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Best in Show: Pursuing Business Awards for Your Company

Sep 27, 2016

Company awards like The Inc. List, Entrepreneur of the Year, Best Places to Work, Fast 50 can help with visibility, credibility with prospects and boost your profile online. And who doesn’t like to win? But the process of applying can be daunting: there are so many awards, the applications are long, many of the questions don’t apply to you, and most frustrating of all, you’ve invested the time and resources to apply in the past to no avail.

What could you be doing that you’re not, when it comes to these applications? Here are a few tips that might help.

Look for a Best Fit

Budget your resources by budgeting the volume of awards you will pursue. Identify the awards that:

  • That will have immediate ROI for your company. Seeking new investment? Consider applying for the Inc. List. Staffing up? Apply to Best Places to Work.
  • Where you are competitive. Is it allocated by a trade journals you sponsor? Or the editor knows you? or you've reviewed the stats on last year's winner, and you like your chances.
  • Fresh for you. Don’t always focus on winning the same awards. Variety gives your company depth that will help you win bigger awards in the future.

We recommend planning ahead if at all possible: purchasing advertising space in the sponsoring journal is a great way to get acquainted and be favorably remembered. Also take a look at last year’s application for any gaps. No corporate leadership? Find a community even - Habitat, food bank, etc. - and organize a team.

Now let’s get to the application itself.

Think Outside the Box with the Application

Consider forming a small committee to go through the questions verbally and identify potential narratives that fit. Remember it's good to have choices. Then nominate one person to draft the application, so the voice stays consistent.

Remember to: 

  • Tell the Best Story – If there are multiple questions and you’re only allowed a 250-word answer, pick the most engaging story that answers one of those questions and tell it well, rather than answer all of them.
  • Support Your Narratives with Data – Nothing says you care about your application like being thorough. Gather stats and metrics from relevant departments like finance, customer support, etc. which support each narrative.
  • Try to Avoid “Not Applicable” – If the question isn’t applicable, this can be an opportunity to tell yet another little narrative that will make your company sound like a winning bid. Tell the judges something you want them to know.
  • Include Great Materials – Some awards will restrict what kind of materials can be submitted, while others will let you be creative. Any time the latter is the case, use the opportunity: compile a music video, a photo album with captions, include trade show swag. Creative content will help make you memorable to the judges.
  • Be Witty – Remember someone has to read and judge hundreds of these applications, and a lot of them are going to sound really, really similar. If you’ve got a writer who can be witty and charming, your application will automatically be more memorable.
  • Hire a Freelance Writer if Necessary – Ever had someone assure you that they are a good driver, only to experience a teeth-clenching ride? The same is true of writing: while most people will say they’re good writers, the law of averages doesn’t support this. If you really want to win, and you know you have a great writer on staff, ask them to fill out the application, even if it’s not within their normal duties. Otherwise, outsource the job to a pro.

Good luck, and may the best narrative win! Have additional questions or know you need a writer? Call us, we can help.


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