are, you need to prove it. It’s the old adage of ‘show, don’t tell’ and it’s very important when writing awards’ submissions.
How do you do this? Ideally provide quantitative and qualitative evidence. You can quantify the success of your initiative through statistics. For example, the initiative increased productivity by a certain per cent or had a cost saving of a specified amount.
References are a great way to get independent, third-party endorsements for your submission. You could include a reference from a client who benefitted from your service. A selection of references gives weight and credibility to your submission.
4. Supporting materials
Often you can provide attachments to support your submission. These may be examples of your work, reports, media coverage, links to online materials and videos. Like the references and statistics mentioned above, they will help you to demonstrate how you have met the criteria.
5. Leveraging your win
It may sound a bit presumptuous, and you may worry that you’ll jinx the result, but it is a good idea to have a promotional strategy planned before the awards’ ceremony so that if you are a winner or finalist you can make a timely announcement.
Prepare a media release to announce your win, although don’t send it until it has been announced. A word of warning – before you send out your media releases find out if the event organisers have arranged any media coverage. You don’t want to jeopardise their relationships by making your own approaches to the same media sources.
Prepare some draft content for any social media platforms you may have and encourage your employees to share the win on their social media. You may want to have a draft email prepared for staff, and a separate one for clients, that you can send the day after the award win.
You should also mention the award on your website and include it in any other promotional materials you have, such as company brochures. If you are an individual who has won an award, include it on your LinkedIn profile and update your resume.
This is not the time to be humble about your success. One of the main advantages of winning an industry award is that it raises your profile and enhances your credibility.
Now, the only thing left to do is find out what awards are available in your industry, start showcasing the successes of your business and practice your acceptance speech.