Oftentimes a great company is let down by poor award applications when applying for small business awards in the UK as much as national business awards in the UK. When it comes to these awards, it is not enough for a business to be great, they must present and prove this fact by telling their story effectively and showing evidence of the benchmarks they have reached. Answering award application questions correctly is important for a variety of reasons, and gaining the best chance of winning the award is only one of them. The answers a business owner gives to these questions is a self reflective process and can shade their achievements and fallbacks in a brand new light. In a word, it helps them with their endeavours. With that said, here are nine rules to follow when answering award application questions.
1. Questions must be read carefully.
When writing answers for award applications, there is often a lot of information that a business owner wants to present, and it can be easy to go off road. After all, the story of a business’s success and how they have reached it has many facets and all of them are linked. But saying a million things is no good when applying for business awards. Answers must be on point and relevant to the question, each sentence stemming from the next, so that each one cannot exist without the one before it. A helpful technique is to underline the key words of each question and plan the answers around them.
2. Answers must be written clearly and concisely.
All of the relevant information relating to the specific question at hand must be presented clearly and be easily digested by anybody reading it. It is not conducive to attempt to wow the judge with flowery language and obtuse terminology. Simple, declarative sentences are clearer, make the ideas and information presented transparent, and make for better writing.
3. All claims must be proven.
A great deal of point, evidence and explanation should be used when answering business award application questions. Making claims is not good enough - the claims must also be proven. Doing so is not only helpful for the judge, but comes off as transparent and authentic, which puts a business’s application form in good stead with the judge. Business owners must bear in mind that the judge will dig into each application and fact check it. Business strategies, blueprints and SWOT analyses come in handy in this regard, because when strategies are on paper this helps a business owner to prove their successes and drawbacks, and easily show how they have developed. This also helps with brand storytelling techniques. We will discuss the importance of these in point 6.
4. All questions must be answered.
When going through the questions, getting jaded by them is inevitable, especially when answering one after the other. From here it is a short step to putting particular questions on the back burner to be sorted out at a later date. This is fine, and reaching a point of exhaustion is understandable, but a business owner must remember to answer all of the questions, because judges will mark applications down for missing questions out. Business owners must remember that one missed question could be the death of their application.
5. Take weeks, not days.
Awards applications must be completed over a reasonable period of time, not rushed over a span of a few days. Claims made will need to be fact checked, the form proofread in its entirety - potentially multiple times - and the process as a whole must be a thorough one. For this reason, it is important to begin that process weeks ahead of the deadline rather than days. This gives applicants the time they need to fill the forms out in as much detail and with as many proven claims as they feel is appropriate, before making that final submission.
6. The narrative must be weaved!
Employing brand storytelling techniques is important when answering questions on an award application. For example, many awards will stress the importance of telling the story of the business in their submission guidelines, and it is true. Doing so is important, hardships included. The judges are human and understand the highs and lows of starting and maintaining a successful business, and it is relatable for them to read these. Moreover, the barriers that a business has overcome, or the road to reaching a sustained level of development, are twice as impactful when proven.
7. The application must be proofread and revisions should be considered.
This is another important reason why weeks should be given to this process rather than days. A business owner will want to proofread and fact check their work, and they may choose to turn to external sources for this purpose such as freelancers. Conversely they may turn to internal sources such as coworkers. Whichever the case, the process of sending the application off and getting it back again, only to then make revisions could take a considerable amount of time and it is important to allow for this so that any revising can be done in good time, and in great confidence. Not attending to these checks can be regretful and may cost the business owner well deserved points.
8. Make it easy.
This is a broader point, but important to implement throughout the application process, and that is to make all aspects of the form easy to digest. For instance, business owners write their answers without talking down to the judge or overloading them with excess terminology. Business owners must bear in mind that judges could be reading through anything from 50 to 100 applications (in some cases, more) and so it is important to make the information given in their form clearcut, that they don’t waste words repeating statements, and be blunt and honest. Saving the judge some time is always a good thing.
9. Leave nothing out.
Equally, no stone should be left unturned. All aspects of the company, whether it is the direct actions of the business itself or extra curricular aspects such as additional training courses taken, should be included. Business owners must find a relevant position for these details.
If all of these rules are followed then the application submitted will be ahead of the others and give the thriving business owners the best chance of success.