How to write an award entry that wins

Businessman accepting award win on podium with colleagues in front of business professionals at business seminar

Writing an award entry can seem like a daunting task, but with a little planning and preparation you can write a submission that wins.

Why should you enter into award programs?

Nominating your company for an award and writing the entry can seem like a lot of work, however it will be well worth the effort. Becoming a finalist and winning an award is not only great recognition of all your hard work, but it’s also a great marketing tactic. It’s just another way you can set yourself apart from your competitors and get the attention of new clients. This may be through publicity that the awards program attracts, your own PR and marketing.

Winning an award get people talking about your business, giving you a platform to tell your story and increases your brand visibility. They also build trust and authority. All of this leads to more jobs, or sales for you.

The process of preparing an award entry can also be incredibly useful for self-reflection. Most award submissions will examine different areas of your business, which can help you identify room for improvement. In addition, you may receive feedback from the judges, which is incredibly valuable insight. Remember, they’ve just spent time pouring over all your competitors’ initiatives and practices.

In additional, becoming a finalist and winning an award can boost morale and help you attract top talent.

Even if you are the best in your business, you’re not guaranteed a win. Some categories are hotly contested and you need to make sure you are putting your best foot forward. You need to demonstrate to the judges why you are the best.

Without a well thought-out and written award submission, you may just miss out on that win.

Steps to write a winning award submission

1. Research the awards program and category

Make sure you understand the criteria and the requirements for the award. Start by reading the award guidelines carefully to make sure you understand what the judges are looking for and how to format your submission.

Nothing is worse (or more frustrating) than coming to hit “submit” and realising you’ve misinterpreted or missed a question.

Colleagues sit around a table to discuss writing an award entry

2. Brainstorm ideas and create a plan

A well-structured submission starts well before you put pen to paper. Sit down and have a brainstorming and planning session with key people in your business. Create an outline of your submission, carefully working through each question and consider what metrics you may include for each. Pay attention to the wording of each question to give the judges exactly what they are looking for. For example, if it asks for an example, then choose the most relevant one. You may not be able to include all the initiatives and examples you would like to, so choose the ones you are most proud of and that fit the criteria for the award.

You should also note down key dates and set a timeline for completing your submission to avoid a last-minute scramble.

3. Take note of the word count

This may seem like a small task, but it is one of the most important elements of writing a good award entry. The word count will give you an idea of how much detail the judges are looking for so you can write it accordingly. There is no point overwriting your submission, as you will just create more work for yourself when you come to edit it. Cutting down on words is difficult and you may find yourself accidentally stripping your submission of substance in an attempt to fit it all in. Award submissions are all about quality, not quantity.

Close-up photo of a woman writing award entry on laptop

4. Start writing your award entry

Once you have an outline of your award entry, write a compelling introduction that addresses the question. Next, outline key initiatives and provide evidence of their achievements and impact. Remember to keep it concise and avoid jargon if the judges may not be familiar with it. Storytelling can help you capture the judges attention, but only where it is relevant to the question. Judges are looking for strong initiatives and metrics that prove your success.

5. Back up your claims

An award entry that sings the praises of a business, without any proof, is a weak submission. Find statistics, relay feedback and give examples and evidence. For example, reference five-star raving Google reviews as evidence of your customer service, point out a boost in sales following a specific marketing initiative or provide results of a staff survey to demonstrate your staff satisfaction.

6. Include supporting materials (if they ask for it)

Some, but not all awards programs invite supporting materials, such as images, videos, or graphs. These should help to provide information about your business, demonstrate success and show why your business is deserving of an award. In particular, think about elements which might be best communicated visually. For example, showcase a marketing artwork, create a map of markets which you service, a graph demonstrating a sales increase or screenshot some positive reviews. Depending on the rules of a particular awards program, this can be a sneaky way to include additional information, without eating into your precious wordcount.

In addition, consider any “optional extras”, such as videos or photos as mandatory. These are another important opportunity to show the judges why you are deserving of an award and will help you stand out. In addition, including high-quality images may increase the chances of any PR coverage you receive. For example, if a trade journalist is writing an article about finalists, they will be more likely to feature your image if it is a high-quality, attractive image.

7. Edit and proofread

Now you’ve finished writing your award entry, it’s time to edit it. You need to make sure that it is easy-to-read, includes evidence and is in line with the wordcount. You should try and use all the available wordcount, without going over. Any additional words will be discarded and likely just annoy the judges.

Read through your submission carefully to ensure it is free of any distracting typos and grammatical errors. Then, ask someone you trust to proofread it and provide feedback. Remember, the best professional copywriters and editors all have proofreaders (and here’s why).

8. Submit it ahead of time

Finally, it’s time to send off your award submission! Save yourself the stress of a last-minute rush and submit your entry ahead of time. Sometimes submission portals can be difficult to navigate, so make sure you allow plenty of time to actually enter in your information.

If despite your best efforts you are still running behind, it’s worth reaching out to the organisers. Some awards programs will allow an extension due to extenuating circumstances and it can’t hurt to ask.

Once you’ve successfully submitted your entry, take note of when finalists are due to be announced. This can help you plan your marketing and internal communications. It can also be useful to reflect on the process, considering what you could improve for next year. For example, you may set yourself a reminder that bit earlier to allow more time to prepare your submission.

Remember, although writing an impeccable award entry won’t guarantee you a win, it will give you the best chance. Awards are a great way to get people talking about your business and build trust. But its up to you to maximise this opportunity.

Why should you enter into award programs?

Becoming a finalist and winning an award:

  1. Is great recognition of your hard work.
  2. Is an excellent marketing tactic.
  3. Helps set you apart from your competitors.
  4. Gets people talking about your business, giving you a platform to tell your story and increase your brand visibility.
  5. Builds trust and authority.
  6. The process of preparing an award entry is incredibly useful to help you identify ways to improve your business.
  7. Boosts morale and helps you attract top talent.

How to write a good award entry

  1. Research the awards program and category you are entering.
  2. Brainstorm ideas and create a plan.
  3. Take note of the wordcount.
  4. Start writing.
  5. Back up your claims.
  6. Include supporting materials (if they ask for them).
  7. Edit and proofread.
  8. Submit it ahead of time.