Awards are a great way to boost a brand. Not only do they provide excellent exposure, media coverage and industry awareness, but are also the ultimate heart-warming pat on the back for a hard working and determined team.
The BCTIA Technology Impact Awards (TIAs), perhaps the largest tech award distinction in Western Canada, recently passed and got us thinking – how does one win a TIA? Or any other award for that matter?
While we acknowledge that there is no guaranteed formula for a win, we collected some tips and tricks from 2010 TIA winners and entrants that shed light on award entries and how to secure a top spot for your company:
1) Take the award seriously – Judges for the BCTIA and other awards are industry experts that volunteer their time to go through your application - make it worth their while.
“This is an award set up for professionals by professionals” – Wendy Keyzer, MDA Technology (Team of the Year)
2) Hire a PR firm or professional to help – the application process can be tedious and complicated; having experienced people to complete award forms and go through the process with you can make all the difference. Often times they can simplify the process and have a strong grasp on what the judges are looking for.
“Our PR firm (Pereira PR) really helped to narrow down how we presented Indicee. They knew what information was important and what we should omit. Being so close to the product and our work, it was valuable to have someone let us know what was truly relevant to the category, because to us, it is all critical and groundbreaking.” – Mark Cunningham, Indicee (Most Promising Start-Up)
3) Choose your category wisely – Just because there are multiple categories for entry to choose from does not mean you should apply to them all. You are better off focusing on specific strengths and narrowing in on 1 or 2 categories.
“Icron Technologies looked at the various awards categories and decided that “Most Promising Pre-Commerical Technology” and “Excellence in Product Innovation” were the best fits for its newest technology.” – Brian Donnelly, Icron Technologies (Most Promising Pre-Commercial Technology)
4) Answer the questions – It is imperative that you read the questions in the application and answer them directly. Be brief, be precise, don’t make the judges search for answers, because chances are, they won’t bother.
“Be succinct. Don't make the judges search for the answer buried within a mountain of text…..answer the question that is asked, then provide the facts to support your statement.” – Wendy Keyzer, MDA Technology (Team of the Year)
5) Be creative but clear in your description of your product – In describing your product, be clear and aware of the fact that the judge reading through your application may not understand technical terms or industry speak. It is best to ensure that you describe your company in an enticing matter but also simply and clearly – so that the average person understands why it is so cool.
“It’s [also] easy to fall into familiar mindsets when describing your product and the technologies it uses. Ensure your product is explained in a manner that enables someone from outside your company and industry can understand it.” – Jay Elliot, Simba Technology (Excellence in Product Innovation)
“Before submitting the information, Icron developed a document with key messages about its USB over DisplayPort technology and a series of questions with answers. This information was very helpful as it addressed the technology, business applications and markets.” – Brian Donnelly, Icron Technologies (Most Promising Pre-Commercial Technology)
6) Check your numbers! – There is nothing more embarrassing than submitting an application with spelling errors or worse, incorrect statistical figures – always double check your numbers, especially your financials.
7) Reach out to the BCTIA (or organizing body) – not that they can force a win – but it doesn’t hurt to let them know that you’ve entered. After all, companies enter these awards for recognition that could lead to media coverage and business opportunities, so start networking early.
“Reach out to the BCTIA and let them know you plan to enter. In the spirit of fair competition, they won’t be able to give you any inside tips for winning, but they’ll be able to answer any questions you may have about the nomination process itself.” – Jay Elliot, Simba Technology (Excellence in Product Innovation)
“We first applied for the BCTIA because we were invited to do so.” – Rajan Sodhi, Peer 1 Hosting (Company of the Year)
8) If you don’t succeed the first time, try try try again – If you didn’t win the first, second or third time you entered, it doesn’t mean that you never will. Perseverance and demonstration of growth over the years never fails to impress.
“This is the 2nd time we applied for the TIA in this category; we won this time mainly because of the continuation of our good work. We focused on what we do best, which is providing the best customer service to our clients. We increased our services, increased our staff, increase revenue and expanded to the east – these steps all factored into us winning this year.” – Rajan Sodhi, Peer 1 Hosting (Company of the Year)