The Ultimate Guide to Organizing an Awards Competition

CHAPTER 1:
Why Organize an Awards Competition?

If you are an event organizer, a media outlet, or an association, if you enjoy organizing events or just participate in awards competitions, maybe at some point you’ve considered starting your own awards competition. Let’s put your mind at ease  –  you totally should! Sure, it’s a tough job and normally only masochists willingly submit to torture. Then again, there are some tangible benefits to your business, not to mention it’s much easier when you have the right information to guide you to success!

Everyone loves awards

It’s true. One of the key reasons why competitions generate so much buzz and why you want to start an awards competition. Companies understand the strategic value of awards as a means to becoming more competitive in today’s business climate. Receiving an award means:

  • Recognition  –  a win or nomination can have great impact on the growth of a company and help it gain further recognition in its field.
  • Credibility  –  for example, if a company has embraced innovation as their number one priority, then an innovation award can give considerable weight to such claims.
  • Public relations  –  the acknowledgement that comes with awards is top PR, especially if the awards are aligned with a good cause.
  • Increased profits  –  award winners enjoy bigger sales growth compared to their competitors.
  • Teambuilding  –  winning or even participating in an awards competition boosts team morale that resonates in the workplace.

These are reasons enough for companies to have a budget for awards and jump at the chance to participate.

“What’s in it for me?” you ask, what exactly could you gain from creating an awards competition?

How about…

New business leads and contacts

Obviously, if you have a database with existing leads and contacts, you will get in touch with them first. But an awards contest has high potential for bringing many new business opportunities for the reasons pointed out above. We cover this in-depth in the chapters that follow.

Extra publicity for your organization

That’s not to say you’ll automatically get free publicity because you’re organizing an awards competition. But awards are the darlings of the event industry and as such generate more internet buzz, media coverage, shares, likes and commentary on social networks. Awards are just exciting!!

New partnerships within your industry, maybe other industries as well

Because everyone’s fascinated by awards competitions, there’s great potential for arranging new media partnerships and even working with companies that aren’t part of the events industry. They’re great for branching out.

A new income channel

Look, it’s not about the money, but money is money. Any source of income for your organization is definitely worth the time and effort, so let’s not pretend this isn’t a “biggie.” Even non-profit and charity organizations can do with some extra resources and a new income channel.

Potential for some good PR by aligning with a good cause

An awards competition can serve a good cause, such as distinguishing excellence in science, environmental efforts, great innovations in different fields etc.

If these are of no interest to you or your business, then you can safely ignore the rest of this e-book.

OK, now that the non-believers are gone, it’s time to get busy!

The naming of things

Come up with a name for your awards. The name is important. Actually, everything is important, if you want to succeed. For the purpose of this e-book, we’ll name our awards, the 2017 Weemss Destination Awards. It helps if the name you choose gives an indication of what the awards are for. In our case, the competition will be for the top event destinations in 2016 across the globe. A really good and catchy name will always sell more than a generic one. It’s far from a key factor, but helps a lot. Take your time coming up with that name.

Have a name ready? Great! Let’s move onto the next chapter on how to make our awards competition magnificent, glorious, or at the very least, prestigious!

Weemss Tip: With its Awards management solution Weemss delivers great customizability for your awards competition and will do the heavy work, so you don’t have to. The service is easy to use and lets you create your awards in just a few minutes.

CHAPTER 2:
How to Make it Work?

What’s the first thing that pops into your head, when you hear the word AWARDS? Is it a gold-plated trophy, the red carpet at the Oscars, flashing lights, celebrities in tuxedos and designer dresses?

It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the Emmys or your local squash league, аwards are all about recognition, prestige and publicity. We covered some of this in the previous chapter but let’s go over it once more…

We participate and have always participated in awards competitions for:

  • Recognition  –  having our work and efforts recognized and acknowledged
  • Prestige  –  being on a level with the best of the best and being the “best”
  • Publicity  –  having this prestige and recognition seen by the public, industry peers, and most importantly, by our neighbours.

The so-called social proof is what we will be using to create an aura of recognition, prestige and publicity for our awards competition. The social proof will come from selecting the right judges for the contest, getting published in the right media and attracting the right sponsors and partners along for the journey.

“Think of it as building the foundation for massively scalable word-of-mouth.”

Aileen Lee, famous venture capitalist and blogger

Let’s examine the factors that make our awards competition stand out and emerge as the all-new [Enter Flashy Awards Name Here] everyone wants to be part of.

The Judges

If you want to organize a competition that matters, you have to pick judges that are easily recognizable, so that their expertise matters among both the participants and the public. In other words, the judges must be well-known in the industry, and they need to exhibit professionalism. Industry professionals commonly referred to as ‘influencers’ or ‘trendsetters’ are also a pretty solid choice for members of the judging panel. An alternative is to look for celebrities to join as judges, however, unless it’s for a charitable cause, it’s highly unlikely they’ll jump at the chance pro bono.

