Ross founded Copylab in 2005 and is now leading the team in the UK and leading the company’s charge into new markets.More articles from Ross Hunter
Like much else, awards ceremonies suffered during the pandemic. Though many soldiered on, doing great work in recognising the outstanding achievements in financial marketing, the Zoom-hosted ceremonies were a pale substitute for the in-person events that are a highlight of the industry calendar.
But with many financial capitals now bursting back to life, our industry awards season promises to be one of the most exciting in years. But increased interest means increased competition.
So it’s never been more important to nail your award submissions.
Having written dozens of these in the past 20 years, we thought we’d jot down this handy eight-step guide to writing a winning award submission:
Organisers don’t always offer a ‘tips and advice’ web conference, but there’s a big advantage to listening in if they do.
In my experience, there are always two or three nuggets in there.
Typically, award submissions will include some combination of innovation, service and performance. But different organisers may have a bias towards one of these.
For example, it could be that innovation comprises 50% of the marks, with 25% each for service and performance. Obviously, you need to skew the content (and the word count) of your submission accordingly.
Exploit all potential sources: trawl the website, fund-marketing materials and RFPs; talk to the sales team for sales ideas, ask your customer-service agents for FAQs and their answers; and collar your product specialist for insights into unique selling points and competitive strengths.
You’ll quickly see if one section is weaker than the rest. Give priority to figures and verifiable evidence where possible – reviewers love data points as they are easy to allocate scores to, especially if they allow you to use superlatives (largest, best, lowest-risk, highest-return, fastest-growing and so on).
You’ve probably got a limit of 1,000 words or so. Stick to it. Some organisers will immediately eliminate you if you’re over the word limit.
Remember, the reviewer probably has 20-30 submissions to read – so don’t give them a reason to dismiss yours.
You’re rightly very proud about your company’s ‘innovative, credit-based, de-risking strategy’ or ‘proprietary, web-based, servicing platform’.
But some readers might never have heard of it. Don’t assume they have, even if they’re industry veterans.
And ask a non-expert to look at what you’ve written.
Why? You need to give your submission’s reviewer as many opportunities to put a tick in the margin for your fund. Every tick is a point – and points mean prizes. If there are big gaps between your ticks, try to slim down the text where you’ve over-written or used too much fluffy marketing-speak.
And whatever you do…
Every award submission is different, whether in terms of word count, content (innovation, service, performance etc.), date range (e.g. only widgets launched between 1 January 2020 and 31 December 2020) and, crucially, the questions themselves.
Having sat on a judging panel or two in our time, few things are more guaranteed to condemn a submission to the “no” pile than answers that say what the entrant wants to say, rather than responding to what was actually asked.
Most people will forgive a positive spin – we’re marketers after all. But if a question asks why your product was created to respond to a specific need, and you copy and paste generic blurb about being well positioned to deliver strong returns over the long term, don’t be surprised if you lose the attention of judges who’ve sifted through dozens of entries.
To get noticed, tailor your submissions – and answer the questions.
Following these points is not a guarantee you’ll get to get your photograph taken with that television comedian; you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, after all. But you’ll certainly give yourself a better chance of getting short-listed.
We’ve applied our own rules to writing award submissions for clients and have developed a winning formula and template for them.