THIS YEAR, I have the fantastic pleasure of being nominated to judge the British Accountancy Awards. My firm has been fortunate enough to win a handful of awards, and I’ve also been on the other side of the table in some industry awards. While it might be too late for some, here are my tips for making the most of any awards process – whether in or out of the accountancy world.
Read the judging criteria
Yes. It’s that obvious. As a judge, you have to judge against the judging criteria, and not much else. The entry may be fantastic, and have cost you thousands in preparation and presentation; but if you haven’t answered the questions that the judges need to be answered, the entry isn’t worth the email it was sent on.
Make it easy for the judges
Set out your key points as bullet points, or clearly defined paragraphs. Include statistics, particularly when it’s a panel of accountants judging accountants! Try to avoid marketing fluff, and unsubstantiated claims.
Don’t be afraid to sell yourself
I’ve once judged a business who I knew outside of the judging process, and couldn’t give them the marks that they deserved, simply because they didn’t sell themselves. Put in anything that is both impressive and relevant to the criteria.
Again, this is from personal experience. While each awards programme has a number of entries, normally the judges at the final stages only review a relatively low number of entries, and often they are previous entries. Putting in a glowing entry in year one, and then an entry that says about how bad you were and how much you’ve improved in year two won’t win you any favours. Again, this is from personal judging experience…
If you can’t do it, seek professional help
Sometimes you need someone else to critically review and improve your entry. It’s not “unethical”, it’s not cheating… very simply, marketing experts are probably far better at marketing your practice than you are. If you aren’t blessed with the right skills to create entries, consider using your marketing consultants or specialist copywriters. Judges can tell when entries have been professionally prepared, but it is usually very hard to vote against them when they answer the criteria clearly, succinctly and with statistics for reinforcement.
Carl Reader is a director of Wiltshire-based firm d&t, which won the 2013 British Accountancy Award for Independent Firm of the Year-Wales and South West England
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