When you have written and submitted your bid, the only page you can guarantee will get read is the first page – the executive summary. So, if you don’t capture your reader’s attention and interest on the first page, your bid won’t be successful.
The traditional approach to bid writing just doesn’t tackle this. I’ve read dozens of bids and trust me, many could be the antidote to insomnia.
How long should an executive summary be?
We know that we have to start our bid with an executive summary – the question is how long should it be? Research suggests that it should be no longer than two pages. Yes, just two pages – or around 1000 words maximum.
Strangely, almost all advice suggests that you should write your executive summary last of all, even though it appears at the start of your bid. Well, I couldn’t disagree more. When writing a bid, I think that you need to start at the beginning by making a bulleted list of all the benefits you want to bring out in your executive summary (you can flesh it out and update it later). The most important part of your bid is the first paragraph, followed by the first page. If you can’t capture your reader’s attention quickly, you lose that initial advantage.
Bid Writing: A Simple, 4-Step Structure
The purpose of your bid is simple: to prove to your reader that your product or service will provide the best answer to their problem. Because of this, I have found the following simple structure works best:
- Elevator Pitch (first paragraph). The elevator pitch is the big idea (one minute reading time).
- Executive Summary (one or two pages). An executive summary proves to your reader that your big idea is viable (five minutes reading time).
- Main Body (as short or long as it needs to be – but the whole story). Your main body supports the claims made in the executive summary.
- Appendices (the supporting act). The appendices support the main body.
And don’t be frightened of calling a spade a spade. Title the first section ‘Elevator Pitch’ – readers will know exactly what that means. It has to grab attention. In fact – make sure you use headings in your executive summary because it helps people to skim read your content.
Remember that it’s impossible to write your executive summary without knowing what the elevator pitch is. Equally, it’s impossible to write your main body without knowing what executive summary you’re trying to support.
I’ll be writing some more blog posts to help you write your executive summaries, so keep an eye out for more help on this soon.
Find out how to write better elevator pitches and executive summaries by giving me a call.
What should I do now?
If you have a bid, tender or proposal or even a quote that needs writing, why not give me a call on 07778 657003 and talk to me about what might be involved? Once I’ve had a look at the documents I can give you an idea of the cost involved in having me write the document for you. You can also check out my bid writing training and download my 10 Golden Rules for Bid Writing. If it is a proposal you are writing, you can download my free proposal writing template.
Alison Reeves - Helping Small and Medium Sized Businesses to Grow
Bid Writer ★ Copywriter ★ Technical Writer ★ Trainer ★ Course Developer ★ Just Communicate Better
Your business documents are the 'voice' of your business. If you are unable to express yourself clearly and confidently your competitors will win business that should be yours, your customers will not understand the benefits of your product or service and your staff will not understand the processes and procedures that they should follow to keep your organisation running smoothly.
Don't forget - you only get one chance to make a first impression.
- Bid Writer and Tender Writer – stand out from your competitors writing bids that get results.
- Web Content Writer – I write web pages that grab attention and prompt action.
- Copywriter – capture your reader’s attention with engaging promotional material.
- Technical Writer – add value to your product/service, save money on your help desk support.
- Better Business Writing – editing, proofreading, formatting , eye catching Word™ templates.
- Business Writing Skills Courses – specialised and custom training that improves communication.
- Course Development - writing courses so you can deliver top quality training.
In the past few years I have:
- written dozens bids which have won new business.
- written short, concise, effective copy for websites, brochures and marketing campaigns.
- created easy to read and understand technical manuals and online help systems.
- conducted several hundred successful business writing training courses.
- created many high quality training courses with a full range of training materials for both products and services.
Don't forget - most business is lost through poor communication not through the products or services on offer.
Email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
Call me on 01902 750802, or 07778 657003
Visit my website: www.writetowin.co.uk