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Ghosting: Competitive advantage or unnecessary distraction?

Competitive Advantage (2)

Ghosting is the subtle method of casting doubt in the minds of the evaluators over the solutions, approaches and track records of competitors, without naming them. Ghosting draws attention to their weaknesses and provides an opportunity for bidders to emphasise their own strengths.

How common is Ghosting?

Once you become aware of Ghosting, you may find it occurs more frequently than you first imagine:

  • Politicians use Ghosting to draw attention to the potential problems associated with the policies of their opponents – this is particularly evident at the moment during the run-up to the referendum on Europe
  • A well-known car rental company uses Ghosting to emphasise their commitment to providing superior customer service when compared with their larger competitor
  • A national broadcaster uses Ghosting to show how their breakfast radio show provides a potentially more enjoyable experience for the listener than the other available options

Do you ever use Ghosting in bids?

Ghosting can be used throughout the proposal lifecycle; in the capture phase, when developing the solution and at the proposal stage. And if you’re drawing attention to the weaknesses of your competitors, you can be sure that they are doing the same to you. Any Ghosting strategy, therefore, needs to take into account your own organisation’s perceived weaknesses and how your competitors might exploit them.

How effective is Ghosting?

Some people are not convinced of the effectiveness of Ghosting and question whether it has any influence over buyers and evaluators at all. This is difficult to assess because, when executed well, Ghosting is imperceptible to the reader.

Author: Ian Sherwood PPM.APMP  Bid & Proposals Director, twentysix2


What do you think about Ghosting?

Our partner Ian Sherwood, twentysix2 will be presenting at the APMP UK event in London on 23rd May and is interested in your views on Ghosting.

You can contribute to the debate and share your favourite ghosting story by sending an email to or taking part in a short survey here. The best Ghosting anecdote will be presented on 23rd May and will win a bottle of something fizzy.


Related article – Exploiting weaknesses in your competitors approach

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