5 Secrets to Writing an Award-Winning Submission

Updated 19 June 2021

How to write an awards submission — Microsoft’s top tips and tricks

Microsoft advises nominees to get PROFESSIONAL (their capitals, not ours) help with writing their awards submissions. That’s just one reason we admire their Microsoft Partner Network Awards guidelines.

It turns out Microsoft knows a thing or two about writing an awards submission that judges will read all the way through…

“Sometimes, the difference between a winner and just another award entry isn’t the quality of the project, but the quality of the entry itself.”
Microsoft Partner Network (MPN)

A Microsoft Partner Network (MPN) award gives the winner a higher profile and more business opportunities. That’s not marketing spin, that’s the story according to past winners. It’s why the awards get thousands of submissions and how Microsoft comes to know so much about how to write an awards submission.

We’ve taken Microsoft’s submission-writing advice and added our own tips for writing an award-winning submission. (Keep reading for valuable Microsoft downloads.)

How to write an awards submission that judges will actually read

1. Look at your awards submission from the awards judges’ point of view

Some judges will be reading hundreds of submissions. [So] during the first read through, the judges are looking for a reason to throw out your entry.
Gail Mercer-MacKay, veteran MPN awards submission writer

It’s a common misconception that the awards judges will read all of your submission. This is plain wrong. They’re busy just like you, and they’re not obliged to read every word. If you don’t grab them immediately, it’s on to the next one.

You want to make sure the judge wants to read further. If you save the best for last, he or she might never get there.

2. Make your awards submission a story

No one wants to read the business case for your project. They want a story. You might not expect this kind of writing from a tech company, but here’s what Microsoft has to say about that. They want a gallant hero, a villain and a damsel in distress.

Your awards submission is much more likely to be read (and remembered) if you write it as a story. You don’t need heroes and villains literally, but you do need them figuratively: you do need a narrative.

Just because the awards you’re entering don’t spell it out like the MPN does, doesn’t mean their judges don’t want it. (Here’s how Microsoft puts it in its official guide to writing a Microsoft Partner Network award.)

3. Put your customers in the story

If you’re worthy of an award, your business is about helping customers. Who better to talk about how you do that than your customers, themselves?

Interviewing customers for a nomination gives you quotations you can use and colour. It will help you stand out from the nominees who could have used Excel for their entry.

4. Don’t rush your entry

Microsoft goes so far as to spell it out for its partners: Plan to spend 15-20 hours on your submission.

A lot is riding on winning a prestigious award. Marshalling the arguments, gathering the facts, interviewing the right people and bringing it together succinctly takes time.

It’s much harder to write 1,000 words that someone will read than it is to dash off 3,000 words that won’t get read beyond the first paragraph. Give yourself time to distill your entry to its strongest elements.

5. Back your submission with PROOF

Writing an awards submission is an exercise in copywriting. And in copywriting, one thing affects success more than any other: PROOF. It doesn’t have to be proof in the legal or scientific sense; it just has to be something that nudges the reader into believing what you’re writing. To improve your awards submission download our free guide to 39 types of proof that will make your awards submission more convincing.

Award submission downloads

  1. 39 types of proof that will make your award submission more persuasive
  2. Guidance from the Microsoft judges (a good read regardless of what sort of award you’re entering)
  3. Writing a Winning Partner of the Year Award (also a great read even if you’re not entering a Microsoft award)