In my series on Writing to Word Limits, I touched briefly on how to structure responses to tender questions. Over the last year or so, I’ve spent a lot of time with various clients who were all struggling with various issues with their bids and I came to the conclusion that – while the individual issues were as diverse as each client – most could be eliminated through the proper use of structure and narrative.
One of the most common issues I come across when evaluating past bids for clients is missing information.
It’s super easy to go off on a tangent, adding information you feel is important for the tendering organisation to know about as background or context to your answer. But it’s equally easy to then miss vital facts, figures and other information that has been directly asked for. Word blindness is a thing, especially when you’ve spent late nights emptying your company’s soul into an online portal, and some of the individual facets of the question itself can get lost in the misty depths of your tired brain.
However, with the right structure in place, the necessary facts will be virtually impossible to miss out. Structure defines what information you are going to include for each answer.
Narrative is a slightly different beast and defines how you are going to describe the information you need to include. Without a good narrative, your answers can seem too dry and too factual; you may be responding precisely to the question asked but nothing more. Narrative is not ‘sales speak’ or additional, unnecessary waffle – it’s there to help you demonstrate to the contracting organisation that you understand the issues they face, that you can deliver the contract with confidence and that they should trust your company above all others.
Narrative then, is the story you want to tell; it’s the meat on the structural bones, the pattern in the material of your bid.
This stuff works
Structure followed by narrative is my number one method for writing compelling, compliant, winning tender responses. As always, if you have any questions, comments or experiences to share, please do so in the comments, or get in touch.