Winning a business award and being recognised for the innovative work, great customer service, or community initiatives you and your team provide is not only satisfying, but an excellent way to raise your profile in an overly cluttered market. Even being selected as a finalist has its advantages. As a finalist and/or winner of business awards, you will have an opportunity to:
- Share your story with those beyond your typical target market
- Boost your profile via marketing and publicity that is often free
- Increase your credibility
- Expand your opportunities and network
- Connect with new talent and leaders in your field
- Increase staff morale
- Benchmark your business
- Take home valuable prizes that can help grow your business
But there is a bit of work involved in entering business awards. Most business awards will require you to invest a significant amount of time in planning and writing your submission. So how can you make sure that this time is not wasted and you are writing a winning business awards entry?
The secret is sharing your story. But let’s first address the basics.
How to Approach a Business Awards Entry
There are several factors to consider when creating a business awards entry that will engage with the judges. First, read the judging criteria and questions carefully. Make sure that the category is right for your business, and ensure you can substantiate any claims you want to make.
Avoid cutting and pasting content from your website. Yes, re-purposing the information you have tirelessly pulled together can be a good thing, but you need to ensure that it fits within the award guidelines. If the criteria states that they only want 500 words submitted, don’t just dump in 1,500 words and expect it to be read.
It’s a good idea to use third party evidence to validate the information within your entry. This could include customer quotes, case studies, and links to published articles or interviews.
Finally, share your story. A story is the best way to convey your businesses value, purpose and winning edge. Your story will help you engage with the judges, they will be drawn into your narrative, and will remember your submission better than others.
What Makes a Good Story
The key to capturing the reader’s attention and keeping them engaged is to tell a story and incorporate the four cornerstones of good storytelling:
- An intriguing opening line or hook
- A gallant hero
- A villain who needs to be vanquished
- The damsel-in-distress or the victim
Now, it may seem odd to attribute a villain or even a hero to your business’ proposition, but by pulling these elements together, you will capture the judges’ attention and keep them reading until the end.
Most award entry platforms will give you an opportunity to provide a brief overview of your business or reason for entering. This is generally the first section a judge will read and it needs to grab their attention. Considering that hundreds of entries are submitted for some categories; the first read or sift through of the submissions is the cull. Yes, that’s right, judges are looking for reasons to throw out entries and reduce the pile in front of them.
If you open with a blanket statement that does not impart any real commitment or passion, your entry could be passed over very quickly:
The team worked hard this year to get this project off the ground. We were all so committed that we worked through Christmas, and could deliver the project on time.
But if you outline a challenge, the heroes involved in overcoming the challenge, and their passion, your story starts to take shape and you will gain the judges interest and encourage them to read more:
When Jane Doe learned about the lack of care and information provided to families in need at the recent Special Needs and Inclusion Conference, she knew her organisation’s Parents Protect Project was essential. “I remember when my son was diagnosed, and how lucky I was to have a network of supporters and educators around me,” she added. “I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to have a child with special needs and no support network.”
Every good story needs a hero. That one person who is humble and swoops in to save the day. In your story – your business awards entry, the hero is you, your business and your team. You and your team are the ones with the vision, the resources, the skills and the passion to slay the villain and save the day.
Think about the qualities you and your team bring to the business, or the value your business adds to your market. List these qualities and values and refer to them as you pull your business awards entry together. These qualities and values will humanise your submission and give the judges a unique insight into what makes your business tick.
You can’t have a good story without a villain. In the case of your business, the villain is anything that is standing in the way of the hero achieving their goals. These could be:
- Your customers’ pain points
- The competition
- Budget parameters
- Corporate culture
Only you and your team understand the insurmountable challenges you had to overcome before you could slay the villain and prevail. Use this challenge to communicate your business success, innovative thinking and unique proposition.
Every business has a client or user that is in need. This is your Damsel-in-Distress. Customers want a solution to their problem, a savior if you will. By communicating who your customers are within your business award entry, and explaining the solution that worked for them, your story will have a sound conclusion – the one where the hero saves the day. Yes, this is a bit of a cliché, but it is a great way for you to communicate your understanding of your customers’ needs, and can help the judges relate to them. It will also leave the judges feeling inspired.
How to Choose Which Business Awards to Enter
When selecting which business awards to enter, it is important to consider the following:
- Does the business award give you an opportunity to broaden your customer base?
- What is the eligibility criteria and are there any entry restrictions?
- Will you have an opportunity to network and connect with leaders in the business community?
- Are the categories relevant to your business achievements?
- Is there an opportunity for you to include your team members and acknowledge them for their hard work?
- Is there an opportunity for you to showcase your success on a regional or state stage?
It can also be a good idea to enter more than one business award, and repurpose the story you have crafted so carefully. You know what they say, you have to be in it to win it, so by entering more than one award, you will have a better chance of securing a win and that sort after exposure.
If you are in Newcastle or Lake Macquarie, there are many opportunities for you to promote your business and share your story via business awards, some of which are listed below:
When it comes to entering business awards, the benefits are clear, but you should use your story to make sure the time spent on submitting an entry isn’t wasted.
If you are looking for assistance with creating a valuable and engaging business awards entry, drop me an email.