It’s that time of year again in the insurance industry – awards season! A sure-fire way to gain recognition for your company and underscore your credibility with customers is to enter (and hopefully win) an industry award. And like buses, they all seem to come along at once.
At Spotlight Consulting we have worked with clients to write and submit hundreds of industry awards entries over the years and have an excellent track record of getting them shortlisted. So what’s the key to writing a winning award entry? These tips might just point you in the right direction.
- Read the guidelines and entry criteria carefully – obvious isn’t it, but you’d be amazed at how many people fall at this first hurdle. If the award says that you need to be a start-up with less than five years trading, you’ll only be wasting your time if you do not fall into this category. Likewise if the guidelines state a certain style of presentation or word length – stick to it like glue. Don’t leave it until the last minute either – be clear on the deadline and plan ahead. Rushed award entries are rarely winning award entries!
- Understand the judging system – read all the awards information as it usually gives you a clue as to how the judges make their decisions. Some awards have strict scoring systems, some have several rounds of judging, some state the kind of evidence that will score highly.
- Choose your strongest categories – don’t just enter everything – you might want to keep a particular project back for another year when you have better results. Look at the winners from previous years – it might give you a clue about the scope and size of projects that have impressed in the past and how yours might compare.
- Gather your team – award entries often take more than one person’s time. Make sure that everyone involved knows what’s required, the deadlines and their role so that there is no confusion.
- Tell a story – put yourself in the judges’ shoes – spending hours pawing through hundreds of worthwhile entries. Wake them up by painting a compelling and engaging picture of your chosen project from start to end. Explain your objectives, what was your strategy and tactics and what were the results. Include some quotes or testimonials from happy customers.
- Sell yourself – this is all about convincing the judges that the work you did on your project was better, different, more innovative and successful than all the other entries on the table. Use hard evidence (see Tip number 8) to show how you not only met expectations but exceeded them in every way.
- Avoid jargon – don’t make the mistake of assuming that the judges understand the myriad of industry acronyms and internal jargon that you are used to using. Write in plain English and get an independent person to evaluate your award entry before you put it in.
Finally, and most importantly, show evidence of results – you can make all the statements in the world about how brilliant your project or campaign was, but unless you can prove it with hard facts, they mean nothing. Hopefully you should be gathering this evidence anyway within the course of any given project, for instance as part of customer evaluation. Make sure that your evidence relates to the initial objectives for the project. Proof points could include an uplift in sales, an increase in customers, significant reduction in costs, improvement in customer or staff satisfaction/retention, increase in recognition for your brand – whatever shows that you have achieved your objectives.