On Wednesday 4th July 2018, the prestigious Somerset Business Awards hosted a live panel for businesses thinking about entering the Awards. The experts talked through the entry process, answered burning questions in a Q&A format, gave advice on specific categories and encouraged potential entrants to start their applications.
The purpose of the live session was to delve into the Awards in greater detail, share top tips on how to impress the judges and maximise Award entries, as well as answering questions asked by the audience. Organised by the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, Head of Chamber Services, Alistair Tudor, kicked-off the event by introducing the live panel of experts and discussing the impressive 14 year history of the Awards.
Mike Cahill, Partner at Albert Goodman – main sponsor for the Awards and judges of the Albert Goodman Family Business Award – commented on why businesses should enter. He said, “The Somerset Business Awards provide many great opportunities for Somerset businesses to connect and grow. The Awards have become one of the most important and popular fixtures in the County’s business calendar, and the strength of the Awards is endorsed by the vast number of winners who have subsequently gone on to grow their business and even sponsor one of our categories.”
The expert panel included Greg Saunders, Chairman of the Somerset Chamber, Emma Warren, Managing Director of Elite Staffing Solutions – who won two Somerset Business Awards last year – Beki Sharman, PR Account Manager at ADPR – Award sponsors and co-ordinators of the PR support for the Somerset Business Awards – and Loren Gray, Events Manager at Somerset Chamber of Commerce, who organise the Awards.
Here are some of the judge’s top tips:
Benefits of entering:
- Use the Awards to help you grow – a “shortlisted” or “winner” logo gives you the edge over your competitors when a potential new client, employee or investor is thinking about working with you.
- It’s a great PR opportunity – award successes present a great opportunity for publicity. Not only do the Somerset Chamber of Commerce and sponsors publish press articles – but you can too. Shout loudly about your win(s) and don’t forget to use your ‘winner’ or ‘finalists’ logos on your website, literature and any corporate marketing materials.
- It can help fuel continuous improvement – the award application process encourages you to pause and reflect on your successes, as well as helping to identify opportunities for improvement.
How to write a “killer” entry:
- Read and re-read the criteria – this sounds simple enough, but you are probably busy and want to get the written entry completed as soon as possible. The criteria is set by the judges, so this is what they’ll be marking your entry against and each category has a specific scoring system and a list of information you need to provide. Remember that each Award has different criteria, so if you’re entering more than one Award, ensure your entries are different for each.
- Once you are happy with your entry, save it and review it a few days later or give it to another professional to read and review – you might have a different perspective on things in a few days’ time and an outsider to the business can give you more honest and open feedback. They can also flag any industry “jargon” that the judges might not understand.
- Always back up your claims with evidence, especially proof of strategic success, financial growth, customer testimonials, leadership and social responsibility. Remember, anything you submit will be kept strictly confidential.
- Get your team involved – they may have additional ideas about what you can put in your entry, why your business is outstanding or examples of growth, success or the “wow factor” that you haven’t thought about. This will also give them an invaluable sense of loyalty and pride to be involved in the process.
- Proof and proof again, make sure there are no typos, spelling mistakes or grammatical errors – consider asking a colleague or associate to review your entry before submitting.
General top tips for awards:
- Start the process as early as possible, allowing enough time to gather evidence and testimonials, gain valuable input from key stakeholders around the business.
- Keep it simple and focus on what the judges are actually asking for in the judging criteria.
- Plan your presentation – the written entry will hopefully get you through to the next round, but shortlisted businesses are then invited to present to the category judge. Make your shortlisted entry a winning entry by putting the same, if not more, energy into preparing for this all-important stage and ensure your full team is prepared for that crucial phone call.
- Ask for feedback – whether you are successful in being shortlisted or not – feedback will help you to be successful with next years’ entry.
The Somerset Business Awards are free to enter for all Somerset based businesses and businesses should nominate themselves. The Awards will officially close for entries on Friday 31st August 2018 at midday.
Judging takes place between the 3 – 21 September and culminates with a spectacular black-tie ceremony taking place on Friday 19th October 2018 at Wellsprings Leisure Centre in Taunton – where more than 400 VIP guests will celebrate outstanding businesses in Somerset.
The Somerset Business Awards is active on Twitter, please follow @SomBizAwards for all the latest news and updates with #SBA2018.
To enter and for further information, please visit: www.somersetbusinessawards.org.uk.