How to Win Business Awards

win business awards lesley billen

Lesley Billen

Principal Consultant, Boost Awards

How to win business awards

Okay, so you’ve achieved something big within your business and now you want to shout about it – and rightly so. The extensive world of business awards awaits…but how do you ensure your entry makes the coveted awards shortlist, and gives you the best chance of proudly accepting a shiny new trophy?

If you’ve never thrown your hat into the ring, the world of business awards could seem a somewhat intimidating and confusing place. While glitz, glamour and lots of the bubbly stuff typically await those lucky enough to be shortlisted, the initial road that leads to the ‘big night’ of the awards ceremony can seem a long and bumpy one, clouded by uncertainty and risk. For example, with more business awards out there than ever before – each often accompanied by a long list of categories – how do you make sure you’ve made the right choice? With many stories within your business to tell, how do you pick the best (and most relevant) one? And, once you’ve all done that, how do you make sure you tell your story in a way that captures the judges’ attention, and gives you that all-important edge?

Confronted by such awards-shaped dilemmas, you could be forgiven for failing to even reach the stage of downloading an entry form. But it needn’t be this way. At Boost, we know a thing or two about winning business awards; after all, it’s what we help our clients to do on a daily basis. Allow us to alleviate the head-scratching and make your awards journey as smooth, seamless – and hopefully even enjoyable! – as possible. Read on for our top tips, which should help to turn your uncertainty into pure, unbridled awards enthusiasm…    

Pick the right awards to enter

‘Fail to plan, and you plan to fail’. Never has this expression been more appropriate than when entering business awards. These days, the list of different business awards is endless; with credibility, time, effort and money at stake, there is no point in plucking some out at random and entering on a wing and a prayer. While a win is never guaranteed, you really will give yourself the best chance if you’ve carefully considered and selected the best award and category for your story – not to mention your overall business objectives.

As this is such a crucial process in an awards strategy, we offer various planning options at Boost that will result in a clear, bespoke list of the most relevant and winnable ones for you to enter.

Do your homework

It may sound obvious, but no matter how little time you may find yourself with prior to entry deadline, read the instructions thoroughly before you do anything else. Rush into writing the entry and it’s likely you will be caught out in terms of eligibility, criteria or word count further down the line (sometimes all of the above). As well as ensuring you’ve thought about these potential hazards, when you do start writing you will need to make sure you address every entry question in full without going off at a tangent. Break down the question into more manageable ‘chunks’ if that makes it easier for you to digest.  

win business awards

Choose your winning story

The way in which you choose your story is also important. For example, are you a large business with many standout stories to tell, covering different departments and achievements, or do you have one overriding story that could be adapted to fit a number of different awards and categories? We can help you to make this decision, as well as spot those stories which are ripe for business awards at this particular moment – and which might be best to stay ‘on the shelf’ until the time is just right.

Do yourself justice in your written entries

Once you’ve picked your battles, you need to give your written entries the time and effort they deserve. A panicked, rushed entry – put together hurriedly just days before the deadline – can usually be spotted a mile off by the judges, so making time to prepare, craft and properly review your submission can pay dividends.

Answering the entry questions carefully and thoroughly is only half the story. As judges often have to sit and wade through numerous entries, it’s important you make yours as compelling and engaging as possible. Though you want to ‘set the scene’ and engage the reader, it’s important not to get too bogged down with laborious detail – remember, awards are as much for what you achieved as what you did, so try to balance the two. On that point, make sure your achievements are substantiated. For example, simply writing ‘we achieved great results’ with no actual results to back up this statement is just going to ruffle a judge’s feathers, not to mention leave them with a lot of unanswered questions. While you obviously need to substantiate your claims of success, it’s equally important not to just reel off results with barely any context to why you did something to implement such changes, and the challenges you faced along the way.

Supporting documents can help to illustrate an entry and expand on points when you’re faced with a tight word count in the main entry, but try and still think about the inclusion of additional material and the value it adds before you bung in pages and pages of additional content. Likewise, if your main entry allows images, use them wisely. While it may be an effective way of preserving word count and breaking up text, badly used graphs, diagrams and photos can actually do more harm than good. Images need to make sense at a glance, add value and have a clear purpose, so make sure there’s a reason for yours being in there.

Whether you already have an awards strategy in place or would like us to help you with a particular award, Boost can help you to tell your story in a compelling yet comprehensive way. After all, as dedicated award writers, it’s what we do on a daily basis!

Safety in numbers  

Even if you feel completely confident that you know the project/story in question, it always pays to interview as many other people as possible – ideally a senior sponsor, implementer and beneficiary. Not only will this ensure that you have the correct facts and figures, it may also bring your attention to an important point that could have otherwise been overlooked. On the collaboration point, try to find a truly independent reviewer; the judges are unlikely to know your industry, so it pays to get someone to read your draft submission who is equally objective.

You be the judge

Once you have written your entry, you will more than likely just want to get it off your desk and over to the awards organisers. However, try not to be so hasty – a good technique is to sit back and imagine you narrowly missed the top spot. What could you have done better, and what would you do to get a few extra marks? You’ll be surprised how effective and worthwhile a bit of self-critiquing can be.

Refine and recycle

With so many business awards out there, it would be a shame to not get more bang for your buck. Find more awards to enter it into, be it local or international business awards, and get your story out there. Whether you achieve a trophy on your first try or get pipped to the post, it’s more than likely that you can easily repurpose your story to fit another relevant award that’s lingering on the horizon. So why not go for it? If you were unsuccessful before, try not to be disheartened – ask for judges’ feedback, be open to any constructive criticism and use it as a valuable opportunity to learn and grow. If you have an awards plan in place, this will help you to always be one step ahead on your awards journey, ensuring you can put your best foot forward – each and every time.

An invaluable awards resource is provided completely free of charge by Boost Awards -Our UK Awards List and International Awards List feature over 5,000 business awards, organised by both country and region, as well as by industry sector. You can also sign up to free award deadline reminders so you will never miss a deadline again!

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“…simply writing ‘we achieved great results’ with no actual results to back up this statement is just going to ruffle a judge’s feathers…

Boost – a helping hand entering awards

Hopefully the above tips and tricks will help you to win business awards. However, if you ever need help choosing the right awards to enter, evidencing your success, innovation and uniqueness, writing your award submission or preparing a presentation to judges, feel free to contact Boost Awards. Boost is the world’s first and largest award entry consultancy, having helped clients, from SMEs to Multinationals, win over 2,000 credible business awards. Increase your chances of success significantly – call Boost today for a no-obligation chat about awards.

(C) This article was written by Lesley Billen and is the intellectual property of Boost Awards

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