Our new award tips for The Telegraph

We’re delighted to have been asked to provide expert tips on award entries for The Telegraph’s new awards, the Trade Awards.

Earlier in the summer we were contacted for insight into what makes a great set of awards as part of their research and as a result were asked to put together our tips for companies wanting to enter.

You can read the tips here.

The new awards cover 10 categories for small businesses with international ambitions. They close on 31 July, so there’s still time to put an entry together if you hurry!

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    Finding the right award – and some interesting alternatives!

Finding the right award – and some interesting alternatives!

Awards span pretty much every industry and activity, and come in all kinds of styles and sizes – from local to international, and professional and slightly unusual.

No matter how niche your business, or how common your services, there will undoubtedly be an award that you’re suitable and eligible to enter… but how do you choose the right one?

There are lots of things to consider when choosing the right award(s) – for more on how to find a good award, read our other blog here. Our top tips are to consider:

Your industry – when it comes to your industry, what really matters? What are the defining characteristics of what you do, and what are things that are most important to your stakeholders? What awards reflect these factors or exist in your specific industry? This is a great place to start looking!

Credibility – not all awards are created equal, so do your homework! There are some awards that are essentially little more than a money-making model, and won’t carry much kudos. Some awards may be hard to win if you’re not part of the network that ultimately decides your fate – think ‘old boys’ club’ and you get the picture! You need to ensure that the award is transparent and credible, otherwise it won’t bring any value in the long-run.

Judgment day – what’s the judging process? Are there different stages or ‘knock-out’ rounds? Will the judges require further input or evidence if you’re shortlisted? Will they want to meet with you face-to-face? Find out and make sure you’re prepared.

Timeline and timing – think about submission deadlines, award ceremonies and the time investment required by yourself and colleagues, and make sure you don’t have other commitments or [...]

What makes a “good” award?

We’re often asked what a good award looks like. There’s no generic answer, as the right award for one company won’t be the right award for another.

Awards are time-consuming and costly, but they are also brilliant for raising morale and your profile. You need to make sure that you’re entering the right ones and not wasting time and money on the others.

So how can you tell a good award from a bad one?

Are the awards transparent?

You need to be certain that you’re on a level playing field and that awards aren’t just going to be handed out to the biggest advertiser or the people who are mates with the top judge. So make sure you can see information about how entries will be judged and who the judges are – lots of people independent of the organisation running the awards and acknowledge industry experts are good signs.

If you’re invited to the awards ceremony just for putting an entry in, it’s likely the awards are more about making money than about serious industry kudos.

Do the people you want to impress care?

Entering awards should be a central part of your marketing strategy with an identified audience for who you’re trying to impress. You should only go ahead if winning that award will make the right impression on them. Otherwise you’re just wasting time and money.

We recently advised a potential client not to enter any awards as their prospects wouldn’t be at any of the ceremonies and wouldn’t care whether or not they won. It might have cost us work, but it has built trust in our brand in the medium term.

Where can you find good awards?

We usually start with professional industry bodies and trade magazines as, in our experience, [...]

By |March 27th, 2018|Awards, Awards tips|0 Comments|

Are award winners born or created?

A common question that comes up when thinking about business awards is what comes first – the award or the project? We find that it’s a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ scenario, and can work either way.

It may be that you’ve recently been working on a project that’s delivered some incredible results, and you’re sure that there has to be an award out there that it would fit perfectly. On the other hand, a specific award or type of award may have popped up on your radar, and you’re reviewing your current and recent successes to see if there’s something you can work around the criteria.

Creating an award opportunity

If you’ve decided the time is right for an award attempt, you need to consider your strategy. Why have you decided you want to enter an award? Is it to gain industry recognition? As another potential string to your marketing bow? Is it to help you stand out to the big players and help clinch some better clients?

Think about who you want to impress, and what type of award will help you to do this. Customer service awards can be a great way to back up any claims you make about your care standards. Alternatively, you might want to target an industry-specific award to help you rise up the ranks and build relationships with other key businesses.

