Do you really want to win?

I am often asked to be a judge for various hairdressing industry awards and when my schedule permits I really enjoy doing it.

As someone who has entered many awards over the years and been fortunate enough to have sometimes won, I understand the effort that goes into the submissions, and it is always a privilege to see the passion and work that has gone into every entry. 

Although, probably like you, I don’t always agree with the collective decision by the judges as to what wins, I don’t believe that they are ever rigged. The people who win deserve to do so, but often it’s not just because they are so good at what they do, but, they understand what awards submissions should look like, they know ‘how to give themselves the best chance to win.

So when putting your ‘awards submission’ together start by putting yourself in the position of the judges who will usually have many entries to look at and compare, before eventually selecting their winner.

By paying attention to a few basic points you will increase the likelihood of your entry standing out from the competition.

So while different judges may look for different things, here’s my top 10 tips.

1. Read the entry form…

Read the entry form thoroughly and follow the instructions.

Plan out your answers to the questions asked in rough format, before finally committing them to your entry.

2. ‘Less’ really can be more!

Some awards are purely photographic, but many also have a written element to them. One of the things that always amazes me with award submissions is how often the person entering doesn’t stay on track, they lose focus and bombard their submissions with unnecessary and unasked for content.

Keep your answers succinct and to the point. The more ‘wordy’ an answer is does not necessarily make it better, in fact you run the risk of not making your point by overcomplicating your answer.

3. Be visually appealing…

If you spend a day or more judging dozens of different entries often the top ones will start to look and sound the same, so to stand out presentation is paramount.

It’s not always about spending excessive amounts of money, but engaging the services of someone with a graphic design sensibility is usually money well spent, as by presenting your submissions in a visually appealing way you are bound to stand out from the crowd.

4. Be factual and honest

Always keep your answers factual and honest. When asked for statistical information just state the facts.

For a judge, comparing facts and figures makes it easier to see who is performing at what level, don’t make the mistake of providing excessively complicated charts and expecting the judges to work out the answers for themselves because they simply don’t have the time to.

5. Be passionate

Award submissions should capture your passion, if it doesn’t inspire you …it’s not going to inspire anyone else either.

Even though it may be a business award, how can you make it reflect your passion, how can it capture the personality and emotion of you, your team and your brand?

What words, what images, what colours can you use to reflect your passion?

6. Keep it together…

Whenever possible keep all of your content bound together, if you have 2-3 components to your entry it is easy for them to become separated and you run the risk of not every judge getting to see all of your submission.

7. Be professional…

You may feel the need, [and have the budget] to engage other professionals in putting your submission together, from graphic designers, P.R. companies, copy-writers etc

Whilst that will potentially give you an edge [in terms of presentation] you still have to have ‘the content.’

We are a creative industry, you should be able to produce a very professional and well designed looking submission with some thought and hard work.

8. For multiple entries…

If you are entering multiple categories, whilst it may be important to keep ‘On Brand‘ with the look and feel of each submission, don’t fill them up with all the same reference material. 

9. Proof read…

Review your entry (or entries) one final time, preferably with a night’s break in between, before submitting them.

If you do that, it’s easier to spot any mistakes you might have made, or pick up grammatical or spelling errors.

10. And the winner is…

Remember, that although on the day there can only be one winner, by merely entering the Awards you are pushing yourself, focusing on your business and the key components that make it successful and that in itself has enormous benefits for you.

And if you don’t win, it’s not the end of the world. There are many people out there who enter year after year and never win but they still enter as they know that it’s not always about winning. After all, a group of judges who’s opinions you may or may not respect have voluntarily given up their time to choose who they collectively think is the winner, but not everyone is always going to agree with them.

Finally, good luck!

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