We are often engaged by businesses when they need to tackle a ‘must win’ tender. Sometimes it is a fabulous opportunity that they don’t want to go to a competitor, sometimes it is a business-defining contract that can take them to another level, but sometimes it really is a ‘must win’ because losing means something catastrophic to the company, like retrenching employees, or closing branches, or maybe shutting down operations entirely. We often see this kind of dire situation in the not-for-profit sector where key sources of funding might be packaged in large contracts where all the eggs are in one basket.
Aurora Marketing was engaged by a not-for-profit education organisation in Queensland to assist them on their tender submission to the Commonwealth of Australia. The opportunity was to provide an education service for people entering Australia for the first time, and for those entering the education system for the first time. Our client was the incumbent, with almost 5 years of demonstrating their capability to provide these services. Even though they were the incumbent, they couldn’t afford to be complacent – there were 5 other organisations tendering for this business. If they didn’t win, more than 100 people would lose their jobs and the service they provided would fall into the hands of a competitor for years.
We were asked to help them devise their win strategy, assist with development of the content, and provide support with graphic design. The team were extremely invested in winning this tender, understandably, and that made our team more passionate than ever to help our client find their winning edge.
To understand the current situation, identify the challenges and opportunities of the contract, and develop a plan of attack for the submission, we conducted a strategy session to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation, summarise their solution and approach to operations, and assess their competitors. In this case, the team was dispersed around the State, but everybody got involved via phone or Skype. The strategy session helped us to crystalise the organisation’s points of difference and how we were to tackle this crucial tender response.
Understanding the Client
A key requirement of the RFT was for organisations to prove their ability to market the services and reach more potential students, but through existing relationships, our client knew that the agency was concerned that providers would not be able to cope with increased demand in certain areas. To address this and to offer a solution, the team deepened their understanding by obtaining demographic data and student intake predictions to fully map out the areas of greatest concern. This data revealed that there were some remote regions of Queensland with very little services, and our client would need to do a lot of work to get the service levels up. These became their focus regions.
The team then developed a series of ‘heat maps’ to show their presence in those focus regions, the predicted intake of students, and the likelihood of them being able to service that region at the heightened intake levels. In total, our graphic designers developed more than 50 different heat maps that accurately showed the future serviceability of the State under our client’s organisation.
Armed with these insightful heat maps which showed a future view of each focus region, the team then needed to explain how they were going to get there. Anybody can do research, gather data and make a pretty graph, but we needed to prove that not only would the organisation be able to ramp up their services to cater for the increased need – but that this was something they had done before.
The team looked at the existing services and canvassed their colleagues to gather good news stories. Every person in the team committed to gathering 2, and as a group we determined which case studies would best provide evidence for each of the focus regions. There were some amazing stories that came out of this exercise, and the case studies have now been further developed and are used in their general marketing material. For our tender response, it added enormous credibility to the heat maps and focus regions.
Of course, everyone knows that a tender response needs to be competitive. But what does that mean? To some people, that might mean the tender needs to have a really good price. To others, competitive edge might come from the CVs of your organisation and the calibre of your people. All of these elements are important, but for this tender, governance stood out. Demonstrating an embedded and credible governance structure and approach was critical to winning this tender.
Through our analysis of the project’s needs and concerns and through competitor analysis, we determined that showing the stability and credibility of their Board of Directors and the processes within the organisation would be vital to rising above the rabble of the competition. We therefore placed a lot of emphasis on proven procedures, as well as profiling the Board of Directors and providing case studies of how their influence filtered through the organisation. Importantly, we talked a lot about ethics and the value that the organisation placed on ethical behaviour for every employee.
By performing comprehensive strategic analysis up front, at the very beginning of the tender period, we achieved two main things: 1) we created a ‘must win’ bid mindset for the whole team, which lead to a harmonious and joint effort through to tender submission; and 2) we determined exactly what the key differentiators needed to be, and were then able to offer a solution that resolved all of the Commonwealth’s concerns and represented improved value for money.
If you’re facing a ‘do or die’ tender submission and you’d like some help finding your winning edge, contact us today at Aurora Marketing on 07 3211 4299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.