My experience as a judge at the 2021 Club Hub Kids Activities Awards by Felicity Sandford
What an honour! I was thrilled when Tessa Robinson, Founder of Club Hub UK, asked me to be a judge of the 2021 Club Hub Awards in Birmingham. Club Hub is a leading kids activities directory for children aged 0 to 18 across the UK.
After a year and a half of social restrictions, it was exhilarating to be back in a venue. It was amazing to see lots of children’s activity providers IRL as my 12 year old daughter would say. That’s In Real Life for those of you not in possession of a teen or tween child. Such a range of different kids activities specialists from sports clubs to drama schools, baby and toddler groups, music and art class providers and more.
The event started bright and early (by post lockdown standards) at 10am with a fantastic talk by Junior Ogunyemi. He spoke at the inaugural Club Hub Awards in 2019 and second time around he didn’t disappoint.
We then had a break to network and dose up on caffeine. Tessa came over to me in the break and asked me to present the 2020 award for Best Digital Business. The sponsor had to pull out at last minute. Nothing like a short notice appearance on stage to stop you getting pre-speech jitters!
After lunch, we had a brilliantly informative talk by Andy Georgiou. Andy is a franchise consultant and Founder of the Institute of Children’s Activity Providers (ICAP) As a specialist children’s activity franchise expert, Andy wowed his audience with his talk Success, Foundations and 10 Truths for children’s club owners. Andy is a client of mine as I run the social media for ICAP and it was great to see him in action on stage. He’s definitely a natural public speaker.
On stage as a business awards judge
It was then my turn to go on stage with all my fellow 2021 Club Hub judges. I was honoured to be sat beside Claire Balkind, Founder of the famous and totally humongous lockdown Facebook group, erstwhile called ‘Family Lockdown’. The group has now changed to the Family Lowdown Tips & Ideas group. It has over 1 million members and an official Days Out with the Kids partner. Alongside us were Krishma Vaghela (Franchise Consultant), Mark de Quervain of Showtime Analytics. Also Janet Douglas (from Feed My Creative CIC) and Nigel Apperly (CEO at Trustist). Sadly unable to make it in person, was Kelly Jenkins, Founder of Beaming Babies UK and also of the Wales Children’s Activities and Services Awards.
Our topic was What do judges look for from entrants in business awards. It was a lively discussion with lots of active audience participation. I must admit it felt quite strange to be speaking on a stage at a large live in-person event after two years of speaking online only. However the initial strangeness wore of quickly and I found it absolutely uplifting and exhilarating.
I thought it might be useful to reveal some of the most common mistakes children’s activity providers made in their award entries.
5 common mistakes entrepreneurs make when entering business awards
What to avoid when completing applications for business awards:
Not making entries relevant to the category
There were 16 categories in the Club Hub Awards and quite a few businesses entered nearly all of them. This is fine if you have valid examples and evidence of why you are entering this event. Often though, it felt like a ‘tick box’ exercise. Sometimes when reading through the numerous entries, I felt as though some people were just using the same wording, ticking all the boxes and hedging bets, hoping for the best. This does not have the intended effect as judges get bored of reading the same information countless times, without it being tailored for the category concerned. Less is more in a lot of ways with this.
Not proof-reading entries before submitting
Please do make sure you read through your award entry text before you hit that submit button. I spotted lots of silly grammatical, spelling and other entries. This gives a poor, unprofessional impression. I tried to look past it but it’s difficult because it looks sloppy and careless. If you are dyslexic or just feel exhausted after writing the award entry up (and I know it can take a very long time to get it all down) – do get some ‘fresh eyes’ to glance over your awards entry text before submitting.
The award entry ignore key elements of the criteria requested
Usually business awards organisers will give a short list of things that they want you to cover when you write up your entry for each award category. Ignore this entirely at your peril!
Not giving evidence to support entries
Judges often found a lack of supporting evidence to back the claims made in the award category entry. As business award judges we like to see stats, website/ social media activity that shows the events/ classes/ props/ first class venues that you’ve spoken about. You don’t have to be the best social media / website content producer in the world by any means, but you need to show the world what you do and have some sort of engaging presence if possible.
Fluffy, unsubstantiated KPIs
Don’t litter your text with unsubstantiated, unproven declarations such as ‘doing this really improved our brand awareness.’ Why/how did it do that – and what increased numbers did that result in? Direct the judges to more specific business outcomes or they will have a difficult time in fairly evaluating your achievements.
Use SMART KPIs. Outline Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound results. This makes it easier to access how successful the campaign was. It also show judges how good the business owner is at learning from both successes and mistakes of campaigns. Don’t be afraid to note some lessons learnt. Point to stats and accounts figure (e.g. turnover increase) where possible.
Instead of writing things like ‘increased reach/ page views’ include some hard figures – percentage increase over six months, time spent on the website in December vs January. Support your claims with clear evidence wherever you can and it’ll will put you in good favour with the judges.
Final tips on entering awards as a children’s activity provider
Feeling fired up? Want some well deserved validation for all your hard work and successes by winning some business awards? Read on for some final tips
What sort of business awards could I enter?
As well as entering children’s activities awards like Club Hub and the Wales Children’s Activities and Services Awards, you could enter local business awards. This could increase your visibility and credibility in your local area. Or you may want to enter relevant demographic awards. There are awards for female entrepreneurs/ business owners, black entrepreneurs, Asian business owners, mums in business and more.
Need some help with preparing your business award entries?
If you want some help getting your award entry ready, then book a Power Hour with me and we will go through the ins and outs of how to do it together. I’ll even proof read your entry for you. Email me if you’d like to chat about having a marketing power hour with me: email@example.com