You’re through to the finals of a business award you’ve entered: well done! You should definitely be celebrating as you may well have been picked from hundreds or even thousands of other entries to be shortlisted.
Around 80 per cent of the benefit of entering awards comes at this stage. Make sure you maximise the return on investment for the time you dedicated to writing the entry or money you paid to have it written for you, as well as fees you paid to enter.
- Buy a ticket for the award ceremony. If you don’t let them know you’re going to come to the ceremony, chances are you won’t be named overall winner. Imagine an award ceremony where each winner is called out but no one is there to come up on stage, give a speech, accept an award, shake a few hands, have their photo taken. It would be pretty dull. The award organisers want to make sure the event is exciting and enjoyable, and for that to happen they need to choose the winners from people who are going to be there on the night.
- Tell your local media. This is a great time to be contacting your local papers and radio to tell them about getting through to the final, how it feels to have achieved this success and what it is your business does. Don’t forget to include a couple of hi res pics of yourself and your business.
- Shout about your success. This is not the time to be a wallflower. Being a finalist in an award is a huge endorsement for your business so don’t miss the opportunity to tell people about it. You can include it in social media posts, in your newsletter, add it to your website – whatever touchpoints you have with existing and potential clients. You can talk about being shortlisted; your ticket arriving; travelling to the ceremony; who you meet there and so on. It all helps position you as a business that’s head and shoulders above the competition.
- Check if there’s a judging panel. Sometimes one or more of the judges might come and see your business in person. Sometimes you attend a judging day. Sometimes they make a decision based purely on your entry form. If you’re attending a panel, check whether you need to prepare a presentation or whether they’ll be asking you questions. If you make a product, take it with you so they can see it in action. If you provide a service that transforms people, think about taking a client with you so the judges can ask them how you’ve changed things for the better for them.
- Congratulate your fellow finalists on social media and connect with them. Follow the social media accounts for the awards organiser and see who else is a finalist – there might well be people you’ll want to seek out at the ceremony. Get involved with commenting on what’s going on in the lead up to the awards, so you’re visible to as many people as possible. You might find that some of them want to seek you out at the ceremony to find out more about what you do!
Most of all, have fun. It’s wonderful that you’ve received this recognition for your business so make time to enjoy that ahead of the awards ceremony.
Fingers crossed for a win!