Explain this to your Grandma

Following on from Kieran’s blog on ‘The Power of the Executive Summary’ which you can read HERE, I have put together some further tips on Preparing a Persuasive Executive Summary, which in my opinion, is the most crucial part of any tender.

The purpose of the executive summary is to summarise (obviously) a tender or proposal in such a way that the reader can rapidly become acquainted with a large amount of information, without having to read it all. It is not background – and it’s not an introduction. The reader should get the essence of the document without the fine details.

Recently I read some good advice that said:

“How would you explain this to your grandma? She loves you, but not enough to endure ten or twenty minutes of confusing and boring jargon”

…and that is what you need to keep in mind when you are writing your executive summary.

But how do we do this in a persuasive manner? I would suggest breaking up your executive summary into 5 parts:

A Summary or Introduction

  • Start with a BANG and capture the reader’s attention. This could be with a quote, a relevant statistic or a thought-provoking sentence. This will help you to stand out from the competition straight off the bat.

Provide an Overview of your Business

  • Don’t just copy and paste the ‘about us’ section from your website; explain your insights, capability and uniqueness; do you have an exceptional team? Do you have an existing relationship with this client? Do you have patents or special technology you will use for this project? Do you have unique previous experience you can bring to the project?

The Problem or Issue you are there to Solve

  • A favourite saying that we have at Aurora Marketing is ‘work out what keeps the client up at night’. Do your research and show them you know what their pain-points are on the project. Address these and show the client you understand them, and the project, better than your competition.
  • Can you identify a problem in the project that isn’t being adequately addressed? Talk about this here.

Your Unique Solution

  • Provide those critical project details and demonstrate your competitive advantage. Here is where you let the reader know about your solution and why you believe you’re uniquely qualified to succeed. Make evident what sets you apart from your competition. How is your company different from any other company providing the same services? Explain why your idea is better and how you can implement it on this project to make things easier.

Prove It

  • Let them know you want it! Demonstrate added value to this project and support your message with a range of proposed initiatives. This is the section where you prove how you will provide the best solution to their problem.
  • Finish off with a strong conclusion that once more wraps up the importance of the project.

The ultimate goal for your executive summary is to get the reader to think “This is interesting. This has potential. These people know what they are doing. I want to get in on the action!”

Bonus Tips for a Persuasive Executive Summary

  • The executive summary is not the table of contents however if applicable you still might put the page number next to each of your main points. The reader might want to go directly to the solution.
  • The executive summary should be unique for each tender or proposal. Don’t get in the habit of CTRL C, CTRL V.
  • Start writing the executive summary before the tender process has begun – after all, this can be altered and improved as the solution you’re pitching is developed and ironed-out.
  • Avoid using superlatives or cliche words such as “ground-breaking or cutting-edge”. You may think that your company is ‘the greatest’ but words like this hinder the real meaning, and they eventually make your executive summary appear vague.

Do you have any techniques you like to implement when writing an executive summary? Does your Grandma approve of my advice? Get in touch with me directly at megan.oneill@auroramarketing.com.au

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