If you’re aiming to raise your profile there’s nothing like entering your local business awards.  Even if you don’t win your name gets known by more people.  Clearly, it would be better to actually win, but there are never any guarantees.

Entering awards usually involves providing information in written form – at least in the first stages.  When you get short-listed it sometimes involves a visit from one or more of the judges, but your written submission has to be good enough to get their attention first – and this is where many people go wrong.

I’ve worked with many clients on their awards presentations and, I’m proud to say, my success record is pretty high.  Almost all have been short-listed and more than half have won.  So what’s the secret?

The first – and most important – thing is to read the brief properly.

The second is to deliver what you’ve been asked for.  It’s a bit like exam questions – answer the question that’s been asked (not the one you would have liked them to ask!)  If they ask you to explain why you started your business (in 200 word), don’t wax lyrical about aspirations and dreams for the future and run on to 300 words plus.  This may seem obvious – but it’s something many potential winners ignore – and shoot down any chance of even getting on that short-list.

Most awards provide a form or online submission structure and specify the questions or subject areas and a maximum number of words.  This is not a ‘guide’; it’s what they want.

How to stay focused

Plan before you start writing.

If you’re a sole practitioner then sit down with a sheet of paper for each section or question and write bullet points of anything relevant that will support your case.

If you have a team, get them involved and have a brainstorming session (or the more PC ‘thought-shower’).

When you’ve got everything relevant down take each subject/question and go through what you’ve got down and be ruthless – ask yourself ‘how does this make us worthy of this award?’  If you can’t come up with a strong reason for a particular piece of information, dump it.

Remember that a successful business is one that makes their customers very happy!  How does each piece of information please your customers?  In other words – What’s in it for me?  While you are not writing marketing copy, it is important that the judges can see you are customer focused.

When you’ve got all this clear in your mind you can start writing.  I suggest you just get it down, leave it for a couple of days, then go back to it and edit it into shape (or get a professional to do it for you – but I would say that!).

Check the word count and STICK TO the maximum given.