Why you need a professional bid writer (and how to find the right one)

Why a professional bid writer can be an invaluable asset to your enterprise during the tendering process and beyond

“Do I really need a professional bid writer?” It’s not a question our clients often ask of us. But sometimes we can tell they’re thinking it. After all, they have the data they need to submit for a tender. They might even have someone on staff who can arrange it all into a coherent bid. Do they really need one more overhead cost? 


In our experience, a skilled bid writer more than pays for themselves. Recently one of our bid writers helped a client to win a £120m contract.  The awarding body – an overseas government – got in touch specifically to praise the quality, standard and presentation of the bid. 


Anyone can submit a bid, but it takes a rare combination of skills and approach to be a serial winner. With recent UK legislation creating new opportunities for SMEs, we figured this was the perfect time to share some insights from our talent pool on why businesses should consider using a professional bid writer and how to identify the best one for their needs.  



New changes to procurement legislation: New opportunities for SMEs


The new Procurement Act 2023 will come into effect from October 2024. This act is designed to make it quicker and easier for private contractors to tender bids while also creating more opportunities for SME suppliers.


With an emphasis on fairness and competition, the legislation aims to remove the barriers to entry that have previously stymied SMEs, providing greater access to almost £300 billion worth of government contracts. So, there has never been a better time for SMEs to think seriously about the bid writing process.


No matter how great your products and services, when it comes to the tendering process, you’re only ever as good as your bid. 


This not only goes for SMEs but also larger businesses that are used to pitching for large contracts. The new procurement act will open the floodgates of competition, and pitch businesses of all shapes and sizes against one another. No business can therefore afford to rest on its laurels. 


Is it worth paying for a bid writer?


Emphatically yes. 


A successful bid stands on more than just the quality of data on which it’s built. It also needs to be aligned with the assessor’s specific needs and expectations. Doing this is a skill that few internal teams get the experience to develop. 


Moreover, a professional bid writer will often bring experience to the table that internal teams may be unable to match, drawing upon lessons learned across a wide range of private and public enterprises. 


As Michelle Hannon, one of our bid writers, puts it: 


“While I can bring solid sector-specific bidding experience to any given bid writing project, my cross-sector bidding experience is often just as relevant. I have managed the end-to-end quality submissions of multi-million to billion-pound bids, on behalf of the biggest blue chips in the world, bidding to UK and foreign governments. My overall bidding experience has taught me the mechanics and needs of public and private sector organisations big and small. Complementing this, my direct work experience with the UK Government has given me insight into how policy impacts public procurement specifications.”


Of course, no bid writer can ensure success. Nevertheless, even an unsuccessful bid can deliver significant value to the client. 


Dan Hyde of strategic consultancy Everything Is User Experience, says that a strategic, user-centred approach to developing your tender can be transformative because “you have a variety of document ‘users’, its readers, and they’ll all need different things from it. It’s probably a horribly boring process for them too, so why not make their lives a bit easier?. 


“A good bid writer benefits the client throughout the process, rather than just through the deliverable,” he told us. “In working on the bid with the client, they can encourage them to really engage with their business vision and value proposition in ways that they may not have for a long time. And once the bid has been tendered, it can still be extremely useful to clients. Its contents can be reverse-engineered into anything from blog posts to corporate videos or ad campaigns, if they’ve done it properly.”


Where bid writing goes wrong: How bids fall foul of assessors


Dan described the difficulties that SMEs encounter when producing their own bids. “In their zeal to communicate their value proposition, they risk bombarding the prospect with information that can confuse or even alienate bid assessors,” he explained. Terrified by the prospect of omitting a piece of vital information that could secure the bid, applicants can fall into the trap of sending everything, regardless of its relevance to the bid. It’s one reason why bids often have stringent size or word count requirements. 


