How to begin crafting a winning award entry?

Many business owners wonder how they can achieve the same award winning success of other businesses, but are daunted by the entry process – will I see a return on investment? What do the judges want? What are the actual chances of winning? Denise O’Leary, author of Winner – How to Win Business Awards, is passionate about demystifying the entry process and here are some of her top tips for creating an award entry.

Create your entry offline first
Before inputting your entry into any online format, develop your response offline first. You can edit the content before making the commitment and avoid the disaster of having an internet crash and losing your work. If this happens it is too easy to abandon your entry.

Tell your story
Award entries give you the opportunity to tell your story; why did you start? What challenges have you overcome? What have been your greatest achievements to date? Let the judges engage with your business journey.

Explain your USP
Every company is different, determine your company’s Unique Selling Point (USP). This is what makes your business memorable and should run like a thread throughout the entry, explaining the benefits you deliver customers.

Use client testimonials
Evidence is a powerful addition to your entry and you can make it stand out in quotes, as a graphic or a chart and use client testimonials. If someone outside the business has been prepared to say how great you are, it is far more powerful than you as the business saying it. Encourage others to be your advocates.

Tailor Each Entry
Each award is likely to be judged individually, so tackle each award independently. Evaluate the entry criteria and match it against your individual and company attributes. Consider the relevance that the award can have to your business when trying to decide what to enter. If you have limited resources then target the one you really want.

Give the Judges What They Are Looking For
Judges will be looking for evidence to back up your claims. They want to see how you lead your industry and require you to validate your story. They are interested in the challenges faced – so identify how you overcame them. This can include insight from staff about why they enjoy being part of the organisation and activities alongside the day job such as charitable works and community engagement.

Always be honest; don’t lie, make up figures or avoid mentioning something that the general business community will know about you. Being sincere and explaining your challenges is very powerful as it shows you are constantly learning.