You know that you’re great at what you do, and you want the client to award you the tender. But are your tender responses really doing you justice? Persuasive writing is part art, part science so here are our top tender writing tips that can really make a difference to your response.
1. Know your Audience
A fundamental of all communication is to know who you are talking to, and the same is true with tender responses. Who will the evaluators be? Will they understand your industry or will it be new to them? For example, in some social care tenders, they invite service users or their families to review tenders. They will be looking for very different things from the project manager, as will the legal or accounts team.
It may be that different people evaluate different responses, so it’s absolutely worth taking some time to consider who you will be writing for as you tackle each question. For example, in a construction bid, the project managers will evaluate your technical responses, but your customer service responses are going to be more important to their resident liaison team and you should keep their needs on board as you write.
2. Customer Focused
As tempting as it can be to use a tender to write about your company and how amazing you are, what you actually need to do is focus more on the client. You can absolutely shout about all the great services or products that you have to offer, but do it by explaining how they are going to be of benefit to the client. Responses also sound more friendly if you talk about ‘you’ and ‘we’ rather than ‘Borough Council’ and ‘MyCompany Ltd’ – you will connect with the reader better if it feels like you are talking to them specifically.
3. Keep it Simple
It can be tempting to start reaching into your thesaurus when you’re trying to impress a reader, but that’s generally a mistake. Sticking to simple language is the best way to get a clear message across and it’s always worth remembering that the average reading age in the UK is just 9 years old. The Guardian newspaper aims its text at a reading age of 14, while the Sun is just 8. You don’t want your reader to feel intimidated or stressed when reading your response, they need to feel comfortable that they can trust you to understand what is required and deliver on it.
Have you heard the expression, ‘blinding them with science’? It is used to talk about the use of overly technical language that you don’t expect the reader to understand. We’ve all been on the receiving end of this sort of thing and know how unpleasant it can feel. One of our top tender writing tips is to make sure that you remove any unnecessary jargon, or explain it if it needs to remain so that your reader doesn’t get the impression that you’re hiding anything.
4. Back Everything Up
Tenders aren’t the place to make vague or woolly statements, you need to make sure that everything that you tell the client is grounded in reality. There are a few ways to do this:
- Use statistics, ‘We have a 98% right-first-time rate’ or ‘99% of our appointments in 2021 were attended on time’.
- Bring in case studies or testimonials, ‘On our recent contract for Other Council we were able to achieve 5% cost reductions through this measure.’
- Use official reports, ‘In our recent CQC report it was noted that we had made significant improvements in this area.’
- Refer to product specifications, ‘This product contains 95% recyclable material’, or, ‘Drying times for this paint are 25% faster than alternatives.’
- Calling on authorities, ‘We follow RIBA best practice,’ or ‘We comply to CIC standards’.
5. Think about Storytelling
The idea of a tender is to take your potential client on a journey that leads to them understanding you are the best person for the job – you need to tell a story. That doesn’t mean its fiction, just that you use the techniques of good storytelling in your response.
Start with a statement that engages your reader’s attention and makes them keen to read on – yes, they do have to read every word, but let’s make it a pleasant experience for them! The middle section is where you build your case, using the methods listed above to make it more real to your reader, and then finally you close out with a summary, and ideally a sentence that will stay with your reader and make your response stick in their mind. This last sentence is a good one to pack with proof, if you can. ‘We are working to achieve Net Zero and have reduced our emissions by 5% this year and welcome the response to work with you to continue on this journey.’
6. Use Graphics to Highlight
If your tender allows it, then using images, graphics, and diagrams can be an excellent way to bring your response to life. If you have a key idea that you want to get across, consider if you can present it in a graphic format. For example, if you are trying to persuade the buyer that you have a robust complaints procedure, including a flow chart will help demonstrate that quickly and easily.
Even if you can’t add graphics, you can still format the text to highlight certain information. Make use of bold and italic, but also consider pops of colour for emphasis. It can also be a good idea to co-brand your document, if your company colours work well with those of the client.
7. Call in Help if You Need It
While learning new tender writing tips can turn a novice into a good writer, it can’t replace a natural talent for written communication. In the same way that watching a YouTube video might help someone to paint their skirting boards, it doesn’t bring the years of training and experience that let a professional decorator do an amazing job. So, if you use all these tips and your tenders still aren’t performing the way you want them to, then drop us a line. We work with companies of all sizes, offering flexible support to help them win tenders and we’d love to help you, too.