Round up: February 2020

Round up: February 2020

February has been another busy month, starting off with two extended bids and finishing with TEDxManchester, with multiple deadlines and a significant win in between. I also wrote a couple of project case studies on very interesting pieces of work. The weather has been pretty terrible and on days like that, I’m grateful to work from home, although I did pop to Edinburgh this month for a flying visit. 

Social value update

I’ve had some great conversations this month about social value and its place within bids. A lot of these have centred around the importance of developing a strategy that can be delivered and measuring the outcomes of this, so that there is compelling evidence to include in bids. Put the social value strategy in place before the bid comes to market though. 

Evidence, evidence, evidence

The importance of evidence in bids and is only increasing. I’m seeing bid questions developing into requesting information provided within the context of a previous experience. The formula up until now has been more about describing your process or approach and evidencing this with a short example. I am writing about the importance of evidence as this month’s #bidtips post, so keep your eyes peeled. It’s no longer enough to allude to a project or experience – you need to demonstrate specific, detailed experience with quantified outcomes and client benefits.

Red Review podcast

A recent Red Review podcast discusses what makes good executive summaries – Jeremy hits the nail on the head when he says it’s a summary of the offer (rather than the bid). So many bidders misinterpret the purpose of the executive summary, so if you want to brush up your exec sums, take a listen here.

#VirtualCoffeeBreaks

I’ve had some great conversations with all sorts of people over the past month, with more planned for March and April. It’s a great way to network, even if you work from home, like I do. Conversations include social value, construction marketing, freelancing, procurement frameworks, writing bid libraries and a potential collaboration on a product to help other freelance bid writers. If you’d like to join me for a #VirtualCoffeeBreak, I’d love to hear from you.  

Awards this month

There is a slew of awards submissions this month, then a break until June. 

National Recycling Awards – submission 6 March 

Constructing Excellence Awards Wales – submission extended to 16 March 

LABC Northern – submission extended to 6 March 

Northern Housing Awards – submission 5 March 

LABC West Midlands – submission 20 March 

LABC West of England – submission 20 March 

Blog posts this month 

I didn’t quite hit my target of writing one blog post a week, but I did kick off my guest blogging series with a great post, with some more really informative guest pieces planned. 

  • My January round-up got the year off to a flying start 
  • I wrote a whole blog on sources of public sector opportunities – this is definitely one to bookmark because it comes up in conversation a lot
  • And last, but definitely not least, my guest blogging series was kicked off by the wonderful Alice Hollis, who wrote about storytelling. There are some amazing contributors lined up for this series this year, so keep your eyes peeled.

Availability

I am available from April for knowledge management, bid content and research projects. So get in touch if you would like to work together.

And finally…

Although the weather has been mostly miserable, I did spend a lovely Sunday over in Matlock and Bakewell a few weeks ago and saw the first hints that spring is finally around the corner. I’ve also got a few daffodils in the garden. Spring is my favourite season of the year, and think that new green leaves and pink blossom is the best colour combination in the world.

 

Round up: January 2020

Round up: January 2020

It’s been a busy start to the year, working on bids in various construction sectors, reviewing previous submissions with new clients, starting some mindset work (which is long overdue), writing a post a week for my blog and planning new areas of work. I’ve visited Birmingham, been to the theatre twice and done some nice winter walks. All good stuff, and getting to the end of January, it feels like the new year is in full swing, so here’s my round-up of the month. 

Social value in construction bids

The issue of social value continues to feature in bids and we are either answering it really well or totally fudging it – it’s now generally worth around 20% of public sector submissions, so it will win or lose you the bid. I’m working with another freelance bid writer and independent social value consultants to look at how we can help clients to answer the bid questions while developing long-term plans to drive sustainable social value in the communities my clients work in. 

I can’t stress to prospective bidders enough the importance of social value in bids – not just delivering the stuff that makes a difference, but also evidencing and communicating the quantified benefits.

