5 tips to writing a great awards submission

If you're looking for an easy way to build brand awareness and credibility, you should consider nominating yourself, your business or your project for an award. There are hundreds of awards given each year for so many different things and you should be getting a piece of the action.

Best case scenario: you win, get prizes, get in the newspaper, get to gloat a bit and get to give yourself a little confidence boost. You plaster your win all over your socials and your website, and you can then describe yourself as 'award-winning.' Don't underestimate how influential that can be when people are deciding to work with you.

Worst case scenario: you don't win but you've taken the time to articulate why you're in business, you've remembered some of the great results you've delivered to your clients, and you've sat in your discomfort zone for a little while...the place of true growth! If you've been nominated you can gloat about that too.

So, what's stopping you?

Why you should be nominating for awards

Well, when I talk to business owners, there are generally two reasons why they don't nominate for awards: they don't have time or they don't think they're good enough.

The time thing is a legitimate challenge. There's rarely, if ever, enough time in the day to do what you need to do, let alone do all those extra things you want to do. And the awards submission process is very rarely short and straightforward. It is going to take time and effort, and probably a bit of sacrifice.

But not being good enough? PLEASE! Deep down you know that you deliver a great product or service to your customers. You know that you are making people's lives better by being in business. But just like most people when they're writing a resumé, you're being modest and don't want to look or feel like a wanker.

I get it. I was nominated for an award last year and when the excitement had passed, I just felt icky. Who am I to win an award? I am not as good as x person or y company.

Slap yourself out of it. Remember your mission and remember that there is absolutely nothing wrong with being recognised for being good at what you do. And if you don't win, so what? You've been nominated and like they say at the Oscars every year, it truly is just an honour to be nominated.

You like me!

So now you're going to do it, right? Great!

Here are 5 easy tips to make sure that your submission hits the mark.

  1. Check the criteria thoroughly to make sure you or your organisation are actually eligible. This might seem obvious but it's so important that you don't waste your time writing a submission that's not even going to get looked at. Most application processes clearly outline who and what is eligible for the award. If you are not eligible, it doesn't matter how great your application is, it won't win. And if you have to stretch the truth to make it fit, you're not eligible. Call the organisation hosting the awards if you're not sure to get a definitive answer.
  2. Answer every part of each question. Another obvious one but so many people don't do this! Many award application processes are scored based on how you have answered each component of the question. Answering one part of it well, will not make up for you skipping a part of it entirely. There's a reason they want to know. Tell them. 
  3. Use data and images to demonstrate your point. This is an extension of what you (hopefully) already do in your marketing - demonstrating outcomes and results in a way that is easy to understand and shows your value. Don't just tell the selection panel that you're good at something - back it up with data. Many award submissions also allow you to add images. Use those images wisely. Pick your hero shots, graphical depiction of any data you want to share (bar graphs and pie charts are excellent for this), and action shots of what you do and how you help. If you can, avoid shots of people standing facing the camera out of context. This is your chance to enhance the story you've told; make the most of it.
  4. Get someone to proofread your entry. Make sure you get a fresh set of eyes to check out your application. Not only will it find spelling and grammatical errors, but it will also help you make sure you haven't missed any key components of the questions or answered something in a way that doesn't make sense to an outsider. Your submission needs to make sense to someone who knows absolutely nothing about you and your business. Don't assume the judges know how your business or your industry operates.
  5. Don't leave it to the last minute. Often these submissions are complex and quite detailed. The last thing you want to be doing is chasing data 30 minutes before it's due. That gives errors the chance to pop up without being identified, making your application look sloppy and even worse, inconsistent. Even 10 minutes a day will save some of the last minute rush.

Don't be scared off by an award submission

Award submissions can look quite daunting but if you follow the directions, you'll be just fine. Some of the organisations that put on these awards offer workshops to help with completing your application; some even offer free one-on-one advice and feedback from experienced judges. If this is on offer, take it!

If you have looked at the application process and you just don't even know where to start give me a call and I'll make the process completely painless. We can work on the application for you or just offer a strategy session or a review before you submit. It could be the difference between 'nominee', 'finalist' and 'winner.'

Now all you have to do is pick an outfit for the awards ceremony.

Need help with your acceptance speech? Check out my blog post on how to write a great speech.

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