Judges from your industry are more likely to participate for their very own recognition, publicity and prestige benefits. Celebrities that have little to no stake in your industry will not have a vested interest in becoming more prominent there. It also matters for participants too  –  who would you love to examine your thesis on “Black Holes and Dark Matter”  –  renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson or Taylor Swift?

There’s one last thing you need to consider for your judges panel – make sure there’s no conflict of interest. This is absolutely vital as it can ruin the credibility of your competition, and once you lose this, it’s an uphill battle to gain it back.


Finding Your Judges


“Influencers”

“Individuals who have the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of their (real or perceived) authority, knowledge, position, or relationship.”

We said we are organizing the “Weemss Destination Awards” competition, so we’ll need to look for people that have authority, knowledge, popularity and recognition in event planning, tourism, venue and destination marketing. Luckily, there are a number of free online tools to help us hunt down those individuals.

The following free web applications will help you find the most prominent accounts, companies and people in any professional field:

  • Keyhole for finding influencers from Twitter and Instagram
  • Followerwonk for finding influencers on Twitter
  • Klout for finding accounts, companies and individuals that are rated as experts in a particular field across various social media
  • Buzzsumo for finding the most shared articles and authors online in a given field
  • Linkedin is also great for finding individuals and companies that specialize in the sector you are targeting.

In the top search bar of Linkedin you can research:

  • individuals with the skill-set of your target field, in our case  –  event planning, tourism, tourism marketing etc.
  • public and private groups for specialists in the field
  • companies from the field

In Linkedin you can also target your searches to find close connections and individuals or companies in a given geographic area (if you want to find local influencers).

QUICK TIP: Not everything we read online is true, right? This applies to your judges panel as well. Make sure the judges you invite know the field well and are the right people to evaluate the awards entries. If they are, they would have written books, spoken at events in their field and would have been featured in media publications. Which leads us to…

Media

If we’re talking about influence, there’s none bigger than that of the media. There are plenty of magazines that cater to the various professional sectors, you just need to find them and their editors’ contact details. You will always find an editor or a prominent journalist in a panel of judges. They are well informed, and because their profession demands it, they are impartial  –  key qualities for a credible member of the judging panel.

Editors of industry-specific publications are influencers in the field, and authors of more general publications who cover your industry are also very knowledgeable and influential. With the right pitch (more on that later), they will see the value of their participation as judges in your awards competition.

Even if you, yourself, are part of the media guild, don’t be afraid to partner with other, even competing media.

QUICK TIP: Industry publications sometimes have their own awards, so be careful not to offer the editorial staff participation in a competing event.

Companies

How about companies from the sector? For the “Weemss Destination Awards,” we can target event planning companies, hotel chains, big travel agencies, or even more recent disruptors like Airbnb and Uber.

Find the names of the company directors or owners, they will have the most clout as judges in the awards competition. However, the first point of contact should be the public relations (PR) or marketing team  –  they are most likely to see the value of the company directors participating (recognition, prestige, publicity!).

Keep in mind you will also be contacting companies to sell your awards competition, entries and sponsorship packages, so make sure there will be no conflict of interest and no lost sales and business. Carefully consider each company you contact for the judges panel.

Associations

Every industry and sector has an association or governing body. For our “Weemss Destination Awards” that would be the M.I.C.E. industry  –  Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions or Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events. Some of the associations in the M.I.C.E. industry are ILEA, ABPCO, MPI. There are a lot more, and each one has different goals and target members, while some cater to particular geographic regions.

Research and find the associations and governing bodies in your industry, browse through the members, the chairpeople, find the ones that will have the most influence as judges in your awards competition.

Even if you work for an association, you may still be able to work with competing associations, so don’t rule them out!

QUICK TIP: Industry associations usually have their own awards, so be careful not to offer them participation in a similar competition to theirs.

The Benefits for the Judges

Now that we have a list of places to look for judges for our awards competition, it’s time to work on getting them to agree to participate.

Apart from the obvious personal benefits, there are plenty of non-CV related virtues to being a an awards competition judge:

  • Your name and company will be on the awards competition website.
  • Your name and company will be shared across various social media channels.
  • Your name and company will be featured in press releases.
  • Your name and company will be featured in media publications.
  • You will be further established in your industry as a leader and influencer.