Dan highlighted a number of other common reasons why bids go wrong: 


  • Failing to understand the bid’s brief
  • Failing to account for the assessor’s needs
  • Failing to recognise that there will be more than one kind of reader
  • Emphasis on company offering rather than client benefits
  • Over-reliance on technical jargon
  • Assuming industry knowledge on the part of the assessor
  • Lack of clear structure and purpose
  • Misalignment with the assessment rubric


Bid writing is a subtle art. It not only requires communication of the key facts, but also the activation of unconscious psychological triggers that develop faith and trust.


Like any form of copywriting, good bid writing is equal parts art and science. It relies on data to make assertions and support conclusions. But it also addresses the emotive and subliminal factors that play an important but oft-neglected part in the decision-making process. As another of our experienced bid writers puts it “Whether you’re writing a bid proposal, a book, an article or a joke, you need to consider the psyche of the reader. It’s important to make specific language choices that hook the reader and land in the right way”. 


Therefore, businesses should approach the bid in the same way a creative agency might approach an advertising brief. The technical elements of the bid need to be scaffolded by copy that is memorable, engaging, helpful and easy to navigate. 


One of the pioneers of this holistic approach to bidding is the consultancy BidCraft. Founder Jon Darby is evangelical about the need to see beyond the narrow technical requirements of the tender. 


“It’s a given that you should have the necessary technical expertise, but that only puts you on the same playing field as your competitors,” Jon told us. “What we look for in writers are those who can pull every available lever to make our clients stand out. Procurement professionals are humans like the rest of us, therefore you have to write in a way that relates to them as people. So, your language has to be as clear as possible, your document has to be well structured and signposted, and you need to exude professionalism and positive human qualities. Ultimately, the way your document reads reflects your approach to service delivery, so it has to be good!”


For this reason, Jon – like Write Arm – advocates working with bid writers who have experience in the marketing or advertising sectors rather than veterans of any specific industry. Keep in mind that the bid’s assessors may be outsourced, in which case reliance on technical jargon can obfuscate rather than illuminate.


“At the end of the day, bid teams are in the selling game, so it makes sense to employ marketing and advertising copywriters – people who are professional persuaders, who craft every word to make an impact with the reader.”


The best bid writers tailor both the form and structure of their bid for maximum impact. They get  assessors on-side by making their job easier and, crucially, sending a clear message about the bidder’s approach to service delivery. 


How will a professional bid writer increase your chances of success?


Of course, no bid writer, however accomplished, can guarantee success. Nonetheless, a good bid writer will absolutely earn their fee when presenting your company’s offering to prospects. 


An accomplished professional bid writer will:


  • Really get to know the bid brief and assessment criteria 
  • Understand the reader’s needs and expectations based on the brief 
  • Structure the bid to be compelling, logical and persuasive 
  • Be detached from professional biases and assumed knowledge  
  • Combine pertinent data with impactful language to inform, reassure and persuade 


How do I know I’ve found the right bid writer?


There is no shortage of freelance bid writers to choose from, and there are now platforms that enable bids to be drafted using generative AI


Yet, while bid writers are relatively easy to come by, true masters of the craft are rare. So, how do you know that you’ve found the right freelancer and not just a competent journeyman?


These are some of the key characteristics to look out for:


  • They can demonstrate success in your industry (or adjacent ones)
  • They take the time to get to know your company and its value proposition
  • They demonstrate a sales mindset and can craft a compelling narrative 
  • They’re happy to talk about their unsuccessful bids (and what they learned from them)
  • They’re attuned to the needs, hopes and anxieties of the prospect
  • They understand the importance of form and structure to a compelling bid
  • They manage their time fastidiously, taking the time to focus on quality


Finally, a good bid writer’s contribution will continue long after the bidding process has concluded, whether successful or not. That’s not only because they provide compelling copy that can be repurposed for other tenders, but, more importantly, because they establish a benchmark for internal copywriting standards in future.


Finding a great bid writer can be tricky, even when you know the winning combination of skills to look out for. But, fear not! We spent years forging great relationships with some of the best bid writers in the business – the kind who not only get results but are a delight to work with.


So, if you’re sick of losing out to your competitors on high-value tenders, you know who to call

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