Innovation is a word that’s banded around far too often in my opinion.
Whether you call it ‘work winning’ or ‘pursuits’ we all know the pressures that exist in this space to provide innovation when delivering a bid.
What does ‘Bid Innovation’ really mean?
It’s a buzzword which many people love to hate and is often truly confusing. People frequently find it difficult to define, but generally it’s accepted that innovation is to ‘execute an idea which addresses a specific challenge and achieves value for both the company and the prospective customer’.
Businesses regularly make common mistakes when thinking about innovation, which include;
- Failure to put in the required support and resources
- Innovating for innovation sake without considering value to the customer
- Emphasising the ‘idea’ with no clue how to execute it
- Believing innovation is about technology or a product when it’s often a process
Once a business truly grasps what innovation means to their business and their potential customers, it can then understand why innovation is critically important in things such as the bid lifecycle or as part of the wider marketing function. Simply put, bid innovation is about staying relevant.
Companies absolutely have to adapt and evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of their prospective clients. With bids, this means not focussing on the ‘big idea’ but instead focusing on the right questions.
- What are your prospects goals?
- How can you execute and deliver change?
- What value can you bring?
Are there really opportunities to innovate on a time sensitive bid?
Where the margin between winning and losing has becoming ever closer, we’ve seen an explosion in the standard of bids where clients are working hard to increase the quality of their responses. Providing high-end, innovative responses is the only way to stand out and find those few extra percentage points. Your bid must be of the highest quality across all areas. Using a multi-pronged approach, you can generally manage this by exploiting three key areas;
- Client Intelligence
- Quality of content
- Visual impact
Our experience shows us that businesses are generally good at tackling one or two of these areas, but rarely all three. They will undertake in-depth client analysis to understand their prospect but won’t apply it to their messaging or content. They might write knowledgeably and show technical prowess but fail to understand what their prospect is actually asking or looking for. Or they’ll do both of these well but won’t craft a document that helps their prospect to navigate the bid and take away from it the right message, or be creative enough to soar above the competition.
For understandable reasons, businesses generally focus on the bid response itself, but the life-cycle of a bid presents many opportunities for innovation and creating memorable experiences.
As an agency we will look at all the available ‘touch points’ through the project life-cycle from pre-proposal, to the bid itself, right through to the pitch presentation. All stages provide opportunities to innovate, to provide and execute exciting ideas which address a specific challenge or provide real and relevant value.
What does bid innovation look like?
What innovation might look like often depends on the sector as well as the businesses involved. Let’s be frank, some sectors are naturally far more innovative or provide more opportunities for innovation than others. I’m not going to go into specifics or show anything confidential but there are two key areas which as an agency we believe are fundamental to innovation through 2018 and beyond. These are personalisation and data.
Pursuit marketing philosophies have demonstrated the benefits of surrounding the buyer with messaging that is highly relevant, is 100% in line with the company’s goals and will resonate with the decision makers and influencers. The key thing here is to appreciate that people buy from people. Stop selling to a faceless company and start aligning your messaging with goals and needs of individuals. That may often mean crafting different messages for different people and may involve understanding the personal traits of your customers as well as their business goals.
Data is king in 2018 and the more effectively a company can leverage this information and make it meaningful and digestible the more likely you are to resonate with your prospective client. Using infographics to break up wordy content or using data visualisation to make complex or technical processes easier to digest will give you a leg up over your competitors.
Nobody likes to feel stupid, so my message is to simply SIMPLIFY.
How do we instil innovation in our bid process?
We say to all our clients, quite simply, it’s about early engagement.
We like to be involved in the bid process at the initial stages to ensure we can have the greatest impact. If you’re leaving things to the last minute, you’ve already lost the battle.
Tim Lindsay is a Director at NU Creative, specialists in innovation across the work winning process.
Nu Creative have been supporting companies like PWC, AON and Jones Lang LaSalle with their bid delivery for over a decade. We are passionate about creating truly memorable experiences for our client’s prospects.