How to write a successful business awards submission

Growing your business

In this presentation, learn about key elements to improve your submissions when entering business awards.

Key learning outcomes:

  • Identifying the right awards opportunities and categories
  • Research and investigation
  • Gathering evidence
  • Testimonials and quotes
  • Peripherals
  • What's best practice?

Video presentation: How to write a successful business awards submission

How to write a successful business awards submission

Hello, I'm Caroline Lovett. I'm from a company called Credible Source Solutions. And I'm here today to share with you one of our programs, which is about writing successful business awards submission.

Today. I want to share with you how you can identify the benefits of nominating for an award. And how to source those awards programs that are out there, because there's a wide range of them available out in our local community, international community and our national communities. And I want to be able to help you to look at how you prepare the most successful awards submission that you can. I want you to gain the confidence that your award submission will grab the attention of the judges and the attention of the audience, and help to leap your business into an area of success. I'll share with you why you need to nominate what you need to look for for nominating and how you need to make yourself stand out. So stay with me for this next 10 to 15 minutes as we go through this program.

Identifying business awards and categories

The first point to share with you is how to identify awards and categories. What are you looking for? Why do you want to nominate for an award? What is it you want to do to make your business a standout success? Now, I don't know if many of you have ever seen the movie The Working Girl, which has Melanie Griffith, but one of the things in that movie is how Melanie Griffith sourced how she found her information, how she found her data. Looking for awards that suit your business is not a Google search.

Looking for awards and categories that meet your business needs where you stand out for you individually, for your team, for your business or for some category like sustainability and environment, a project you're working on, perhaps you've got an outstanding leader within your team or yourself. You need to be very creative and start to research. Looking at people's articles that they're writing about, connecting with people that have won awards and finding out more about those awards programs.

By doing that, as you start to look through the different category awards and the different types of awards out there, you'll find what is going to work for you and for your business.

Investigate the programs

Which leads to the next point. Once you've identified a range of programs, investigate those programs, look deeper into them. Who's won the awards before? What are they about? What are they ethically? What are their values in that program? Do they align with your values? What are you really in the awards program for? What do you want from it?

And when you've investigated the program, make sure then you have an idea of how it works. Are there similar programs out there? Keep an eye out. New programs are launched every year. Sometimes those new programs align more comfortably than current programs you've been looking at. For example, start small. Start local. The Moreton Bay has a beautiful business excellence awards program.

There are lots of local programs which help to give you leverage in your local community rather than go big with companies like the Telstra awards - work up to those if you think that you want to actually be known and be recognized in your local patch.

Investigate the awards judges

Once you've investigated the awards program we need to look at the judges and investigate the judges. As you go into nominate for an awards program, you really want to capture the attention of those judges. You really want them to hear your story, and to do that we all hear, learn, read, and absorb differently. You could have judges that are accountants, financial CFOs. You could have judges that are customer experience people. You need to have a look at their background. What makes them tick?

And make sure as you prepare your award submission that you actually tailor it towards those judges. Your financial judges will want to know how much money you're saving, how much money you're making, what you're doing with your money. Your customer experience, judges will want to know how you make it a smooth experience for your customers. All these things - while we don't think are particularly relevant at the time - allows your nomination to stand out to your judges. It grabs their attention. Then when they're adjudicating and working out who's going to win at the end, they'll come back to the key points that resonated with them about your award submission.

Gather evidence

But let's go to this very next point, which is the most important starting point of when you want to go into an awards program. At the beginning of your strategy year, or your business plan year, sit down with your team, sit down with your troops, sit down with your family and say, I want to enter an award. And from that strategy, you open up an evidence drawer, an evidence folder. And every time you gather a great piece of feedback, a significant achievement, something that really stands out that makes your business look good. If it's a leadership requirement for leadership reward, a community requirement, because you're going in for a community award. Whatever it is, gather that evidence and no evidence is trivial from the start. Put it all in that folder. When you come to put into your submission, you can then start to streamline.

Testimonials & Quotes

Which takes us to our next point. You have Facebook pages probably. You have Google reviews. You have some great customer feedback. You have people telling you how great you do as a business. Don't be afraid to capture those testimonials. Don't be afraid to capture those quotes from people. Ask them, what do we do well? if somebody says you saved my business $150,000 - that's a testimonial you need. How did we do it? Why do you think it worked for you? Capture those quotes and testimonials, because they are going to make you stand out in your submission, especially with your financial judge.

