The Stevie Awards Blog

How to Win Stevie Awards: 4 Ways to Find Awards Candy

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Thu, Jan 31, 2013 @ 10:14 AM

Chris Robinson, Managing Director of Boost Marketing, outlines some of the ways that this UK-based international award-entry consultancy helps its clients to select what to enter into an awards competition.

Chris RobinsonIn a meeting with your CEO it’s agreed that your company will enter one of the Stevie® Awards competitions. Decision made. Your CEO then walks out of the meeting, so now all you have to do is make it happen.

A Bigger Decision

Although the initial decision to enter has been made, now you have to make an even more important decision, perhaps the most important one of all when it comes to any awards strategy: You have to decide what your award-worthy story—or as we call it at Boost Marketing, your “awards candy”—is going to be.

For small businesses, the history of the whole business is often the story, so this is not such a hard decision; but for larger, well-established organisations the decision can be a much trickier. Larger organizations will have many individuals, teams, departments, strategies, projects, products, and campaigns, each with their own story to choose from.

Picking the Right Story

Any one of these stories could make a suitable entry, but they may not all be equally likely to win a prestigious award such as a Stevie.  Plus, pick the wrong story and you will not just be wasteful of the company’s time, money, and energy, you will also disappoint your CEO when it is not short-listed.   And if you are entering on behalf of a client, and the submission goes nowhere after all the hassle of getting that client’s approval, it can actually harm your business relationship.

Make the Extra Effort

Going by gut instinct or by who shouts the loudest are not ideal ways to decide which stories to enter for an award.  You’ll need to take a little more care in choosing your best stories. The extra effort will pay big dividends in the long term.

To decide which stories are worth entering into awards and which are not requires a fair and systematic approach that cannot be contested.  Such a system should be able to demonstrate clearly that while one person’s pet project may be a no hoper, another lower profile but ingenious story may be a strong contender for awards recognition.

Brainstorming

When we run brainstorming sessions with our clients on what to enter for an award, something that happens time and again is that a story is tabled which, when rated, gets very high marks and goes on to win.  Yet at the time of the session, people will say:  “I would never have thought of entering that.”

How to Filter Your Choices

There is no one-size-fits-all format for a brainstorming session. You can use anything from post-it notes scattered on a whiteboard to a flip chart.  Just remember that Ii doesn’t really matter about the format so long as the session has the following ingredients:

1.  Get everyone around the table who might know about the best stories.

2.  Before starting the brainstorming process, make sure all the stories are tabled—good and bad—without filtering out anything.

3.  Agree on a scoring system that everyone buys into, and then rate each story using this scoring system.

4.  Double-check the highest-scoring stories with the group to ensure there is consensus on which stories are chosen.

At this point the most important decision will have been made. Better still, everyone will leave the room happy with this decision.

Two examples of unexpected awards Candy have been a small initiative to help the long-term unemployed get call-centre jobs at a multinational organisation; and a partnership between the regional office of a British company with the local Citizen’s Advice Bureau, both of which were chosen over multi-million dollar corporate projects.  Yet neither of these stories had been considered for awards glory beforehand.

Remember: the obvious choices are not always the right choices.

The Final Decision

Having completed the step of deciding what stories to enter into an awards competition, you need to match your best stories against the categories and awards available. The Stevie Awards, for example, offer many categories to choose from across all of their awards competitions.  (See the schedule of Stevie Awards competitions in 2013.)

With the Stevie Awards there are a wide variety of categories to choose from, including many new and revised categories for 2013. The Stevie Awards staff are always happy to help with your category selection.  You can contact them at help@stevieawards.com.

There are hundreds of other awards and competitions out there for businesses, and you can find a list of most of them on various Boost web pages, but we strongly recommend you start by picking the most suitable categories within the Stevie Awards.

About Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson is Managing Director of Boost Marketing, the world’s first award-entry consultancy, which now has a team of 15 awards-entry consultants based around the world. The Boost website lists awards for the U.S., United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand. Since the company was founded in 2006, Boost Marketing consultants have helped over 200 businesses win over 400 awards.

 

Tags: business awards, stevie awards, boost marketing, chris robinson, how to win

3 Benefits to Entering The Stevie® Awards

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Nov 14, 2012 @ 04:40 PM

Chris Robinson, Managing Director of Boost Marketing, a UK-based international business awards entry consultancy, uses research to argue that simply entering the Stevie® Awards, the world's premier business awards program, can provide such substantial benefits that literally everyone who goes to the trouble of putting together a well-researched award submission is a winner. Here Chris discusses his findings.

Chris Robinson, Boost MarketingIf I were to ask you: “Who benefits the most from entering the Stevie Awards?” you would be justified in answering: “The winners, of course.” You might even think it a ridiculous question.

Is it a ridiculous question, though?  In my job at Boost Marketing, I help companies enter awards, and I often hear the line: “I only want to enter if I’m going to win.” I find this a frustrating sentiment, because it is based on a flawed assumption: that the only people who benefit from The Stevie Awards are the winners.

