When writing a tender response, the general aim is make one statement clearly: your services are better than the other applicants. This claim takes sustained clarity of expression, because a confusing bid naturally makes tender panels nervous. After all, if you can’t explain clearly on paper the method you will use to freight equipment to the build site, how are you going to cope in reality?
Design further enhances clarity, drawing the attention of tender panel members to the key elements of the tender.
Key elements of tender design
Right from the start you can make an impact by stating on the title page of the tender the tender reference, name of the project and who you are.
The layout of the tender application may even be supplied in the form of a template. Not following the template will show lack of attention to detail. If you don’t know where a point you want to include should go, ask the tenderer for a meeting to discuss the issue or submit a Request For Information.
If the tender issuer doesn’t provide details on what colour schemes and fonts you should use, then be consistent. Don’t use red – it implies a problem. Stick with a conservative scheme – blue and black, perhaps.
A tender is not the place to show how clever you are with Publisher. Text should not be wrapped around images or printed in every colour of the rainbow. Keep it simple and clear – white space is as important as text and images.
Improving proposals with design is as much about leaving things out as it is including them.
Use of diagrams and images
Think about ways to simplify complex ideas; for example, through the use of diagrams. Bring experience to life with case studies highlighting where you have performed similar tasks.
If you use a graph, make sure the figures are big enough to read. Don’t make the graph too complicated, less is more.
When choosing images, think about them from the tender review panel’s point of view. You may be proud of your new office layout, but to an outsider it looks like any other office. Choose images that relate to the job at hand. If it’s a construction tender, show images of your staff in action on a work sites.
If the people in the images are also part of the current bid, make sure the caption includes their names. It’s a way of introducing your team.
If there’s the opportunity to an image on your cover, think about what you want it to say. Once again, think about the buyer (the issuer) rather than you (the seller). What would you say they particularly want to see from you? A picture of a completed project? A hero image of your team?
Establishing a feeling with images
What is the emotional thrust of your bid, what is it based on? Trust? Experience? Attention to detail? Reputation? Find an image that sums these qualities up and use it.
Try not to use stock images with models. Since authenticity is important when you’re bidding for a tender, why not use an image taken of your staff in action? They may not have the good looks of the models, but they are authentic – a quality you can’t fake.
Design in tenders and proposals is about clarity and precision. Avoid gimmicky design elements and colours, and let your bid speak for itself.