How to Write a Winning Business Awards Application
An award can help set your business above your competition, but to win you first have to apply. Here’s how to write an application which puts you in pole position.
The secret sauce for any business is setting yourself apart from the competition, but that can be easier said than done. You can have great advertising, an amazing website full of outstanding copy, but so will all your competitors. What you need is something which can catch the eye and put your business onto the next level. Winning an award can do all that.
According to recent research an award can boost income by 48% and grow sales by 37%. Winning can enhance your credibility with new and existing customers while boosting morale throughout the organisation.
Getting the win, though, is a difficult, lengthy and often expensive process. You’ll have to factor in the time required to complete the award entry, cost of an entry fee and any expenses associated with attending the ceremony. All of which, by the laws of averages, is likely to go to waste as you see yourself pipped by one of your competitors.
This, then, is a process which you have to get right and one of the key ingredients will be writing a good awards application.
There are plenty of awards out there, but not all of them will carry much weight with your customers and some may even harm your reputation. If people see you chasing low quality awards, it can have an impact on how they view your business.
Most of all, you want something which is going to be relevant to your industry and will give you the boost you’re looking for. As such, you need to do your research on the possible awards, the benefits they offer and make sure you enter the right category.
Understand the rules of the game
To win the game you need to understand the rules. Every award will have certain conditions of entry and criteria against which judges will be assessing entries. This starts with the simple stuff, such as ensuring you supply it in a format they have requested and that you’re within any specified word limit.
A successful entry will not just be something which shows your business in the best possible light, it will be one which specifically addresses the criteria they are looking for. For example, if they are looking for projects or products which are innovative, make sure you show exactly how you’re breaking new ground with what you’re doing.
The chances are they will want to see clear evidence which backs up your claims. This might come in the form of sales figures, test results or any other stats which demonstrate your performance. Useful as they are, though, you should use numbers sparingly. Judges will be turned off by an application which simply spews data in their direction.
If you have reliable and verified testimonials from customers, these can also be useful, as well as any credible tests which demonstrate the performance of your product. For example, healthcare innovators dream of getting their products into peer reviewed studies which show how they outperform other techniques or products in delivering treatment.
Start early and plan
Nothing will compromise your efforts more than a last-minute rush job. Do your research and set out a calendar of awards you want to enter. Start the application early, giving yourself plenty of time to craft a winning entry.
Part of this planning may include looking at previous award winners. This is a chance to see what has worked well in the past and what they specifically did which impressed the judges. It’s unlikely you’ll find a reliable winning template which can be copied and pasted directly into your own application, but you might give yourself a better idea of what has succeeded in the past and what’s more likely to succeed in the future.
Writing the application
Once you have all this in place it’s time to write the application. If you’re entering a number of different awards, you may be tempted to cut and paste details of your previous applications into this new one.
However, that can be counterproductive. Cut and paste jobs stand out like a sore thumb and are likely to alienate the judges. Instead, you have to understand a very simple truth: every award program is different and, to maximise your chances of success, your application needs to be every bit as unique as they awards program is.
Another easy mistake is to allow your awards application to slip into technical jargon. Remember, this is effectively a sales document and the judges are your target audience. As such, you need to craft your tone accordingly.
Try to use clear, concise and plain English which builds a credible argument for why your services, company or product is so special. If some of the details are complex and technical, remember that you need to describe it in a way in which a non-expert will be able to understand. For example, if your tech team have developed a ground breaking algorithm, you’ll have to provide a submission which demonstrates what it does and why it is so innovative to someone who will have no idea how it works.
This does not mean talking down. The judges will be highly capable professionals themselves so they will respond to a professional tone which is targeted at their level. You should just bear in mind that they may not necessarily be experts in the particular niche.
Be a storyteller
Story telling is central to all content writing and awards applications are no different. Although you need to make sure the copy is credible and compelling, you can still go that extra mile by making sure it tells a story which really inspires the reader.
At the same time, though, you should resist the temptation to become too salesy. This sounds a little like telling a Grand Prix Driver to ‘go faster but avoid crashes’ but there is an important balancing act between being persuasive and telling that inspirational story and slipping into ‘sales’ mode. Judges will know when they are being sold to and they won’t respond well.
Last but not least, it helps if you can find an extra something which really help you stand out from the crowd. A picture tells a thousand words, so if you have any great videos or images available, which can enhance the message in your application content, try to include them.
Once all this is done, you should review the application. If there were several departments within your organisation who contributed to the project, it may be good idea to get feedback from them. Finally, proof it thoroughly. Make sure errors are eliminated as even the odd small typo might affect how you’re perceived. Only when you’re absolutely happy should you send it off.
Ultimately, like anything, a great awards application is a process. Winning an award is a game, and to win it you have to play by the rules. You need to know what judges will be looking for and the criteria they will use to judge you. Once you have all that in place, you need to craft a clear, compelling and above all tailored application which hits all of those demands.