Make sure potential judges are made well aware of all these opportunities, and for that matter, any additional ones you think of. If it’s appropriate, or if there is a possibility, you can also entice their participation with additional offerings:

  • sponsorship packages
  • product or services positioning
  • interviews and media publications

QUICK TIP:  Take time to carefully consider all the possibilities presented to the judges, it is indeed a great opportunity from all aspects  –  personal, professional, business and social.

Partners and Sponsors

We mentioned using company representatives as judges for your awards panel, but you will also need to contact companies for partnership and sponsorship opportunities.

Because our “Weemss Destination Awards” are online and global, we will be looking to contact big companies like Lufthansa, British Airways, hotel chains like Hilton, Radisson, and of course, any other company interested in promoting their business further in the M.I.C.E. sector.

If your awards competition is smaller or local in scale, find local companies. It is important that you match the sponsors to the participants. Who are your participants? Age, sex, education, profession, income? What kind of company would benefit from reaching your competition’s participants? Choose your targets carefully, and you will have a much better chance of striking a deal!

The main goal? Funding and prizes! Well, of course there is also “social proof” in having their widely recognized logo on the awards competition website, and their name featured in press materials, but these large companies are also able to finance the awards competition and offer enticing prizes for the winners.

For the “Weemss Destination Awards” we can ask our sponsors for prizes such as free air miles, discount venue rates, special hotel rates, a free holiday or vacation etc.

In return, here are some ideas on what you can offer to these companies:

  • headline the competition
  • sponsor particular entry categories that are most relevant to them or one of their products
  • add their logo to your competition’s email communication
  • email marketing opportunities
  • access to the whole database of participants  –  potential leads

Media Coverage

Awards are meant to be seen, competitions announced far and wide, and potential participants targeted and reached! You will need to scour the Internet for industry-specific and general media outlets that cover your industry as well as influential industry bloggers. You can use the free web resources mentioned earlier to find the relevant editors, journalists and bloggers.

Write to chosen contacts and explain the grandness and purpose of your awards competition. Don’t just send press releases hoping to get published – introduce yourself and your idea. Explain how your contest matches the interests of their readers. Mention the names of your prominent judges and the companies that will be partnering with your awards competition. Ask for a call or a meeting!

Apart from the more straightforward, factual information about your awards competition, you can also offer:

  • interviews with judges and contestants (if they agree, of course)
  • insights into organizing the awards
  • industry know-how

QUICK TIP:  How about a Partnership? You can offer online media outlets to feature them as “media partners” in your awards competition. Add their logo on the website. Offer their editors a chance to be on the judges panel. Include them in your PR and marketing communication.

The Trophy

Every awards competition and contest needs its trophy, so you will need to plan for the following:

  • a physical trophy with a unique design for the winners
  • online banners for the winners
  • certificates and plaques for the runner-ups
  • online banners for the runner-ups (optional really)

Trophies and plaques

If you don’t have a unique trophy design in mind, don’t worry, most awards manufacturers have off-the-shelf trophies that you can customize with your own branding and colours! The same goes for plaques.
Certificates

The Certificates for the winners and runner-ups need to be signed and stamped. Make sure the document looks professional, majestic and unique.

QUICK TIP:  You can download free certificate designs from Freepik.

Online banners

The digital logos need to clearly outline what they stand for and what awards competition they are from. You might want to add the winners’ names and company logos to make sure they are not copied by others and also to give the winners a feeling of success and achievement.

Try and find creative agencies that may want to showcase their services and ask them to design the awards collateral. They will benefit from the publicity!

Weemss Tip: Weemss offers a full Awards management solution that covers every process of the competition – from registrations, to judge invitations, entry submissions and the judging phase. It’s sleek and a joy to use for you, your entrants and the competition judges!

CHAPTER 3:
Creating, Promoting and Selling Entry Categories

You should by now have a clear concept of your competition, but it is the entry categories that will bring an even clearer, defining point for your awards.

Coming up with the right entry categories requires some planning. In an ideal world, you want to have as many options as possible, so that everyone can participate, while at the same time you don’t want to add so many entry categories that the competition loses its value for the winners. Even worse, potential participants may be thrown off by the sheer volume of possibilities and eventually lose interest in competing.

For example, for our Weemss Destination Awards, we want to incite a maximum number of venues to participate, therefore, we must have different categories for the different types of venues. Different venues cater to different events and audiences. Congress and convention center venues are extremely large, conference venues may not necessarily always be big (but in general are usually quite spacious). Breaking up the venue categories will thus guarantee much more entries and interest. Here are our sub-categories for Best Event Venue:

  • Conference centers
  • Congress and Convention centers
  • Hotels with meeting facilities: City hotels; Resort hotels; Airport hotels
  • Special venues: Cultural (museums, universities, galleries); Recreational (country clubs, restaurants, parks, zoos, botanic gardens)
  • Unusual and Unconventional venues

So that’s 8 categories in total. They feature many possibilities for participation, while at the same time there is clear value in winning any one of them (e.g. “Best Hotel with Meeting Facilities  –  City Hotel”).

