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10 Things Necessary for a Successful Awards Program

I’m going to take a guess and say that if you’re currently running an awards program, you’d like it to be successful. Am I right?

Well, unfortunately, success doesn’t just grow on trees. Truly successful programs have to work hard to achieve the results they have. But the good news is, it’s not impossible. If you follow these ten tips, your program will be well on its way to making a name for itself in your industry!

1. Create a great awards website

Your awards website is one of the most important parts of your program and should be a big focus in the preparation of your call for entry. In creating an informative and easily navigable site you can guarantee that any visitor’s questions will be answered, and that they can become familiar with your program’s legacy and credibility within the industry.

2. Take time to plan an accurate and appropriate program calendar

Timing is critical for all awards programs. If your call for entry is too short, you may lose out on potential applicants. If you plan your gala near a holiday, no one will show up. Many programs make the mistake of approximating timelines for their awards instead of taking the time to plan things out carefully. What results is a lot of pushing back deadlines, rearranging tasks, and general craziness.

But taking some extra time to plan your program properly will help you stay organized and ensure any hiccups can be avoided. Check out our toolkit here for help getting started.

3. Set a firm, but realistic budget

The best awards programs have a dedicated staff that takes the time to review their program’s costs year over year to set up a budget to help them organize their awards season and keep them on track during planning.

4. Invest in marketing

When it comes to your awards program, marketing is absolutely crucial. After all, if you don’t get the word out, who’s going to apply?

Even though you may be hesitant to devote a portion of your time and budget to extensive marketing, doing so can help you spread the word and engage a larger group of people, increasing submissions and growing the prestige of your program.

5. Link your program to the core values of the organization

Whether you’re just getting started with your awards program, or are a seasoned veteran, take a step back and ask yourself: is your program aligning with the goals and values your organization is trying to promote? A successful awards program will be focused on what the organization is all about and create an opportunity for others in the industry to showcase their similar interests.

6. Develop a distinctive awards brand that is still associated with the organization

One of the factors of an awards program is to serve as a promotional vehicle for your association. Therefore, it is a significant part of your organization’s brand and messaging. Consistent messaging, design and branding are essential to getting the most potential benefit from your awards program.

7. Focus your staff on the appropriate tasks

Getting your awards program ready for the opening of your call for entry requires an enormous amount of work. In order to get everything done in time and get it done properly, every awards program needs to have a dedicated, hard-working staff. The best awards programs will have a group of people working on specific goals for the program with specific deadlines, instead of letting a couple people attack the to-do list willy-nilly. This ensures that everything gets done well and in time for your launch, and prevents your team members from getting burned out or going insane.

8. Find well-respected judges

Finding the perfect judges for your awards program is essential, as they can be a huge source of publicity for your awards program. Having a judge who is well known for being an expert in her industry’s field, will greatly add to the value and prestige of your awards program. And on top of the prestige, it also lends legitimacy to your program.

9. Analyze their program each year

When your program is over it’s tempting to sit back and relax, but it’s important not to just take a break from things until the next awards season rolls around. Every program should analyze their data in order to understand what worked and what didn’t and how they can use that information to make next years’ awards even better.

10. Tie it all together with awards software

When preparing for your program, one of the big struggles is staying organized. Different parts of the program are dealt with on a variety of systems, which can quickly become a tangled mess and more often than not, your awards staff gets overwhelmed and frustrated.

To remove these hassles, more and more organizations are turning to awards management software. It provides one online system that tracks, stores, and manages all stages of submission and judging. That means no more spreadsheets, binders, or form-builders. The entire awards process is streamlined and hassle free for entrants, administrators, and judges.

So, while getting your program ready may seem like a daunting task, following these 10 tips will help you stay on the right track from start to finish. To learn more about how other organizations make their awards a success, download our guide.