Why should you enter?

Hartley Fowler are delighted to be sponsoring the Merton Business Awards – But why should you be entering…

We are delighted to be sponsoring this year’s Merton Business Awards and have been given some great tips from our friends at Consortium Business Solutions on why you should be entering, how to write a winning entry and getting the most out of your submission.

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Why you should be entering

There are so many reasons why entering awards should be part of your promotional activity, regardless of whether you win or not.

  • Business Appraisal

Going through the application process can provide you with the opportunity to take a close look at all facets of your business.

  • Benchmarking

Likewise, the judging process can be used to benchmark yourself against other firms and if they are entering the same category as you they are likely to be a similar size and in a similar market sector.

  • Public Relations

Obviously winning an award can generate great amounts of publicity but just being a finalist or runner-up can give you good coverage. Taking part in the awards also gives you the opportunity to build engagement in social media.  Announcements of nominations followed by messages of good luck to other contestants and general looking forward to the awards posts will be received well by the organisers and other companies attending the awards.

  • Morale

Entering awards and winning can serve as a great pat on the back to employees. It gives recognition to their contribution and helps build a sense of pride.

  • Investment

If you are seeking investment, demonstrating that you have received recognition as the best or most promising firm in your field can really help your case. It may also help to attract to quality candidates when recruiting.

Which business awards should you choose?

There are a range of awards in the UK to recognise the achievements from the country’s businesses, of all sizes. Some of these celebrate major nationwide and international firms. But there are also a large number of events geared towards innovative and smaller businesses.

There are awards covering regional areas that often have a broad range of categories based on size of firm or industry sector or both. Some celebrate the achievements of individuals while others recognise the team efforts of a whole company. There are also industry specific awards that pitch you against your peers in the same market sector. Or awards for specific activities such as digital marketing campaigns or catalogue production but across a range of industries.

 

Ok still not sure you should enter? How about Sponsorship?

That’s fine, if you feel you don’t have the resources to put an entry together or you feel that your company isn’t at the right stage of its development to make a credible application why not consider sponsoring the awards. Awards have various different sponsorship packages. Over all or on a category-based level, most packages will offer good promotional coverage to help build awareness and credibility of your firm. A lot of awards organisers also have associated media partners ensuring you will get good coverage in their publications as part of the deal. You often get way more promotional coverage through sponsoring awards than you would get spending the same in just straight advertising.

 

Best Practice for Entering Awards

Follow the entry instructions

This might sound obvious, but it is one that is often ignored. Most awards offer detailed instructions on how to present the evidence they are looking for. Read the instructions carefully and any ‘terms & conditions’ of entry

They will usually have details on the format required, word count, entry deadlines and how to make payment for entry if required.

You will be penalised if not disqualified for late entry.

Pick the right category

You won’t have a chance of winning if you enter your work into the wrong category. Read the category descriptions and select carefully. Some awards allow you to submit an entry for more than one category but do ensure you tailor each entry form to the specific category criteria.

 

Judging criteria

Ensure your entry covers the judging criteria for the category you are entering and answers all questions for your category. Judges can only mark you on what is included in your entry form so make sure all-important information is included, and all criteria adhered to. Judges won’t have time to go to your website and start finding information for themselves.

Stick to the word limit

Judges are busy, they could have hundreds or possibly even more entries to wade through so don’t waffle. Judges may mark entries down, or even disqualify them, if they exceed the stated word limit. Please ensure your answers are clear and succinct.

Judges love clear, concise entries – use bullet points or infographics to effectively illustrate points.

 Business objectives

Where possible link any evidence and information you are submitting back to your business objectives.

 Provide back-up Evidence

Judges love quantified results and want to see some proof of what you’ve achieved. Include facts and figures, quotes from clients or the media, and even images or infographics.

Grab attention

Remember that judges will be reading masses of entries, so you need to make your entry memorable. Make sure your entry is passionate, tells an interesting story and is backed up with statistics and evidence.

Language

Always write in clear, concise English, avoid jargon and never copy and paste from existing materials. Do ask someone to check your entry reads well and is free of typos.