If you're business has a program where you've had environmental initiatives, innovative ideas, which through Innovate Moreton Bay has promoted a lot of that activity, make sure you get expert feedback. If you've put together a solution that will help the environment, help sustainability find an expert in their field who has actually noted and acknowledged the success of this product. Get their expert feedback. Capture it. That'll resonate on your submission when you put that through.

Data and Evidence

One of the other things that we do tend to forget when we're so busy working in the business, is how we capture what's going on for the business. Your data is so important, as you open up your evidence folder, that you put all your data in. Your resource savings, your cost savings, your benefits, your financial growth, and make sure it's not just numbers you throw in that folder.

Make sure you put the evidence attached to that. For example, your testimonials as to how much money you've been able to save somebody. How quickly your product has helped their business to develop. That data and evidence will help with your testimonials to build this amazing picture for your award submission, that'll grab those judge's attention and hopefully set you on track for a finalist or winner in your respective category.

Peripherals

I don't know how many of you have gone into a judging an awards program before, where you've been judged. But coming from a background where I've had over 20 years of awards programs, setting them up and delivering them, helping judges, and then also judging.

When you have 150 submissions in front of you that are all answering the same questions, you find a lot of those businesses and individuals from similar backgrounds, inadvertently as a judge, you can get lost in the message. You can shut off from the message. What stands out to a lot of judges is once you meet the qualifying criteria, which is absolutely essential as a judge, those boxes must be ticked for us to decide who's going to be a winner or a finalist in that category.

What really catches their attention is your extra activity. What are you doing as a business that others aren't? Now you might think it's absolutely trivial and the awards program doesn't want to know about that, or the judges won't be interested in that. Put that in your evidence folder, and you'll be amazed when you come to answer some of those questions, the things that you are doing that others aren't could be the thing that makes your business stand out. That gets you selected as a finalist and a potential winner, over somebody who's got something very similar in a submission to you.

It can be really, really simple. You might have some great environmental initiatives in your business to save the environment, while you're working on your business. Anything like that. An environmental question that makes the judges nod, and sit up, and take note.

What's new and topical

The other thing with an award submission is sometimes topics get exhausted. Environment is a big topic - always noted. Sustainability is another topic that's mentioned a lot. Through the current environment that we're in at the moment, COVID-19 was the big one that was mentioned quite a lot, but have a look at new and topical and that's not already exhausted.

For example, there might be something going on that your business is working on that you haven't heard a lot of in the news, you've done a little bit of research and it's starting to pop up. It could be the fact that you've actually put in electricity points for your electric vehicles for when people come to visit you. Little things like that stand out as new and topical and it's not exhausted. That will make you stand out to the judges. It's fresh. Remember they could be reading 150 submissions just for this one awards category. Make it fresh, make it new, and make it interesting. And it will make you stand out.

What's best practice?

The next point, and this goes without saying, but it's an interesting one that doesn't get addressed a lot. What is best practice for your business, for your industry? And are you doing it? Food for thought, especially at the beginning of the year, when you're doing your strategy and your business planning. Are we best practice?

If I was to put it in an award submission now and align myself with standards, regulations, and compliance, plus best practice in my industry, can I hand on heart say that I'm good at that? That we have best practice in that? When you've had a look at that, capture what's best practice for your business, and then capture the examples that demonstrate you're doing it.

Because from a judging point of view, we want to make sure we put the best of the best up as a winner. We want to (as judges) make sure that they won't be challenged, because we have the best of the best, and the submission shows that, and that starts with best practice.

What or who to you want to recognise?

And before we progress any further, I have to stop and ask you, what do you want to achieve when you submit an awards submission? When you write it, what do you want to achieve? Do you want your business to be recognised? Do you want to be rewarded financially in prize money? Do you want status? Do you want your business to be put out in the community - local, national, and international as to be the best in class.

Is it something where you want the team to be recognised in your business? Because the amazing job they've done, and we've seen some amazing activities over the last couple of months, and your teams are doing some great work. Do you want to recognise them for that?

