Ah, January. That strange post-Christmas period where B2B copywriters relearn how to juggle briefs like we’re in some kind of crazed copy circus, all while abstaining from things that we love. But hey, at least we’ve got awards season to look forward to.
And entering? Surely all it takes is to read the questions and have a wee gush about how great you are?
If only it was so easy.
Here at Radix towers, we’re flattered to have had our share of success writing clients’ awards entries. (Heck, we’ve even been nominated and won before in our own right, too.) And with deadlines looming, we thought it made sense to share a little of our secret sauce. Anyone can answer a question, but what does it take to actually win?
From our experience, it generally pays to be mindful of the following…
Knockin’ the judges dead (metaphorically, with words)
1. Stay on point.
Typically, you only have so many words to tell the judge why your candidate is so deserving of the award. Wasting time talking about how good Steve is at Magic: The Gathering wouldn’t win any us any favours – so we don’t (we’d need a lot more than 300 words for that, anyway).
Instead, we prioritise what makes our entry so unique, ground-breaking, and interesting – and present it proudly, right at the start. (With persuasive language, in an active voice.)
2. Provide evidence. For everything.
Our clients may love what we do, but if we can’t back up our grandiose claims with cold, hard stats, then we stick to the humble truth. If we are indeed the best (perhaps even the only) specialised B2B tech copywriting agency in the South West, then you can bet we’ll have the data to prove it. Nobody likes a blagger.
Wild, unsubstantiated statements undermine the credibility of everything else in your entry. So if you can’t prove it, don’t say it.
3. Tell a compelling story.
Who wants to read endless lines of self-congratulatory guff? OK, it may be the judge’s job to do exactly that, but let’s cut them some slack. Instead, we tell a compelling story that’ll seize their attention and keep them on our side.
Especially if you know the judging process includes a committee discussion, it pays to have a succinct, powerful “THIS is the one who did THAT”.
Of course, it’s still important to articulate why the candidate is so damn great, so it pays to break it down into a digestible beginning, middle, and end. For example: What objectives were set? How were these objectives met? And what super-amazing things happened as a result?
The judge needs to be able to describe exactly why you should win, in two seconds flat.
4. Mind the marking scheme.
The more we know about how the decisions are made, the better.
Sometimes, it’s obvious. If a question is worth double points, that’s the one where we really set our stall out. Often this means getting tactical; we may be itching to talk about a particularly juicy project, but in many cases, it pays to reserve the big guns for the highest-scoring questions.
If the scoring process is mostly numerical (each answer is scored out of ten, or five) then it’s a question of marginal gains: finding enough relevant things to say in each one, to gain a one-mark edge here or there.
But if it’s a group of people discussing each entry around a table, then it’s wiser to take the best shot as early in the entry as possible. It’s simple behavioural science: if they get a feeling early on that this entry is a good one, they’ll then see every subsequent point as a confirmation.
5. Check, check, and check again…
Slinging a first draft off for consideration may be tempting (gotta hit that deadline), but chances are we’d just secure a fast-track to the recycle bin. At Radix, we value quality – no rush jobs, no jargon, and no wince-inducing typos. It’s not like there are points for good grammar and spelling, but if it comes down to a gut decision, you need to look like a contender.
So we proof, we ask for a second opinion, we proof again… and then maybe (just maybe), we send.
[Editor’s note: it is an inescapable truth that the copywriting gods will now punish us for our hubris, and you’ll spot a typo in this blog post in the next three seconds. We can only apologise; such ancient and mischievous forces are beyond our control.]
The clock is ticking.
Most importantly, you do actually have to meet the entry deadline. (Yes, we know most awards end up extending the deadline “by popular demand” *cough* but you can’t rely on that.)
It’s not uncommon for an awards entry to run to 2,000 words or more. So if it’s going to be good, you do need to book out a fair chunk of time.
(Of course, nobody does… which might just be why a certain B2B copywriting agency finds late January tends to bring a sudden influx of urgent awards entries to write. Having ten writers in a room does mean we can turn things around pretty fast.)
If you have any questions about this post, or you’d like some help from Radix in hitting your own scary deadline, just get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
* Radix Communications Ltd cannot guarantee that you will win an award. Obviously. But by reading this far you have already won our esteem and our thanks. Well done you.