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A guide to getting the best from awards

Why awards matter

Let’s face it. We all love awards! But why?

Well, for the recipient it’s a great reward for all that hard work – a third party validation of your efforts. Feels good eh?

And when that award comes from one of your key industry bodies, it gives a ‘stamp of approval’ to your expertise which can be highly beneficial to your organisation.

It goes without saying that successful businesses like to work with other successful businesses. Awards can be a major indicator of success and proof that you are one of the best at what you do.

In congested and competitive markets, there can be little to set one company apart from another. Prospects cannot be certain of website claims, but awards provide some proof of capability.

Awards specialist, Boost, ran a B2B survey where 82% of those asked, said that they were influenced by awards when buying products or services for their business – and in the case of the construction industry, this was 90%.

Successful businesses like to work with other successful businesses

Awards are a great opportunity to get increased visibility, awareness and recognition that your company and the people within it are raising the bar, which influences prospects perceptions and makes your organisation more attractive.

Knowing you are delivering award-winning work is also very reassuring for your current customers. It reinforces the impact your work is having and can help towards loyalty and retention rates.

Awards can also do a lot for your team. Aside from being an excuse for celebration and a reward, they can boost morale and instil confidence in what’s being achieved. This accelerates the motivation to create even more award-winning work. Being part of an award-winning team can bring staff closer together around a sense of pride in working for your organisation. There is also the added advantage of helping to retain and attract more talent too, of course.

 

Apply for the right award
There are many different awards and categories to go for, so it’s paramount that you find an award that is the right fit to enhance your offering and proposition.

Many awards charge a fee per entry and preparing the entry can cost both time and money, and there is nothing to be gained unless you win or are shortlisted, so seriously consider your chances of winning before entering.

Also consider whether the award is run by a credible and recognised authority. Ideally one that your customers and potential prospects have some understanding of.  Look into the types of judges on the panels and find out how the marking system is conducted. Satisfy yourself first that this is an award worth winning.  

 

Make sure your award entry is well written 
Once you decide to enter an award, make sure you craft your entry well. 

An entry usually demands clear objectives, strategy and, most importantly, results. Results of course carry the greatest percentage of the judges’ scoring criteria, so make sure you have stats and figures on the outcomes achieved before you start. And check that these relate back to your original objectives! Naturally there may have been several additional benefits from your campaign or work, so it’s beneficial to record these extra upshots too. 

Most entries insist on specified word counts per section. Make good use of the maximum allowance to explain your story well. Don’t assume anything, as whilst judges may be authority figures in the industry, they are unlikely to know much about how your business works specifically. Keep it simple and clear, as they probably have lots of entries to trawl through!       

Make sure you write the entry in the way that best reflects the category you are entering; this may sound obvious but it’s a frequent error! Don’t try to backwards-engineer it, as any judge worth their salt will see through that. But do try to align the narrative in an authentic way to fit the category or award. 

Awards are competitive and judged by people who will have little patience for uninteresting entries.

Awards are competitive and judged by people who will have little patience for uninteresting entries. So, write them intelligently and bring out the impressive expertise that went into the solution you delivered. 

 

Use awards to focus on improvements 
Just the process of looking into awards can be eye-opening. Analyse the nature of work and categories your industry values, have a go at completing the details the entry forms require, and examine previous winning campaigns or activities. Sit back and consider whether the work you are undertaking and delivering could present a good case. If not, ask yourself why and what might need to be done differently in order to excel on the criteria being judged and what it takes to produce award-winning work.

A few years ago, when we first started our pursuit of awards, we became conscious of two key things. Firstly, the results sections of our entry forms needed strengthening by making sure we were able to get Clients to internally track or follow up on the all-important sales results. Secondly, we needed to make sure our work was sufficiently joined up (sometimes with the Client’s other partners, agencies or in-house teams) to create powerful multimedia campaigns with one key message. 

We developed a model for the team to use where the one main message was central to everything. This means that we deliver communications with more power and cut-through for our clients, which in turn creates better results for their business. We also put in place an internal process for regular feedback on sales and other KPIs to ensure our team has the right conversations with clients to enable us to continually improve results.

So, use awards analysis to uncover any potential improvements you should develop across your organisation, work or business. It’s a great quality audit.

 

Get the word out
Maximise communications around your awards, as these are time-limited opportunities when it’s ok to shout about your achievements to stand out and gain an advantage over your competitors.

The first opportunity will be around an announcement if you’ve made it onto the shortlist. Don’t miss the chance to benefit from this, just in case you don’t go on to win. 

Being shortlisted allows you to make the most of the added publicity in the run-up to an award. People will want to know why you have entered and why you believe you can win. This is your opportunity to tell them. Social media comes in handy for this.  If you don’t go on to win, then you’ve still gained some value from the entry and you’ve proven that you’re worthy of success and this can speak volumes in business.

Don’t forget to congratulate the team at this stage too – as winning is not so much in their control but being amidst the top performers is a great achievement. Don’t wait for the win, celebrate.

Don’t wait for the win, celebrate.

Winning of course is the ultimate. It provides an excellent opportunity to produce a press release to explain the accomplishments of the team and how your approach makes all the difference. Placing this in relevant trade-press publications will enhance perceptions of your company and achieve visibility for your business. 

Most awards organisers provide the winners with logos they can use in their marketing and PR. Social media can be especially helpful to spread the news – with your followers sharing posts and leading others to your content around the award, so you can demonstrate your capabilities to wider audience.

 

Gain a measurement of your success
An award is a clear indicator that you are a worthy partner creating valuable work that sets you from your competitors, but awards can also become a useful measure of success. 
You can measure how much work is worthy of being entered, how many categories you perform well in and which of those might need improvement. Compare year on year and examine gaps and opportunities.

Hopefully without sounding too smug, it’s fair to say that at Clear, we know a thing or two about winning awards. Most recently, we’ve been recognised as ‘Agency of the Year’ at the 2019 Construction Marketing Awards and won ‘Best Brand Initiative’ for our work with Södra Wood at the International B2B Marketing Awards. We’re chuffed to say the least, and take it from us, whilst entering awards can a time-consuming and costly process, they have huge benefits for all aspects of the business.

Rachel Arquati, Director of Clear B2B says: ‘Keep in mind the fact that most awards programmes were set up to recognise and elevate the industry efforts to truly improve performance. Take a good hard look at yourselves first, and ask what it is that you are improving and is your work living proof of that? Only then will you start delivering work worthy of note.

Instead of post-rationalising whether something is good enough to enter, awards schemes are best used to proactively accelerate improvements in your business. Only then will you start to create work that truly deserves an award.’

Instead of post-rationalising whether something is good enough to enter, awards schemes are best used to proactively accelerate improvements in your business.

To find out more about our award-winning approach, contact Rachel Arquati on +44 (0)1285 626000 or r.arquati@clearb2b.com

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