It all began back in 2011, I’d been running my Health & Safety Consultancy for a few years, and we’d been steadily (well, quite aggressively growing) continuous for the duration of my ownership.
(On average we recruited a new F/T member of staff every 14 weeks consistently for 4 years)
I’d always been a member of the Federation of Small Businesses, and I was approached by our Regional Chairman and asked if I’d speak at the Annual National Conference for which our Region was hosting that year?
Very humbled to have been asked, I was a little uncertain as to why they might want me to present, as I hadn’t considered for one minute we were any different to every other Small Business Owner on the high street. It wasn’t until Simon advised me, MOST of the local members had been trading for far longer than us, and still hadn’t seen anything like the growth we were enjoying, and that it was VERY important that I shared details of how we had been so successful!
Somewhat nervously, I took to the stage and presented ‘Our story’ (which has subsequently gone on and evolved to become both my award winning ‘Get BIG or go home’ Keynote and a Masterclass of the same name!).
On leaving stage, both Simon and 1 or 2 of the other committee members congratulated me on the presentation, and advised they felt the content I’d delivered was “So powerful” they would like to nominate me for an award? I was flattered by the response, and gratefully agreed for my details to be entered.
Weeks later, I received an email from the Kaufman Institute of Entrepreneurship in the US. Congratulating me on being a FINALIST in the category Global Entrepreneur ‘Big Impact to Business’. I was invited to travel to the States to be apart of the awards ceremony, and whilst at my own cost, readily agreed.
The room was filled with well over 700 other finalists from all over the world, and as each category was read out, the stage quickly filled with business owners who were being recognized for their contribution to their industry/sector.
I was so taken aback when MY name was called as Winner of a ‘Big Impact to Business’ Award for my keynote at the FSB conference, I almost forgot to get up and approach stage! However on doing so, was presented with a Glass trophy, a cheque (to the value of $5,000) and anointed the title Global Award Winner.
Elated I exited stage and reached for my phone!
Within minutes of reaching my seat, I had updated my Website, My LinkedIn Profile, My Twitter and Facebook Account, and was in the process of creating a Google Ad’s campaign to tell the world of my recent win!
The final box before I clicked SEND was asking for a BUDGET for the campaign, and (having re-checked the value of the cheque) Committed $5000 to be spent over the next 4 weeks!
5 Weeks after I returned to the UK and I received an overseas call very early one Tuesday morning. “Mr. Allen” the caller enquired “Yes” I responded.
“I’m calling from the Kaufman Institute in the States in regard to your website”
“Oh” I replied “Is there a problem?…..You had said it was ok for me to publicise my win on the internet” I said reassuringly.
“We also need to talk about your Social Media profiles, Mr. Allen” The caller continued
“I’m sorry, is there a problem?” I replied
“Yes. We have had it brought to our attention that your website, your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn profiles are all ranking HIGHER than our website on the first page of Google. In fact, you have pushed our page below the crease, and we need to understand what you have done?” the voice stated
“I guess you don’t spend more than $5000 a month of Pay Per Click advertising?” I stated
“I’m sorry” the called replied, somewhat in disbelief “Why would you do that?”
“Because I’m grateful of winning the award, and want the whole world to know of my success. I’m going to convert that $5000 into at least $20,000 in sales” I stated confidently.
“I’m pleased to tell you, your website will soon be ranking as first again, as I have no intent of spending that money again, and the PPC will soon run out and my pages shall slowly descend in ranking again”
“Best of luck with that” the caller said “Let me know how you get on” before hanging up
10 months later I made a call to the Kaufman institute to advise them that since the win, and the $5000 investment in PPC advertising, I had converted over £174,000 in new business, not only from across the UK but from across the world.
The Kaufman Institute were SO impressed with my success, THEY invited (and paid) for me to return the following year as a speaker AT the awards ceremony and share will ALL the other finalists HOW to commercialise an award!
Since then, we have won the same award again, and been listed on the UK ‘Clear Business Thinking’ POWER 100; as well as helped numerous clients win Regional, National even International awards within their own category of expertise. This includes no less than 7 clients being finalists on the Entrepreneur of the Year competition at which 3 were winners within their category.
