October 12, 2021

Annette Densham

Everyone’s a winner, that’s the truth … or is it? Not when it comes to business awards. Making the finals or winning an award is more than a decision to enter; the pathway to winning lies in the things you do before pressing ‘submit’.

It’s about taking deliberate and considered actions to ensure what’s included in the award submission showcases your business or organisation in the best light. 


Create an awards calendar to help with planning

Winning starts with not leaving the entry until the last minute. Instead of flying by the seat of your pants, spend time planning an awards calendar - find out the open and closing dates so you can plan your time and manage your resources, review the criteria so you know what the awards are looking for and collate the information that will support your entry claims.

It’s obvious to judges when someone has rushed the entry - there are typos, spelling mistakes and lots of hyperbole to cover the fact that their submission has little substance.

Get organised to make the process smoother

‘Prior planning prevents poor performance’ is not just a naff saying people pull out to make those who are unorganised feel inadequate. There's a sound time management sense to this saying. After you have created a 12 month awards calendar so you know what is coming up, you can create an awards black box -  a folder on your computer or Cloud drive to collate and file anything and everything to support your award claims.

Go back through your diary/calendar to take note of deals won, podcasts, interviews and other aspects of business you have achieved in. Google yourself and file all media wins and other third party credibility pieces. Reach out to clients/customers for reviews and testimonials. Develop case studies of successful projects or client work.  

If you make a habit of filing this information regularly, when the awards open, you do not have to wrack your brain trying to remember all the things you have accomplished during the award’s timeline.  

Spend time reviewing the questions

Comprehension is also a valuable skill for those who want to walk away with an impressive trophy. This means read the questions over and over to ensure you clearly understand what the judges are looking for.

The category criteria will also be a dead give away of what will make your submission rise to the top. As you write your answers to the category questions, keep going back to review, asking yourself if you have answered them succinctly, clearly and with substantive evidence or proof. Once you are happy with your answers, proofread and edit because glaring mistakes can count against you.

If you are going to spend money or time or both on this process, making sure you have followed the instructions is key. 

Respect work and time limits

Understanding and sticking to word or time limits (if submitting a video) can make or break your entry. Nothing screams ‘disrespect’ more than someone who waffles or goes over the limit.

Limits are there for a reason. Respect the judges time. Respect other entries who stuck to the limits. If you do go over the limit, re-read the questions and review your answers because you may have repeated yourself or not comprehended the question. 

Ignore this at your peril, because if you do the judges will put your submission to the bottom of the pile.

Don’t make claims you can’t prove

In many awards, at the end of all the questions, is the opportunity to upload OPTIONAL supporting documentation. Here is your chance to give a little more information to support your entry.

Most awards have tight word limits and it is hard to convey 12 months of achievements in a few hundred words. The support documents are your chance to validate, substantiate and qualify your claims in the written section. Say you have achieved a 100% business growth in the past 12 months, the support document can include graphs of your financial growth month-on-month.

Or you have helped a number of people improve their offerings, the support document can highlight case studies and data insights on how you did that.

Go for the win

Making the finals or winning awards all comes down to a few very simple and easy to implement actions.

Given the time it takes to enter an award or the money invested to get someone to do it for you, it’s worth it for the third party credibility awards given, the PR opportunities, and the business that will come your way because people love doing business with a winner.

The Audacious Awards Winning Workbook

Everything you need to leverage you award including crafting an awesome acceptance speech, leveraging checklist, award story ideas, hero story template, leveraging opportunities and a marketing action plan. CLICK HERE

Annette Densham

Annette Densham is an international award-winning publicity expert with a 30 plus year career in newspapers – The Australian, Financial Review, and Daily Telegraph, magazines (print and digital) and corporate communications. She uses her expertise to teach small business people how to use their stories to connect with the world and build influential brands.

Annette is also a stand-up comedian, and as an author, trainer, mentor and speaker, she weaves her story magic everywhere.

annette densham

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