By Emma Jefferies:
Winning an award can have a significant impact. It can attract recognition, validate credibility, boost brand awareness and create new business leads. However, having the best product, service, or campaign doesn’t automatically guarantee you a place among the finalists.
The key to making it into the shortlist is to follow the criteria to the letter. Then it’s all about how you tell the story. Before starting your entry, it’s important to consider a few things first:
1. Give the judges what they want
Don’t fall into the trap of writing the entry you want to write, not the one the judges want to read. You can spend days writing a great entry, but if your points don’t answer the questions and hit the criteria, the judges won’t be interested.
Straight out of the gate, take a careful and thorough look at the criteria. Are you entering the most suitable category? Do you have enough evidence to demonstrate the results? Do you have all the necessary information to address the criteria effectively with enough detail? Most award criteria will usually only consider projects or initiatives that have been live for at least a year so make sure to check first.
Return to the criteria throughout the process to ensure you’re hitting the required points and telling the judges exactly what they want to hear.
2. Don’t rush
If you’re going to go for an award, give it the time it deserves. Let’s face it, you won’t write a winning entry a day before the deadline.
Find out the entry deadline and make a start on gathering the information required for your chosen category at least four to six weeks ahead. If it’s a joint entry with a customer, engage them well in advance to ensure the best chance of success.
Answer the questions and come back to review them later. More often than not, you’ll end up re-writing the entry the second time around to create a better version.
3. Back it up
It’s all well and good to say you’re the best thing since sliced bread, but you need to prove it.
Winning entries are packed with stats, facts and figures – if you have them, use them. If you can’t demonstrate how you have achieved clear benefits to the business, its employees
or your customers, then it’s not worth submitting an entry.
Remember to back up claims with hard evidence, especially statistical. Provide compelling before and after data, and quotes from third parties, wherever possible.
4. Tell a story
Whilst stats, facts and figures are essential, the entry should tell a story.
The ‘why’ is what will pique the judges’ interest and those entries are the ones that are remembered. Use a good hook as an effective opener, talk about the challenges, how these were overcome and what was learnt along the way.
At the end of the day, judges are human beings who inherently love stories and want to read entries that are full of passion and conviction, experience and knowledge.
5. Get customers on board
Testimonials and customer quotes are gold dust. That’s it. That’s the point.
Wherever possible, include testimonials and quotes at relevant places throughout the entry. Bear in mind that the judges won’t necessarily be as familiar with your industry as you are, so including supporting evidence will help to add colour to the entry.