It’s that time of year when we sit with our clients and recommend a list of awards they should enter some local, some statewide, and others that are national. Our experience and some research mean we are able to identify award opportunities that will not only suit them best, in terms of their business development goals, but we genuinely believe they have a chance of winning.

In the past, I’ve talked about the importance of award entries in building brand awareness, but I haven’t talked about how to write an award entry, which I will do now. 

First, you must identify which awards suit you, and your goals, best. If you want to build your brand in the community perhaps you need to look at a volunteer award. If it’s the community you want to relate to you must focus on local opportunities. If you want to demonstrate your capabilities then you’ll want to enter a business award, such as the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce awards, for example. Perhaps you want to gain recognition for something more specific to your industry. If that’s the case you may need to look to an association. We have a number of female clients who have not only excelled as entrepreneurs – there are plenty of award opportunities here too. 

Once you’ve identified the award to enter you need to read over the criteria. Can you fulfill all of the criteria? Will you stand out against others in the same category? If so, you can begin drafting your responses. If you don’t meet the criteria, work out what it is you need to do in order to meet the requirements of the award entry and work towards this over the next year. 

I always start by copying and pasting all of the questions into a word document. Often, these awards are entered online so it’s a good idea to create a draft in case the site crashes. It’s also a great reference point for future entries. 

Make sure you have all the salient details correct, such as contact numbers, email address, names etc. When responding to a question I like to highlight the words that explain what the judges are looking for. That way I can refer back to make sure I’m answering the questions.  
I always try to write award entries in the first person. This demonstrates the relationship between the nominator and the nominee. It is a much stronger entry if the judge believes he or she is reading the words of the person who has nominated the nominee.

If you’re entering your business for an award, opposed to an individual, you need to write passionately about your business. As in all good stories, especially if the entry form calls for it, start at the beginning, work through the crux of the business, and talk about your future goals. 
If the entry asks for additional documents, in support of the nomination, choose wisely – don’t send too much that you’ll drown out the reasons for the nomination. 
Proof your responses, errors are frustrating for judges who must read multiple entries and, if you’re entering an award for your business, appear unprofessional. Don’t waffle; get to the point. Have another member of staff review the entry; there may be something you have forgotten, which is crucial. 

Finally, make sure you make yourself available to the judges if there are any further questions.