Writing your winning entry

There are lots of things you can do to give your entry the best chance of winning, some are more important than others.

Perhaps the most important is to read and understand the judging criteria, and make sure you cover these in your entry. You’d be amazed how many people don’t. I’ve sat on numerous panels where the criteria specifically asks for something which is ignored by many entrants, and the judges say “I’m sure this is an excellent entry, unfortunately, we can’t compare its effectiveness with the others as the key performance criteria is missing”.

In fact, the judges should sit at the heart of your thinking when preparing your entry, as it is they who make the decision.

Treat your entry like any other marketing campaign – you need to get the judges attention, attract their interest, make them want to read your material, and make your material make them want to give you an award.

 

Watch our webinar on Writing your winning entry here.

Here’s ten top tips for Awards entries to help you along. They’ve been designed specifically for the Construction Marketing Awards, but can be applied to just about any Award scheme anywhere.

Read the instructions
All awards schemes have small print, and it’s important to read it. If they say “please send us four copies of each entry on four separate CDs” then do. If you don’t you will at best make it difficult to handle your entry, and make it annoying to the organiser and judges, and at worst find yourself ruled out for non-compliance.

Hit the deadline
The awards entry deadline is not plucked from thin air, it’s part of a schedule for a large and complex process. Hitting the deadline will make the organiser think well of you, and will allow the judge the maximum amount of time to consider your entry. Many schemes do extend their deadlines, so do ask the organiser if they do, or are planning to if you think you will need the extra time, but don’t put it off again until the day before the deadline. Being as early as you can will be appreciated.

Get the judges’ attention
Judges will be looking at more than one entry. Just as when you turn up to a job interview knowing the panel will be seeing others, the same is true for your entry. On many Awards programmes, the judges may be spending days reading through entries, often in their own time, so you need to quickly identify yourself as one they should pick up.A crisp, clear, but attractive presentation in an easy-to-handle entry which immediately (perhaps on the front cover) makes it obvious why it is the winner will be more eagerly consumed than a dog-eared one packed with 8-point type with the key results on the last but one page.Be arresting in your approach and use of colour, graphics and materials, but please do make the thing you’re drawing attention to easy to understand, and easy to praise.

Hit the judging criteria
If there is a ‘most important’ tip, then this is it. Read the criteria for the particular category you are entering (recognising that different categories most probably have different criteria). Then make sure you give direct, easy to find and clear to understand ratings for your entry against *ALL* of them.For example, the Construction Marketing Awards ‘Communications’ categories (best use of advertising, etc) all share the following:

  • There are clear objectives for the communication and these are linked to the company’s overall marketing objectives
  • The audience is well defined and researched
  • The communication is innovative and creatively designed for that target audience
  • That the communication was cost effective in relation to the level of success
  • And most importantly that the objectives were measurably achieved (or exceeded) and that the campaign tangibly succeeded.

So, when entering:

  • state your objectives, and how they relate to the corporate ones. While you’re at it make sure they are specific, measurable, and timed (e.g – we will generate 1000 enquiries at £15 an enquiry over a two week period beginning June 12)
  • define your audience and present any research results you have which have influenced the choices you have made
  • point out the innovation, and show how the design has been tailored to the audience
  • say how much it cost, and what the success means. If at all possible give an ROI (return on investment) number – e.g. sales generating £5m profit for a spend of £500,000 – ROI = 10.
  • show your results, and compare them back to your objectives.

Trust the judges
It may feel you are supplying confidential information. Usually you are not. Most of what you put down could be guessed, or offers little advantage to any competitor. Even so, you may worry. Don’t. Reputable award programmes have judges who do not disclose any details of entries to third parties. Is the programme reputable? Yes – don’t worry. No – don’t enter.

Don’t do it on the side
Putting together a good award entry takes time, effort and sometimes money. Allocate all three – if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Indeed, it’s not worth doing if you’re not going to do it well, as only one other person has to do it better than you for you to lose!Put someone in charge, give them the information, resources, time and money they need to put together the best entry your organisation can manage.

Put people in it
People are great. They have faces, which look brilliant on award entries. Staff can embody commitment and excellence. Customers can say why you’re great in a single sentence. Use your own people, and your customer’s people to tell your story.

Look at last year’s winners
Why did they win? What did they do that singled them out as the winner in your category? Do you share their innovation, creativity, commitment, excellence, originality? If the judges comments about them say they did something really well, and that’s why they won, then make sure you’ve got something similar in your entry.

Keep it brief
Judges are usually spending their own time on judging. Remember that, and be nice to them. Be efficient in your use of words and space, and communicate your information quickly and efficiently. Reducing the number of pages in your entry could be very important if the judge is doing it on the train. They won’t want to carry reams of back-up information with them.

And of course, keep your fingers crossed. Good luck!