We say it all the time but it’s important, so we’ll say it again. No one wants to buy from a mediocre business, so be proud of being excellent at what you do. And celebrate it. A great way to do this is through the kudos of winning a business award. So what are our business award application tips? Read on.
Let’s deal with why first.
Business owners often fall into three categories when it comes to awards. First up are the converts – they know that applying for biz awards is a fabulous idea and will help them stand out from the crowd. High five if that’s you. Next are those who know it would be a good idea, but they are just so busy they can’t face the thought of applying – if that’s you, check out our tips to make it easier or consider outsourcing it. And last, there are those business owners who are doing an amazing job but feel awkward about tooting their own horn – if that’s you, re-read our first paragraph! We’d encourage you to re-frame your thinking and consider the boost to your profile that a business award would bring, in addition to helping more people who need you, to find you. You would then be helping them get to access you and make a difference to their world.
And on to our top business award application tips.
We’ve tried to provide some ideas that are a bit outside what you can read in the twenty-squillion posts on business award application tips (so feel free to Google that too!) Here are our six favourite ideas:
#1 Scope out your options
Start off with business awards from your local or regional chamber of commerce. If you are in WA, these are ‘in process’ at the moment – some have already closed (bummer if that’s your awards but you can make a note of the timing for next year), some have just opened and some will be opening very soon. If your Chamber’s website doesn’t list their opening time, just pop their Executive Officer an email and confirm when they are planning on releasing the application forms. Joining your local Chamber is also a great way to get early opening advice (and access to all their support and networks).
You can also apply for many Chamber awards in other locations if you have a client base that you service there (so for example, we have a lot of clients in the Pilbara and Kimberley in our consulting work, so we could check the rules for their local Chamber’s awards and potentially apply, even though we are based thousands of kilometres away).
There are also lots of other business awards around – think big brand ones like the Telstra Business Awards, through to niche awards like the AusMumprenuer awards. Keep an eye out (and see what badges your competitors have hanging on their website!)
A word on awards with significant entry fees. From time to time, clients approach us and say ‘Help us win this really snazzy sounding award’, but when we read the paperwork, we point out to them that it costs thousands of dollars in entry fees. Eek. Are they worth it? Probably not. We suggest that as a small to medium-business owner, focus on business awards that are free or cheap to enter and run by reputable, well-known organisations and brands. You will get more bang for your buck. And those paid awards? They are (generally) a business designed to make money, not really about celebrating your business. Remember the hoo-ha about the validity of wine awards a while back (well, I like wine so I read the articles)? Choice has a great article about their validity here and the same applies to many of those paid business awards.
#2 Tell your story
Let’s face it – no one wants to read a bunch of boring applications that all say the same things. Do the judges a favour and inject some life into your submission. Tell your story, share what’s unique about your business, not just a cookie cutter of what you think you’re supposed to say. Ask yourself, ‘Does this make me want to read more or fall asleep?’. Ask a friend for critical feedback along those lines too.
#3 Read (and answer) the question (fully!)
Ok, so this is a bit of a predictable tip but honestly, so many people do not follow it! Remember that the judges do not know your business and you need to spell out why you are fantastic. And in doing so, check you have answered all facets of the question, not just the bits you think it was asking.
#4 Take your time
Rushed applications (like anything done in a hurry) are noticeable. If you are going to enter, make sure you leave enough time to create a great application (so draft, redraft, review and finalise). The same applies if you are going to outsource – if you leave it to the last minute, you might have trouble finding someone to complete the application for you (great writers are often booked out – we often have a six week lead time unless it’s something small we can squeeze in a gap), or there just might not be enough time for even a professional to tease out something great.
#5 Brand it!
Some applications are all online so there isn’t a lot of space to include your brand look, but if you can include attachments with your branding, go for it. If the application is still ‘old school’ and requires a PDF-style submission, make sure your application looks professional and is on-brand. Although there are no marks for looks, a professional application has a positive unconscious impact on judges and makes your business look slick.
#6 Count the words
The word limit is important – use all the opportunity they give you to tell your story. But also don’t go over. This is especially important for online forms as they are often word limited – you do not want to be pasting in your responses at the last minute from a Word document and discover you need to edit down 11 words which can be surprisingly tough, especially under pressure.
Need help with an award application? From reviewing your final draft through to preparing the whole application, we know the ingredients of a stand-out application.
Anna heads up the amazing team at CreativeIQ. Most brand and business consultants are either very creative or excel at strategy and analysis. What makes Anna special is her ability to do both! That’s how CreativeIQ was born. She loves strategy and finding creative ways to solve problems.
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