QUICK TIP:  Adding too many categories could also be risky if there are not enough participating entries. Think of a realistic number of entries you’d need in order for a category to work.

Category names and description

The category names don’t have to be unique. In fact, it’s much better to keep them simple and recognizable to attract entries. If you want people to participate, they have to be able to:

  • easily identify their category for entry
  • see the value in winning that category

QUICK TIP:  Think about how you can break up your main categories into subcategories to generate more entries!

For each entry category there must be a clear description on who is eligible to participate, or in other words, what are the requirements for participation. For example, if you’re giving out an award for Best Cultural Venue, you need to explain what qualifies as a cultural venue, at least as far as your competition is concerned.

Here’s a great example from Eventex Awards 2017 from their category for Best New Event Technology:

“In this category we will be evaluating the top new event technology solutions or new features within existing event tech that came out after 1 January 2015.”

QUICK TIP: The judging criteria have to be explained and match the description of the category; participants must know what the judges will be looking for in an entry!

Entry forms and fields

Ok, it’s pretty obvious that if you want to enter an awards competition, you will be required to provide a decent amount of information regarding your entry. Although it’s expected that entries will have to be filled out, questions answered, sample work provided, pictures and video attached  –  do not be tempted to go overboard with the forms! It will throw participants off.

Weemss Tip: In Weemss you can create the entry forms for your awards competition. You can add fields for pictures, videos, questions, text with character limit, custom files, etc. All data is secured via multi-layered protection and subject to our 100% data retention policy. Try Awards management with Weemss!

What information would your judges need to make an accurate assessment of the entries? Think about asking the right questions, asking for visual data (photo and video) and work samples. Be very clear on the entry specifications, what data formats are accepted, what are the word or character limits on text material? The criteria have to be standardized in order for judges to make an accurate evaluation.

Let’s take a look at our Weemss Destination Awards and our Venue categories again. What information would the judges need to evaluate a venue? Here are some ideas:

  • a short history of the venue
  • visual information about the venue
  • what is unique about the venue
  • example of an event held there: description, visuals, photo and/or video
  • important criteria: technological equipment; design for flexibility (modular space); design for security; design for accessibility (people with special needs); sustainable design

QUICK TIP: Once you’ve finalized the entry categories, descriptions and entry forms, send them to your judges. They may point out something that is missing or not needed. Trust their expertise, after all, they will be the ones evaluating the entries  –  make their lives easier!

Judging and Evaluation

The most popular scoring system for competitions is the 10-point scale, it’s also used in boxing and many other sports. With the 10-point scale it’s very easy to find average scores and weigh up different competitors.

Using a 10-point scale also makes it easier for contestants to see how well they did, how close were they to a 10.

Apart from scoring the entries, judges will also need to leave comments and feedback regarding their decisions. Participants will want to understand what impressed the judges and what didn’t, why someone won and why someone else didn’t.

You need to make the evaluation process as transparent as possible, especially after the scores have been counted and finalists announced. And again – make sure there is no conflict of interest between your judges panel and competitors!

Weemss Tip: The judging module in Weemss offers a sleek and smooth experience for your judges. They can leave comments and evaluate entries from any device, even on the go via their smartphone! As the organizer, you have full access to the analytics with sales data, judging results and voting.

You need the utmost coordination with your judges at all times, and you also need to define your….

Entry and Judging Timelines

An awards competition can be broken into 5 main stages:

  • Call for Entries (registration)
  • End of submissions
  • Shortlist Announcement
  • Finalists Announcement
  • Winners announcement

You should aim for a 6-month period for the whole process. The longest period should be between the first two stages, after all you want to collect as many entries as possible  –  let’s say 4 months for the call for entries. Judging should last no longer than 1 month, not to mix anticipation with procrastination. And finally, no more than 1 month between the announcement of the finalists and the actual winners.

Pricing

Perhaps the trickiest part is pricing your awards competition. We’ve talked a lot about the value awards competitions bring to you, the organizer and to the participants but what about the cost? What is the right price for an entry?

Well, there is no “right” price, unfortunately. The best place to start is to carefully calculate all your costs.

Next, you can have a look at similar awards competitions if you know of any. How are their entries priced? Just don’t undersell your entries, at the very least match their prices!

QUICK TIP: Ask yourself: Would you pay the entry fee to be part of your own awards competition? Do you see the value in participating? If you don’t, go back to the beginning and rethink your strategy!

