When you’re in the midst of writing a tender response, how the tender looks is probably the last thing on your mind. You’re got questions to answer and forms to complete, after all.
When it’s all said and done, however, your tender submission is a sales document. You wouldn’t create a sales brochure without incorporating your company’s branding or engaging a designer to ensure it looks professional, so why not make the same effort on your tender submission?
It won’t win you the tender, per se, but a good tender template design will certainly boost your credibility and even help in communicating the benefits of your solution. And considering some competitors may be submitting poorly formatted Word documents, a good design may give you a quick win before the reviewers even turn a page.
The subconscious effect of design
One of the most important aspects of design is its subconscious effect on the reader. We all like to assume that we assess information objectively and consistently no matter how it is presented to us. In reality, this is not always the case because the subconscious mind does a lot of processing in the background.
According to cognitive research*, the subconscious processes 200,000 times more information that the conscious mind, without us even focusing on the subject at hand. The subconscious is disposed to process emotions quickly as well; around 10 times faster than our conscious mind. The research in question was assessing the effect of the subconscious on decisions about product brands and found that subconscious emotions explained recommendation by 50%. In other words, up to 50% of the reasons why customers made a recommendation lay in the subconscious emotional response.
In tender speak, this means if you appeal to the subconscious with a professional design and you may have the reviewer on side before they even begin reading. Give them a professional presentation and they will in turn make assumptions about the professionalism of your business.
Practical applications of design in tenders
The first and most obvious application of design in your tender template is the overall look of the document. This includes the cover page (and appendix cover pages), the internal document template, executive summary, incorporation of your logo and branding elements and resume templates.
How you layout your text is also important. This includes consistent use of headings and sub headings, using bullets to break up paragraphs, captions on images and diagrams, call outs describing benefits, break out boxes with short case studies, enlarged text for testimonials and so on. Layout helps with comprehension and if a purchaser is reviewing dozens or even hundreds of submissions, those that are focused, clearly labeled and well structured will score better.
Graphic elements are paramount. It’s amazing how much more professional a process appears if it’s communicated in diagram form, as opposed to a paragraph of text. When we see a process in diagram form we naturally assume it has been expertly developed, is proven and is intrinsically understood by the business. Essentially, anything that involves repeated steps can be turned into a process diagram, and the results can be very compelling.
And finally, photos of your facilities, staff and works in progress, and copies of forms or templates used in the course of your work can add to the credibility of your claims.
Dealing with compulsory tender templates
Some government tenders specify the use of certain forms and templates and often they strictly enforce their use. In these instances, do as requested and ensure you maintain the structure, headings and formatting of the originals.
However, there is no reason why you can’t add a range of design elements in and around the supplied templates to aid in the communication of your offer. You can use a cover page, executive summary, diagrams and charts, photos, your company logo, appendix cover pages and resume templates all while using the specified RFT forms.
Developing your tender template design
If you have a graphic designer in your company, use their help. If you don’t, consider engaging a design or tender contractor. It requires an initial investment but will repay itself time and again because you can continue to use the layout for all of your future submissions. Be sure to get template in a format you can use. Most designers use industry grade software such as Adobe InDesign for document layouts but, if all you have is Microsoft Word, you can still get a professional result.
Document design and layout services by Write House
At Write House we have our own document design and layout service for tender submissions, proposals and other corporate documents. For tender submissions the cost may be as little as $500. You’ll get a professionally designed document template in Microsoft Word format, incorporating your branding and corporate colours, as well graphic elements such as organisation charts and process diagrams. It will make a world of difference to the presentation of your tender. Contact us to learn more.
*Statistics from an Implicit Association Test conducted by Beyond Philosophy.