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How to improve your chances of winning awards for your landscape work

October 17, 2017 -  By

Follow these tips to improve your chances of winning awards for your landscape work.

This month at the Landscapes 2017 conference in Louisville, Ky., the National Association of Landscape Professionals will honor companies during its Awards of Excellence dinner. Companies from around the country compete in multiple categories to be considered among the “best of the best.” Many state and regional associations will host similar events throughout the winter.

If you’ve ever wondered why you should consider participating in one of these programs and how you can improve your chances of snagging a plaque, we’ve got you covered.

Award entries checklist

Following are some helpful tips for a successful awards entry, according to the National Association of Landscape Professionals.

  • Photos tell the story. Submit the best photos possible, and make each photo count. Hire a professional photographer or take a class in landscape photography.
  • Make sure pictures are free of visual distractions (toys, hoses, litter, trash receptacles, etc.).
  • If stone surfaces are wetted for the photo shoot, be sure they are evenly wet.
  • Do not submit close-ups of flowers, leaves, butterflies, etc. This type of photo would be a wasted shot.
  • Be sure to document with photos any site difficulties mentioned in your description.
  • Don’t rule out taking pictures on overcast days—they can be a great time to take photos because colors are more saturated and there are no shadows.
  • Give a freshly completed project a few seasons to mature before submitting it for an award.
  • If possible, have the designer accompany the photographer on the photo shoot to ensure the intent of the project is captured.
  • Try not to capture unsightly issues, such as a sick plant or a tree showing decline, in project photos.
  • Take before-and-after shots from the same vantage point.
  • If night lighting or holiday lighting are part of the photo, be sure there is enough lighting to show the project.
  • Begin and end your submission with a “wow” photo.
  • In any photos showing projects in progress, make sure the job site is tidy.
  • Make sure your company name and logo are not visible in photos.
  • Keep bed lines sharp.
  • Make sure mulch is evenly distributed, consistent, the correct depth and does not encroach on walkways or stepping stones.
  • Check turf shots for consistency of color and texture and for the presence of weeds.
  • Ensure trimmed shrubs are uniform in appearance.
  • Use props (e.g., dishes, candles and bowls of fruit) when showing outdoor furniture to make it look inviting.
  • Remove spent flowers, dead leaves, leaves on turf, weeds and ensure the property is freshly swept, trimmed, mowed, wetted, etc.
  • Include shots from different seasons.
  • Have someone who’s unfamiliar with the project proof the submission to ensure it makes sense.
  • Be concise with the verbiage, especially with special features, obstacles, timelines, etc. Avoid dramatic language.

Why should you enter?

Throwing your hat in the ring for a national or state landscape award is no small investment of time or money. For state awards, expect to pay $100 or more per entry. The National Association of Landscape Professionals’ (NALP) Awards of Excellence run $499 per entry. Add to those fees someone’s time to write and prepare the submission—not to mention the potential professional photography costs—and it really adds up.

Still, companies that participate in—and win—these awards say it’s worth it. Benefits include earning respect from peers in the industry, setting apart your
company from competitors, energizing and motivating employees, seeing your work featured in media outlets and other marketing benefits.

To ensure you’re getting a good return on your awards investment, NALP recommends winners do the following:

  • Display award plaques in a visible place, like your lobby.
  • Order an extra plaque and present it to your client, along with a congratulatory letter or press release with an explanation of the significance of the award.
  • Share photos and videos of the award-winning project on social media. Consider using before-and-after shots.
  • Include the award program’s logo on invoices, letterhead, advertising and other collateral.
  • Mention your award-winning status on bids and letters by including a closing paragraph that refers to your recent award.
  • Create a display of your award-winning project that can be set up at trade shows or other events.
  • Send a press release to clients, prospects and the media.
This is posted in 1017, Design/Build+Installation
Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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