It is not easy to win a Channel Award but, as they say, you have to be in it to win it. And if you put in a decent entry, you have a decent chance of getting through to the final stages. CRN editor Sara Driscoll is very keen to see more entries this year, particularly from resellers.
“Last year we had more resellers enter the awards than ever before, but we would like to see even more this year,” Driscoll said.
“We urge any resellers that believe they have something to shout about – particularly where they have shown real innovation and thought-leadership – to come forward this year. We know they are out there; they just need to make themselves heard. This is the perfect opportunity for them to do just that.”
As well as the prestige and pride that being short-listed or winning brings to resellers and channel players, the Channel Awards can raise the profile of a company significantly. All of this can be gained by simply highlighting, in 1,500 words, why your company deserves to be considered for an award.
“It is a small asking price for something that can bring such rich rewards and benefits to your business,” Driscoll added. “Entering is really very easy.”
Companies that enter can improve their chances by following a few simple rules. Many of the judges have sat on the awards panel for many years and can soon tell you what constitutes a decent entry. The overall message is to keep it short, sweet and to the point. Also, make sure that you highlight the value that your business is delivering to UK customers.
Keith Humphreys, director at research firm EuroLAN, believes that entrants also need to stand out from the crowd. “Dare to be different,” Humphreys said. “Last year, one managing director wrote the entry in the first person, and it was really very memorable.”
Bob Tarzey, services director at Quocirca, agreed. “Entries need to be eye-catching, and need to get their message across in a few pages,” he said. “There are a lot of entrants, and the judges cannot find the salient points if they are buried in reams of detail.”
Keith Warburton, chief executive of the Professional Computing Association, warned: “You also need to remember who it is that you are talking to, especially if you are a vendor or distributor.
“Keep it simple. Remember the awards are all about resellers and what you are doing for them. Try to present it from their point of view, not yours. If at all possible, try to ensure the most senior person takes responsibility for your entry. Don’t leave it all to an external PR agency.”
Entries need to put across a good case and that requires some details. “It is important to focus on the things that make a real difference, not on what we already know and accept,” Tarzey added.
“We don’t want to hear last year’s news,” he added. “Entries should be about recent innovation and new deals from the past 12 months or so.”
Mike Briefcliffe, principal at Briefcliffe Associates, said he would like to see more nitty-gritty details in entries to demonstrate the value that a company has delivered.
“Products shipped are not a good measure: a solution is the measure,” he told CRN.
As well as talking up unit sales and volume, there are a number of things to avoid. The judges certainly do not want to read all the usual corporate sales pitches. The entries need to be focused on what the company is doing here in the UK, according to Warburton.
“Don’t bother mentioning your turnover in the US, or that you are the fastest-growing company in your field globally,” he said. “By and large it has little relevance.”
You should certainly include testimonials from partners, but more importantly, from customers. These should be from “real customers”, Tarzey noted. Preferably, they should be included in the entry on the customer’s letterhead.
Humphreys suggested that it is a good idea for entries to include an appendix of customer observations, provided of course, that they are genuine.
“Beware the ‘interchangeable testimonial’,” Warburton said. “That was a feature of last year’s submissions, with one obliging customer or reseller providing testimonials for several submissions. It might be a good idea to ask anyone who is giving you a testimonial to limit it to your entry.”
Driscoll agreed with this view and pointed out that the standard of entries last year varied enormously from company to company, and included some real surprises.
“There were some excellent entries that reflected well on the companies that put them forward,” she said. “But frankly many lacked imagination and creativity.”
“They had clearly not been put together with any pride, passion or belief. Those are the key qualities that we are looking for in an entry. Yes, we want you to provide evidence of your achievements, but we also expect you to sell yourself.
“A lot of companies in the channel don’t realise just what they have achieved over the course of a year until they sit down and think about it. Once they do, they soon realise that it is a great deal, and may well be worthy of the recognition that only the Channel Awards can bring.”
Chief exec Jens Montanana claims Logicalis performed well despite 'currency headwinds'
All the photos from last night's event, which saw over 600 people congregate at the Hilton London Bankside
Five year deal with Essex NHS Trust will cover 400 sites, including hospitals, clinics and GP practices
18 individuals and three companies walked away as winners at CRN's inaugural Women in Channel Awards last night