At TenderScout, we’re on a mission to share the news about tenders being a growth hack for SMEs with every business-owner. Although people are willing to listen, many have reservations about the tender process, believing it to be time-consuming, tedious and full of bureaucratic obstacles.
So we thought it would be a good idea to speak to people and companies who have won tenders with TenderScout’s help. We enjoy our customers’ success as much as they do, and we’re aware that tender winners will have practical advice to pass on to other business people.
Today, we’re speaking to Claire Mason who won a digital marketing tender that she saw on the TenderScout platform. Disclosure: Claire is now Head of Marketing at TenderScout, and we’ll let her tell you that part of her story along with the rest of her tender experience below.
Hi Claire, how did you initially come to know about Tenderscout?
I found out about TenderScout in early 2016 when I was the part-time Project Manager for a communications agency. Prior to this, I had no experience at all of tenders and thought they were reserved exclusively for large-scale construction projects.
Did you find the TenderScout platform easy or difficult to use at first?
As part of my PM role, I was evaluating a number of different tender platforms for the agency I was working with. I was confused by a lot of them as only snippets of information were shared and the websites were laid out in illogical ways.
When I took a look at TenderScout’s platform, I felt for the first time that I could make headway in understanding which tenders to advise the agency owner to pursue. Part of engaging successfully with tenders is feeling empowered to do so and TenderScout’s clear UX gave me that shot of confidence.
I’m a bit of a stalker on the internet. I searched high and low for everything relating to TenderScout… and found a lot of information! This additional information and the TenderScout platform helped me build a better understanding of the RFP process and what it takes to successfully compete for one.
When did you become a TenderScout customer?
I became a TenderScout customer in December 2016. I was a tiny consultancy of one and would never have thought that such a small business had anything to gain from competing for tenders, but all my research had shown me that there were opportunities for individual business-owners too.
And then you found a tender to apply for?
Yes, sooner than I thought! About a week before Xmas, I saw a RFP requiring six months of digital marketing support by the UN in New York. The deadline for submitting a proposal was five days later. I thought that the notice was just a box ticking exercise but decided to compile a proposal as practise.
The notice said that people would be contacted on the 3rd January 2017 if their proposals were of interest. The first week of January came and went and there was no word, so I assumed I was unsuccessful and forgot about it.
However, on the 31st January, I got an email asking me to be ready for a Skype interview with the UN at a certain time. After this call, a further three interviews took place over February, and then I was told I won the tender!
Due to the time lag, I had been working on another project that still had some way to go to completion. I therefore had a difficult decision to make and didn’t pursue the opportunity, but I was thrilled to win, and when I realised that small to medium sized enterprises can win tenders, I became zealous about sharing the tender message. I think it was because of this that I became Head of Marketing at TenderScout!
What do you think helped you win the tender?
Without a doubt, the tender library that I compiled.
Tony Corrigan advises putting together a tender library that you can tailor for each RFP opportunity. This is not simply a cut and pasted CV from LinkedIn. I created a new CV that showcased exactly what I could do for the UN, wrote up two case studies to further illustrate how my skills could deliver what the tender was looking for and included three testimonials.
What would you advise another person to do who wants to win a tender?
Apart from establishing a tender library, I’d advise:
- Think carefully about what the RFP wants to achieve - the tender I responded to just asked for digital marketing support, but I asked myself why would an organisation want to engage these skills. Is it to increase brand awareness, raise market share, relaunch a product, reach a new audience etc.? I then compiled my tender proposal around these desired outcomes.
- Immerse yourself in the resources TenderScout offers - responding to RFPs truly isn’t as difficult as we all think it is. Tony speaks at lots of events and shares insights into how SMEs can win tenders. The TenderScout blog also has numerous articles that share practical ways you can enhance your win rate.
- Identify the best keywords for your business - RFPs will be sent to you based on how you describe your business. Don’t try to be all things to all people but do think about your business in a comprehensive way so that you don’t lose out on an opportunity that could be ideal for you.
Any other advice?
I’m not sure if this will apply to all industries, but for digital marketing it certainly does. Many digital marketing businesses are small consultancies or agencies. There is a lot of revenue to go after in the low value tenders. These are tenders worth €25,000 or less; approximately half of all government spending in Ireland is spent in tranches of €25,000 or less, and the RFP process is quicker.
Thank you Claire. That was a motivating story and we’re delighted you had such a positive experience with TenderScout. We have a lot of digital marketing tenders on our platform right now and encourage agencies and consultants to pursue these.