Archive for January, 2011

7 Tips on Winning Awards – Tip #1

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Tip #1: Know Who You’re Talking To – #1 Rule!

My slogan is, Who do you think you’re talking to?


First, it’s a dead giveaway that I’m from New York, and I think it only fair to be upfront about that now that I live in the docile Pacific Northwest, where no one honks and no one yells (puzzling, I know).

Second, and perhaps more germane to our topic, it’s really the most important rule in communications. Marketing-driven companies get that. They spend millions on research to find out things like NASCAR fans are very brand loyal (or at least they were in 2003, when I saw that data, which undoubtedly made the sponsorship folks at NASCAR leap with joy).

When you’re putting together an award submission, you also have to know your audience and, more importantly, what they care about. Fortunately, most award organizers will help you out.

They’ll do so with explicit criteria outlining what they’re looking for. And that makes sense – they don’t want to waste anyone’s time, least of all their judges’.

So listen closely and obey: filter your descriptions through award criteria.

This is a key strategy to winning, which is to make it as easy as possible for the judges to pick you (your initiative/team/company).


Make it really, really obvious that you are what they’re looking for.

If one criteria is innovation, for example, emphasize what’s innovative about your initiative/team/company.

–>If teamwork is a criterion, describe how the team came together to create success, what factors proved critical in driving a team approach, what challenges you faced, how success strengthened the team and improved morale, etc.

–>All within reason. Don’t go overboard, inserting “teamwork” or “innovation” in every other sentence; it won’t help to build your case.

And if the list of criteria is very long, well, you’ve got a bit of filtering to do. But if you’re applying for the right award, it shouldn’t be hard to make a good fit between what you’ve got and what they want.

Likewise, if you’re really struggling to address the criteria, maybe you should rethink whether it’s the right way to spend your time and money.

Super-quick tip: As you outline your responses to the submission questions, use the list of award criteria as a checklist. Make sure you’ve really covered all the territory and brought in all the salient bits of data that will make you fit like a glove.

Crafting an industry award submission is incredibly similar to responding to an RFP, applying for a grant, or submitting candidacy for a fellowship or highly selective graduate school – all of which I’d helped others do successfully before I ever laid eyes on an award application. And I was successful with awards right off the bat because I’d had plenty of practice making the goods match the order.

Next tip in the series: Read the Question. No lie. Ya’ll come on back.


Read the full list of tips.



7 Tips on Winning Awards – A Series

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

This series originally debuted on AwardSync, but it’s too good not to share with my readers.

Introduction: Getting Strategic About Winning

We all know it.

Winning industry awards is powerful stuff. The recognition, the affirmation, the influence – it’s all invaluable:

–  helps win business/customers

–  boosts morale

–  attracts/retains talent

–  spotlights leaders/employees who make the company look great

But between you and the award is a major hurdle: the submission.

At first glance, many award submissions seem fairly easy and straightforward. And some of them are. Others are long, detailed and complicated. But what they all have in common is this: they will all be read. By judges. Who will be reading dozens of other submissions, too.

So, will yours stand out? For the right reasons?

Getting winning results requires winning submissions. Winning submissions require strategy, focus, skill, data, drama (I’ll explain) and the best writing talent you’ve got, not to mention, of course, a truly praiseworthy initiative/team/company. And did I mention strategy?

I mean, if you’re going to pay the fee and go to all the trouble, do it right, no? What does that entail?

I’ve put together a list of 7 Quick Tips on Winning Awards that I’m happy to share with one by one you over the next several posts (a very condensed version is on my Web site).

Here’s the line-up (the sum of which = strategy):

1.    Know who you’re talking to – #1 rule!

2.    Read the questions.

3.    Start early.

4.    Tell a good story. (this is where the drama comes in)

5.    Keep it simple.

6.    Be succinct.

7.    Use metrics wisely.

I won’t be unlocking any secrets of the universe (just yet), but I will be giving solid advice. And who couldn’t use more of that?

Stay tuned.

Learning Program and Team Awards 2009-2014


ASTD Excellence in Practice

Technical Training Award
Training Management Citation (for new programs)
Learning Technology Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Leadership Development (x2) Award, Citation
Workplace Learning & Collaboration–Onboarding Citation
Sales Enablement Citation

Brandon Hall Excellence in Learning

Best Custom Content Gold
Best in Learning Strategy and Governance Gold
Best Leadership Development Program Gold
Best Innovation in Learning Technology Silver
Best Leadership Sales Training Silver
Best Integration of Learning and Talent Management Bronze
Best Use of Games for Learning Bronze

Brandon Hall Technology Excellence

Best Advance in Social Learning Technology Gold

CLO Magazine Learning in Practice

Technology Innovation Gold, Division 1
Innovation Gold, Division 1
Business Impact Gold, Division 2
Business Impact Bronze, Division 2


Learning Organization Ranking Awards


American Society for Training & Development

ASTD BEST #1 (up from #32 in one year)
#2 (up from #37 in two years)

ELearning! Media Group

Learning! 100 #1 (first year on list)

Chief Learning Officer Magazine

LearningElite #1, #4

Training Magazine

 Training Top 125 #1, #2 (up from #41 in one year)