By Jackie Barrie, Copywriter, Trainer & Author at Comms Plus
This month’s Q&As are with bidwriter, Isabel Moritz.
How did you get into bidwriting?
At the company where I worked in a marketing role, the sales staff struggled to complete the tenders we needed to win business. I often pitched in to help and eventually attended a bidwriting course, which showed me that we’d been responding in the wrong way and gave me the confidence to improve the quality of our bids.
What type of clients do you write for?
Clients range from micro-businesses to multinationals, but they all have one thing in common - they find it difficult to write persuasive, compelling answers to what can often be complex tender questions or simply don’t have the time to spare. Writing for many different industries has given me an insight into areas as diverse as recruitment, security printing, fashion, football, drinks and structural steel - that’s just a small sample.
What’s your bidwriting methodology?
When I have a long answer to prepare I first do my research, then construct lots of subheadings based broadly on that and my customer’s ‘hot buttons’, before adding notes under each subheading that can be expanded into a focused and responsive answer.
Noise or quiet when you work?
As a bidwriter you have to be able to work in any situation as there is always a deadline to meet and it’s usually looming. Trying to concentrate on crafting a beautiful response while there is mayhem going on all around you can be difficult but I think you learn to concentrate to the exclusion of all else.
What are the main challenges you face these days as a bidwriter?
Buyers, whether in the public or private sector, seem to be shortening the time available from publication of the tender to submission. Those deadlines just keep getting nearer!
What are your greatest triumphs?
The win that most delighted me (and my customer) was one where a government tender for the supply of exhibition services had been advertised widely in trade journals, attracting fierce competition from large companies. The bid I prepared with my customer outscored those of many big names in the industry and won substantial ongoing business.
What was your favourite job and why?
My favourite job was working for a long stretch preparing the bid for the design and print of the new UK passport, then going back after contract award to work on the design specification. It was fascinating.
How would a total rookie get a start in the business?
First of all, a new entrant to the bidwriting business needs to have good basic English spelling and writing skills which they can offer to local charities and social enterprises, who often need someone with the time to help prepare their grant funding bids. This is great experience for the budding bidwriter as it’s a tough job that introduces them to the competitiveness of the bid arena and helps others in their community at the same time. Joining the APMP (Association of Bid & Proposal Management Professionals) will provide a willing source of advice and career support.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your career?
Bidwriting used to be the job of anyone in the office who had some time to spare. Now it is recognised as a profession in its own right, with an association, the APMP, which runs accreditation and provides training, support and resources.
What makes a good brief?
That’s easy! A tender - it contains targeted questions that state exactly what reviewers want to see in the answer. It’s up to you to make the best of it.
How do your clients find you?
Word of mouth is usually how customers find me, but I suspect it’s partly because there still aren’t that many of us bidwriters around.
How do you beat writer’s block?
In my opinion, the best cure for writer’s block is to go for a walk and think of something entirely different. It’s my theory that, while you’re out your brain works in the background to find a way through the block, all without you having to consciously do anything.
What’s your favourite punctuation mark and why?
Am I allowed to choose the ampersand? It’s certainly the most beautiful and has a fascinating history, as I’ve just read in the book Just My Type, which is all about fonts.
What question do you wish I’d asked?
“Why do you enjoy bidwriting - surely one of the most difficult and demanding types of copywriting?” I think the answer might be because it’s so nice when you stop! (And when you win.)
Preparing high quality, professional and winning tender submissions can be complex and time consuming. A different outlook that helps bids to stand out from the competition means that a win is more likely.
Isabel Moritz is an experienced professional bidwriter and manager who has a solid business background in international PR, technical sales and marketing.
With many years preparing successful responses to competitive technical tenders in both the public and the private sectors, she is also on the board of the UK Association of Bid & Proposal Management Professionals.