Call for entries  –  benefits for the competitors

Create a “Why participate” page where all the benefits of your awards competition are clearly outlined to potential contestants. To get you started, here are some general benefits of competing in an awards competition:

  • Build credibility, be seen and recognized as one of the best in the industry.
  • Have your work introduced to and reviewed by leading industry experts, receive valuable feedback.
  • Challenge yourself  –  compete with the best of best.
  • Benefit from year-round publicity in the form of press publications and social media mentions.
  • Generate new business leads by using the awards competition as a networking opportunity.
  • Demonstrate your participation proactively within your current marketing strategy. Impress your clients, partners and potential customers.
  • From a strictly practical perspective, participating in an awards competition shows that you have the budgetary means to take part. Your business must be doing well!
  • … and of course, let’s not forget the chance of winning a prestigious award trophy, certificate of excellence and a “winner of…” logo for all your digital communication channels.

Considering all this added value just for the price of one entry, doesn’t it seem like a good deal to participate?

Special Offers

And here are Weemss’s (not-so-secret) 4 Secret Ingredients to Special Offers:

  • Goal. What do you want to achieve with your special offer? Is it to acquire new customers, reward existing customers or simply increase your event revenue? Once you define a goal, you’re ready to decide on how to meet it.
  • Value. Let’s make one thing perfectly clear – your customers can tell a good value offer from a bad one. A sales promotion must never be in the latter category. If you have doubts that your offer isn’t attractive, it probably isn’t.
  • Profitability. The Special offer has to represent good value, but without sacrificing profitability margins. Do the math to calculate its profitability and make sure the offer is healthy for your revenue.
  • Exclusivity. The final ingredient is the element of exclusivity. This usually means making it a timed offer or setting a maximum number of times it can be used.

And what if there is a participant whose entry is applicable to more than one category? Participating in more than one category gives them a higher chance of winning  –  obviously. You need to be able to cross-sell, up-sell and entice participants whose entries fit in more than one category!

“You can’t win, if you don’t play.“

Here are some Special Offer samples:

  • Pre-launch offer (discount)
  • Early bird discount for the first to enter
  • 2 for 1 limited time offers
  • Volume discounts (for multiple entries)
  • Free entries for a cause

Don’t go overboard though because you don’t want to establish a thrift store image! Special offers need to be few and far between.

If you want to have a larger variety of pricing offers to attract more entries, try targeting groups of organizations with special deals ONLY for them:

  • startups
  • NGOs and charities
  • students or academia
  • partners

If you are targeting groups of organizations with special deals, you need to explain why and build a purpose. Startups and NGOs usually have small marketing budgets and exist for a cause, you can use that for your reasoning.

Weemss Tip: Weemss has excellent marketing tools to help you sell more entries, like custom Special offers, Promo codes and the innovative Conversion triggers feature. Use them to improve your sales!

CHAPTER 4:
Awards Marketing 101

Throughout the book we’ve touched on partnerships, online presence and marketing to some extent but let’s expand on the topic and examine how you can promote your awards competition across all possible channels.

Traditional and Online Media Partners

In Chapter 2 ‘How to Make it Prestigious,’ we discussed how to get partners on board, and at this point, you should have certain media outlets that are partnering with you for your awards competition. Presumably, you are giving them something extra that non-partner media will not be receiving. In return, you can ask for something extra as well. In addition to the publication of press releases, interviews and other promotional materials, ask the media outlets you are partnering with for:

  • permanent or periodic presence in their publications (online and offline)
  • place your organization’s or event’s logo as their partner
  • ad space (e.g. banners)
  • publish some promotional materials for the competition
  • permanent or periodic presence in their newsletter or bulletin

For Traditional and Online Media (non-Partners)

If your awards competition is local, create a targeted media list. Set your sights on local media outlets and get as local as possible. Journalists are after stories that are important to the community they cover, so if your competition is calling for entries from London, look for media based there. Create a list of the publications you have found and add the editors’ contacts.

Localize by industry too. Find media outlets that cover your particular industry or field, or that of the awards competition and add those to your list as well.

To recap, focus your efforts on media that is:

  • small
  • local
  • specialized

That is not to say you should avoid big media outlets, just tailor your message and focus more on the ones above.

Prepare Press Releases like a PR Pro

Now that you have your list of media outlets, you need to prepare an engaging press release. The press release needs to sound worthwhile for the journalist to cover and also worthwhile for the audience to read and take action.

There is a vast amount of press release guides online, whichever you pick, just make sure you are covering your PR basics – the five W’s & one H:

  • Who is organizing the competition?
  • What are the awards about?
  • Where is it happening – online, awards gala event?
  • When is it happening – what are the key dates for contestants?
  • Why is it important or interesting?
  • How is it relevant to the media outlet and audience?

