The secret to preparing a winning award application

I was incredibly honoured recently, when was asked to form part of the judging panel for a local business award and I loved the experience.

Winning a business award is a great PR opportunity for your business and can help build your profile and reputation, ultimately leading to even greater business success. But applying for an award can be daunting so I wanted to take my experience and share with you what I learned being from being on the other side.

Firstly, I suggest you take a deep breath and make enough time to look deep inside your whole business.

If you’re a first timer, the process can be quite intimidating so start with local or chamber based awards where the requirements are less stringent.

Use the application process as an opportunity for a business ‘health check’ and if you don’t think your business is quite ready, then rather hold off your application till the following year. If you have any doubts contact the organisation directly and ask them for help.

Preparation is the key

Consider your award application as an extension of your brand, be thorough, read the application carefully and fill it in neatly. There was nothing worse than coming across illegible, incomplete applications that appeared to have been filled in at the last minute with very little thought. In contrast I loved reading through creative, colourful, properly bound applications that smacked of professionalism.

Just tell your story

Applying for an award is a unique opportunity to showcase your business and most award judges won’t know how fabulous you are until you tell them. Take the time to really think about what you’re saying and absolutely get sassy about all your achievements. Having said that, when you’re answering the questions, be specific and make sure your responses are honest and transparent.

For me, the best entries were those that showed solid financial growth and backed their claims with real financial information. This means “please avoid making sweeping unsubstantiated statements”. I also valued those businesses that clearly demonstrated the company’s ability to offer a new product, service, perspective or approach to the market.

Your press release

Once you’ve hit the send button and submitted your award application, think positive and start preparing for the call that tells you you’re a finalist. I highly recommend that you announce to the world you’ve made it to the final rounds, use Facebook and Twitter, and write a press release for your local media. And remember, you’re a finalist or a winner for an entire year so use the full 12 months to lift your profile and that of your business.

Most importantly, enjoy the process and take the time to congratulate yourself on all you’ve achieved.

The whole process will give you insights into your achievements and renew your energy for the journey ahead. Enjoy the experience, and if you’re not successful the first time, keep on applying.

Written by Suzy Jacobs, CEO and Founder SHE Business

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