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Making the grade: creating an award-winning entry to wow the panel

Boost Marketing managing director Chris Robinson gives CN Specialists Awards entrants a how-to guide on producing an award-winning entry.

The Specialists Awards are growing in popularity every year with entries expected to be higher than ever for the 2013 event.

Furthermore, each year the unsuccessful entrants raise their game in the hope of securing a gong the next year. Put these two factors together and it’s safe to assume that winning a 2013 Specialists Award is not going to be a walk in the park.

So what can you and your company do to increase your chances in the face of such intense competition?

Sadly it is no longer enough simply to be the best – deserving a Specialists Award is not enough I’m afraid.

Standing between you and winning the award that you so richly deserve is the judging process, starting with the entry form.

During the process you have two battles to win: the first is making the shortlist and the second is being the one entry within the shortlist to stand out enough to win.

So how do you win the first battle? People often think making the shortlist is a slam dunk, a doddle; these people are wrong.

Getting into the finals nowadays means meeting the judging criteria with clear, well evidenced and engaging responses. Being ‘well evidenced’ is the tricky part here: you need to quantify every single assertion you make with business performance or survey data, brought to life with suitable qualitative evidence such as anecdotes and/or testimonials.

So you now have a well written and well evidenced entry complete with beautiful supporting material. Surely then an award is now in the bag? Maybe five years ago, but not in this  day and age.

If you get someone else to read your entry, someone objective, then you will only be a likely winner if you pass one simple test: the reader needs to unconsciously mouth the word ‘wow’ while reading your entry. Obviously don’t warn them that this is your test  in advance.

Sometimes stories are so strong that it is easy to find this wow factor. But more often than not you need to ‘find the wow’ and it is not glaringly obvious.

We normally find that a story’s potential wow factor is so diluted by ordinary good practice, or weakened by a lack of evidence, that it simply fails to pack a punch.

One final piece of advice to conclude with: tell a story. Yes of course meet the judging criteria for your category, but ensure that in doing so you tell a story with a start, middle and end, packed with drama and that builds towards  a crescendo.

I know that doing all of this on an entry form is hard, but the winning entry will do so – just make sure that it’s you.

Chris Robinson is managing director of Boost Marketing, an award entry consultancy that has so far helped its clients win more than 400 awards, including winning entries in the Specialists Awards for each of the past four years.

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