When it comes to writing a tender, business proposal, funding application or an award submission the purpose is the same – convincing the reader that you are the best proposition based on your capabilities and achievements. One technique to help you achieve that is to apply a ‘what, how, where’ model to your writing.
At their core, these documents are all marketing documents. They have to provide a convincing argument as to why they are superior to all other submissions.
Each example usually involves responding to a series of questions or list of requirements in a structured response (rather than free-form). Applying the ‘what, how, when’ model will help you craft concise, focused and compelling responses.
The ‘what’ component is a simple statement of what you will do (or what you have done). For example, if you were developing a tender for a prospective client seeking a supplier to assist them produce content for their corporate website, you might say something like:
“We will produce engaging, accurate and targeted web content using search engine optimisation (SEO) principles to engage and grow your user base.”
Your response should address any concerns or specific requirements identified by the prospective client or judging panel. You should also draw on your own subject matter expertise to incorporate any important considerations they may not be aware of (such as SEO principles).
The purpose of the ‘how’ component is to make clear you know exactly how to achieve (or how you did achieve) your stated aim. Again, using the example of the website tender:
“Our team of skilled web writers will apply extensive search engine optimisation (SEO) expertise and implement a robust quality assurance regime to vet content prior to publication.”
Avoid assuming that your reader has expert knowledge of what you do. People tend to forget how much of their working life is spent developing and refining specialist subject matter expertise. Avoid jargon unless you are confident your audience will be familiar with it. In most cases, the people assessing your submission will not be subject matter experts.
The last component is your previous experience – where you have successfully done this before:
“Last year, we reviewed and updated company XYZ’s website which resulted in a 15 per cent increase in their organic search engine appearances.”
Wherever possible, provide evidence to support your claims as to the value you provided. Quantitative data (something that can be measured) is great, but qualitative evidence (such as a testimonial from a client) can be powerful too.
Applying this model will keep your responses focused for submissions of all types.
Image credit: Breeana Dunbar for Red Pony