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Mar 31, 2023

Ticking All The Boxes Of Your Awards [Cheat Sheet]

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Creating and managing a winning awards program means paying attention to the details. So, if you want to succeed in this endeavor, every element and program phase is important. Namely, you want to make sure you tick all the boxes, starting with the basics and moving onto the more advanced stuff.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet we made for you that will help you tick all the boxes when creating your next awards program.

The ultimate awards program cheat sheet

✔️ A name that sticks

Man thinking

First impressions matter, which makes the name of your awards important. It gives an indication of what the awards are for from the off. A catchy name will always attract more attention than a generic one. Oh, and check to see if it will sound good as a domain name.

✔️ Identify your audience

Knowing your audience is central to everything you do for the rest of the awards. It’s probably the single most important element of your strategy. Do your research, and make sure you have identified and profiled your target audience well, so you can plan the rest of your awards accordingly.

✔️ A detailed plan

Planning is critical for awards management. Make sure you plan every phase of the program carefully and know exactly how much time you need every step of the way. Avoid approximate timelines as they often lead to bottlenecks throughout your program.

An awards competition usually has 4 main phases:

  • registration period (a.k.a call for entries)
  • entry submission (entrants work on and submit their applications)
  • entry evaluation (judging phase)
  • announcements (finalists, winners)

The longest stage should be the collection of entries, at least if you want as many as possible. The evaluation phase shouldn’t be too long, else you’re mixing anticipation with procrastination. Finally, you don’t want to wait too long to announce things like shortlisted entries, finalists, and winners of course

✔️ Team-up

Contact companies for partnership and sponsorship opportunities. The main thing here is to find sponsors that match your awards, industry, and/or the interests of your audience. It just needs to make sense for the potential sponsor to invest in your awards.

Don’t forget to also arrange some appropriate media partnerships - they’ll help you spread the word about your awards. Aim for media outlets whose readers are your target audience. If you’re organizing a local competition, for example, aim for local online outlets, newspapers, radios, etc.

✔️ Bang-on website

Your website is the face of your awards, where people come to find out more about your program and register for it. Having impressive yet informative and easy-to-navigate pages will enhance the credibility of your awards program and generate more conversions. 

If you don’t have a dedicated website, a single page devoted to your program can still get the job done. You can even easily build one with Evalato. However, if you do have a website dedicated to your awards, think about creating the following pages:

  • Categories - a separate page to display your categories in a well-structured way will be highly appreciated by applicants, especially if you have many categories;
  • How to enter - provide a timeline with deadlines, the steps an entrant must take to submit an entry, and any other information relevant to entering your awards
  • Judges - make a separate page to present the awards judges (with photos and short bios). Not only does this add credibility to your awards but your judges will also appreciate it.
  • Winners - a page to showcase current (for the most recent edition) or past winners (for previous editions)

Register page - we recommend paying special attention to this page and making it short and sweet. Evalato lets you embed the registration form directly into a page on your website with a simple copy-paste to deliver an uninterrupted sleek experience to your entrants.

✔️ Social proof

Social proof is necessary to create an aura of prestige, recognition, and good publicity for your awards. It’s a continuous effort that comes from selecting the right judges for the contest, having articles published about the awards by various media, attracting big-name sponsors and partners, displaying your achievements in numbers and stats, etc. Make sure you add customer testimonials and logos of companies participating in the awards on your website - it will make a difference.

✔️ Expert judging panel

Featuring industry experts on the judging panel spells prestige and publicity. Spend time selecting judges who will lend legitimacy to your program and become brand ambassadors of sorts, potentially attracting more entries.

✔️ Evaluation rules and criteria

Awards have an element of competition that absolutely requires you to carefully consider the judging phase and set some clear criteria for evaluating entries from the off. First, because participants need to understand how their entries will be judged, and second, because it’s what judges will use to score the contestants. Last but not least, having clear-cut rules and criteria will spare you a lot of potential trouble and complaints as the awards organizer.

Software like Evalato can then help you set up the whole judging phase quickly and easily. It enables you to tailor the judging process exactly to your requirements - from a simple review process to the most complex evaluation scenarios, complete with criteria, terms and conditions, and disclaimers.

✔️ Strong online presence

If your awards competition is not online, you’re doing it wrong. There are some 5 billion internet users out there, most of them getting stuff done online and you want to reach as many people as possible with your awards. And we’re not talking only about simply having an awards website but about maintaining a strong overall online presence: on social media, blogs, etc.

✔️ Marketing budget

Investing some time and money into marketing your awards, rather than merely organizing a program will help reach the right audience and help you make the most of this whole endeavor. To dig more into this subject, have a look at our super useful post on awards marketing here. This guide has so much food for thought in this regard, it will make your head spin.

✔️ Trophies, plaques, certificates

An award means nothing if the winner has nothing to show for it. Plan who gets what to commemorate their awards participation and make sure everything looks as professional as possible, so people would actually enjoy showing them off.

✔️ Additional goodies

Consider some extra goodies, like trophies for 2nd and 3rd place as well, website banners or badges that participants can use, certificates and plaques (can be physical or digital), and any other digital or non-digital goods you can think of.

✔️ Everything made easy

You’ve checked everything else on the list, but there’s still one more important thing to do – make all moving parts run smoothly. Everything should be easy not just for you, but for the award participants and program judges as well. Only then can the awards be considered a success.

And here’s where awards management software like Evalato comes in handy. It helps you handle every phase of your awards – from registration and entry submissions to judging and then showing the results.

Make sure you tick all boxes with your next awards program from the very start and you’ll see how much more smoothly it all goes after that. 

Need something more extensive than a cheet sheat? Our Ultimate Guide to Organizing an Awards Competition has you covered.

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