Awards are a way to get recognition and publicity. If you win, you’ll stand out from the competition, boost your profile and credibility, and land new business and opportunities.
Just being shortlisted gives you kudos. The ceremony offers chances to network and talent-spot, and you can reward staff with a night out.
Even the process of applying has advantages. It helps everyone in the business understand what they’re doing well, and it’s a way to get useful feedback.
You’ll typically need to show things like:
- how you lead the field and innovate and improve
- how you confronted and overcame obstacles and challenges
- examples of success from your vision and strategic thinking
- how well you look after, nurture and develop your staff, and
- your corporate social responsibility, and how this has brought benefit to your bottom line and image.
So here are four steps to writing a great award application.
Step 1: Gather the info
Start by getting information from people. You’ll probably have to show turnover and profit, so speak to your financial staff. Go to your customer services team for customer feedback and testimonials. See human resources for people initiatives. For how your product leads the market, talk with the marketing team. For confirmation of your company’s vision, have a chat with the CEO.
Step 2: Tell great stories
Now you can craft your evidence into stories.
Judges love human stories. So bring to life how you solve customer problems. Or how you look after staff. Or how you develop partnerships within your industry. Ask yourself what people love about you.
Don’t hesitate to show your personality. What makes you unique? You can be funny, quirky or serious.
Balance what you did with what you achieved. Clare Lynch explains how to approach a case study by dividing it into challenge, solution and outcome, and suggests questions to ask clients to get the information you need.
Consider starting with outcome/results, which puts your best bit at the front, when the reader is more attentive.
Step 3: Make it easy to read
Use concrete language. Language that’s too abstract or corporate will turn judges off. How many times do we see companies describing themselves with words like solutions, quality, performance, productivity, innovation and dynamic? Think about how these things work in practice, using words we’d use when we talk.
The judges will have a lot of applications to read, so write clearly and concisely. Keep it simple and avoid jargon and clichés.
Get to the point quickly and make sure everything is coherent. That means each idea should flow logically from sentence to sentence and paragraph to paragraph.
Step 4: Check and refine
Make sure each answer is tailored to the question. Break it down if necessary. Check your word count. When it’s done, sleep on it. Print it and read it again. Get someone else to proofread it.
These steps will ensure your application has its best chance of success. And if you don’t win, get as much feedback as you can to improve for next time.