Presentation aside, the lifeblood of any tender response is content. Words, facts and figures must convincingly match the benefits of your offer to the client’s needs. Nothing beats the Word Processor for writing, editing and sharing written content rapidly and easily. And features such as a track changes, comments and revision history mean that it has become a precision tool for streamlined collaboration.
But once the written content is complete, how do you present the finished document?
Of course, some RFTs require you to simply populate an established template, which is easy. And for small or simple submissions, a professional MS Word or Publisher template may suffice.
But large, high-value tenders demand a different approach. Whilst it may be tempting to publish your finished content using a Word Processor or low-end DTP program, doing so may actually reduce your chances of winning. On the other hand, harnessing the power of a professionally-designed layout can greatly improve your success rate.
1. Help Your Tender Make the Shortlist
If your competitive submission looks professional, easy to read and simple to navigate, it’s likely to be shortlisted – especially when there are many tenderers. And with so many high-end tender responses still being poorly published in Australia, there’s a very real opportunity for yours to stand out in the crowd.
2. Produce a Winning Impression
A tender submission is something of an ambassador for your business. And a professional layout carefully designed to the same standards as a trade journal or company report speaks volumes. When your tender response oozes quality, it suggests to the client that your approach to providing goods and services is equally careful and dedicated to excellence.
3. Make Life Easy for the Reader
Professionally-designed documents are laid out with the reader as priority. High end layout programs apply special algorithms to your paragraphs that are proven to improve comprehension, retention and recall. When your response is highly legible it produces a relaxed, receptive reader, allowing your persuasive content to go to work.
4. Convince Skim Readers
Often, key decision-makers are time-poor. Using sound design principles will ensure they connect with the most important aspects of your offer. Advanced layout techniques such as pull quotes, marginal references and boxed content ensure that even the busiest skim-readers absorb your key messages. Professionally-designed publications such as the Financial Review use these devices to great effect.
5. Enhance the Electronic Experience
Increasingly, clients expect responses to be submitted in PDF format – either additionally or exclusively. A professionally-designed response includes features that make the electronic version even more reader-friendly. Bookmarks, a linked Table of Contents and webpage links are easily included. And the latest professional layout applications allow you to embed sound, video and interactive figures and will export your tender as an ePub file – allowing your prospect to read it using an eBook reader.
6. Save Valuable Time, Reduce Stress
Forcing your Word Processor to attempt professional layouts is a frustrating, time-consuming exercise. And when your document is large or features lots of graphics, eleventh-hour software crashes and lost files are all too common. The time you waste pushing a Word Processor past its boundaries could be used elsewhere valuably: carefully checking and refining content, preparing for the next tender or simply continuing with ‘business as usual’.
The Best of Both Worlds
Separating content from publishing for your high value responses is a smart decision. Instead of stressfully wasting time battling with software, you can concentrate on assembling quality, compelling written content. And engaging an expert to publish your finished content using high-end software means your finished tender will create a great impression and will cater for readers and skimmers alike.
Best of all, you’ll emerge with a library of useful material for your next tender. Your finished content will be available in Word to reuse, edit and refine. And your layout can be used again for future tenders as a template, complete with updated content.
High-value tenders demand high-end treatment. Professional layouts speak volumes about your business, and they can greatly enhance message comprehension and recall. And by leaving professional layout to the experts, you can concentrate your valuable time on developing a compelling, quality offer.
Matt Milgrom is a principal for Tender Success and has helped numerous Australian companies design and publish winning tender documents.
Contact Tender Success to ensure your next response is a success.