7 tips for writing an award-winning submission

August 18, 2020 | Posted by: Jin Woo

Winning awards helps organizations increase their credibility, improve employee morale, and provide validation for prospective prospects. However, drafting an award submission can be a daunting task, as each award has its own unique set of requirements. Here are seven tips to help you navigate through it all and submit a compelling entry. 

Tip #1: Make sure you fit the criteria 

The first and biggest mistake that often kills an award submission is entering in a category where you don’t fit the criteria. There are many places you can put a round peg in a square hole. This is not one of them. Read each of the requirements carefully. You may decide based on the criteria that this doesn’t hit your sweet spot and never will. Or it may be an award better submitted the following year such as many private company of the year awards that often require providing three years of growth. 

Tip #2: Answer the question

The second biggest mistake is not answering the question. It seems simple enough, but a common and often fatal mistake is not answering the question correctly. Read the question over multiple times to ensure you understand the question. Draft your response and then read the question over again. Doing this will not only ensure you answered the question but that you answered all parts of the question. 

Tip #3: Don’t use marketing jargon

Award submissions have become more stringent on word count. That means you have a limited number of words or characters to provide a response. Putting in words like award-winning, market-leading or, my favorite, the best, will not only deflate the impact of your entry but it also gives you less words to write an impactful entry. This is the opportunity to clearly articulate your value proposition and differentiation. As award programs gain momentum, so does the number of submissions. Using marketing jargon will not make you stand out. 

Tip #4: Provide validation with facts that can be backed up

Working with a lot of private venture-backed companies, I understand the desire not to include particular details, especially when it comes to financials, customer count and any other information that your competitors can see. However many of the awards you can submit for include the ability to include information that can be kept confidential for judging purposes only. For the awards that require some level of detail, it requires a bit of creativity. Instead of stating that you are a market-leading solution, writing that you have eight consecutive quarters of growth including seven of the top 10 financial services firms is not only stronger but provides much more credibility. 

Tip #5: Create a consistent and compelling story 

Many award submissions have questions that are similar in nature. Or there are other awards that are very detailed but build on the previous question. In either case, you want to create a compelling narrative that brings your technology and the impact it’s making to life. Instead of repeating the response from another section of the submission, write a clear and concise answer that is both differentiated and provides more details as the submission progresses. Instead of repeating the same information, talk about an interesting customer use case even if it’s done anonymously. Use analogies that may help make the submission more digestible and relatable. Use data to show the extent of the problem. Use ROI and other metrics. Or provide links to content such as videos that can help tell your story. 

Tip #6: Don’t forget to check your grammar

Check your grammar. Better yet, let others proof it. We all know when we sit with something on our computer screens for too long, we’re not as sharp. However, when multiple people review, they will likely catch something you don’t. It also helps when other people can add some additional creativity and perspective. But after it’s all done, check your grammar once more. We all know how tracked changes and autocorrect can lead to unintended errors. 

Tip #7: Understand the judging and evaluation process

Lastly, identify the judges and understand who they are. They may be editors from a publication. They may be analysts from an industry firm. They may be influencers or luminaries. Or they may be executives from end user companies. In any case, you want to get as much access to them as possible and learn as much as possible about them. Read their stories, reports and blogs to understand their perspective. If you are able to speak to them, it also provides an opportunity to ask what tips they can share or what information specifically they look for. If it’s an award that talks to end users, provide references or do some behind the scenes networking to connect them. 

Not only are award submissions a way to receive third-party recognition, they’re a good exercise to build an elevator pitch, refine your messaging and tell the right story to the right audience. There are many more tips and insights we have to share. If you have any questions or want to inquire about working with us, please reach out to win@280blue.com.