In a previous opinion piece, Today’s Media Managing Director David Opie wrote about the value of including Awards submissions in your marketing plan. In this piece, he considers the ins and outs of writing a successful submission.
Awards are an incredibly important part of recognising excellence and endeavour in industry. Alongside being recognised by your peers, awards serve to increase your profile, reinforce your reputation and can be an effective part of your overall marketing strategy in making both your professional and local communities aware of what sets you apart from your competitors.
Win or lose, in the lead up to the event, during the event and afterwards, your name will be splashed around, with industry experts, clients and potential clients becoming aware of you delivering a welcome boost to your brand.
So if we’ve convinced you of the merits of entering awards, here are a few of our top tips on writing a successful submission.
Carefully consider the category
In my previous blog I discussed the importance of identifying the right category. But choosing the category which best represents your firm’s values, experience and expertise can be the difference between winning and losing. Be sure to read the rules of entry carefully and most importantly, if you’re entering more than one category, DO NOT use the same submission for each entry. Elements of your submissions can be re-used but to stand the best chance you must tailor your entry to the category criteria.
What have you done that makes your business stand out against the criteria. Does the criteria fit in with an overall business strategy to become better known/recognized as an industry expert in? For example, if you’re building messaging around staff welfare, is there a category which enables you to show off the work you’re doing?
Answer the Question
Writing an awards submission is a little bit like going back to school. You MUST answer the question. Sometimes the judges are not subject matter experts and won’t necessarily understand some of the nuances of your submission. You must make it clear how and why your submission fulfils the category criteria.
Present the facts
You’ll be given criteria which clearly sets out what the judges are looking for. Make sure you provide factual evidence that supports your assertions in addressing each criterion. You might do this though presenting facts and figures (financial data, staff turnover, market share etc), or by using customer reviews and testimonials. The more objective and unbiased information you can provide the better.
Don’t make sweeping statements, back your points up with facts and evidence.The judges will not be impressed by vague statements, ‘marketing speak’ or unsubstantiated statements.
Consider who is best to write the submission
The writer needs to have the skills to pull together a compelling document. Delegating the task may not be wise; you might even consider using some external resource who specialise in writing award submissions to provide support. This may be in writing the submission itself or it could be to review your final draft and to provide constructive suggestions for strengthening the piece.
It’s important to make the writing style and content of the submission interesting… don’t forget the judges will be reading a lot of submissions and you need to ensure that yours is memorable. Don’t be afraid to expand your vocabulary and use attention grabbing words and phrases.
Stick to the knitting
Tempting as it might be to include the new company brochure you’re super proud of – it might be worth resisting. Judges will typically be in-demand busy industry heavy-hitters who are giving up their time to participate in the judging process. Concise submissions are a godsend. Wading through extraneous material is a pain for them and could in fact actively damage your chances… unless the criteria recommends additional evidence or a case study. In which case, make sure you include it!
Give yourself enough time
Writing an awards application is a meticulous. It takes time and no little skill to write a submission which grabs judges’ attention (remember, they read A LOT of submissions, what sets yours apart!?). Make sure you read the criteria carefully and answer the question.
Allowing plenty of time to consider what information will be needed; and to gather it all together will greatly improve your chances of success. You may for example have to enrol others in providing some of the detail that you need or you may need to refer to reports, board minutes or other sources to strengthen your organisation. Asking for an extension at the last minute is probably unlikely to win you any favours with the organisers who will be on a strict timetable for the process.
DO NOT underestimate the time it will take to produce a good quality submission. Leaving the task to the last minute will inevitably mean that you’re not able to include all of the compelling evidence-based information that should be included.
Don’t forget to celebrate!
And finally, go along to the awards themselves, even if you’re not shortlisted. They are a fantastic networking opportunity and you get to meet like-minded businesses and individuals… and you might learn a thing or two about your submission for next year!
And if you are lucky enough to be a winner or a runner up, don’t forget to celebrate. The euphoria of winning an award could do wonders for morale in the organisation. As well as the undoubted benefits of the external publicity, don’t forget to recognise and celebrate those within your business who made the win possible. It’s a great chance to stop and celebrate success generating a feel-good factor and goodwill that’s hard to replicate on a day-to-day basis.
David Opie is Managing Director of Today’s Media, organisers of The British Wills and Probate Awards. Entry for the 2022 Awards is open until Friday 22nd July 2022. For more information and to enter CLICK HERE