I cannot begin to tell you the IMPORTANCE of Awards within business. Whilst qualifications and experience can be earned, to be measured by your industry against your peers and be nominated and voted a winner amongst them is the BIGGEST opportunity for PR, Marketing and Transforming your business to an AWARD-WINNING Business!
Read our five top tips on how to write a winning award entry below:
CHOOSE YOUR AWARD-WINNING PROJECT
You may wish to enter awards for your whole business, but if you have a high performing and innovative project then why not win some awards for that too?
Perhaps you’ve collaborated with another business and your business has grown because of it. Winning an award for the collaboration or partnership could strengthen your relationship further and lead to new relationships.
You should be aware however; most awards criteria will usually only consider projects or initiatives that have been live for at least year so make sure you check that criteria out!
CREATE A WINNING AWARDS STRATEGY
Once you’ve decided on the project you want to win awards for you can begin your winning awards strategy.
At this stage, if you don’t get expert help, a quick Google of awards for your industry should give you a good starting point in your research. The Chamber Business Awards welcome entries from all business sectors so this is a great place to start.
Next, look to your competitors. Which awards have they been winning or shortlisted for? Winning awards is all about making yourself stand out in your industry as the market leader.
Creating an awards strategy is the first step to success as it makes sure you are in the right race in the first place! Planning which awards and categories to enter this year is vital for your awards journey and makes your efforts more likely to bring you those valuable wins.
FOLLOW THE CRITERIA TO THE LETTER
Now that you’ve decided on the project, the award, and the category to enter it’s time to tackle writing your award entry.
Each category will have set criteria which you need to address. If you follow the criteria to the letter, answering each point concisely and clearly, you will be giving yourself the best chance with the judges.
Here is the format we tend to follow:
As each business strives to achieve stand out in an increasingly difficult and changing market, awards set a company apart from competitors and differentiates the quality of its achievements from others.
Awards can make you and your products/services more visible. They can attract new customers and potential investors by giving an organisation an edge over its competitors.
Awards speak volumes about a business and services and provide third party endorsement of your achievements. Being nominated or shortlisted can be helpful because it places you at the forefront of your genre and industry.
Being shortlisted or wining an award serves as testament to a company’s work ethic, dedication and unique speciality. The award attracts further custom from area’s you may not have initially considered who will be more likely to consider a company for work over another if it has won an award. It also serves to reinforcing the loyalty of existing customers.
Make the judges’ job as easy as possible and you’re going to score highly, but don’t forget to connect with them emotionally with your story too. By following the criteria closely your entry will be well-structured, easy to follow and will score you plenty of points.
MAKE YOUR CLAIM… THEN BACK IT UP
If you tell the judges that your employees are the happiest, they’ve ever been, prove it!
Use reports, graphs, or images to evidence your claims preferably within the body of your entry, or in a supporting document. The format of award entries varies which will impact on how you present your evidence – but that’s no excuse to leave it out!
Check the format of award entries with the award organisers. Most online entry forms require you to submit a supporting document when you are adding media files. Whereas others allow you to insert images, graphs, photos, and videos into the body of the text.
PROOF READ YOUR WAY TO PERFECTION
So, you’ve worked through each step and you finally have your award entry written, but this is by no means the version you submit. Now you must proofread and edit your award entry.
Let your award entry (and yourself) rest before picking it up to proofread. You will be able to pick up on mistakes much easier with a clear head and a bit of distance.
Now that you’ve proofread your entry, it’s time to pass it to a colleague, friend or family member to check for clarity, errors and omissions. When you’ve worked on a piece of writing for so long you can no longer be objective about its impact because you know what you mean, but the judges might not!
Entering awards requires time and effort but the benefits of winning an award are immeasurable. Give yourself the best chance of winning by following these top tips on how to write a winning award entry. Good luck, and keep us posted so we can help you celebrate your success. Consider the benefits and the positive impact awards can have on employees, existing customers, prospects and the company itself, it can be hugely important to make submission for awards a critical part of your current and future marketing strategy.
IT’S TIME TO START WINNING AWARDS…
Drop a comment below and let me know the biggest learning you have taken from this article?…