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Awards: top tips for spotting the good ones and making a killer entry

The corporate awards industry is big business, with each sector having numerous different sets of awards that can include some incredibly niche categories. But, how valuable are awards for businesses? Should you invest time and money in entering? What value do they offer?

In this article we will highlight the value entering (and winning) awards can offer and share our top tips for creating a winning entry.

Why entering (the right) awards matters

Everyone loves to be told they are the best at what they do, and awards can be a great way to massage an ego! However, winning awards can also deliver real business advantages, such as giving an advantage over competitors, helping to win clients, and hiring great people.

Here are the three top reasons why fintechs should incorporate awards into their PR strategy.

Build profile and credibility

For startups, winning a few awards can help to quickly (and cheaply) build the business’s profile and get noticed by key audiences. Winning an award for a specific product or in a category specific to the product offering gives a start-up legitimacy and credibility, demonstrating to potential customers, clients and investors that the offering is strong, or that the business is offering something different to others in the sector.

At the very least, an award win from a legitimate organiser gives exposure across third party social media channels, and sometimes in the press, generating positive brand awareness.

Award wins are also a brilliant asset to use over the long term. Adding an award or two to pitch decks to clients and investors really helps to give credibility and legitimacy.

For fintechs marketing on a large scale, being able to say that you offer ‘the UK’s best trading account’, or that you are an ‘award winning banking platform’ helps a lot in terms of SEO and advertising.

Supporters like a good news story

Award wins are great in terms of validating those associated with the business that they have made the right decision. Clients, investors, suppliers etc, like to share in the success of an award win and it can help to validate their decision to invest or work with the business.

Investors, in particular, love to celebrate the wins of their portfolio companies, which in turn can help to build awareness and credibility with future investors and clients.

It’s great for the internal team

Winning awards is brilliant in terms of engaging and motivating employees, giving them pride in their company.

Entering awards for specific projects, products or services is a great way to shine a light on specific teams, acknowledging their great work and helping to instil pride in what they have achieved.

For awards that hold ceremonies, inviting the teams whose work is nominated to attend and receive the award on behalf of the company means the company's successes are shared. This has a knock-on effect, motivating the wider employee base and giving a sense that great work will be celebrated.

In addition, employees often like to share their company's award wins on social media, which is a great form of employee advocacy and can be extremely helpful in terms of building an employer brand and attracting potential employees.

Top tips for entering (and winning) the right awards

There’s an art to winning awards. You have to enter those that are right for your business and understand what judges are looking for. Here are our tried and tested top tips for getting this right:

1. Be choosy - not all awards are worth the time and money you will spend on submitting an entry.

Firstly, you need to choose awards with categories that suit your business - your product offering, your strengths etc. If you can’t find a category that fits your business perfectly, it’s unlikely you will win.

Once you have identified the awards with appropriate categories, you need to enter those that have gravitas. Awards run by media publications, industry bodies or consumer groups are often well respected.

If you are unsure whether an award you are interested in is prestigious enough, it’s a good idea to look back at previous winners. If you spot your competitors or businesses you admire, then they are likely to be a good fit.

2. Invest time and effort into creating the entry - most corporate awards require written entries. Make sure you have enough time ahead of the deadline to put together a really strong case for why you should win - awards worth winning are very competitive.

Make sure you understand exactly what the judges want to see in the entries and put together a response that addresses all the criteria and ensure you have evidence to back up your claims. Data points are great at strengthening an entry, but if you have client or customer testimonials you can share, this is even better.

A written submission can be elevated hugely by a professional writer. It is worth investing in a copywriter to help you to create an entry that is well polished, as well as having strong content. Some of the most prestigious awards hold webinars to give advice on how to write a winning entry - make sure you attend these and follow their advice.

On the other hand, some award entries mention (or demand) that you can submit a video entry. A lot of people can be put off by this as it’s time consuming and expensive.

However, it’s worth remembering that the content can be repurposed and used for a number of other purposes. For the more prestigious awards, which are most worthwhile winning, you will need to invest a little to be in with a chance of winning.

3. Be aware of the judging process - many awards are judged by industry leaders who are sent entries to assess and discuss before making a decision on the winners. Other than doing a little research on the judges and tailoring your entry, there isn’t much you can do to influence the outcome.

Some awards, however, have an element of public voting. If after submitting an entry and/or being shortlisted there is a round of voting, you need to be proactive in drumming up support. Don’t be shy to ask partners, clients, suppliers, employees to vote for you - just be aware of the rules!

4. Don’t dismiss awards you have to pay for - awards companies make money in different ways; sometimes they charge for attendance at a ceremony, sometimes they have sponsors, sometimes there is an entry fee, and sometimes it’s all of the above.

Don’t be put off if you have to pay to enter. Sometimes these are the most valuable awards to be associated with. Be led by the awards that will give you the most credibility and are most appropriate for your business.

When you have a few award wins under your belt make sure you get the most value you possibly can from them! Share your wins across social media, add the logos to your website, mention them in your advertising, add them to your team’s email signatures, and include them in all your external presentations.

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