Winning an award is a great way to generate positive news interest and discussion about your business. It can also help your business to establish a reputation as an innovator and industry leader.

Whether you are applying for an industry-specific award or a general business award, there are certain things you can do to increase your chances of success. Here are my six top tips for success:

1. Select appropriate awards

Don’t enter awards that you can’t win because you don’t meet the entry criteria. For example, it’s pointless entering an award for start-up businesses if your company was established decades ago. Your energy and time would be better spent focusing on more suitable awards.

After selecting relevant awards, thoroughly read through the terms. This includes checking the submission deadline – if you would not be able to produce a considered submission before the deadline, you may wish to leave that award submission out for this year. Hastily rushing a submission could give the award hosts a negative impression of your business and harm your chances of winning in the future.

2. Read the questions carefully

You may remember this piece of advice from sitting your school exams, and it holds true for writing successful award submissions. Read each question through several times so that you can understand the specific information the award host will be looking for in your responses – make their jobs easier, and don’t just reel off information that they could get from your website or brochure.

3. Respond fully

The person assessing your entry will likely be checking it against specific criteria, so make sure you answer each question appropriately. For example, if a question asks you to provide three ways that your business has innovated in the past 12 months, make sure you actually provide three different ways.

If there are any questions that you don’t have a positive answer to, try to change your answer around. For instance, ‘Whilst we have not been able to do X, we have plans to…’

4. Give evidence where appropriate

Supporting your statements with concrete facts and/or additional documents is an effective way to enhance your submission. Instead of ‘our turnover has increased year on year’, be more specific: ‘Between 2012 and 2013, our turnover increased by £1.2 million (20%)’.

5. Make the formatting consistent and clear

Often, award entries will need to be in a specific format, especially if a template or form has been supplied. Nonetheless, you should still make sure that you present your responses clearly and consistently.

As an example, be consistent about how you add emphasis to words – don’t use bold in one place and italics in another for the same purpose. You should also use paragraphing to make your entry easier to read.

6. Check your submission

Once you’ve finished carefully crafting your submission, check through it. Amongst other aspects, you should check that:

  • All questions have been answered appropriately
  • The document is stylistically consistent (e.g. whether you use serial commas or not)
  • The layout is clear and consistent
  • The spelling and grammar are correct
  • There is limited repetition
  • Word limits have been met

It can also be beneficial to get other people inside or outside of your organisation to read through the submission, as another pair of eyes is often helpful in highlighting any mistakes you may have missed.

If you consider the points above when drafting your next award entry, it will really help your company’s achievements to shine.

If you have any other tips about award submissions, please post them in the comments below.