Lucy gives an insight into the content of a series of free workshops on entering business awards, hosted by WOBA and open to businesses from across Oxfordshire.
Choose your categories wisely and liberally
When looking at the awards categories make sure you read them all and what the judges are looking for. There are some you will eliminate yourselves from immediately, but if you fit the criteria and have an answer to the judge’s requirements then you should consider applying for all those categories. Don’t assume an ‘innovation’ award requires you to have manufactured some kind of widget – it might be you have been innovative in other ways. Once you have written an entry it will not take too long to tweak that entry for the other categories. Remember to look for new categories in awards you may be familiar with. WOBA has a new Business and Community Award for 2019. There will be a whole host of businesses that can enter this if they have done anything that has benefited their community.
Take your entry seriously
Give yourself time to write your entry and think about what information you might need so you’re not rushing anything at the last minute. Although most entry forms do not ask for detailed financial figures they will require top line figures and certainly if you progress to interview status you may want figures to back up your entry. You might also want to get employees and/or clients involved with quotes or input. Make sure you know your submission dates and what you need to complete your entry and plan the time in accordingly.
Tailor all your entries
It can be really tempting to just cut and paste information about your business from your website or corporate brochure, but the judges will want to see that you have considered what they are looking for and are making an effort to present that to them. For each different category you’ll need to just adapt your entry to ensure you include only information relevant to that category. Judges will have to read lots of entries; you need them to put yours in the ‘keep’ pile from the get go.
Tell a good story
Telling a story is a good way to engage the judges; your passion will come through by writing a story rather than a report. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a tale of flawless success it can be one of disaster – what’s important is what you learnt and what you’re going to do with that knowledge.
Back it up
Whatever tale you’re telling make sure you can substantiate it with facts, figures and examples. Most award entries are online so don’t be afraid to attach/include photos, graphics, quotes or even links to videos. You’re not only providing evidence but you are literally illustrating a point, and adding images and videos makes for a much more engaging entry.
Review and proof
Once you’re done, it’s advisable to have someone proof it for you and to ensure that you haven’t gone off at a tangent or used jargon that’s hard to understand; it’s important to keep it simple, focused and concise. If it helps, write your award entry in Word first and when you’re finally happy with it and have had it checked and proofed too, then fill in the entry online.
An obvious one but there are a lot of businesses who don’t press the send button for fear of rejection, failure or an imagined vulnerability. Award entries are usually confidential and it’s only the judges who’ll read them. If you’re proud of what you’ve achieved, then enter an award and take the opportunity to let your peers know how far you’ve come.
The overarching message of the WOBA’s this year is that if you’re proud of what you’ve achieved in business then get that down in an awards entry. There are many benefits of entering an award not least the chance to reflect on all you’ve achieved, make plans and boast about your successes or resilience. Apart from the WOBAs that are open for entries until 3rd of December, there are the Cherwell Business Awards that launch on 16th November and are open until February and the Oxfordshire Business Awards open for entries from December 2018 to March 2019.
If you’re considering entering an award and would like to get some help on writing your award entry then come along to one of the three WOBA hosted workshops;
6th November 12.00-2.00pm. The Business and Innovation Centre, Witney.
15th November 5.30 – 7.30pm. First Sight Media, Carterton.
20th November 6.00-8.00pm. Sandler Training, Chipping Norton.
Booking is essential and can be made via the WOBA Eventbrite pages.