As a contractor, it’s easy to believe that the services you provide within the public sector are being ‘absorbed’ or ‘swallowed up’. Your unique ways of working, your service offering and your identity are eaten up by the larger machine. You play by their rules, you work to their procedures and you give them what they ask for. In the process, the reason that you wanted to work in the public sector in the first place, the reason that the buyer chose you, and your core identity, are lost.
But it doesn’t need to be that way.
Your brand and your identity are much more than just marketing collateral. They represent the thoughts and feelings that are conjured up whenever someone hears your name, sees your logo or otherwise recognises your company. You use this perception all the time to communicate what it is that you do; what it is that makes you special. Bidding and tendering are no exception.
A typical tender process sees each bidder answering a series of questions. Everything has to be aligned to the specification, which can often be highly prescriptive. It’s possible to become so bogged down in complying with the tender requirements that you can forget who you are, and what you are really selling. It is your energy, your passion and your vision for service delivery, all of which are communicated by your brand.
Whenever you tender for work, take a step back and think about why the process exists. Completing a tender isn’t just about going through the motions and giving them what they ask for. It is all about selling and, more to the point, selling yourselves. Yes, we will give you what you have asked for, but much more importantly than that, we are the right people to help you achieve what you want to achieve. In the process, you should use your brand – but don’t rely on it. Think about what your brand signifies. Is it quality, credible and reliable? Whatever it is, your aim should be to:
· Project that image of who you are and what you do
· Link it to clear and tangible aspects of your service delivery methodology
· Connect it to the buyer’s desired outcomes
With this mindset, you are never just answering the questions; you are essentially taking the buyer on a tour of your organisation. The more that they can see and feel the way that your organisation lives and breathes, the more they can trust you, and the more they can imagine working with you. Your tender should introduce the reader to the right people; people ultimately buy from people, so how can they imagine working with you if they don’t really know who you are? A good tender walks the buyer by the hand through the way that you work and demystifies any ‘black boxes’ – more so, it tells the buyer why you do things that way. Most of all, your tender should be putting a spotlight on everything that makes you ‘you’ and everything that makes your organisation unique.
Brand isn’t just a collection of signs, symbols and colours. It is the projection of the organisation, and all the emotions and feelings that that brings. In the same way, your tender shouldn’t just be something that you write. It should be a projection of who you are.