May 2024

What makes a good tender?

13 minutes

Let’s talk about what makes a tender not just good, but exceptional. kjsxfkhsdfl jlksd
Of course, having all the right information is important but it's actually how you present it that can make all the difference.
You might not realise this, but we've been mastering the art of creating winning bids and tenders for years. At NU, our approach is about more than just hard work; it’s about intelligent, strategic execution. Leveraging the Shipley colour review process as the core of our planning, we meticulously guide each phase of the bid lifecycle—from development and discovery through design and delivery.
Our thorough, detail-oriented method ensures that every bid we submit not only meets expectations but stands out distinctly in a crowded field. We pride ourselves on creating proposals that capture and retain the attention of your prospects, consistently securing more work for our clients. With years of proven success, we're here to help you make a lasting impression that wins.
So, how can you create a tender that will draw attention and also win contracts?
Let’s break it down together, without any pesky jargon. This isn’t just about throwing data and documents at a wall and seeing what sticks. It’s about creating a narrative that makes the reader sit up, take notice, and think, “These are exactly the people we need.”
Understanding the tender process

What do you think happens when you hit 'send' on a tender submission?

Does it just disappear into a black hole?

Not quite!

The tender process is a bit like a relay race – it's all about passing the baton smoothly from one phase to the next without dropping it. So, let’s delve into these phases.

It starts way before the actual writing – with the pre-tender stage. Here, you're getting your ducks in a row: assembling the right team and understanding exactly what the client is looking for. Think of it as doing your homework before the big test. But there's a critical step even before you gather your team: evaluating whether the bid is truly worth pursuing. Not every opportunity will be the right fit for your business. It’s essential to assess various factors, such as alignment with your company’s strengths, potential return on investment, and the strategic value of the contract. This discernment step ensures that you commit resources to bids that are not just winnable but also worthwhile, setting you up for a focused and effective bid process.

Next up, the submission itself. This is where your hard work comes to life in the form of a document that needs to not just meet expectations but exceed them. Why? Because this is your first (and sometimes only) shot to make a strong impression.

Then after you submit your tender, there’s the post-tender review. Did you hit the mark? What feedback did you receive? This stage is crucial for continuous improvement. Looking at what you could have done better, and also celebrating what went right and learning how to replicate that success.

Thinking about each phase in advance can make the difference between a good tender and a great one.

Knowing your client

Ever walked into a meeting feeling like you've known everyone around the table for years?

That’s the feeling you want to evoke with your tender. How well you understand your client can make or break your chances of winning that coveted contract.

But how can you truly get to know a client you've never worked with before? It starts with some detective work. Dig deep into their past projects, read up on their mission, and try to grasp their corporate culture. What drives them? What have they valued in previous partnerships?

But don’t stop there. Understanding their challenges is just as crucial. Delve into the problems they face and the obstacles they’ve encountered in past projects. What issues seem to recur? How can your proposal address these pain points? By identifying and acknowledging these challenges, you can tailor your approach to meet their specific needs and position yourself as the solution they’ve been searching for. This deeper insight allows you to create a proposal that resonates more profoundly because it speaks directly to their current situation and aspirations.

Here’s a thought: Imagine your tender as a bespoke suit. It needs to fit your client perfectly, complementing their style and needs. Why settle for off-the-rack when you can go tailor-made? That’s the level of customisation and attention to detail that wins bids.

So, ask yourself, do you really know what your client needs, or are you just assuming? Remember, when it comes to tenders, one size does not fit all. What will you do to ensure your next tender feels like it’s been built just for them?

The role of creative design in tenders

A well-designed presentation can change the way you think about information. That’s exactly what creative design does in a tender.

Think about the last time a simple infographic caught your eye more than a page full of text. Why is that? Because our brains are wired to process visual information faster and more efficiently than text alone. That’s where design steps in. By integrating smart, professional visuals, you can simplify complex data, making your tender more engaging and more understandable.

But there’s a fine line between creativity and clutter. The key is design with purpose. Every chart, every image, every layout choice should have a clear reason behind it—not just for aesthetic appeal but to enhance the reader’s understanding and engagement. Does your design guide the reader’s eye to the most crucial information? Does it reinforce your key messages without overwhelming the content?

Here’s a quick challenge for you: Look at your current tender template. Does it tell a coherent visual story, or is it just a collection of random elements? What is yours saying about you?

Creating content that engages

Your tender needs to capture the hearts and minds of the review panel.

So, let’s talk about transforming a standard tender into a compelling narrative. It starts with clarity and persuasion. Each sentence should serve a purpose, driving home why you are the best choice for the project. Are you being clear and concise, or do you find yourself wandering into the weeds of technical jargon?

Remember, simplicity is everything. It’s about striking a balance—providing enough detail to be persuasive without overwhelming the reader with too much information. And don't forget, the magic often lies in the details. Specificity, especially when backed by stats and data, can transform a vague statement into a compelling reason to choose you.

For example, instead of simply saying, "We deliver on time," why not say, "We've completed 98% of our projects on time over the last five years"? This specific statistic not only reinforces your claim but also presents a concrete track record that can significantly strengthen your proposal. It gives potential clients a clear, quantifiable reason to trust in your reliability and efficiency, making your bid more persuasive and memorable.

But here’s the thing that’s going to make you really stand out: storytelling. Creating a narrative around your solution, showcasing how it fits perfectly into the fabric of the client’s needs. A story that not only informs but also connects on an emotional level.

Research and data utilisation

Overwhelmed by data? You’re not alone. But imagine if we could turn that mountain of data into a clear, compelling story that not only makes sense but also strengthens your tender.

