Lisa Lintern, Communications Strategist and Writer
Lisa Lintern, a communications strategist and writer, provided some great hints and tips.
“We’re just not sure how to start,” are the words I often hear from businesses when they contact me seeking help for award submissions. Sometimes I can hear they are feeling overwhelmed.
Writing your submission for the Microsoft Australia Partner Awards (MAPA) is your chance to tell the world you are brilliant! But for some reason when it comes to getting that stuff down on paper, it can be a struggle to find the right words or the right order to put them in.
But the good news there is a winning formula to help you with your MAPA submissions. A formula that has been used since storytelling began thousands of years ago. It has four key elements, with a literal ‘twist’ at the end.
1. The hero with a superpower
In an award submission you are the hero – the one with the power to save the world.
So spend some time thinking: what is your superpower? Perhaps you only started your business two years ago and have already doubled your customer numbers? Perhaps you have launched the first product of its kind – your ‘secret weapon’. Perhaps you have highly talented people working for you?
Take the time to really describe who you are: where you operate, the number of employees you have, and the number of customers you serve. Or other interesting facts like, perhaps you have customers that are members of the ASX 200? Whatever it is that makes you unique.
2. The character who needs saving
In most cases it’s a customer who is facing some kind of challenge that plays this role. Perhaps it’s a customer struggling to get information quickly and safely to its workforce located in remote regions across the world? Perhaps it’s a company being held back by a slow and unresponsive IT service provider? Or perhaps the victim is a market place suffering from a lack of competitive offerings?
And again, paint the picture of this character with evidence. The amount of money that the customer is spending on outsourcing their IT needs. Numbers or statistics that show how inefficient that industry is. Or numbers or statistics that show the opportunity for that industry if only they could work more efficiently.
3. The villain (boo hiss!)
But of course, just to makes things even more interesting, enter the villain. The person or thing that could stop the hero in its tracks. This could be challenges like other competitors, tough regulatory red tape, or a last minute technical hitch. What is it that you as the hero must overcome in the inevitable struggle?
4. The hero saves the day!
And of course, like all good stories, the hero always wins. How? Well this is where you need to be very clear. What was the tangible increase in a customer’s productivity as a result of your solution? How many new customers did your client win as a result? How much money is your customer now saving every year? What other customers did you win as a result of this win?
This tangible ‘real information’ is very important. They are the proof points as to why your story is such a success story. Make sure you back up your story with as many of these proof points as possible. This is the stuff that can really make a submission stand out.
Turn your story up side down
Once you have your story, there is one final and very important thing you must do. You need to turn it on its head. So the happy ending becomes your introduction. That summary pitch that makes it an irresistible story for the judges. The hook that reels them in and encourages them to make the time to read the rest of your submission.
Know your audience
Which leads me to my final piece of advice, and it’s the most important rule I have learnt throughout my entire communications career – know your audience and write for them.
In MAPA’s case your audience is a panel of about three to four people per award who all work for Microsoft Australia. WPC’s MPN Partner of the Year awards are judged by Microsoft experts from all over the world with a minimum of three judges per award. WPC’s MPN Country Partner of the Year for Australia is judged by Pip Marlow and the Microsoft Australia Leadership Team.
Judges, like all of us, are time poor. So make it easy for them to read your submission by following these tips:
- Write your words as though you are saying them. Writing as you would speak enables your writing to have a conversational and ‘authentic’ feel – a style that is much more convincing for the reader.
- Use an active voice, not a passive voice. Active writing is easier to read as it puts the subject at the front of the sentence. For example, “Fred loves Angela” is active. “Angela is loved by Fred” is passive (and takes the mind a bit longer to work out!).
- Assume the judge knows nothing. So this means avoiding acronyms and jargon like the plague!
- Say it once and say it well. Don’t use slightly different sentences to make the same point over and over again.
- Edit ruthlessly! Delete any words you don’t need. Unnecessary repetition is not your friend and spelling mistakes are your enemy.
But most importantly…don’t be late!
Submissions for MAPA open on 1 July at 12.01 Australian Eastern Standard Time and closes at pm Australian Eastern Standard time on 29 August 2017
For both awards there are no exceptions or extensions so set yourself a deadline a week prior to this date to deal with any last minute technical issues.
Good luck with your submissions and don’t forget you can find a wealth of information here: Watch the "How to write a Killer Award Submission"