While I’ve been writing ever since I could pick up a pen – I didn’t get my first paycheque for writing until 2011. Over the years I’ve written for every industry and audience imaginable – granted it’s been mostly corporate readerships – yet I’ve never written a tender until this year. And let me tell you, it’s a different beast altogether.

At first, I imagined a tender to basically be an extended resume. They have the same purpose of convincing someone to employ you or your services, except one is focused on the individual while the other is focused on a company or contract. However, through the tender writing process I’ve learned just how wrong this approach is – so let’s look at tender writing and the key elements that create a winning bid.

Benefits Over Bragging

Only the most narcissistic of us enjoy self-promotion, which is why we generally despise writing up resumes. But writing a tender isn’t necessarily about demonstrating skills and experience as it is about demonstrating benefits. Whoever’s reading your tender will undoubtedly be reading a few of them, so highlight outcomes rather than abilities. It’s one thing to say you can do (or have previously done) something, but your reader wants to know what’s in it for them. That’s human nature, we’re a selfish bunch and tenders are about being the obvious choice – so appeal to the potential client personally and directly.

This also means reading up on the company’s content such as mission statements, financial reports, and marketing material. Understand what kind of tone the business uses in its communications and cater to that voice – if the business uses very formal and factual language, then emulate that; if the company prefers a more casual and relaxed tone, then ease up on the formalities. Matching your tender’s tone with the potential client’s own will show alignment and understanding.

Most RFPs will have evaluation metrics – key issues requiring solutions, desired outcomes, and questions regarding your approach/capabilities. It’s vital your bid addresses the selection criteria directly. I know it may be tempting to use old content from previous tenders, but you should be tailoring your responses according to the potential client’s RFP.

Quality Over Quantity

Obviously, you should keep it as brief as possible. Tender evaluations can be tedious, so don’t you go giving your potential client a brick of paper outlining every little detail about your company. Keep it short and simple – they’ll appreciate the brevity if the content is premium quality. Furthermore, you don’t want them going with a cheaper option and then stealing your service providers or suppliers.

The trick to keeping it brief is structuring the bid with everything you wish to say and then cutting away the unnecessary bits as you go. The process of subtracting is quite therapeutic as you realise how often you repeat yourself and discover opportunities to use images over text.

Creating a distinguished tender means throwing a little design into your finished product. A bland, text-heavy document will be disregarded immediately, so make it look appealing. Diagrams, photographs, infographics, and illustrations go a long way to break up text blocks and put a little personality into your tender. After all, a picture paints a thousand words, which is why emojis dominate in the Twitter era of 280 characters maximum.

If you need a hand breaking writers’ block, download our free Ultimate Guide to Content Writing for tips on writing engaging copy for different audiences and communication platforms.

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