Turning Bread and Butter into Pudding

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Kick-off meeting – check! Remit understood, win themes in place – everyone is bubbling as they discuss how the solution will answer the client’s questions and solve the actual problem. Timeline set, questions allocated – it’s ready, steady, go as everyone leaves the room. We’re in the Proposal Phase of the Bid Lifecycle and this is where the magic happens – blank paper becomes words that captivate, motivate and take the reader on a journey to decision.

Each opportunity is unique with its own challenges and nuances – this is where our internal challenge starts. How to create those compelling responses? We need the basics that underpin our offering, which we can then refine and perfect. Here’s how the content library fills that need.

Imagine a chef who has been commissioned to create a specific dish – they’ll need a defined set of ingredients and method to create it. Those ingredients (content) are found in their pantry (content library) and then combined to make something wonderful. If they find a better ingredient source or discover an item can be replaced with something else that improves the dish, they will use it, make a note and update their pantry (curation).

Each organisation (chef) provides a specific product or service (dish). The end product is always the same in name (beef casserole/pizza) but what is used to flavour and garnish the dish to meet each client’s need (taste) is what’s unique.

Your content library houses the basic version of everything about your organisation and how its services are provided. This is your pantry. You need a well-stocked pantry, preferably with the best quality ingredients or you’ll be off to the shops every single time you start something new (impacting your result). If there isn’t a storyboard/plan (recipe/shopping list), you’ll be back and forth throughout the preparation time (very inefficient and time consuming!). You end up buying whatever’s left in the shop (poor quality information or not enough) and end up with a barely passable dish!

A good content library ensures you have the basics needed to start drafting a response. You WILL need to refine and tweak what’s there to meet requirements (there’s a problem elsewhere if you’re not doing that). Your source MUST be curated to have the best basic content available. There should be one or two (maybe three) quality items to choose from (pantries don’t house fifteen types of flour – only the best ones). Once the base is in place, use new information, win themes and other information unique to this opportunity (flavouring, garnishes) to enhance and create a bespoke solution (dish). It’s like turning a basic casserole into something that knocks their socks off because you understand the flavours they’ll like and want.

Without good basics there’s nothing to build on. Refine your source, add to it, improve it and keep it well stocked and you’ll always create award-winning responses!

*PS: All technological advances (kitchen utensils) need a curated library (ingredients) to do their job to the best of their ability

This article was written by Kathryn Potter.

Kathryn’s experience in bid writing covers sectors as varied as IT outsourcing to financial services, security services to reprographics and construction and rail. She sees content as the cornerstone of proposal development and understands that no matter what, it needs to be relevant and up-to-date.

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