Creating and managing a winning awards program means paying attention to the details. So 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 cheat sheet of planning an awards program
✔️A name that sticks
It may seem unimportant, but the name of your awards is significant. It can give an indication of what the awards are for from the off. A catchy name will always attract more attention than a generic one. It’s not a key factor, but every little bit helps. Oh, and check to see if you can register a suitable domain.
✔️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 well.
✔️A detailed plan
Planning is critical when it comes to 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 entries 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.
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 sponsor 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.
Your website has to be the face of your awards, where people come to find out more about it and register for the program. Having impressive but also informative and easy-to-navigate pages will ensure the credibility of your awards program and generate more conversions.
Even a single landing page devoted to your awards competition can be enough, if you don’t have a website. You can even easily build one with Evalato. However, if you do have a website devoted to your website, 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 timeline with deadlines, the steps an entrant must take to submit an entry, and any other information that is important in regard to entering yout awards
- Judges – make a separate page to show 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 current edition) or past winners (for the previous edition)
- Register page – we recommend paying special attention to this page and make it as short and as sweet as possible. Evalato lets you embed the registration form directly into a page on your website with a simple copy-paste to achieve an uninterrupted sleek experience for your entrants.
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, and attracting big-name sponsors and partners along, displaying your achievements in numbers and stats, etc. Make sure you add customer testimonials and company logos participating in the awards on your website – it will make a great difference.
✔️Expert judging panel
Featuring industry experts on the judging panel spells prestige and publicity. Spend time to select judges who lend legitimacy to your program and also become brand ambassadors of sorts, who could actually attract more potential 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. There’s also the fact that as the awards organizer it’s how you get to spare yourself a lot of potential trouble and complaints.
A software like Evalato can then help you set 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.
✔️Strong online presence
If your awards competition is not online, you’re doing it wrong. There’s 4.5+ billion people out there, most of them using the Internet to get stuff done 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, online media, you name it.
Investing some time and money into marketing the awards, rather than merely organizing it, will help reach the precise audience and make the most of this whole endeavour. To dig more into this subject, have a look into 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.
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 nice and smooth. 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 an 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.