As someone who loves marketing, I think awards are a fantastic tool to help you increase sales and reinforce your marketing message. Blue Eyed Sun won a Gift of the Year award in our early days, for example, and used it to help double sales that year.
Ivy Ellen is up for Best Wedding Stationer of the Year in January and, if we win, we will leverage it to expand the business.
Entering awards is not always easy and takes time to submit your entries. We’ve entered loads over the years and have been rejected many times, been finalists on quite a few occasions and also had the good fortune to win one or two.
Here are my top tips for awards success:
Don’t set yourself the goal of winning an award
The trouble with awards is there are no guarantees for winning them and, if you are guaranteed a trophy, it probably isn’t worth winning. Setting a goal of winning is outside of your control and will only cause you heartache.
Set yourself the goal of entering a certain number of awards each year or improving your entry each year instead. These goals are achievable and can be celebrated.
Remember you are worthy without
Use entering awards to help you focus on your achievements and successes each year. They are a useful tool for developing your business and focusing on what makes your company special.
Communicating this on an entry form is a useful way of assessing how you are doing and ways you can improve. If you have done well, but aren’t shortlisted, then celebrate anyway.
Awards are often fickle beasts so don’t allow the judges to control your self esteem by getting upset if you don’t win.
Focus on awards where winning will add value for your business
We don’t enter every award we can find, only ones that we feel will have a good effect on our business and we feel worthy of winning. Remember that some awards might have indirect benefits, like boosting staff morale.
Write your entry with the judges in mind
When entering awards focus on answering the questions asked. Do this in a clear, concise and easy to read manner. I imagine that judging awards is a bit like trawling through CV’s from job applicants, many of whom don’t tailor their resumes to the job they are applying for.
Imagining your entry from the judge’s perspective, this will help you to make it stand out for them. Make sure you stick to writing about what they are looking for rather than pasting in your usual company blurb.
Get your entry in early
Don’t leave your award entry until the last minute. It just won’t be as good. Finish it a couple of weeks before the deadline and take a break from it.
Reread it with fresh eyes after a few days and do your final tweaks before submitting it early. I find I am more successful with my earlier submissions than ones that are submitted on the deadline.
Publicise your nominations
If you are lucky enough to make the finals or are shortlisted, make sure you get a press release sent out straight away. All businesses should have a list of editors they send releases to, so make sure you have yours prepared.
Don’t worry if they don’t print it, think of it as a warm up for when you send them news of your win.
Get photos at the awards
Make sure that you take your own photos at the awards as it will mean that you can avoid waiting for the official snaps to come through and get your prize winning story out to press straight away.
The media love images so make sure you have good ones, even if they are staged.
Shout about your wins as quickly as possible
Make sure that you know your editorial deadlines going into the awards and draft your winning press release if they are close to the ceremony date. You want to capitalise on your win as soon as possible.
Business of the Year 2013 only has a short window that’s useful to you, after 2013 your story is old news.
Advertise your win
When you do win, use it everywhere you can. On your site, on your brochures, on your advertising, in your email signature and even around your office. Wherever you communicate to customers or suppliers. Everyone loves to work with winners.
Remember to do this. Don’t rush on to the next thing. Life is short and we must take these moments, whether we win or lose to appreciate how far we have come and be grateful for our business blessings.
Good luck with your next awards.