Take your time

Winning award entries take time and effort to write and perfect. Again, we’d highly recommend you get someone to proof read your entry before you submit it.

Don’t wait for the deadline

While we would always recommend that you take your time creating your entry we would also suggest sending it in as soon as you are happy. Many awards organisers, especially those with associated media partners, will often print material about companies that have entered as a way of generating more interest and getting more companies to enter. So, get those entries in, you may be lucky enough to get some extra free promotion in local news publications.

Provide supporting materials

Use a selection of documents and URLs to provide context and background to your entry.

Picture perfect

Attach an image or logo to your entry form. This will be used in the event brochure and presentations should you be shortlisted. Ensure this represents the campaign, product or organisation you are entering.

Being shortlisted for an award brings recognition and an opportunity to celebrate a great piece of work, a fantastic organisation, team or individual. It can motivate employees, promote your business to new customers, and act as an endorsement for your organisation.

It can also help you to evaluate your work, compare yourself to competitors and even identify areas for improvement. A good winning entry takes time and there is a skill in writing a submission.

 

Getting the most out of your awards entry

Most people are aware these days about why you should be entering business awards. However, your awards process shouldn’t stop there, we have got a few tips to help you get the maximum publicity from your entry, even if you don’t win.

Most business awards will publish (and I know this sounds silly) very long shortlists. While most industry awards are designed to celebrate the best businesses in their sector or individual achievements, they still need to cover their costs. Award ceremonies are expensive, and they need lots of tables filled on awards night and the best way to sell tickets is to lure people with the chance of winning. I’m not taking away the prestige of being shortlisted, the judges will still have strict criteria on who they choose, you still must put in the effort completing a good entry, but they may have a short list of 10 as opposed to just inviting the potential winner and runner-up. So, it’s worth entering if only to take advantage of the shortlist phase.

Newsletters

Make-sure you use your newsletters to let people know you have been shortlisted or nominated (even if you nominated yourself, although you might want to leave that detail out of your newsletter!). This is particularly important if your chosen award has any sort of voting associated with it. Also, by announcing your success at this stage, if you go on to win, it means you have two opportunities for communication.

Social media

A cost-effective communication tool – use your awards entry to give your social profiles a boost. Make sure you always use the organisers handle in your posts, find out what hashtags are being used. The organisers will pretty much always repost your updates if you mention them which can give a massive increase to your social reach and you could pick-up new followers that stay with you after the campaign. Prepare some posts for before the awards, i.e. ‘so pleased to be nominated for the #WonderfulAwards18 thanks to @BusinessAwardsPeople for letting us know’, ‘Looking forward to….One week to go’ etc etc. Also, name drop other shortlisted companies to wish them luck.

Get someone to take pictures and do some live posting during the event, congratulating winners as they are announced, the name-dropped companies will always respond even if it’s a day or two later after they have recovered from their celebrations.

Then after the event, if you won, let everyone know but even if you didn’t, post about how great the event was and thank the organisers. If you got talking to other businesses during the evening create a post name dropping them about how nice it was see them there etc.

Networking

Awards create a great opportunity for networking. The entertainment and dare I say a glass or two of something, can create a much more relaxed atmosphere than traditional networking events. Use the opportunity to get to know others on your table. Or if booking a whole at table, think strategically about who fills that table, could inclusion be a reward for a high performing team member? Do you have clients you particularly want to thank for their support? or are there prospects that you want to start building a relationship with? Using the awards for corporate hospitality can be a lot cheaper than creating your own event.

If you win make sure you make use of the logos that are often provided by the organisers, use them on your website and email signatures. It is often worth waiting for the official photographs before popping on your website, you may be able to get away with slightly fuzzy phone snaps on a tweet but you need the best quality for your website. Contact the press, both online and print, both industry and local community publications. If you are successful at getting them to publish, make sure publish your coverage through social media again name dropping the awards organisers and the publication, they won’t be able to resist re-posting and extending your reach.

To enter the Merton Business awards please visit http://www.mertonbestbusiness.co.uk/. Or if you would like help with creating your business awards entry or making the most of it, please do get in touch with our friends at Consortium Business Solutions who have offered anyone who quotes HFblog a 10% off awards writing fees.