When you’ve identified an award you want to target, you can:

Look at the application criteria in-depth
Investigate recent projects or process changes that would fit the criteria
Compare your achievements with previous winners to assess the benchmark
Identify if you can gather the information and evidence required
Start tailoring your submission towards the specified [...]

By |November 21st, 2017|Awards, Awards tips|0 Comments|

Saying no to award submissions

Last month we said no to a major international car manufacturer which wanted us to write an award about one of their new initiatives. You might wonder why we chose to say no, so here are five good reasons.

While a successful award submission can do wonders for your reputation, it’s also important to know when to say no. On the surface a particular award may seem like a golden opportunity for your business, but you need to be certain that it’s worth applying for. Applications generally involve a considerable investment of time – and sometimes money – both precious commodities that you don’t want to waste!

So when should you turn your back on a potential submission? Here are our 5 top warning signs that you need to say no…

1. Evidencing impact

Judging panels are looking for clear evidence that your involvement delivered a significant, positive impact on the project/customer. The case you’re thinking about putting forward may fit the criteria to some extent, but if it’s not genuinely impressive and easy to back-up with hard facts, then there’s no point entering. Most awards are run on an annual (or other periodic) basis, so if you’re not quite ready, wait for a year and put plans in place to gather evidence on a qualifying project throughout the next 12 months – then next year, you’ll be ready to roll! It may just be that the impact of the project is hard to measure in the short-term, and you simply need more time to collate data for evidence.

2. Achievements and expectations

Research always pays, so take the time to have a look at previous award winners so you can identify the benchmark you need to meet or exceed [...]

By |September 21st, 2017|Awards, Awards tips|0 Comments|

Customer service awards – anyone can be in it to win it

One common factor that all businesses share is customer service – whether you’re B2B or B2C, you have to manage your clients and the way you communicate with them.

The great news is that no matter how diverse or niche your services or products are, there will always be a customer service award that you’ll be eligible to enter. The downside to this is that competition can be fierce – so if you fancy having a crack, preparation is key. Here’s what we suggest if you’ve got your eye on a customer service award.

Be strategic about your services

To ensure you have the right credentials for customer service awards, you have to start with the basics. Review your service values and develop a strong delivery strategy – this will prove to the award panel and your clients that you care, and will encourage great feedback, an improved reputation and support should you need it for a vote-driven.

Why not arrange for some mystery shopping? This can be as simple as getting friends and family to send an email or make a call, or you could use a dedicated mystery shopping agency.

Be strategic about your stats

They say if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. As you roll out your all-new customer service standards, keep an eye on the numbers. Collate data on customer engagement and satisfaction – you’ll probably need a way to collect this from your customers – track call handling, response times, query resolution and anything else that you can measure. These statistics will start to show where your real strengths are, how much improvement you’ve made and what you need to work harder on. Above all, they can be used as supporting evidence [...]

Benefits of using an awards writing service

The award criteria have arrived and you’re ready to start writing. It seems simple enough. You’re given a word count and a description of what they’re looking for, and you’ve set aside a few hours. What could possibly go wrong?

The thing is, at first glance it all seems so easy… But the truth is that making every available word count takes experience and a bit of lexical magic!

8 reasons to use an awards writer

You could accuse us of bias, but there really are some compelling reasons to collaborate with a professional for your award entries:

Clarifying complexities – entry forms can be a bit complicated, and not always clear to the uninitiated. A pro will know how to make it flow, vaulting over the obstacles and clarifying your value through even the most complex of criteria. A recent client said we’d helped him clarify his messages and how he described the business as effectively a free part of the awards-writing service
Voice and volume – professional writers can deliver evidence within the word count, and more importantly, create value with each word they write. They also understand the tone of voice that should be adopted
Consistency – professional experience means that the most relevant details are drawn out, and the fluff is discarded. They’ll keep the submission on track and on topic, creating a consistently engaging and informative submission, exactly in line with the evidence being requested
Additional opportunities – someone who works in the awards industry will have an extensive and comprehensive calendar of business awards across the board. They’ll be able to tell you if there are other opportunities you can take advantage of – and you might even be able to use [...]

