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What makes a successful award entry

Entering industry awards are a great opportunity to take stock of your success. But to win the trophy, you need more than just a good story or a strong set of commercial results. Discover what it takes to create an award-winning nomination. 

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Industry awards: How to create an award-winning nomination entry

Industry awards offer a beacon of recognition, celebrating excellence and innovation in specific sectors, geographic regions and disciplines. They herald remarkable people and outstanding corporations. But they’re more than just accolades; awards recognise a company’s dedication, innovation, and success. 

Securing a spot in the winner’s circle demands more than a compelling story. In this blog, we unravel the essential elements which make a successful award nomination entry, delving into the intricacies of creating a nomination which not only stands out but can help clinch a coveted trophy! 

Be selective in award events and categories

Before diving into the nomination process, review the awards event you are considering entering. Is there a cost to enter? What does the nomination process involve? Some awards require a brief 500 word statement as to why you’d be a worthy candidate in your chosen category; others require much more - such as full financial statements for the last five years of trading, testimonials from customers, sample marketing materials or product testing access, or interviews and/or a site visit. 

Once you’ve made the strategic decision about which awards to enter, consider carefully the categories. What type of companies or people were shortlisted and won in recent years? What does the criteria say for the overall awards and for your specific category? You may want to enter a product you launched 18 months ago as ‘new’, but perhaps their criteria frames ‘new’ as launching in the last 12 months. 

Understanding the specific attributes and accomplishments judges are looking for should shape your nomination. Just as each award event is different, so too are categories. Entering multiple categories may be relevant to your company, but ensure you tailor each entry to align with the category requirements, showing a nuanced understanding of what sets your achievements apart from the competition. 

A successful nomination will seamlessly integrate your achievements with specific criteria. Tailor your language and examples to resonate with the category’s focus, ensuring a direct connection between your accomplishments and what the award seeks to honour. Be explicit about how your entry fulfils each point, leaving no room for ambiguity. Forego your own brand voice to ensure you are speaking in a language the judges can easily understand; as they wade through potentially thousands of entries, clearly signposting what they’re looking for helps you be remembered.

Present tangible results and achievements

At the heart of any award-worthy nomination lies tangible results that demonstrate the impact of your efforts. Whether it’s revenue growth, cost savings, increased market share, or improved customer satisfaction, quantifiable achievements are the backbone of any compelling entry. 

When presenting results, be specific and transparent. Many awards will either not publicise commercially sensitive information (but may require it in your nomination) or will give you the option to opt out of having it publicised; some may use all information in your nomination in publicising the award if you win or are shortlisted - so be sure you known what could happen to the information your include, particularly if it’s commercially sensitive. 

Use plain and simple language to articulate your accomplishments, providing the judges with a concrete understanding of the positive changes your initiatives created. Bullet points are fine - particularly where you have a short word count to play with. 

While results should be the cornerstone of your nomination, it’s essential they are evaluated alongside objectives. Judges look for entries that demonstrate a clear understanding of business objectives and how the results of activity or initiatives by a person contributed to the overall success of an organisation. If objectives weren’t met, it may still be worth submitting a nomination if you can explain why they weren’t met and how any challenges arising were overcome; this is particularly true for people-based awards (eg Manager or Business Person of the Year). 

Show - and tell!

A top tip - particularly where word counts are tight - is to show success. A persuasive nomination relies on robust evidence; visual representations such as charts and graphs, included as supporting material and referenced in your nomination text, can add clarity and impact. 

Any claims should be backed up by accurate data and appropriate metrics. Citations and references also help - the more reputable and independent the source, the better in building credibility. Avoid vague assertions and unsupported claims; the more robust and reliable your evidence, the more convincing your nomination. 

Data and evidence are important, but don’t underestimate the power of storytelling. Craft a narrative which outlines your achievements and engages the judges. Share challenges overcome, strategies used, and the perseverance that fueled success. Use anecdotes, quotes, and testimonials to add a human touch to your entry. 

Innovation and impact

Highlighting the novel aspects of your initiatives is good; demonstrating how they propelled your organisation forward is even more impressive. Judges are often keen to reward entries that show not only immediate success, but promise long-term, sustainable growth. Has your innovation established new benchmarks or influenced positive change within your company, industry or community? Have your actions led to cost savings, increased efficiency, or improved customer satisfaction? 

The art of writing an award nomination

Crafting a nomination that is shortlisted is an art; creating an award-winning one relies on a little luck, but a lot of hard work and a solid portfolio of evidence. 

Don’t leave the preparation of your nomination until the last minute; you need to allow time to gather robust evidence of results, innovation and impact, and align your nomination with the category criteria. Proofread any nomination, and run it by someone who hasn’t been involved in compiling it to see if there’s any gaps. Consider how the judges may engage with it, and be sure to follow any prescribed word counts or your work may be forcibly truncated! 

When submitting, ensure you use contact details for someone who will keep an eye out for news from the event organisers. This may not be your CEO or MD who’s inbox is flooded with other business, or it might be. Just ensure they’re aware they may receive notification so they don’t miss any next steps. And, last - but not least - make sure your supporting documents comply with any guidelines from the event organiser re file types and sizes. 

At Haynes Marcoms, we love working with our clients on award nominations - it’s a great way to understand the full scope of a business and identify business stories which may otherwise be hidden. 

And we’re good at it - in 2023 alone, 78% of nominations we worked on for our clients were shortlisted in their chosen category. In the past five years, half the nominations we have submitted have won awards. 

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