By: Tim Viall
As I’m writing this blog post, I’m actually putting off another project I could be working on: drafting an award submission for one of our clients. It’s certainly “awards season,” or close to it, in the AV and consumer electronics industry, and no matter what field your business or company is involved with, drafting and submitting awards can be a hassle. For that reason, I’d like to provide you with five key tactics to ensure those awards get submitted when they need to, with everything they need to have, for the best possible chance of winning.
As anyone who has submitted a few awards can attest, there are dozens out there for every industry, ranging from best products, best CEOs, best company, best manufacturer, best (insert word here)… It can certainly get overwhelming, especially when they all ask for different things with different deadlines. Some are free, and some you have to pay a fee in order to just to submit it (crazy I know!). With all of these factors, planning strategically is so important; not only to keep yourself sane, but to keep your client or superiors in the loop. Award fees can add up very quickly, so maybe you’ll only be able submit one that has a cost per quarter, or even per year, depending on the budget. I suggest creating an excel document that has all of the awards’ you’re even thinking about going for basic information (outlet sponsoring it, cost, when it needs to be submitted) in it, but take an additional step and rank them by prestige. That way you can focus on the awards that really matter to your client, and not waste all of your time or budget on the minor, less important ones.
Our client Control4 won the 2014 Electronic House Product of the Year Award for its Wireless Lighting Family.
Give yourself plenty of time
I’m convinced that you won’t know of everything an award will ask for until you’ve clicked that final “submit” button. On more than one occasion I’ve gotten a sample application for an award, only to find out that the actual application online asks more questions, different questions, or requires additional materials that were not previously planned for. That’s why it’s essential to give yourself enough time and not rely on submitting an award the day before, or the actual day it’s due. In addition, depending on the round of reviews an award’s application has to go through between you and your client, or people within your organization, a few days may be necessary for that process. Some award applications even require you to pay the associated fee before you can view the application, which in turn would require a final approval from the decision makers before even starting it.
Although I dislike the word ‘jargon,’ which is defined as “special words or expressions that are used by a particular profession or group and are difficult for others to understand,” there is definitely no place for in an award application. Even if the award is related to the industry, for the most part, write as if your average person with no knowledge of the industry will be grading the application or judging the competition. Businesses and workplaces tend to get caught up in every day jargon, so again, do your best to avoid carrying them over into award applications.
A picture says 1,000 words
Our client SANUS has great product/lifestyle photos!
Depending on the award application, you could have very few words to work with i.e. 50, 100, maybe 250 if you’re lucky. Granted there may be multiple open response questions, each with their own word count, but more often than not, there’s not enough space to say just how awesome whatever you are nominating really is. I’ve seen award applications that count characters, not words! (What is this a Twitter competition?) This is why the old saying ‘A picture is worth 1,000 words’ is so applicable to award applications. Great images, photos, etc… can prove to be the big difference in making your application stick out from the others. Don’t have any photos? Don’t even bother submitting… I don’t think I’ve come across an application that doesn’t require, or at least ask for, photos. Also, make sure your photos are high resolution, and be sure to include lifestyle photos! Sure, product shots are great, but also include a photo of how the product is actually used, or what it looks like in the environment it’s made for.
Cross your T’s, dot your I’s
Although I doubt you’ll be physically writing an award application (but who knows?), crossing your T’s and dotting your I’s reflects the idea that applications need to be PERFECT and all its requirements must be fulfilled. No typos, no missing information or sections, the application needs to be well written, and so on. Especially if you’re paying for the submission, you owe it to yourself to make sure it’s the best it can be. Read everything on the actual application multiple times, and read everything about the award multiple times. You’re guaranteed to miss something the first time over, and that missed sentence could even be the one that makes your product, person, or company unqualified (i.e. hasn’t shipped in the right time period, category doesn’t apply, age of company).
I hope these strategies help you get your award season under control. As always, if you have any other tips or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you!
Tim Viall, account coordinator, @timothyviall