The purpose of a tender or submission document is to persuade the reader (the evaluator) to choose you (or your team / your company / your product / your solution). Therefore, given the purpose of the document is persuasion, it helps if you have a few persuasive writing techniques up your sleeve. We’ve outlined our favourite techniques below:
1.Use emotive words – Emotive words invoke feelings in the reader. They can be positive or negative, depending on the desired effect and can be very effective when used purposely and deliberately. When you evoke emotion, it stimulates action in the reader, either to capture and continue the positive feeling or to avoid the negative feeling.
For example, words such as ‘vision’, ‘opportunity’, ‘benefits’, ‘uplift’, ‘improve’ and ‘ resolve’ are all positive words which most readers will respond positively to, whereas ‘risk’, ‘issue’, ‘disruption’, ‘failing’, ‘penalty’ and ‘jeopardise’ are all negative words which will cause most readers to respond negatively to.
In bid writing, you might want to evoke emotions through wording such as ‘vision for a revitalised transport network’, ‘opportunities for connecting various communities to more services’, ‘this approach will drive benefits such as an uplift in patronage and improvements in customer service’, and ‘a detailed plan to resolve traffic congestion’. All of these positive words evoke a positive emotion response in the reader.
In addition, you might also want to create negative emotions about the current state of play or a competitor’s likely solution in order to encourage action and a preference to your solution. For instance, statements like ‘the risk of over-expenditure’, ‘issue of environmental impact’, ‘frequency of disruption’, ‘failing to meet community expectations’, ‘penalty for delays’ and ‘jeopardise the stakeholder relationships’ could all be applied to describe alternative solutions, juxtaposed against your solution…
2.Use repetition – Repetition is useful in persuasive writing as it cuts through clutter, reinforces key messages and activates memory. Indeed, some research shows that a reader needs to read or hear a message 9 times before they recognise that they have read it before, and only after even more repetition will messages start to sink in and be able to be recalled.
In bid writing, we recommend developing a set of key messages which are consistently and frequently used in text throughout the bid documents. The exact same words and phrases should be used over and over again, in all places where they are relevant.
For instance, if one of the key messages is that ‘our leadership team will bring a formidable energy to the task’, then these exact words (particularly ‘formidable energy’ which is a memorable phrase) should be used frequently, in multiple places, such as the executive summary, and in any section that relates to the leadership team or the approach to achieving the project outcomes, such as team formation, organisational structure, leadership and management, delivery approach… In each case, the message should be supported by a range of proposed initiatives which prove how the team will bring their formidable energy.
3. Limit your use of hyperbole – Hyperbole is derived from the Greek word meaning ‘to exaggerate’. Quite often, you can identify hyperbolic claims by tell-tale words such as ‘leading’, ‘best’ or ‘all’, such as ‘the world’s leading provider of…’, ‘the industry’s best…’ or ‘all of our clients…’.
Hyperbole is a proven form of persuasion and can paint a vivid picture for your readers, but with hyperbole it’s a case of ‘less is more’. Go ahead and use it, but use it sparingly and only when you can back up your statements with evidence. Here are a few examples of effective hyperbole in bid writing:
a. All members of the leadership team have been confirmed 100% available and committed to the project for the full duration of the project delivery cycle, as evidenced by their personal commitment statements…
b. This solution offers an exceptional outcome for the community by incorporating the best practice principles of CPTED design…
c. From our detailed analysis and review of the options, the best solution is to…
d. In assembling our team, we have engaged industry leaders from each of the three disciplines…
4. Use numbers – Numbers are powerful. In persuasive writing, add as many numbers as you can, such as statistics, quantities, facts, statistics, details, dates, durations… anything that has a number associated with it. Because numbers are quantifiable, they strengthen statements, add credibility and are easier to remember than general statements.
Consider the following:
‘The new engagement methodology will increase customer satisfaction’ v ‘This new engagement methodology will increase customer satisfaction by an estimated 9% (increasing to 91%), based on similar implementations we’ve managed in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth.’
‘Our proposed resourcing approach will drive efficiency in our service team’ v ‘Our proposed resourcing approach will drive efficiency in our service team through a 15% reduction in roster hours.’
A great use of numbers is to promote them visually in infographics, which we will cover next.
5. Use Infographics – Infographics are graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge that present information quickly and clearly. They are particularly helpful in bid documents as they can communicate complex information in a space-efficient and easy-to-digest manner. Infographics also fit nicely with ‘repetition’ as a great way to reinforce a particular point you’re trying to reinforce with an evaluator.
Here are some examples of effective infographics:
Source: Aurora Marketing – Snapshot of Tender Excellence
6. Use Testimonials, Quotes and Expert Opinions – Third party endorsement can also be very powerful, particularly if it is from a person who is respected and credible in the reader’s assessment. These statements can be testimonials about your service, general quotes about certain courses of action, or opinions about specific proposals or methodologies. They are particularly useful if there is a possible dispute about your proposed solution or if you are proposing something different from the status quo.
A third party endorsement provides a seemingly objective, impartial and independent validation of your proposal and is an excellent way to add substance to your pitch, make your argument more persuasive and give you more credibility.
In bid writing, this might mean including quotes from press releases or other public documents or reports; engaging third parties to model, analyse or validate certain aspects of your proposal; gathering your own customer experience data or community feedback; or engaging recognised experts in certain fields or disciplines to support your proposal etc…
7. Throw some shade – If you can be subtle, it can be very powerful to throw some light shade at your competition or on other solutions likely to be proposed. This does not mean offloading outright criticism or making disparaging comments about other parties. Instead, we mean outlining the pros and cons of various alternatives, with clear rationale to show why your solution is the best. In this way, you show that you understand the issues being considered by the evaluators, give confidence to the advantages of your solution and ensure they understand the potential ramifications of the alternatives.
As an example, you might say ‘In devising our delivery methodology, we considered the logistics challenges of transporting goods from metropolitan areas to the regional distribution point, particularly during wet season which can have dire impacts on the country road network, as well as the support and operating hours of supplier call centres, insurance requirements, enterprise bargaining challenges, likely storage locations and the licencing requirements for transporting dangerous goods. Based on our assessment of all of these considerations, we have calculated that our solution will deliver a 13% saving in overall transport cost as well as a 14 hour saving in delivery turnaround on each shipment.’
These writing techniques will elevate your bid content to be more persuasive and compelling to the reader by creating an emotional response, reinforcing key messages so that they cut through the clutter and can be recalled, substantiating your claims with evidence and showing how you outshine your competition. The Aurora Marketing team are experts in consultative communication that compels and persuades so contact us today if you would like help on your next tender. Call 1300 976 312 or email email@example.com