An editor is someone who cultivates the production of a piece of writing so that it becomes the best version possible.
The editor takes the raw materials of communication – spelling, grammar, style, arguments, expression – and combines them into a pleasing whole.
When it comes to a tender bid, editors are responsible for removing elements that are irrelevant to the tender, and for suggesting additions that clarify a bidder’s position.
An editor is an expert in words and communication, but also in the art of rhetoric, which is the art of persuasion.
Here, we’ll look at how an editor can make your tender bid as persuasive as possible.
Rhetoric: the art of persuasion
Being able to persuade people is a powerful skill first analysed by the ancient Romans. They created a system that trained men to speak and write persuasively, which we now call classical rhetoric. You can see it in action today when you listen to a politician’s speech or overhear a child arguing with their parents.
Rhetoric is broken down into three parts – arguments, arrangement and style.
Arguments: discovering the facts
‘Arguments’ are the facts you choose to include in the bid, the reasons why you should get the tender. They can be data about your product, warranties, turnaround times for production, or maximum capacity levels in case demand increases during the term of the contract.
The problem with facts is that you have to be sure about them. You may think you know how many units your factory produces, but if the last audit was six months ago, you could be wrong.
An editor can help by using investigative techniques to discover what is and isn’t a ‘fact’. Too many businesses bid for tenders that they have no chance of delivering on, earning themselves bad reputations in the process.
An editor can also generate new facts about your business by pointing out connections that are obvious to an outsider. For example, if your company has branch offices in all states, you have a national network. That could be important to a tender bid.
Arrangement: what to put first, what to leave out
‘Arrangement’ of your arguments/facts is the order in which you present them. For example, if you are the only Australian supplier of the product being tendered for, shouldn’t this be highlighted at the beginning of the tender?
Arrangement also means deciding what to include in your bid out of the many arguments you have generated. This depends on what the client wants.
If you supply air-conditioners to hospitals and the tender is to provide heaters to an aged care home, an editor might highlight the aged care/hospital connection, because it demonstrates an awareness of working in healthcare. But the fifteen pages of air-conditioning specifications are irrelevant, no matter how fantastic they seem to you.
Expression: choosing the right unifying tone
‘Expression’ includes style, spelling, grammar – the things you don’t want to get wrong in a tender bid because that implies a lack of attention to detail.
Expression is also about creating one voice from the many that have contributed to the tender bid. It’s about choosing the appropriate level of language – not too formal, not too familiar.
Government organisations are finicky about style and can spot an amateur bid a mile off. There are often strict guidelines for layout, font, colours and margins that set off alarm bells with reviewers if you get them wrong.
Editors will work with your tender team
When a business decides to bid for a contract it appoints a tender team to handle the job. Members may be recruited from accounts, human resources, marketing and management.
The marketing member will be the obvious choice to handle the writing of the tender bid, but writing a tender bid is a technical task that is best done by someone who specialises in that field.
Discovering good arguments, arranging them in the most appealing manner and settling on a unifying style are technical skills that editors have studied and practise every day.
By adding an editor to your tender team, you can draw on their professional skills for guidance, increasing your chances of a successful bid.