When you’re busy all the time, doing a good job and getting on with the core business of keeping your customers happy, it can be hard to think about the whole business of entering awards. It takes a bit of time, it takes a bit of effort, and perhaps you wonder if anyone takes any notice anyway?

Well at Building Relations we can assure you that winning an award – or even being shortlisted or Highly Commended – is a great way to get some extra publicity for your business, and is certainly worth finding some time for. The reason is simple; a great business, doing a good job every day of the week is, sadly, not news. A great business receiving an award for doing the good job it does every day of the week most certainly is news, and gives us an opportunity to promote your business into magazines, websites and even daily newspapers.

The way awards are structured often gives us more than one bite at the same cherry; we can announce to the world that you have been shortlisted for an award, then, after the ceremony, hopefully release pictures of the award being presented, or announce that you were a finalist, runner-up or highly commended. These are valuable opportunities to raise your profile, and well worth the time and entry fee.

There is a plethora of different awards out there, so whatever your business speciality, the chances are there’s an award for that – and part of our job is to keep a look out for opportunities that would suit your business. For our property developer customers, for instance, we’ve just finished putting together submissions for the WhatHouse? and International Property Awards, and the prestigious First Time Buyer and Evening Standard awards will be open for entries later in the year.

If you’ve never entered an award before, or you want to make better use of them, then here are our top tips for getting the most from your award entry:

Look ahead. There are awards running throughout the year, and it’s far better to get them in the diary early. Look ahead and schedule a meeting to discuss your entry well before submissions open, and allow at least four weeks before the closing date to give you plenty of time to put something together. Rushed, last-minute efforts can often look unprofessional and are far less likely to win you a top slot.

Read the small print. It should be obvious, but many entries end up being rejected because of technicalities – and you won’t get your entry fee back! Make sure you enter the correct category for the size of your business, supply the required information, and get everything in well before the closing date. You don’t want to miss out on an award because the post was delayed and it arrived too late to be considered.

Come up with something new. Awards judges want to see what you have done this year, not a project you completed years ago. They also really don’t want to see the same entry that you put in to the same competition last year (believe us, it does happen…). It’s OK to submit the same project to different awards, however, although make sure you tailor your entry to exactly what is being asked for.

Stick to the point. Judges have a lot of entries to wade through, so be concise and relevant from the start. Don’t spend lengthy paragraphs detailing your company history, or quoting statistics, or saying what you plan to do in the future; use the very first paragraph to state clearly why you should be considered for a particular award, then build on that in more detail in the pages that follow, trying not to digress too much.

Be factual. Everything you write in an awards submission should, it goes without saying, be true – just like fibbing on a CV, if it isn’t, the truth is bound to find you out! More importantly that that, it should be provable. Don’t rely on vague statements or hyperbole – if you want to say you’re the best or the biggest or the most successful then have you must be able to state the statistics or the market research to prove it.

Concentrate on the customer. It’s relevant if you’ve improved things internally in your company, invested in training or improved staff satisfaction; but what judges really want to know is what you have achieved for the end customer. So concentrate on what you offer to your clients and the unique selling points that you have there, and don’t be scared to share their positive feedback of you (with permission, of course).

Make sure it’s well written. This is an area where we can certainly help you, as we have the expertise in putting together an entry that abides by the word count and is clear, concise and grammatically correct. This is especially important, as with many awards your actual submission will be posted online or put into the magazine for readers to judge – and if it’s full of spelling mistakes it won’t look good.

Think about images. It’s not just words that will be sell your entry, images count as well. Make sure you have professional photos available, in a variety of file sizes to suit print and internet, that really show off your entry. If it’s a project, full colour photos that show everything clearly are a must. If it’s an individual award, please spend a few pounds on a professional portrait so they don’t end up with their fuzzy LinkedIn snap being used!

Make the most of the evening. Whether you come home with a trophy or not, awards evenings can be a successful way to promote your company. Most involve a good meal and some entertainment, and often offer a discount if you buy a whole table. It’s a lovely way to reward staff who have gone above and beyond to help the company, and an even better way to impress your customers if you invite them along to see your success.

Consider being a sponsor. You might also want to consider sponsoring an award – that way you get a mention every time that award category is featured in the press, as well as having your business featured constantly on the awards website and in all the press coverage following the presentations. Prices can be steep for national awards, but for very modest amounts you sponsor local awards, even school prizes, and gain a lot of goodwill and publicity.