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10 (more) top tips to help you win awards in 2022

Earlier this week, we were joined on our monthly webinar by Lee Robertson of Octo Members to discuss awards.

We started by putting to bed the myth that simply buying a table is enough to guarantee success. We then considered the things you can do to improve your chances of writing successful entries, and how to promote your successes if you’re shortlisted or win.

If you missed the webinar, click here to watch the recording.

We’ve also produced two free checklists. The first helps you write a winning entry and the second shows you how to promote your successes after you have been shortlisted or won. However, even more, useful tips came out of the webinar.

So, with the award season around the corner and the shortlist for the Professional Adviser Awards to be announced soon, here are 10 more tips (in addition to those in the checklists) from the webinar to help you win awards.

#1: Choose less popular awards

Lee made the great point in our webinar that some categories are more popular, and therefore more competitive than others.

Most advisers, planners, and firms will likely gravitate to categories such as “Adviser of the Year”, “Best Retirement Adviser” and so on. The sheer number of entries will make the categories more competitive. In contrast, there will be others – for example, those which focus on marketing or client engagement – which might attract fewer entries.

Focusing on the categories that might get fewer entries could provide you with some easier and earlier wins as you embark on your awards strategy.

On the same subject, Lee made the great point that advisers and planners should be wary of “award farms”.

The first most firms hear about “winning” one of these awards is when they receive an email conveying the news, plus a request for a few grand in return for a trophy and a logo. As tempted as you might be, hitting the “delete” button and carrying on with your day is the only sensible course of action.

#2: There’s value in the process

As Lee said, there’s no shame in not winning. That’s because writing the entry helps to highlight your firm’s strengths and weaknesses. Done correctly, it’s effectively a mini audit of your business, highlighting gaps, threats, and things that need updating.

The learnings don’t stop there either. As tip #4 shows, there’s plenty to learn after the winner has been announced.

#3: Look beyond financial services

There are plenty of awards specifically for the advice/planning sector to keep you busy. However, it also pays to think outside of the box.

On the webinar, Lee explained how his firm won wealth management awards despite being a planning focused firm. You could also look at business awards running in your local area.

#4: Track the judges down and reach out to them

If you were shortlisted but didn’t win, track down the judges to ask for their feedback.

Naturally, what’s said in the judging room stays there, but most judges will be prepared to chat about your entry and explain where it could have been stronger. Those learnings are invaluable and will help you to improve both your business and next year’s entry.

#5: Never go over the word count

All entry forms have a maximum word count. Never, ever, go over it.

When we chatted, Lee explained how, as a judge, he’d “red pen” all words that exceeded the stated maximum. So, if you’ve saved your killer points to the end and exceeded the word count, they’re going to be ignored.

That means you need to ruthlessly edit your entry to remove unnecessary fluff and waffle to make room for your killer points.

It also means that you should…

#6: Use appendices

Many awards allow you to submit additional documents or appendices to support your application.

So, make your claims in the entry, back it up with evidence, and then give more detail in an appendix.

For example, if you claim:

  • Your newsletter is popular – quote key stats (open rate, and so on) in the entry, but include copies of the newsletter in the appendix
  • Your clients are delighted with the service they receive – quote the headlines from your client survey in the entry and attach the full results as an appendix
  • Strong financial performance – quote your key numbers in the entry and then give a detailed breakdown in the appendix.

Collating your supporting evidence takes time and isn’t something that you can do at the last minute. However, it’s worth the effort. The evidence will bring your entry to life, add detail, and judges are far more receptive to it than an entry that exceeds the maximum word count.

#7: Make the judges’ life easy (and improve your chances of winning) by making your key points stand out

Award entries can be long, often up to 2,000 words. Judges might have to read as many as 10 entries. Furthermore, they might be judging multiple categories.

That means you need to do everything you can to make their life easier. On the webinar, we explained some ways to do that while making sure the judges read your key points:

  • Use subheadings to make your key points so that a judge skim reading your entry will still understand why you deserve to win
  • If the entry system allows you to, use bullet points (if you can’t then use an asterisk instead)
  • Use single line sentences
  • Use short simple language, with short sentences and paragraphs
  • Frontload your sentences and paragraphs with the point(s) you want to make.

#8: Don’t leave it to the last minute

As a judge, Lee explained that he can spot last-minute entries or those completed by a junior member of the team.

To avoid this happening, make sure that you give the right person or team member the responsibility of writing the entry. And give them enough time to produce an entry that maximises your chances of success.

#9: Get someone else to proof your entry (if you can’t try one of these tips)

Typos and poor grammar in an award entry aren’t ideal. That means your entry needs to be carefully proofread.

Ideally, that will be done by a different person to the entry’s author. However, not every firm has the luxury of multiple people to get involved in the process. So, if you’re on your own, make it easier to proof your entry by printing it out. It’s amazing the number of errors, typos, and opportunities to improve the writing you will see just because it’s printed.

If you can’t print it out, change something about the electronic version. Use a different font, increase the font size, use a different colour. Do anything to trick your eyes into believing that they are reading a different document. Again, you will be amazed at the difference this makes.

#10: Get passion into your entry

Lee finished our webinar by talking about the importance of getting passion into your entry.

If you don’t love your business, why will the judges?

Of course, your passion should be supported by evidence to back up your claims but, as Lee said, “the secret sauce in any award entry is when, as a judge in the middle of the judging session, it makes you smile. When you think, “my God, these people love their business and love their clients”.”

Helping you write winning entries

There are many ways we can help you to create winning award entries:

  • Our Adviser Awards Index will help you to select the right awards to enter
  • Our checklists will help you craft the perfect entry and promote your successes.

We’re also here to help if you want to outsource the entry writing process.

If you’d like our help, please get in touch by emailing or calling 0115 8965 300.

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