Winning a regional, national or international award can give great credence to your firm, helping you to attract new clients, work and staff by demonstrating the high quality of your services and support.
There are hundreds of awards launched every year for firms to enter and it can sometimes seem bewildering deciding which categories to enter or figuring out what to include within your entry.
To help you take the first steps to an award-winning submission our expert awards team have put together their 10 top tips.
1. Choose your category carefully
When entering an award, it is important that you read the entry rules and consider the criteria set by the judges for each category.
You should first make sure you are eligible and secondly think about whether you have sufficient evidence and a strong enough argument to merit an entry.
If it is asking for evidence of growth in the last year, but your firm hasn’t grown or you don’t consider your growth to be great enough, it may be best to avoid that category.
2. Plan out the entry
Before putting pen to paper, plan out your entry and list your key selling points that you hope to present to the judges.
Some awards will be based around questions or a specific form, while others might give you free rein to write as you please.
If the latter is the case, think about how you intend to structure your entry so that you meet the criteria set for the category you have chosen to enter.
It is best to begin with a summary or introduction and finish with a clear conclusion that outlines your reasons for being declared the winner.
Awards based around a rigid form or questions may seem simpler, but it is still important to plan out your answers and consider what information will be included under each point.
3. Give yourself enough time
Awards are usually open for several months and will have a clearly defined launch date and final deadline.
Once awards open, check the categories, make a decision and begin to plan out your entry and bring together the information, testimonials and media that you may need.
Aim to have an initial draft completed at least two weeks in advance of the deadline.
This will give you plenty of time to refine your entry and ensure it remains up to date with the latest developments in your firm.
Do not leave everything to the last minute – it will only frustrate the process and lead to mistakes or oversights in the entry.
4. Evidence your claims
A big part of an entry will be supporting the claims you make.
If you tell judges in your entry that you have seen an increase in the amount of work you have done in the past 12 months, try to quantify it with a number or some kind of measure, like a percentage.
There is no harm in including URLs to websites that outline your achievements and, in many cases, awards often have sections that allow you to attach supporting documents, such as testimonials, press clippings and videos.
It is important that you make full use of these facilities to demonstrate the points and arguments covered in your entry.
5. Speak to clients and staff
Before entering an award, speak to your team and clients and get them to say what makes your firm so great, or ask why you are different from your competitors in their eyes.
This type of information is invaluable and can help you to create useful testimonials to support your entry.
Taking things further, it may help your entry if you conduct polls or a client satisfaction survey that quantifies the quality of the service you deliver.
6. Tell a great story
Judges want to be captivated by what they are reading, so why not tell a story about your firm.
Outlining how the firm was created and what steps it has taken recently to achieve success gives judges a narrative to follow and allows you to signpost key developments that may help you to meet the criteria set out by the award’s organisers.
Simply listing achievements can be dull and may not go into the reasons or steps taken to achieve success, which is what judges want to be able to see. It is this that may differentiate your entry from those of your competitors.
7. Don’t be afraid to bragy
Bragging or hyperbole doesn’t come naturally to most people, but you shouldn’t feel ashamed about shouting about your deeds.
Try to think about your entry as an outsider and feel free to build up the achievements you have undertaken.
It may not seem big to you, but to a judge, it may make you stand out above the other entries they receive.
However, it is important that you can back up your claims with sufficient evidence.
8. Check, check and check again
When finalising your entry, take time to read over it to check for typos, missing information or any errors in formatting.
Make sure that judges get the best impression of your firm the second they pick up your entry.
If you do not feel confident doing this it never hurts to have a second pair of eyes look over what you have written.
9. Check you have registered and have the right logins
Making a submission may seem like the final step, but often we find that registrations or logins don’t work on the day, or that the awards system doesn’t function quite as expected.
We have even found out at the last minute about fees that weren’t advertised and additional questions that were not included in the original forms.
If possible, do a full run-through of the submission process in the days before you make your final entry to make sure you understand the process and aren’t caught out by additional requirements that were not initially advertised.
10. Do not miss the deadline
Meeting the deadline is really important for obvious reasons, which is why it is really important to give yourself the time to prepare the best entry possible.
If possible, try to submit a few days ahead of the deadline to avoid technical issues with websites that are overwhelmed by visitors also trying to submit and make yourself aware of who to contact within the awards organisation should systems fail.
In some instances, awards may offer an extension if you are struggling or even extend the deadline themselves, but never rely on this – even if they have done it in previous years.
How we can help
We have a fantastic record of helping clients with their award entries; working with clients to draft the best possible submissions that have helped to get them recognised around the world.
Our clients have won a number of awards and we regularly help firms get shortlisted for the most prestigious awards within their profession, including the British Accountancy Awards, Practice Excellence Awards, Law Society Excellence Awards and a raft of regional titles.
To find out how we can help you with business awards, please contact us.