Press Release Topics and Ideas:

  • Awards Competition Announcement
  • New Category Announcement
  • New Partner Onboard
  • New Sponsor Onboard
  • Interview with a judge or contestant (careful not to enter into a conflict of interest)
  • New Prize Announcement
  • New Promotion or Offer Announcement
  • New Milestone Reached

QUICK TIP:  Remember to draw a line between media partners and non-partners if you want to have a fruitful relationship with your media partners. For any partnership to work, it needs to be mutually beneficial for both parties.

For Social Media and Content Marketing

You need to be present and very active on social media. Join conversations. Don’t just “like” other people’s comments, add a reply and make it more personal. Share useful information with your audience, share useful articles from your blog. Thank people when they share your articles and retweet them. Of course, all of this will go alongside the promotions, updates, press releases and news coverage you will be publishing on a regular basis.

Why Not Start a Blog?

Although it may seem difficult to organize and follow, try to have a schedule for your blog articles and post regularly. A blog is only as good as its updates, so keep it active and publish articles at least once a week.

Blog Topics and Ideas:

  • Any of the press release (news) topics above re-written in a more casual, everyday tone of voice
  • An exciting, new development in your target industry
  • Advice, how-to, useful tips, tricks or “hacks” article related to your audience or industry
  • Interview with a judge or contestant from your competition
  • Interview with someone from your team
  • Interview with a partner, sponsor or endorser
  • Will you have a gala awards ceremony? Give the audience a teaser about how awesome the event is going to be!
  • Some off-topic banter that people are likely to relate to, for example “5 Ways To Be Happier” (keep this type of posts to a minimum, otherwise you risk making the blog irrelevant)

QUICK TIP:  Whatever the topic of the article, keep in mind that the main point of writing is to sell entries.

Needless to say, all messages and blog articles should be shared immediately on all your social media profiles!

There are now dozens of social media networks, and each have their benefits and advantages, however, it is crucial that you maintain strong presence on the most popular ones – Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter

Your Twitter profile should be an engaging, up-to-date conversation about your competition, industry and audience. Try and get personal too:

  • Reply to people and companies instead of just liking their Tweets.
  • Engage new followers in a conversation instead of just “thanking” them for the “follow.” Sell them entries by explaining how awesome the awards competition is!
  • Join in and start your own conversations. Ask questions and ask for opinions.
  • @Tag organizations, people and partners when possible.

You need a unique #hashtag for your competition, use it regularly and make sure you are tracking it. The bigger the momentum, the higher the chance your event will go viral or at least reach the intended audience.

Facebook

Nearly all events worldwide are present on Facebook. Make sure you create a Facebook event for your awards competition, even if it’s just online. Here are some details you need to iron out:

  • Details. In the details section start with a link to your competition’s website. If participants need to register elsewhere make sure you explain that clearly. Always add the necessary links.
  • Add more hosts. Click Edit at the top right of the event and then add sponsor or partner names in the Host field.
  • Event wall. Don’t tick the “Only admins can post” to the event wall option. You want everyone to be active on the event page – organizers, sponsors and participants.
  • Use Tags. To generate even more likes, shares and comments, get the sponsors involved. Tag sponsors, partners and entrants in your posts. Encourage their activity online.

Whichever social network(s) you decide to use, make sure your content is:

  • visual (pictures/graphics/video)
  • relevant to the event and event topic (at least 80% of the time)
  • useful or fun for your potential participants
  • positive rather than negative
  • engaging and encouraging conversation

Mass email marketing

Email marketing is a good way to generate more buzz around your competition and even increase the number of entries. But first things first, make sure you are not sending spam, have a list of contacts that have subscribed or have signed up to receive your emails.

Here’s a quick guide for your email marketing:

  • Test before you send! Really, testing is always important, and if you can test something by all means, do so! Test on multiple devices.
  • Make it responsive. A lot of the people receiving your email will open it from their mobile devices. You want them to be able to read it effortlessly, otherwise they probably won’t read it at all. Test the email on a mobile device.
  • Always add a Call-to-Action. Make sure it’s obvious, but not too obvious to the point where it takes the whole screen of the mobile phone. Links are better CTAs in emails if you’re going the responsive route.
  • Keep your message brief! Anything above 3 or 4 sentences will not be read, or may even have negative effects, such as people flat-out refusing to enter your awards competition, unsubscribing, adding your email to the spam filter or all of these together at the same time.
  • Always check your links. Check if they work, check if they lead to where they’re supposed to.
  • Add a personal touch. Personalise your messages so that the recipient feels as though you’re reaching out to them alone. Try addressing them by their first name only.
  • But use the right language. Know your audience and address them accordingly.