By |December 1st, 2016|Awards, Awards tips|0 Comments|
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    Not quite an Olympic triple – is it possible to win three times in a row?

Not quite an Olympic triple – is it possible to win three times in a row?

We are understandably cautious about which award and clients we take on, trading as we do on our great shortlisting and win statistics (currently running at above 90% for 2016) so when a client asked us to help them enter the same category for the third year in a row with the same project, we were hesitant, not least because they had won it for the two previous years – something which was completely unheard of in these awards.

Awards Writers is run on strong ethics, based on a belief that we will not waste a client’s time or money writing an entry we don’t think will make the shortlist, so we did not take on lightly the task of putting together an entry for the third year running.

Of course, we’re not mind-readers, nor do we have a direct line to the head judge of every awards panel in the country, but we occupy the role of critical friend, looking carefully and objectively at the story and results of our clients’ projects. That approach, plus our years of experience, allows us to form an opinion of whether there’s a good chance of meeting the criteria – after detailed discussions with the client, on this occasion, we thought there was.

And we were proved right. October was a fantastic month, with news that all entries we’d recently written in six different sets of awards had been shortlisted – including the one the client was entering for the third time.

It’s not quite the Olympic Triple like Usain Bolt achieved, but we were delighted with the judges’ endorsement that the client’s project was indeed worthy of being a finalist, and wait with baited breath to find out whether they [...]

By |October 27th, 2016|Awards|0 Comments|
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    How writing an award entry is like planning a Guinness World Record attempt

How writing an award entry is like planning a Guinness World Record attempt

Our chief wordsmith, Louise Turner, was delighted to accept an invitation to take part in a Guinness World Record attempt recently. That’s Louise in the middle of the picture above, with Rachel Hatfield of Shoo Media on the left and client Claire Turner (no relation) of TLC Accountants on the right.

Even better than an exciting invitation to try to break a world record, it was for the most people taking part in a gin tasting (and she does rather like a tipple). On reflection, she thought there were a lot of parallels between the attempt to break a world record and writing business award entries. Here’s why…

It’s all in the preparation

For the Guinness World Record attempt to be successful the organisers had to be prepared. From researching the current record to figuring out step-by-step how they were going to beat it, the glory would be theirs if the plan was robust. They even had specially-printed holders for the shot glasses so people could hold three tasters without a table to rest them on. Less tables meant more people in the venue – which equaled more chance of taking the record.

When thinking about award entries you can be planning even when you don’t know which award you want to enter. Save brilliant data, evaluate your projects, seek testimonials at the time and make sure you keep them in a place where everyone on the team can access them. And if you do know which award you want to make a submission to, plan the project you want to put forward and ensure you gather evidence as you go along.

How you’ll be judged

When writing awards you have to think carefully about the criteria and it was [...]

By |February 17th, 2016|Award wins, Awards|0 Comments|

How do awards increase your credibility?

Great business reputations are earned through delivering on your promises and exceeding expectations. While a good marketing strategy can go a long way to putting that message out there, it helps if you have an independent voice shoring up your claims and commentary.

This is where award wins or securing a place on a shortlist can really help to give your reputation a boost. It’s a matter of simple psychology: being awarded an industry or service specific accolade makes clients and prospects view you differently. Shining this positive light on your skills and customer values can help you retain existing clients, win new ones and encourage higher conversions from your marketing activities. What’s not to like?
A compelling tale of credibility 
A quick synopsis of the evidence that helped you to win that award or finalist place naturally draws out the details that matter. It shows your audience that you’ve been recognised for being the best, and what that best was – instant credibility.

When someone’s considering engaging with your company, the deciding factor is often evidence that you can deliver what you claim. Testimonials on your website are great, but some people mistrust them – proof of the pudding from an external, impartial source is much more powerful.
The value of votes 
Awards that are voted for by service users are a clear signal that you’re trusted and valued enough for people to take the time out of their busy day to sing your praises. Perhaps more subtly, it also shows that you communicate well with your clients, and that they’re receptive to your approach.
The power of panels 
On the other hand, winners or finalists that are selected by a group of judges benefit [...]

By |January 19th, 2016|Awards|0 Comments|