It's awards season in the marketing industry again. Is this a moment to cheer? Not really. Most marketers are pulling their hair out putting their entries together. Save the cheers for if and when you win.
To help you through this tough time, here are a few tips on how to write an award entry that wins awards. It's something I've been doing for some years now.
If you're struggling with an entry, these ideas could inspire you and fire a few grey cells.
KNOW YOUR JUDGES
This is one that you never see offered as advice. But it is important. And it's common sense.
You wouldn't market a product to prospects without first grabbing the best research into their demographics, habits and tastes. In the awards, the judges are your prospect.
They tend to be highly-regarded, senior players in the industry. Most often, they are over 30-years old, though not always. And in the big international awards programmes that everyone wants to win – like Cannes – they come from all over the world.
So how do you ask a 45 year-old marketer to understand your niche, youth-oriented campaign? And can you realistically expect a Latin American judge to understand the Chinese market?
Granted, they are very experienced people. They may have a background in your category and some of them may have worked in your market. But in your award entry, you should never assume knowledge.
TELL A UNIVERSAL STORY
Tell a 'universal story'? Surely you need to tell a unique story to win? Yes, but I mean a story that is both universally recognisable and understandable to all.
There are two ways to achieve this.
First, always use plain English. Common, short words work best – 'use' not 'utilise', etc. You may know this. But as you write your entry, you may fall back into this habit without realising. Keep an eye out for it. Your sentences need to trip off the tongue when you read them aloud, and not sound clunky or joined together clumsily with words like 'then' or 'next', which seem to break the story unnaturally.
Second, you need to make your story both as relevant and universal as possible. So if you are writing about an obscure Chinese tablet PC, you could make it relevant by describing it as 'China's version of the iPad'. To make it universal, reduce the story in your head to the simplest narrative you can. Are you telling a 'rags to riches' story? Was it a David and Goliath situation?
Of course, you should never use these phrases ('This was a traditional rags to riches story') because you just wasted eight words and gave the game away. They are simply templates or tools you can use to frame the main elements of your story in your own mind.
Used successfully, these tools give your awards entry a storyline that judges from anywhere can grasp quickly. And if your entry is full of great achievements, your written entry has just removed a few barriers to winning high recognition.
NEXT TIME: The value of insight in awards