Running an awards program is exciting! An award program allows you to recognize the biggest achievements in your sector while building loyalty to your brand. It also gives worthy talents a platform to showcase their work and an incentive to do more!

How To Organize An Awards Program That Stands Out?

To run a successful award program with all its bits and pieces, we prepared a comprehensive checklist for an awards program that stands out. 

1. Award Landing Page

Your award landing page creates the first impression. An informative and attractive landing page ensures retaining potential applicants. A landing page should include all information and instructions on who can apply and how to submit an application. 

Below are the optimal building blocks of an awards landing page that converts.

  • About your organization
  • About the awards program
  • Your objective
  • Eligibility
  • Prizes
  • Timeline of the awards program
  • Judging Criteria
  • Judges profiles
  • Call to action that directs to the application form
  • Previous editions winners with photo gallery
It is always a plus to make the award website a non-technical task for your team. Untap platform provides a customizable landing page template, making it is for any team member to edit the award website content and design.  

2. Award Branding

How would you like to make your audience feel interacting with your brand? Joy, trust, empowerment,…etc. Branding is key to conveying your award program messages.

An awards name that sticks, a logo that is simple, and coherent branding guidelines to be followed across all channels are essential for a strong brand. Besides the visual brand, the voice is also important; don’t forget to build a strategy for the tone of voice and communication messages and style.

As you recognize the crowds’ achievements in your award program, help your crowd recognize your award brand.

3. Marketing And Outreach

With the right marketing strategy and an effective execution plan, you can hugely increase the number of applications for your awards program.

The marketing strategy should include tactics for each of the following channels:

  • Your owned media
  • Strategic partners/sponsors
  • Targeted PPC ads.
  • Expert communities. In today’s world, there is an online community for almost every group of people, no matter how wide or niche. Reach for those relevant communities.
  • Events. You need to be present wherever your target audience would be, even offline events.
  • Referrals through previous participants. Ask previous participants to make nominations; they know exactly what your award program is about; you may just need to give them some incentives.
  • Discounts and early bird applications.
  • Media and PR. Media outlets and online news that can cover your award launch and have visibility among your potential applicants.
  • Email Marketing. Whether in your own newsletter or partners’ email updates, including an announcement of your award and a link to your landing page.

4. Applicants Experience

An easy and smooth application process creates trust with your award and ensures a high completion rate.

Optimize the participant experience starting from the application form to consistent and clear feedback and updates. The following are must-have features for applicants’ experience:

  • Clear eligibility and judging criteria are communicated before they start their application.
  • Clear instructions on how to apply and what will be expected in the application form for them to be prepared.
  • Autosave application form.
  • Conditional fields for a straightforward and personalized application experience.
  • Automated confirmation messages when the application is submitted, as well as continuous reminders on deadlines.
  • Dedicated applicant profile with a dashboard including their submitted and pending applications.
  • If possible, communicate judges’ feedback on their application forms.

5. Learning Experience for Nominees

Make the program a true learning experience for all nominees, not just the shortlisted or the winners.

A nominee can learn and improve their work through online workshops and webinars. Also, the award blog should be a resource for expanding nominees’ knowledge on the subject. Include know-how guides in the blog that contain practical tips on how to increase the quality of their projects.

You can interview an expert or even one of the judges to tackle a certain topic relevant to the program.

You can make the learning experience personalized by providing feedback on the submitted work; this can be feasible in later stages of the program with finalists. It can be as simple as enabling judges feedback to be visible to participants on their dashboards. 

With finalists, you can organize one on one mentorship. It can require some extra operations, but it definitely pays off by making the finalists’ projects of the awards program of the highest quality.

6. Fair Judging Process

For many award program organizers, the judging part is the most challenging. From finding the right judges’, to coordinating with judges, onboarding them on the judging tool, and even picking the right criteria. Furthermore, ensuring that judges provide unbiased evaluations to all participants.

We have a few tips here that can ease the judging process:

  • Start with initial filtration/screening. Directly disqualify these applications that won’t pass the basic criteria. This helps get low-quality applications out of the way, saving your team and judges time.
  • Make a diverse mix of judges or judging panels to evaluate each submission.
  • Monitor the judging process by watching the progress and skimming through the evaluations. On Untap platform, the round scores page shows submission evaluations with the highest score gap between different judges; this is a great way to spot submissions that need revising.

7. Celebrate Winners

Plan your award ceremony to make your award stand out stand out by adding fun while telling your message. It is a celebration, a recognition event, and an opportunity to raise awareness and convey your organization’s message.

Celebrates talent and acknowledge their success; this is a great opportunity to endorse your winners’ achievements. Include some educational talks to educate the audience and build anticipation for the following edition.

It is also an opportunity to boost your brand. Make the details of the event align with your brand’s look and feel, from choosing the venue and internal decoration theme to the dress code. And be aware of your brand values; if you are an environmentally aware brand, which tissues and papers would you use? would you flood the tables with plastic cups? 

8. Legal Terms

Communicate the terms of your award to clear confusion and build credibility:

  • Eligibility: List all eligibility criteria in detail, including demographics, experience, and education when needed. 
  • Entry and participation requirements: Clarify any confusion around the deadlines, time zones, and editing options for applications.
  • Judging criteria: Judging criteria with weights also it is a plus to provide an example of the rubric used.
  • Prizes: the monetary prize and everything that needs to be understood related to the transfer of the money. Including transfer timing, installments, and if any follow-up on the money usage would be expected.
  • Publicity and promotion: Define how the awards program is going to be covered and if the finalists are expected to take part in any promotional activities.
  • IP: Define how IP is handled in the award program and if any part of the entries would be disclosed to the public.
  • Disqualification and Termination: Define any violations or circumstances where a participant could be terminated from the award program.
  • General: Define any other general terms and conditions that may be necessary to govern the award program, including dispute resolution, governing law, and any other relevant details.

Whether your objective is to reach great talent, grow your award program, or boost your brand. We are here to help; book a free consultation session with our team to learn more about Untap platform and how it can help you manage a successful award program.