Building a Content Portfolio to Simplify Your RFP Responses
Few documents intimidate the uninitiated like a blank Request for Proposal, or RFP. More often than not, the team creating the response has a great deal of experience in their field, but little with crafting a competitive, informative, and visually engaging proposal. Here The Bid Lab offers insights on preparing a Content Portfolio to make your next RFP response easier and more successful.
Unsure if hiring an RFP writer is ‘worth it’? Find out if you could use some help with your response process.
Below are five steps to creating a trove of information about your organization to prepare not only your next bid response, but also for others in the future.
Gather Up What You Already Have
First-time RFP writers must first assemble a plethora of resources and information from the mundane to the intricately detailed to meet the RFP requirements. Graphic design work, screenshots, or training manuals are examples of previously created content that can be repurposed for the RFP. Oftentimes, content must be created from scratch, which might require guidance and approval from other parties — which takes additional time.
Yet this is not the time to reinvent the wheel. Chances are you have a deadline looming and an RFP waiting, but sometimes the words will not flow. Fear not because most likely there are resources you can utilize, likely right under your nose. Now isn’t the time to be shy! Reach out to resources within your organization and inquire about any collateral they might have already.
For example, sales departments might use graphic presentations to demonstrate products and services to potential clients. They’re typically already approved, and you’ll likely find an official and concise description of your company, what it does and how it does it. Perhaps someone at your business took photos of the product or service demonstration. In addition, training videos that describe in detail how your organization operates can be helpful to fill in more technical aspects, for example by outlining safety guidelines all employees must follow.
Other common existing content includes:
- Mission Statement
- Code of Ethics
- Website Content
- Sales Packages
- Company Brochures or Pamphlets
As The Bid Lab can attest, the examples are numerous and will vary depending on your industry and the requirements of the RFP. By reusing and reworking this source material, you can help both your organization and yourself in the future with better copy and a fresh take on recycled words.
Organize New Content to Make Your Job Easy
If you feel like you have to write something new for your proposal or project, do yourself a favor and save it in your Content Portfolio. Everything you add is one more piece you will not have to start from scratch next time.
The best writing is often found in the editing process. Borrow liberally from the previous content you find from sources in your organization. Change it around to fit your needs for the proposal. If there’s a phrase that’s used repeatedly in the RFP, be sure to highlight it prominently in your response. Throw out what isn’t relevant and bring what is to the foreground.
Don’t despair that all your writing and rewriting will be in vain. Everything in your Content Portfolio will be a starting point if you get stuck on other projects. Save the content in your portfolio, copy it into your current working document and edit down to your needs. Not only will this spare you a headache down the road, but the time saved on hours generating new material will justify the work put in today.
Also, if you find you’re rewriting the same required section of an RFP or retyping the same formulaic email from scratch, create a form or template. Each time you recreate or reiterate similar content or forms, save them in an organized folder. These different iterations can prove invaluable at a later date. It’s an investment in the process of responding to RFPs, one that could multiply and result in more successful bids.
Curate Content to Plan for the Future
The curation of an actively updated Content Portfolio creates opportunity. With a plan, you build for an easier path ahead when accessing your portfolio of available content in the future. Instead of simply writing just what you need, add a little extra content any chance you get. These little bits add up to a great deal and not just in word count.
Every bit of added content is a step you don’t have to take when responding to a future RFP. If you happen to talk to a colleague who shares beyond the scope of the original question, imagine how else you can use that information down the line. Then, create a repository for frequently used content within your overall Content Portfolio. Using tools such as ‘word search’ and ‘copy and paste’ turns a large document into an easy-to-access database for your commonly referenced copy or graphic designs.
Finally, make sure to ask yourself if the content in your portfolio is still timely. If it doesn’t have a time constraint that makes it usable only once (or during a certain timeframe), there’s a good chance you’ll use it again and again. Take the time now to create a form copy of the document. If time-sensitive details do require changes with each usage, set up a checklist for that content so you don’t forget later. Examples include dates, signatures, addresses and contact information, references to frequently used project examples, etc. From experience, The Bid Lab has found that this process takes a keen eye to reference what works and what doesn’t.
What makes a perfect RFP writer? Knowing how to communicate correctly with the RFP issuer. Take these tips to your next response.
Write a Little, Edit a Bunch
Gems do not come out of the mountain shiny; no, they must be broken, tumbled, and buffed to be the jewels we covet. Your words must enter a crucible of your own criticism. And they will emerge so much the better for it! As you go to your curated Content Portfolio, your main objective should always be to edit, edit, and edit some more, keeping an eye to what has worked and what hasn’t.
If you feel that a paragraph is too long or lengthy, chop it up. Condense rambling paragraphs down to efficient statements that engage and compel the reader through the rest of the content. Take the time to read vitally important content segments out loud. Do they address the audience in a tone that you want for this piece? Imagine that you’re reading it for the first time. Does it seem like a company you would want to work with?
Remember that good content is an investment on its own. How you present your company or organization reflects and amplifies your greater reputation, and a professional portfolio of polished proposals tells your competition that you mean business.
Each time you review your pieces you’ll reacquaint yourself with your organization, its purpose and practices. Or, you might even discover where your company is lacking in content. If the RFP requires a certain document, don’t leave it blank! Create one, and keep it current through constant editing and version control.
Keep it Fresh and Focused
As you know, building any piece of content doesn’t happen overnight. For growing businesses especially, content constantly evolves and can change monthly, and sometimes even daily! Remember that with every RFP you respond to, so should your answers. When you utilize your internal content, be sure to adjust it to speak to the client at hand. If not, the response can sound repetitive and insincere.
Although RFPs may feel like you’re starting with a blank slate, remember, you and your team have already dedicated hundreds of hours to creating great content to get you to where you are today! So use it wisely, make it readily available in an actively updated Content Portfolio, and implement the tips above to save yourself even more time in the future!
If your business needs assistance building your first or fifth RFP response, our team of expert bid writers can help! With thousands of hours of combined experience, we can help your team not only submit a proposal that stands out against the competition, but also provide you with tips on building an organized Content Portfolio. We know that with good content comes great results. So, schedule a free consultation with us today at 1-844-4BIDLAB or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let’s make your next response a positive and informative one!