There are several award programs in the education industry that highlight organizations, products and services, and many call for entries in the early Spring. With this in mind, we wanted to share a few tips to help your company put its best foot forward throughout the application process.
1. Create a checklist or grid of all award programs that are appropriate for your company, and your products and services. This will help you keep track of deadlines, costs and application requirements.
2. Begin the application process at least one month prior to the deadline to ensure all requirements are in place well before the due date.
3. Visit the award program’s Web site to learn more about it and review its award categories.
4. Match your company, or its products and services, to the appropriate categories, carefully considering the cost and required resources.
5. Fill out the application forms. Many award programs require you to apply or nominate submissions online. Some offer a printable PDF to help you determine what will be needed when it comes time to complete the application online. Use this document to prepare before logging online to enter.
6. Most award programs ask for multiple copies of products. If your product is online only, many will ask for multiple login accounts. Use this to your advantage. With multiple accounts, you are able to monitor how many judges have logged in to review your product.
- Make sure your account information is valid for at least six months, unless the award program specifies that more time is needed for the judging process.
- Create simple login usernames and passwords that are easy to remember and use.
7. If your product must be shipped (i.e., software, videos), provide printed documentation of your submission (which usually still takes place online). We recommend including a letter to the award program coordinator highlighting what is in each box and how to contact you if needed.
8. Some award programs allow you to submit additional resources that support your nomination (either electronically, via fax or through the mail).
- If sending materials as e-mail attachments, or as uploads to a Web site, make sure files are clearly titled with your company and/or product name. Make sure the subject line of your note includes your company and/or product name, too.
- If sending hard copies, ensure your documents are well organized, and there are enough copies for each judge. Print all documents in color.
- All documents should showcase similar branding and styling. For example, be sure all documents feature the same logo and company tagline.
9. Items to consider sending along with your product/service:
- Instructions for how to use your product
- If a Web-based product, instructions for logging in to use the service
- Flash demos
- Reviewer’s guides
- Catalog information
- News releases or marketing information about the product/service
- Company background documents, including fact sheets, executive biographies and testimonials
- Positive evaluations from other reviewers
10. Some award programs allow you to offer judges a guided tour of your product (though judges usually are not required to participate). If this is the case, work with each judge to set up a time for a guided tour at his or her convenience. Remember, you are the one applying for the award!
- Keep the guided demo to less than one hour, preferably 30 minutes.
- Showcase the product as efficiently as possible, outlining key benefits and features.
- This is not a sales pitch, but an informational meeting. Use language that ensures the judge does not feel pressured or uninformed.
11. Determine how you will pay for your nominations, and have credit card information available when applying online.
12. For future reference, update your award programs grid after you have submitted each nomination to keep track of the programs and categories you entered. If you win an award, note this on your grid as well, as some award programs do not allow you to enter a winning product the following year.
Lastly, keep in mind that beyond the opportunity to win an industry award, you are creating the potential for a great public relations moment as well. If you are a finalist in the program, feel free to send employees, customers, potential customers, and media representatives a brief note highlighting this achievement. And, do so again when you win!