How to Write a Winning Award Entry

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There’s no doubt about it that creative agencies love to win awards. If you have the budget and the resources, entering and winning awards should form part of your overall new business process,. It’s a great way to raise the profile of your agency, you gain free publicity. Awards add credibility to your work, many clients love to know that their work has won awards and they are also brilliant at boosting employee morale and spirits. Also, the whole process of entering awards is a perfect way to get ROI and other results from your clients which you can use in your case studies. We know that prospective clients like to see the commercial deliverables from your creative work.

Entering awards don’t come cheap though, not only is there usually a fee but also when done properly it takes time and resources, so how can you make your award entry stand out from the crowd and wow the judges?

Plan Ahead

Don’t make the award entry a last minute thing, the awards should be part of your overall annual agency new business and marketing plan. Allocate a certain portion of your overall new business and marketing budget for award entries, write a list of all the relevant awards in your discipline/sector and then assess each award, looking at the award criteria, the likelihood of your agency winning (based on previous winners) and how the award fits in with your overall new business objectives.

Once you have agreed on which awards to enter, create a calendar of awards for the year listing out when the award opens for submission, when the entry deadline date is, when the finalists are announced and of course, when the awards ceremony is.  You can also allow some time in the calendar for writing the award entry, make sure you take into account the time it takes to get stats and figures from clients and also client approval, if required. 

Writing the entry

Make sure you read the award entry guidelines carefully - noting down the questions that need answering and how they would like information to be submitted. Think of it as you would writing a pitch presentation. Checking at each stage and iteration that you are answering the questions set out. 

Plan how you will write the award entry first, drafting the outline. Think about the word limit that’s been stipulated and the particular questions that need answering. Make sure you adhere to the guidelines as you don’t want to give the judges a reason to discount your entry.

Make sure you are entering in the right category for the project. This can be tricky as often case studies can span different categories. Choose which category is most relevant for your case study and where you think the case study will stand out the most.

Keep the language clear and concise, avoid using marketing/agency jargon but also use good copy. Make sure the language you use is compelling, you want to tell a story and take the judges on a journey. Show your passion through your written language. If possible use a copywriter to help make the entry persuasive.

Highlight the objectives of the campaign or your brief and then make sure that the results the agency delivered meet the objectives. This should be how all your agency case studies are structured. After all, according to the recent What Clients Think Report commercial results, sales increases, and measurable impact is what catches most marketers interest.

Avoid copy and pasting from other decks, try to write from scratch, addressing the questions in the award information. It’s really obvious to judges when entries are copied and pasted, it doesn’t flow and it’s harder to write compelling copy within the word limit when it’s been copied from somewhere else.

Edit ruthlessly - cut it down as much as you can. Agencies always tend to write too much, remember that less is always more. The judges are busy and will have several other awards to read, those entries that cover off all the key points clearly and succinctly will stand out the most.

Make sure your overall entry is well designed. If you are allowed to use images, infographics and videos to make your entry easier to digest. Use your design team to help with the entry - you want to make it look amazing and stand out.

Think about how you submit your supporting documents - you want to make it simple and easy. Perhaps a shortened link where judges can see all the supporting evidence in one place rather than have to download large files.

Proofread and triple check everything over twice and get other team members to do the same too, as you would for any pitch document. It’s amazing how many entries are submitted with obvious typos and errors.

Winning or losing Awards

When you do win awards make sure you really make the most out of them. Announce the win via email, add it to your email signature, share it on social media and put it up on your website.

If you don’t win, try to get feedback from the judges and use this when you are entering your next award. Don’t be disheartened and don’t let it put you off from entering future awards.


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