How to write a winning awards submission

The decision is made to put in an entry for an award… now what? Read Solve Legal’s essential guide to putting together a winning submission.

Choose the right awards to enter

Of all the tips this is perhaps the most important. Putting together a good submission takes time and effort – so directing it to the award that is going to make the most difference to your business makes good sense. It could be that you’re ready for one of the big hitting high profile awards, or maybe you’ll select a particular award because it reflects your business strategy or values. For example, being shortlisted for The Lawyer awards or British Legal Week awards will place you alongside big name law firms; or entering a specialist awards, for example one that celebrates excellent customer service, may suit your values and aims as a business better.

It’s also sensible to consider your chances of success. This can work both ways. Don’t be afraid to be ambitious and enter for a very prestigious award if you believe you have a strong case. Often organisers will actively welcome submissions from new people – it keeps things fresh, keeps everyone entering on their toes and demonstrates the independence and fairness of the judging process if new people win rather than the same names featuring every year.

Equally, choosing an event that plays to your strengths will increase your chances of success. One way to assess the options can be to see what competitors are doing. However, don’t forget that it’s YOUR story – what’s right for your rivals might not always be the best fit for you.

Present the facts

Treat the submission like answering an exam question. Read the question carefully. You’ll be given criteria which clearly sets out what the judges are looking for. Make sure you provide factual evidence that supports your assertions in addressing each criterion. The judges will not be impressed by vague statements, ‘marketing speak’ or unsubstantiated statements.

You might do this though presenting facts and figures (financial data, staff turnover, market share etc), or by using customer reviews and testimonials. The more objective and unbiased information you can provide the better.

Stick to the knitting

Tempting as it might be to include the new company brochure you’re super proud of – it might be worth resisting. Judges will typically be in-demand busy industry heavy-hitters who are giving up their time to participate in the judging process. Concise submissions are a godsend. Wading through extraneous material is a pain for them and could in fact actively damage your chances.

Carefully consider the category

Specific industry awards will consider each niche area within the sector. There is definitely an area that is right for your firm. Choose the category which best represents your firm’s values, experience and expertise. This will ensure you stand the best chance of winning. Also, be sure to read the rules of entry carefully. It could be that you can enter more than one category. Although it’s usually advisable not to enter more than 2 or maybe 3: this does, of course, give you more than one chance of winning.

Give yourself enough time

Don’t underestimate the time it will take to produce a good quality submission. Leaving the task to the last minute will inevitably mean that you’re not able to include all of the compelling evidence-based information that should be included.

Allowing plenty of time to consider what information will be needed; and to gather it all together will greatly improve your chances of success. You may for example have to enrol others in providing some of the detail that you need or you may need to refer to reports, board minutes or other sources to strengthen your organisation. Asking for an extension at the last minute is probably unlikely to win you any favours with the organisers who will be on a strict timetable for the process.

Consider who writes the submission

The writer needs to have the skills to pull together a compelling document. Delegating the task may not be wise; you might even consider using some external resource who specialise in writing award submissions to provide support. This may be in writing the submission itself or it could be to review your final draft and to provide constructive suggestions for strengthening the piece.

Do your research – into judges, previous winners

A lot of useful information is to be gained by finding out more about the judging panel and previous winners. What information has been published about previous winners? Can you spot any trends or key requirements that might help your bid? Have the judges made any statements about what they’re looking for or what they admire about businesses in your category?

Know what you’re getting in to

Before committing your thoughts to the awards form consider what you’re getting in to. Is there a cost to enter (or a donation to enter)? If you win will you need to pay for dinner places, a table, travel, a hotel, taxis? Will the organisers expect payment to use a logo? Knowing these things will mean your inevitable (!) victory isn’t sullied by incurring expenses that you weren’t expecting.

Don’t get sucked in by flattery

Receiving notification that you’ve won an award that you didn’t even know you’d entered should set off alarm bells. Unless it’s a scenario where you’ve been nominated by peers then you should ask questions about the credibility of that particular award – as outlined in point one.

Consider the events calendar

February is synonymous with Oscars season. Similarly, most industry events and awards are annual. Being aware of the schedule will enable your firm to consider strategy by planning for the various things you may need by the time the awards come around again. Keeping an eye on the calendar can also heighten other elements of your business you may otherwise overlook whilst busily completing legal service work. Becoming adept at maintaining good habits by hunting down testimonials or sending the customer satisfaction survey will ensure the company understands where to improve whilst also archiving that all important evidence the judges need.

Don’t forget to celebrate!

The euphoria of winning an award could do wonders for morale in the organisation. As well as the undoubted benefits of the external publicity, don’t forget to recognise and celebrate those within your business who made the win possible. It’s a great chance to stop and celebrate success generating a feel-good factor and goodwill that’s hard to replicate on a day-to-day basis.

Solve Legal Marketing, publishers of Today’s Wills and Probate, are proud to announce the return of The British Wills and Probate Awards, following the successful inaugural event. This year the awards ceremony which is being held on 17th October, 2019 at The Belfry Hotel & Resort and is set to eclipse the immense success of the first awards.

We are in the process of sifting through a myriad of deserving companies and individuals that represent the pinnacle of legal service providers working in Wills and Estate Planning. If you feel as though your business, firm or colleagues are worthy of this prestigious accolade, register your details and submit your entry form before the closing date of June 14.

Good luck!

Karen Babington, Solve Legal 

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Solve Legal Marketing are a full-service marketing agency dedicated to the legal sector. As publishers of Today’s Conveyancer and Today’s Wills and Probate, our specialisms include content writing and strategic marketing advice and support.

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