We live in a very competitive world and if you want to win that next project, writing compelling and effective proposals is a must.
When a business or government entity is looking for a partner for a specific project, often an Expression of Interest or Request for proposal will be released. The responses received will be used to select their partner, so a carefully crafted and micro targeted document is vital, as first impressions really count.
There needs to be a clear communications strategy right from the outset. Just filling in the boxes and hoping it all comes together just will not cut it in a competitive marketplace.
So, what are the keys to successful bid writing??
Research, research, research
It is extremely important to know your audience. What does their brand stand for? What is their main area of interest or expertise? For instance, they may be keen on sustainability or work closely with a certain charity. If you know what makes the organisation tick you can respond in a way that mirrors this and demonstrate how compatible you are as a business.
A vital part of your research should be microtargeting. By microtargeting the decision makers you will gain valuable insight into their underlying motivations so that you can write a response that resonates with them. Use what you learn to set the tone of your document, be it the language, images or colours that you use. If your audience feels a natural affinity with how you present yourself it can vastly impact their decision.
The Devil is in the Detail
Review, understand and stick to the guidelines – this is not the time to show your creativity. Make sure you demonstrate your deep understanding of the project goals. It is essential to address the selection criteria in a clear, concise and engaging manner. Demonstrate that you have all the requirements and experience they are looking for by including examples of past projects and testimonials from people just like them. Sometimes there’s a specific font, layout or set number of pages – follow the rules. And make sure you provide all the relevant details e.g. introduction, executive summary, design, approach and methodology, financial and structuring proposal, team members, relevant experience, and key terms – in the order they’ve asked for them so the document is easy for them to navigate.
Structure a clear and concise response that flows easily and fluently. Keep it as simple as possible using visual aids instead of words where appropriate. Use a combination of text, info graphics, images and other visual cues that communicate in an engaging way. This will help hold the readers interest and they are more likely to read all sections of the document. Enabling stakeholders to see the entirety of the document will give them an understanding of the bigger picture rather than focusing only on parts that relate to them.
Start by describing the problem you are seeking to solve or need you are seeking to fulfil. Talk about the current situation, who, what, where is affected. Then explain how you intend to solve the problem or fulfil the need by offering the solution. What is your work plan, how will you achieve your goals on budget and on time? Use shared language such as ‘we’ and ‘us’ so that you are already instilling the idea that you are united and a team.
Even if it’s complex subject matter, don’t forget that the reader is a human, so make sure the content is something that people can identify with and relate to. Take them on a journey by telling an intriguing story with human benefits. Create a vision that will capture their imagination. Use inspiring pull quotes and images to help get your overriding message across.
A professional looking document with content displayed in a way that’s easy to navigate and absorb can have an enormous impact on success. You need to look as good as you say you are, otherwise there will be a disconnect. If you don’t have the skill to do this, outsourcing it is a very wise investment.
Unique Selling Point
What is your USP? This can be a the hard one, to show how you are truly different (and better!) than the rest. Share information about your work culture, ethics, thought leadership and experience, especially if they align with or are relevant to the decision maker(s). Share comparable success stories, previous track records or business profiles. What is your ‘wow’ factor?
Finally, always proof read your document. Accuracy and detail always count and that includes submitting it on time.
At Cuckoo, we have an experienced team of strategists, storytellers and designers who love to win. Get in touch and find out how we can help.