Worldwide Microsoft Partner of the Year Awards now open

Why your Awards submission is more than just words

It’s that time of year again – awards season is in full swing with the WPC Partner of the Year Award now live and the Microsoft Australia Partner Awards (MAPA) submission tool opening on April 4, 2016. Cue the handwringing from frustrated writers: What shall we write? Who shall write it? How we will find the time?

But writing a submission for either MAPA or WPC Partner of the Year should not be an onerous task. In fact, if you have spent the past 12 months creating amazing customer outcomes, as I know you have, then your submission is halfway complete.

More than words

Writing a submission for an award like MAPA or the WPC Partner of the Year should be a reinforcing exercise. This is a chance to tell the world what it is you are brilliant at and, most importantly, how the thing you are brilliant at changed a customer’s world for the better.

It’s actually the stuff you already know. Your business strategy: why you do what you do. Your solutions: the unique things you build and do for your customers. And your results: outcomes that illustrate your own success, and most importantly, the success of your customers.

This is the winning formula. And if you are already focused on these things you could be on your way to becoming a MAPA winner or the next WPC Partner of Year.

Return on investment

Winston Churchill once famously apologised for making a long speech because he didn’t have time to write a shorter one. There is certainly an art to finding the right words that clearly and succinctly tell your story.

It would be remiss to suggest that the process of writing a submission doesn’t take long - it does take time. But I really believe investing this time can be highly rewarding for a number of reasons.

Working on your submission with your team is a great way of reminding everyone about your company’s sense of purpose. To ask the question: “are we telling our story the best way possible in all our marketing and communications materials?” To review the year-that-was so your employees can take even more pride in their achievements.

Asking a customer to share their story as part of your submission is an excellent way to build an even deeper and lasting relationship. Showing them the value that both you and Microsoft place on helping them to achieve great things. Indeed, when it comes to winning these awards, your customer’s success means everything.

The Winning Together category (MAPA), for example, is a brilliant way to show how you have worked successfully with another partner resulting in mutual benefits for everyone. Real collaboration that brings about true empowerment – I can’t wait to see the entries for this category.

A level playing field means everyone has a chance

Regardless of which category you enter, the questions you need to answer for both the MAPA and the WPC Partner of the Year have been designed to ensure there is a level playing field for all partners. Big or small, metropolitan or regional – everyone has a chance.

It’s the thinking and focus you put into answering these questions that will help you stand out from the field. And if you choose the right story that really illustrates your commitment to customer outcomes, the process should be an energising and positive experience.

Top tips:

Here are my top tips for creating your standout award submission:

  • Carefully choose the category you want to be famous for ensuring it’s in line with your business strategy.
  • Ask your team to help decide the customer story you are all most proud of – this will be your easiest story to tell.
  • Be clear about your story: Who was the customer? What was their problem? What solution did you provide? What was the amazing outcome?
  • Ground your story with facts by using bulletproof statistics and numbers, as well as genuine customer quotes.
  • Keep it concise. Remember the judges have a massive task in reading every single entry no matter how brilliant. A 20-page essay that is difficult to understand isn’t going to tell your story in the best light.
  • Test your submission far and wide. Give it to the grandparents to read! Give it to your kids to read! If they can’t get the general themes you are trying to convey, it needs more work.
  • Make sure you get your submission in on time with plenty of breathing space. Often, winning an award comes down to one simple thing – entering. Every year I’m amazed how many entries come in at (literally) the 11th hour. Many more never actually make it into the tool.
  • And don’t forget to use the key messages you unearthed during the process in all your other marketing and communications. It’s a great way to build your brand further.

Everyone’s a winner

Win or lose, the energy invested in creating and writing your award submission can be an invaluable exercise with benefits that extend well beyond the day you press the submit button on the Award submission tool.

Needless to say, if you do win there are many reasons to be even happier. An award strengthens your reputation and profile on many fronts – with your employees, with your customers, with Microsoft and the partner ecosystem, and within the overall industry.

So, what are you waiting for? Get working on those submissions. To help you here are links to a number of guidelines and tips to help get you on your way.

Worldwide Partner Conference Partner of the Year Awards Microsoft Australia Partner Awards

On Tuesday, 8 March my team will also be holding the ‘Write a Killer Submission’ training course via webinar. Conducted by communications strategist and writer Lisa Lintern, the session will include some practical tips to help you find the right stories and words to help your submission stand out from the rest. Register for the webinar today.

Good luck! I can’t wait to see some of the amazing examples of partner innovation and customer commitment come to life through this invaluable process. I hope you make the most of it.