If you're recognising your teams, take it to the next level what you want to achieve. As you recognise your teams and put together as a submission, Mary from accounts is constantly mentioned as the leader, the supporter of the business. The one that's helped the team to achieve. Look to see if you can also recognize Mary from accounts in an individual award category in those awards programs.

Make sure that you look around and factor everything in. Don't leave any stone unturned. Awards programs are there to recognise people, and teams, and businesses for doing a good job.

Look at things differently

Another thing to achieve, and a point to share with you is if you have a leader, and some of the awards that I have been involved in have been women in leadership awards for example. One of the greatest things for me that resonates in a women in leadership award submission is if a male manager, or a male peer, or a male subordinate nominates a woman in leadership.

That speaks volumes to the judges, because you tend to find in women in leadership programs, women nominate themselves, or their female managers or coworkers will nominate them. So again, look at that. Does that stand out? Does that send a beautiful, strong message to your woman in leadership employee, plus the judges, plus the program. Remember look at things differently. Look at things to see how you can make sure you capture that, and it comes in with a different flavour, a different approach, and a fresh approach for the judges.

How to reduce the wording

Now, like with any award submission, there is always a word count. In an award submission of a hundred questions - you've got a hundred words to answer each question. No, nobody got time for that. That is our hardest challenge in writing awards. One of the things to share with you is, don't get hung up on the word count.

Many awards submissions that I've put in, we've panicked about the word count. Build a relationship with the coordinator of the program. Often when you ring them and say, look, it says 200 words and I've got 250. Is that okay? They'll say, Oh yeah, sure. We just don't want "War and Peace" submitted for that one question. So don't put yourself through unnecessary stress.

However, if they do say to you, no sorry, it's a 100 word count or a 200 word count for this question. When you do your first draft of your submission, put everything in that you need to. Then when you come back to your word count, look at where you've repeated yourself and make sure then you can remove that repetition, you actually then help to reduce your word count.

As you start to reduce your word count and you remove the repetition, you'll get down to a hundred words. If what you've removed is important to this question, but it is already mentioned, there's nothing wrong in bullet pointing your answers, and then that final bullet point say, "and as per question two bullet point on..." So that the judges know to go back to that question.

It's really important not to ignore the judge's requirements on word count. It's really important to talk to the judges, because you might have some flexibility, but at the end of the day, I have been involved in judging programs when the word count has exceeded, and that amazing submission has been sifted to the side, much to my distress. Don't let that happen to you.

Write from the heart

And finally, before I recap, please write from the heart. Please write the truth about the team, the person, the project, let your passion come through. Often you'll find when people are writing, and you would have seen this when reading documents and project documents, there's no life in it.

When a judge is reading, they're reading for your data, your evidence, your testimonials, but they're also reading for life. And when you put life into a submission, and you get the judges nodding, you get them smiling and you get them visualizing what you're sharing with them. That allows you the opportunity to be sifted and put into the possible pile for discussion for a finalist or winner summary.

In summary

In summary, how do you write a successful business award submission? You do that by researching your categories first, know what you really want to do. Make sure you understand the program you want to go into, and don't nominate yourself for ten programs over the year. I've been to awards programs and events, where I've seen the same people again and again on stage almost desperate in wanting to win an award. Pick the awards. Three or four awards each year that will work for your business and put people, put yourself and your team and your individuals into that.

See if you can get an understanding of your judges so that when you're writing from the heart, you capture the hearts, minds is an eyes of your judges. Gather your evidence from the very start and put it all in that folder and keep feeding that folder. No evidence is irrelevant. The irrelevance comes as you start to sift when you're answering the questions.

Make sure you look at what others aren't talking about and build that in if you're doing it. What's new, make sure there's new to catch that, capture the eyes and the interest of the judges. Look at your best practice and make sure your best practice is working well for you. And then make sure you are going to achieve what you want to achieve, whether it's status, money, awareness of your business, or just to celebrate with your team and your individual staff members what a fantastic job they've done through an award recognition program. And then last part is to make sure you keep that word countdown.

I'm Caroline Lovett, Credible Source Solutions. My website is crediblesource.com.au. If you want to contact me, I'd love to help you.

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