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Love me tender…

Tenders are weird.

They are a gateway to work, an opportunity to flex our creative muscles, call on all our nous to deliver a successful outcome and a chance to create mutually beneficial professional relationships.

So why are some such a joyless slog?

I’m not naïve enough to think that tendering organisations (often public bodies) don’t have to cover themselves from every conceivable legal angle, but is does often seem that the creative juices flow less readily after wading though impenetrable documents! And I worked for One North East, so I’ve earned my stripes when it comes to hacking through the undergrowth of the most impenetrable of documents!



I write this having chewed through three separate documents – 94 pages in total – for a single “opportunity to tender”.



Yes, the vast majority of it was “skimmable” and simply the organisation in question making sure the company it eventually selects to deliver the work has the correct insurance cover, working practices, delivery team, there is a break clause, isn’t a vampire etc. etc. etc., but even so, does all that really need to be included at the outset? What a turn-off! Can’t “the deets” be addressed once a shortlist has been drawn up or a successful bidder selected?

I’m not saying that things should be made easy for agencies like ours, we’re definitely well up for a challenge. But it seems counter-productive to issue documents that squash creativity and kill off enthusiasm at the outset.

Tenders also present an element of risk to many agencies, especially small ones.  It takes a great deal of time, skill and effort to prepare a fierce tender. Time that agencies can’t then spend with current clients or warm prospects. However, you have to speculate to accumulate…and we occasionally do just that – and it often pays off.

So what can we do to make things better? Well, remember that popular 80s acronym K.I.S.S.? Start there – tendering organisations, put your campaign aims and aspirations right at the top! Then just ask three simple questions: how will you meet or exceed these it? Can you do it in this timeframe? And how much will it cost?

We can “sort the deets” once we’ve dazzled you with our ideas!


Bryn Littleton