Winning tenders doesn’t happen by accident. Writing a bid that stands out takes time and resources that small businesses are often short on. When a team is spending valuable time and energy on a bid, you want to make sure that time is used as effectively as possible so you can get back to what matters: the day-to-day operations of your business.

Unfortunately, lack of experience often causes businesses new to the tendering process to make avoidable errors that can cost them a contract win, wasting valuable resources that could have been assigned elsewhere. For these businesses, we have compiled a list of the seven deadly sins of bid writing.

  1. Using Marketing Collateral in a Tender Response
  2. Confusing the Assessment Team with Long, Technical Responses
  3. Changing the Tender Documents
  4. Implementing a Shotgun Approach & Bidding for Everything
  5. Treating Bids as an Administrative Task
  6. Re-using Previous Content
  7. Writing About Yourself

This is the first in a series of articles about the causes, problems and solutions associated with each mistake. Today we’ll focus on mistake #1: using marketing collateral as content for a tender response.

Why Not Use Marketing Collateral in a Tender Response?

So why shouldn’t you use marketing collateral? It’s written and ready to go, which sounds like it would save you time and make life a whole lot easier.

While marketing content can be useful for reference or information, the writing is aimed at the general public who are unfamiliar with the business or your offerings/products. The information is too generic to offer much value to a bid.

Tenders offer a unique sales opportunity that is often overlooked; an opportunity to market to a target audience of one. And you know they are in the purchase stage of the buying cycle.  So why would you waste that opportunity to put a fully tailored message in front of them, that you know will get results?

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Sometimes you can get away with using generic marketing content or ‘boilerplate’ text for parts of the bid, but you run the risk of submitting a tender that doesn’t really answer the questions, fails to present a bespoke solution and reads like a copy and paste job.

Potential clients don’t want to waste their time reading bids containing information they can find on the website – they want real answers to their very real problems. The Principal wants to know what you can do for them specifically, not what you do in general.

Is There Any Place For Marketing Collateral?

Yes! Well made marketing materials can serve as excellent supporting evidence that a company knows what it’s doing. Attaching a relevant, appealing brochure is a great way to inform readers about your company’s services and build credibility.

But beware. Before including any supplemental marketing material in the appendices, make sure you’ve thoroughly read the tender documents. Some RFTs prohibit submitting marketing material to prevent problems like those we just discussed. Also keep in the mind that the material is merely supplemental, and your full response should never just read “refer to attached”.

What to Do Instead

Before deciding what to include in a tender response, you need to know what the content needs to accomplish. A great tender illustrates that you understand what the potential client is trying to achieve through the tendering process and how your solution meets their requirements. When crafting a tender response, keep the following goals in mind:

  • Outline the specific features of the product or service
  • Provide rationale for proposing key solution elements
  • Align the solution to helping the client achieve their goals.

Instead of using generic marketing content, write an executive summary from scratch, drawing from your knowledge of the business, an understanding of the Principal’s needs and focussing on the win themes and solution you’re offering.

To answer specific questions from the schedule of responses, it’s okay to use boilerplate text from other tenders where relevant (but always make sure someone who understands the content does a thorough review to pick up on any contract or client specific content). Depending on the question, you might need to write an entirely new answer specific to the tender, copy from another tender or any combination of the two.

When using pre-written content, be sure to remove every reference to the previous tender, including the client name, contract name, locations and other specific information. Also check that the response answers this question exactly as it is written, not a related but slightly different version from another tender.

The most important question to keep in mind when writing a tender is: does this answer illustrate exactly what we can do for this client?

If your response fully answers the question, tells a story about how you can benefit this specific client and incorporates your win themes, then you have done a good job, regardless of whether you wrote every word or incorporated content from marketing materials.

AUTHOR

Search our categories

All

Business Management

Corporate Writing

Philanthropic Funding

Bid Management

Business Plans

Ghostwriting

Pitch Tips

Bid Strategy

Business Proposals

Government Grants

Procurement

Bid Writing

Cheatsheets

Persuasive Writing

Tenders