I wrote this post back in March 2014 as guidance on writing industry awards. After posting it, Max Cooter – then editor of CloudPro – included a comment from me on their own guide for writing a successful entry for the UK Cloud Awards:
4) Business benefits Jane Rimmer (who wrote the winning entry for Databarracks) has some excellent advice on how to write a winning entry. “For me to write eloquently about the product, project or service, I first have to really understand the benefits it has delivered to the customer”. Anyone writing an awards entry should have these words emblazoned on his or her forearm. The UK Cloud Awards are all about business benefits: yes, we like technological excellence, but it means nothing if it doesn’t deliver results for the customer. Too many entries that we read didn’t understand this simple rule. Similarly, for projects, there were a few that didn’t really set out what the aim of a project was. Most were spot on, but there were some that talked too much about the technology and not about the aims.
As we are entering the season of award entries, I thought I’d re-post this article in the hope that it may assist others. A final pointer, that many miss, is fully read the entry criteria. Failure to do so is highlighted by the recent Tech Target Best of VMworld awards in Las Vegas. Cohesity won the Data Protection category on technical merit but then had to concede the win as their product wasn’t GA, a key stipulation of entry. Read Patrick Rogers’, VP Marketing and Product, gracious blog post here to understand more.
Good luck on any awards you might be considering entering, and remember, you gotta be in it to win it!
I’ve cut and pasted the original article below:
Posted on March 5, 2014
All companies like to receive recognition, whether from customers, partners or the industry. There are so many industry awards in the market today, that one could spend their whole time just writing award submissions. But is there a receipe for a successful submission?
I’ve been fortunate over the years to have submitted entries for many of my clients that have resulted in either being a finalist or a winner. For me to write eloquently about the product, project or service, I first have to really understand the benefits it has delivered to the customer. Secondly, why is it different to the plethora of similar solutions/services in the market? Thirdly, what has the company achieved in terms of thought-leadership and, perhaps, changed practices due to their innovation or being a pioneer in a particular segment?
This is why awards submissions are better coming from an external resource rather than within the company, in my opinion. Because internal folk live and breath their company/product/solution and, sometimes, have drunk too much of the “Kool-Aid” to be totally objective. When submitting an entry for any award, the first thing is to really read the entry criteria. Put yourself in the judges’ shoes; they want a succinct overview fitting their criteria so they can ascertain in a few sentences, or paragraphs, the value of your entry. Secondly, don’t just repeat features/benefits from the marketing collateral; really delve deep into the deliverables against the specified criteria. Some awards don’t specify criteria, they just have categories and “submit 1500 words” – these are the harder ones to gauge. In my experience, though, a compelling entry combines innovation, demonstrating value to customers, leadership and, where required, customer testimonials, as all these elements have to have supporting proof points.
There is nothing like seeing a client receive an industry award and knowing your entry helped them to achieve the recognition, particularly when they look as chuffed as the CEO of my client Databarracks, winner of the Best Cloud Business Continuity Service Award at the recent UK Cloud Awards, sponsored by CIF and CloudPro.
Whilst all this might sound marketing 101, the obvious is what we sometimes forget and I hope this post serves as a pointer on what to focus on.