Mass emails are great for announcing your event. They’re also a great way to send out news about exclusive offers and special promotional sales, because everybody loves good value. Just don’t overdo it with the mass emails or else they might end up in the spam filter.

In the following chapter, we’ll introduce you to some free tools to aid you in the organization process.

Weemss Tip: Weemss lets you export the contestant data from your awards. Use that data for future mass email marketing campaigns. The software also integrates effortlessly with the most popular email marketing solutions out there. You want automation – we have it!

CHAPTER 5:
You’ll Need the Right Tools

In the beginning we said we’d go on a journey to help you organize the perfect awards competition, well, we hope we’ve achieved that goal so far. It is now time to have a look at the tools that will have you cut costs, save time, speed up communication and automate dull tasks and activities. And there are many tools out there to help you. Here’s how we’ve created our list –  you can use it as a starting point for your own research.

Some factors you should consider when picking your tools…

  • Is the price good for what the service offers? What would your costs be like without the service?
  • Is the service secure? Is your information stored safely?
  • Does it integrate with other tools you use? Will it speed up your work or create even more processes?
  • Does it have the localization options you need? (if the awards competition is not in English)

Something to organize your work

Example: We’re big fans of Asana.

Asana is exactly what we like in a solution for organizing and tracking work progress. It has a sleek interface, keeps track of everyone’s tasks, and most importantly to us, integrates flawlessly with the other tools we use.

There’s a free version and a premium one which gives extra bang for the buck.

Do you need it? It’s possible that you don’t. But if our relatively small Weemss team can see such great benefits to using Asana, yours will too. You won’t know until you’ve tried it.

Something to speed up team communication

Example: Slack is currently our favourite for team communication.

As advertised, Slack eliminates the need for long team meetings and internal emails. We use it to coordinate, chat, share pictures of puppies etc. It’s quick and clean and helps us get things done faster.

Again, you have the option to use it for free or pick a paid plan for some additional features.

Do you need it? It’s a great quality of life improvement, but not something you REALLY need. A great time-saver nonetheless.

Something for email marketing

Example: ActiveCampaign gets our vote here.

The platform helps you design email campaigns and automate marketing. We like how clean and easy to use it is, but the reason it gets the vote is the solid feature set you get at a competitive price.

The only service from our recommendations without a free option, other than a 14-day trial. Two of the plans offer CRM and sales automation features for added value.

Do you need it? Not a must, but if you want to do email marketing, it’s well worth the investment.

More importantly, you need to ensure that every process is easy and convenient for your customers. Starting with the registrations for your awards competition, through entry creation and submissions, to the judging phase, every element has to be a most positive experience.

The good news is that there are many options for you to choose from. Some factors you should consider when picking one…

  • Does the service keep customer data safe?
  • Will data be shared with third parties or for the company’s purposes?
  • Will customers have to sign-up with other services in order to register for the awards?
  • What payment methods does the service support?
  • Are the payments secured?

QUICK TIP:  Always make sure you’re giving customers a memorable event experience from start to finish.

Something to help with the awards management

Example: Weemss

Weemss helps you with every phase of the competition – registration, entry submissions, judging. It gives you the level of freedom and control to organize an award competition in an efficient manner. You can customize almost anything, retain all of the event data, receive money from your sales right away and directly to your account etc.

The service is 3.5% per sale, for free competitions it’s 0.49 EUR per entry.

Do you need it?  If you want to do it the old-fashioned way – with pen and paper, or make countless spreadsheets for everything, you don’t need a solution for awards management. However, if you want to save countless hours of repetitive work, make use of online payments, judging processes, entry validation, results scoring and be part of the future, the service fee is nothing compared to the amount of work it will do for you.

Reasons to use awards software from Weemss

1. Simply makes everything easier

With the awards software, all processes become a walk in the park for judges, entrants and you as the organizer. This solution allows a large number of entrants to enter sensitive data, and it also provides the judges with the possibility to fill in their scores directly, from anywhere and at anytime.

2. Removes the lengthy and tiring administrative procedures

Awards software pacifies customers’ woes regarding the inconvenient manual award management procedures, especially the heavy paperwork. Forget the waiting time and complex form-filling procedures. Everything this software offers is just a click away.

3. Creates a better organizational structure

Organizing the entire awards management process can get quite tiresome. With massive applicant entries, it‘s easy for some submissions to get mixed up. Weemss helps to create the necessary format to reduce unnecessary hassles and hence improves the overall process flow.

4. Customize the judging format

The software enables you to customize and create a tailor-made approach to suit your online judging system. It creates a selective format – be it a written result or selecting from a number range, whichever makes the workflow for your judges. This keeps bringing them back for more.