First, research is about understanding the bigger picture. How does your solution fit into the market, what trends can support your approach? It’s about painting a scenario where your expertise is not just useful, but essential. From checking your facts and double-checking your sources, it’s crucial that everything you claim can be backed up with solid evidence.

Now, let’s talk about presenting data. Did you know that the way you present information can significantly impact its persuasiveness? This is where good design comes back into play. Visualising data through charts, graphs, and infographics can transform dry statistics into engaging, easy-to-understand visuals. But remember, each piece of data you include must have a purpose. Ask yourself, "Does this data support my argument?" If not, it might just be cluttering your narrative.

Here’s a challenge for you: Next time you prepare a tender, identify one key piece of data and think of three different ways to present it visually. Which version drives your point home most effectively?

Preparing for the pre-tender and post-tender phases

Let’s talk about the bookends of your tender process—the crucial steps before you even draft a word and after you submit your proposal. These phases are often overlooked but can dramatically influence your success rate. Let’s unpack why they’re so important and how you can make the most of them.

Before the tender: The pre-tender phase

Do you jump straight into writing as soon as a tender opportunity comes up?

Hold on!

There's a bit of groundwork to do first, and it’s about more than just preparation.

This stage is crucial for laying a strong foundation. It involves understanding the client's broader goals, aligning your team, and setting clear objectives. Gathering intelligence on the client’s past tenders and assembling the best possible team to create and deliver your proposal is just the beginning. Think of this phase as your strategy room—it’s where you plan your approach to win.

But how can you make your mark even before the tender process officially starts? Can you initiate introductions, differentiate yourself from competitors, or send information that positions your company as the solution to their needs? Consider arranging a meeting or sending a pre-tender pack that includes insights and value you can offer. If you meet, think about what you can leave behind that keeps your proposal top of mind. An engaging leave-behind could be a well-crafted brochure or a unique piece of interactive content that captures more data and insights about your prospect.

Creating trust and engagement before the tender is submitted is pivotal. Make sure that any interaction before the tender is welcome and adds value. This proactive approach ensures they have you front and centre in their minds when the tender is released.

After the tender: The post-tender phase

The tender’s submitted... what now? Rather than just waiting for a response, this is a prime time to engage further and create a lasting impression. How are you capturing lessons learned from each tender? Are you requesting feedback regardless of the outcome?

This phase is crucial for continuous improvement. By analysing what worked and what didn’t, you’re fine-tuning your approach for future opportunities. But it’s also the perfect time to think beyond the usual follow-up.

Consider if there’s a pitch process involved. Can you present your proposal in a way that not only informs but also inspires? Maybe it’s time to consider something more experiential. Imagine leaving your prospect not just satisfied with the information provided but truly excited about what you offer. This could involve interactive presentations, immersive demonstrations, or even tailored events that highlight the key benefits of working with your company.

And don’t forget about maintaining relationships. How often are you reaching out to the client after submission, just to keep the lines of communication open? Regular interaction ensures that your company remains at the forefront of their mind, reinforcing your commitment and readiness to serve their needs.

Here’s something to ponder: How structured are your pre-tender and post-tender activities? Are they an integral part of your process, or are they an afterthought? Remember, every stage of the tender process offers a unique opportunity to refine and enhance your strategy. Are you making the most of these opportunities?

Stringent checks and compliance

In the world of tenders, such slip-ups can mean the difference between winning and losing a bid. That's why stringent checks and thorough compliance are more than just checkboxes; they're your safety nets.

Accuracy is everything

Imagine submitting a tender that claims you can increase efficiency by 20%, but you’ve accidentally typed 200% — it's a mistake that could cost you credibility. Precision isn't just about avoiding typos; it's about ensuring every fact, figure, and promise is spot-on and verifiable.

Your documents need to reflect a sharp eye for detail that instils confidence in your potential clients.

Aligning with tender requirements

Compliance isn't the most thrilling part of writing a tender, but think of it as the backbone of your proposal. Each requirement is a key to unlocking the client’s confidence and trust. You need to align your responses exactly with what the tender asks for. Otherwise, you are risking non-compliance by assuming what’s important. Every section, every requirement, every stipulation needs your full attention. Missing a single compliance point can be a deal-breaker.

Professional presentation

Finally, consider how your tender looks when it lands on the reviewer’s desk. Is it a polished, professional package, or does it seem thrown together at the last minute? Remember, the presentation of your tender speaks volumes about your organisation’s attention to detail and professionalism.

Is your formatting consistent? Are your documents easy to navigate? Beyond mere aesthetics, consistent branding plays a crucial role. Every element of your tender should reflect your brand’s strength and identity, from the colour scheme and logo placement to the tone of the written content. This consistency not only enhances brand awareness but also builds trust. When your documents resonate with your brand’s values, they convey a powerful message of reliability and commitment.

Think of your tender’s presentation as its suit for the job interview—it needs to look sharp and embody the essence of your brand. Ensuring that your proposal visually aligns with your brand identity is key to making a lasting impression.

Here’s a quick reflection: When was the last time you reviewed your compliance and checked procedures? Are they as robust as they need to be, or is there room for improvement?

Now that we’ve gone through the essential components of what makes a tender great, you might be wondering: how can all these elements come together. It's about more than filling out forms and meeting the minimum requirements. It’s about building a story, presenting it beautifully, and ensuring every detail is polished to perfection. Each part of your tender—from understanding the client’s needs to ensuring compliance—is a thread in the larger fabric of your narrative.

So if you’re looking for help with engaging content, designing striking visuals, or ensuring your tenders are as polished as they can be, we're here to support you every step of the way. After all, why settle for just competing when you can stand out?

Let's start a conversation about your next tender. Reach out to us today, and together, we'll create tenders that exceed expectations.

Contact NU Creative now—let's make your next bid your best yet!

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