Tender bid support programme
Your tender bid support to win major contracts should include a programme of promotion that impresses the bid evaluators long before they see your bid document.
The prior promotion stage is where you first raise the client's knowledge of your business by a substantial amount that you can build on in the bid itself. It makes no sense to hide your light under a bushell until the bids are on the table. Expect your competitors to be out there early, building confidence.
I see more than 30 activities coming under prior promotion for tender bid support. Being this complex, the topic needs its own plan complete with tasks, budget and measured outcomes. Let's run through some examples.
As your bid will aim to occupy a winning niche in the client's mind, you should have defined this niche way up front then worked away to achieve it. The niche goes hand in hand with branding. Let's say you offer the Bloggs brand of product and service. That brand will ring whatever bells you choose in the client's mind, providing you've done your homework.
You might need a sales leaflet or two - maybe a sales catalogue. Technical data sheets can impress if they are designed to do so. They all need to be well edited, well illustrated and well printed.
Great press articles support tender bids
The cheapest way to really impress clients is with independent stories published in trade journals telling about your successes. It is likely that your target clients read many journals. Whether or not your competitors are using these journals you should be. Not just any old story will do. You must send editors first class material to get the best results.
Plan your press stories around a number of display ad placements, spread over each year. The content of stories and ads should fit together to build your image strongly. An expert can adjust the content and ratio of articles to ads to give you best value for money.
Daily newspapers may have a useful part to play in carrying your message. So too may directories. Perhaps you will have just a listing. Perhaps much more. Often the best way to reach a small group of people is by direct mail. For this you will need an up to date mailing list, a carefully worded letter, an enclosure of value and a follow-up routine.
Every contractor today needs a good website. More and more clients will check there for a range of details. The website is your shop window which reflects what goes on inside your business and what your business stands for.
The trade show stand is a promotion tool that can yield big results. Costs can be very high which means you must be very sure to get the right people along and deal with them wisely. Only you know who your biggest target market is. Given the right reasons they will show up looking for action. On no account leave too much to the show organisers.
Your target clients may attend a conference every year. Why not present a paper on a topic which reflects your experience or the knowledge of your principals? You can hire someone to write the paper for you. At the conference you can have a display stand to project more good things about your business.
Promote to offshore clients
If you are seeking contracts from offshore clients you should carry out prior promotion to them in their own countries in their own language. Perhaps you rely on agents or regional teams to prepare offshore tender bids. If so, these people should manage their own prior promotion always under your watchful eye. A very useful promotion tool is the periodic newsletter. This can carry a range of stories to catch clients' interest. Take care to vary the content from issue to issue to build up the picture that will serve you best.
Plan the type, timing and content of all your promotion to eclipse as far as possible your competitors' promotion. Either do the same thing much better, or do something different and just as well. If your services are finding great success abroad, let people know the details. Success breeds success.
All your promotion from letterhead to vehicle livery to tender bids should carry the same style and stamp of excellence. For each item of promotion you need planning and budgetting. You need balance and continuity. You need professionally-edited text and great pictures. You also need an evaluation process where you listen to what people are saying about your promotion. Finally you need an improvement process with lots of ideas for getting better results. Great new ideas aren't hard to come by.
Follow up enquiries professionally
Expect many enquiries from your prior promotion. Regard a top rate follow-up process as vital. Prior promotion is not about preaching to people. It's about getting them involved and raising their eyebrows. Think of your target clients as being tired and bored. They need something to lift them up and set them thinking beyond their preconceived ideas.
If you have a go yourself you might do more harm than good. Get your prior promotion managed right. Then you'll have a springboard into the minds of your target clients and leave a great impression.
Adapted from Tom Evison's book, "Winning More Profitable Tenders"
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