Crafting a strong award submission requires a substantial amount of research, evidence gathering, and writing. Furthermore, attending an awards presentation consumes even more time and budget. So how can you possibly justify all this when there is a significant likelihood you may not actually win?

An obvious answer is that even a small chance of winning a prestigious award is a chance worth taking. But this again assumes that only winners benefit. So are there other benefits—benefits you can enjoy even if you fail to win?

To answer this question, my company surveyed some awards finalists before the winners were announced (to ensure people were still open-minded). We were delighted that, when prompted, 70% of them could name specific benefits that they experienced by simply entering the awards.

The benefits people listed were extremely varied, but three of them were clear winners in terms of popularity:

  1. The submission process improved evaluation (the measuring of a company or organization’s success to provide evidence in its award entry);
  2. It demonstrated the company or organization’s commitment to excellence; and
  3. It motivated employees.

Improved Evaluation
The most popular benefit, that of improved evaluation, might seem odd to those who have not recently taken a shot at winning an award. To help illustrate this, I would like to share a story.

One recent Stevie Award winner, whose business had been established for over a decade, had always resisted running a customer survey because she feared the customers would use it as a stick to beat her. Eventually, she ran a survey in order to prove to the awards judges just how customer-focused her business was. When she finally saw the scores and comments, she became quite emotional: The survey showed that her customers had an extraordinary affection for her and her business.

Without that quick and inexpensive survey, the business owner would never have known just how much her customers appreciated her business, nor would her business have won the award without the confirmed approval ratings. In other words, she was a winner before she actually won the Stevie Award.

The simple process of putting your business and its achievements under the microscope for an award submission can be extremely beneficial. Measuring a company’s outstanding achievements can give employees pride in their work, increase internal credibility, and boost confidence and morale. Employees can discover whether their perception of what they do, day in and day out, bears up under scrutiny.

This process requires courage, but it can be worthwhile if used properly. Lessons learned can lead businesses to raise the bar and make further improvements.

Commitment to Excellence
CEOs will often use awards as key performance indicators. I have seen this in a broad range of industries including automotive, banking, insurance, and training.  Is this just an exercise in Public Relations? Well, maybe a little, but the main reason why CEOs tout these awards is because they want their businesses—and the departments in them—to aim for more than just best practice.  They want their employees to focus on being the best.

These days there is a big difference between simply achieving best practice and being the best in an industry.  It’s the difference between being the leader, and being in the pack trying to catch up. CEOs know that a credible award like a Stevie is a true measure of success.

The Positive Effect of Competition
When one department wins an award, other departments see the attention and praise heaped upon their colleagues and want similar recognition. This has an extremely positive effect. 

People also soon realize that you cannot win an award simply by writing a great entry. Judges are too smart for this. It is not good enough just to sound outstandingAwards are for those who actually are outstanding. A badly written, badly evidenced award submission prevents the judges from learning just how good a company really is.

Awards are rather like Olympic medals in that they discourage people from settling for best practice and encourage them to raise their game and to leave their competition in the dust.

Motivation
Motivation goes to the very heart of why The Stevie Awards are so important. Look more closely at the crystal pyramid held aloft by the 16” tall, 24-karat gold-plated Stevie Award trophy and you will discover another reason to enter these awards: The pyramid represents the Hierarchy of Needs, developed in the 1960s by psychologist Abraham Maslow, who observed that after basic needs are met, human beings seek the esteem of their peers.

Maslow was referring to individuals, but the principle applies just as well to teams, departments, and whole businesses. This is why The Stevie Awards recognize all of these categories in their business competitions.

Do you need to win an award to gain recognition from your peers? Of course not.  But to have a peer tell you or your team: “I am so impressed by you that I want to enter you into an international awards program,” and to follow that up by writing a glowing award submission, will have a positive effect on the self esteem and motivation of your employees, win or lose.

Conclusion
Whether you are confident about entering one of The Stevie Awards competitions or not, understand that while winning one of these handsome trophies is enormously beneficial, so too is the process that you have to go through just to put together an entry. It will focus and sharpen the awareness of what you are doing right; it will provide a catalyst for continuing improvement and motivation; and it will help satisfy that basic business and human need: appreciation and respect.

The Stevie Awards are now conferring Silver and Bronze Awards in addition to the main Gold Stevie Award, meaning that you are three times more likely to be a winner.

About Chris Robinson:
Chris Robinson is Managing Director of Boost Marketing, the world’s first award-entry consultancy, which now has a team of 15 award-entry consultants based around the world. Since the company was founded in 2006, Boost Marketing consultants have helped over 200 businesses win over 400 awards.

Tags: business awards, International business awards, American business awards, stevie awards for women in business, Stevie Awards for Sales & Customer Service, The Stevie Awards, boost marketing, chris robinson

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