5. Improves the quality and quantity of applications

Having an efficient awards management software is like owning a magic wand. It’s that beneficial. It allows you to receive a wide range of qualitative submissions that can be filtered by category. It also allows you to review and monitor all stored information with ease, hence saving you valuable time. What more can you ask for?

6. Easier accessibility to entrants and judges

With the software you don’t have to deal with bulky email or manual postal submissions. Entrants and judges can finish their task in one shot. All you have to do is log in, enter the required information and leave the rest to the software. It takes care of sorting submissions, storing details, monitoring processes, scoring procedures and ensures easy and quick online payment as well.

7. Accurate scoring, no human error

This software eliminates the human error element, leaving no room for doubt when compared to the manual calculations. This also ensures user reliability and accuracy when it comes to your judging system.

These benefits give you an overall view as to why organizations are opting to automate their awards management system.

Weemss Tip: Not only does Weemss offer automation and security, the software also connects to 750+ popular web applications, so you can automate even more, get more work done in less time, and eliminate errors.

CHAPTER 6:
The Boring Stuff – Know your T’s and C’s

We’ve come to the part that people rarely read, and if they did, they’d probably be either a) dissatisfied, b) disappointed, or even c) angry. It’s the Terms and Conditions documentation. Tread carefully here!

Since you’ll be collecting payments, collecting (hopefully not sharing and selling) personal and business information, you’ll need to have your terms and conditions in order.

We’re talking about the “By clicking here you agree to…” checkbox and other similar guidelines. Below are the details you need to iron out.

QUICK TIP:  You can find free Terms and Conditions and other legal templates on FreeNetLaw.

Refunds

What is your refund procedure? Who is eligible for a refund and on what grounds?

It’s common practice for e-commerce today to offer money back guarantees and store credit, but awards are slightly different. There is not much you can give in exchange, there is no such thing as store credit, and you can hardly say contestants are guaranteed to be happy with their purchase, especially those who don’t win a prize.

If you offer refunds and money back guarantees, the majority who don’t win may try and take advantage of your policy – they’re unhappy, you offer refunds, why not?

You should have an “All Sales Final” policy on refunds. Entering a competition always carries a risk but instead of calming potential contestants’ anxiety with refund offers, work on explaining the methods of judging, the openness, objectiveness and the aforementioned PR benefits of participation.

Call for entries

We talked about deadlines, entry criteria, category descriptions and eligibility.

You must be crystal clear that the entry information will be shared with the judges as well as for the purposes of the competition, which means:

  • Entries may be shared for the marketing purposes of the competition.
  • If companies are entering with projects, they must have the permission of all people involved within the project (partners, clients etc.).
  • If they have video, music or photographic materials for their entries, they must have the appropriate licenses for sharing and distribution.

Judging process and criteria

Write down the judging process starting with how the judges will be picked. Why are they qualified to be on the panel? How does the judging process begin? How are shortlisted candidates selected? How are the winners determined?

The judging process should be clear and understandable. Explain it in a diagram, with an infographic or through a step-by-step guide – you want participants to see the internal workings. The description  doesn’t have to be long, it could even be a bullet point guide, just make sure it’s easy to process. Here you can also add your timeframes for each stage from the earlier chapter.

Just like All Sales are Final, all results should be final too – leave no room for squabbles!

Data Protection

Although entries may be shared for the award competition’s marketing, you should protect your clients’ data and have it stored safely. How will you aim to do that? What procedure do you have in place? If you’re using an online awards management solution, have a look at their policy on security. Explain to contestants that the solution guarantees their data’s safety and security!

Use an awards management solution that offers privacy, data retention, protection and secure payments. This way, participants will feel much safer submitting information and payments. If you have your own in-house processes, you will need to comply with a multitude of laws and acts which in the short-term will cost you more than a ready-made solution and may still leave potential contestants not feeling safe to participate.

A solution like Weemss also gives you the option to have the submission form on your own website, so you don’t have to worry about losing website visitors!

CHAPTER 7:
Final Words

OK, these may be the final words, but we hope we’ve got you excited about starting your very own awards competition, and so for you, this should be just the beginning!

We’ve covered the most important details about organizing an awards competition, but we’re certain that there is a whole lot more you can think of to make your awards competition stand out, become unique and memorable. Think about ways to brand it for your own needs and cause. For now, we’ll leave you with a motivational quote.

“If you can dream it, you can do it.”

Walt Disney

Check out Weemss at weemss.com – the unified event platform for all your needs.

The Weemss Team

Authors

Ovanes Ovanessian, Co-founder | Weemss
Dimitar Toshkov, Head of Growth | Weemss
Ivan Atanassov, Head of Product | Weemss
Lilyana Stoilova, Head of Content | Weemss

Image Credits

StarStatue | Author: Leahcim Nhoj | Some rights reserved