How much social value does your business deliver? How do you evidence it? How are you finding responding to social value sections in bids? How can I help you to do this better? 

Squaring the circle

I’ve also been thinking harder about how to square the many circles I come across in my bid work. For example, how to help clients develop robust policy statements for quality management, environment or health and safety while not being an expert in these areas. I’ll be able to provide an update on this over the coming months as I work with other experts.

What kind of support do you need freelance bid writers to provide in this area? Do you need signposting to other experts, for the writers to have specific knowledge, or would ready-made templates to purchase be useful? 

Bid library technology

Another challenge I come across regularly is bid libraries – the content businesses capture for bids and how this is catalogued, stored and retrieved. The solution can be as complex or as simple as we want to make it – but a solution is imperative if companies want to see improvements in their bidding outcomes. I’ve seen a few good bid library solutions over the last couple of months – technology is really driving information management and it’s exciting.

Work-winning course for SMEs

I recently put a call out on social media asking what kind of content would be valuable in a work-winning and bidding course for SMEs working in construction. There’s still time to input into this, but the areas I’m going to focus on include evaluating opportunities, bid processes, developing a bid library, tackling questions and how to write collateral, including CVs and case studies. These courses will be delivered in a variety of formats to suit everyone, so if there’s something you’d like to learn about, please let me know. You can contact me via email, Twitter or LinkedIn

#VirtualCoffeeBreak

This concept was shared on Twitter recently – have a coffee with someone online. This concept is perfect for someone often desk-bound, like me. For example, this week I have four deadlines to me and need to be close to my laptop, but having a chat with someone via Skype or Zoom for half an hour is perfect. As well as building relationships and finding out what other people do, it’s a good antidote to solo home working. If you’d like to have a #VirtualCoffeeBreak with me, get in touch! (NB – you don’t have to drink coffee). 

Weekly bid power hour 

I’m giving away a #BidPowerHour each week, for construction SMEs to discuss their work-winning challenges, so they are provided with tips and ideas that can be implemented immediately. Do you need advice on sourcing opportunities? Do you need to develop a bank of standard information? Do you want to develop your understanding of the bid process? Contact me via email and we can schedule some time.  

Blog posts this month

It’s been a fairly prolific month for blog posts – you can catch up here:

Availability

I’m looking to be fully booked for February and March for bid work, but if you need anything, please get in touch and I will signpost you on to my network of really great bid writers. 

And finally…

I’ve got some great work and some exciting projects lined up for the next few months – it’s going to be a fun early spring. What have you been up to over the dark winter, and what plans do you have for the next few months?

 

September round-up

September round-up

September brought a change of tempo and I took off a fortnight to recover from an intense summer. I spent some time in Glasgow, reconnecting with my roots, and then went on to Arran, which is one of my favourite places in the world. I did a fair amount of walking and taking photographs in both places, and now I’m now back, I’m raring to go, with a full diary between now and Christmas.

Bids I’ve worked on this month

This month I have started work on a couple of new bids, including a framework bid for a long-term client and providing some consultancy for another long-term client. I have also met up with some old and new clients. October will see me commencing a new infrastructure bid, which I’m really excited about. Working on bigger bids is how I gain maximum exposure to really good practice and develop new skills and experience to bring back to smaller clients.

Availability for the autumn

I have deadlines in the diary for most of the autumn but do have availability for smaller pieces of work. It’s always worth emailing or calling to ask and if I can’t help, I will be able to refer to you another bid writer.

Blog posts

This month’s blogs have been:

Awards

The construction awards submission season is mostly complete for 2019, but I am refreshing my list for 2020, as well as updating my guidance for successful entries to help you over the next 12 months.

I have been working with a really inspirational SME in the North West over the past few months, and wrote an award submission for them over the summer that has got them shortlisted for a high-profile regional award. I’m really thrilled for the organisation, because the shortlisting will get them the exposure they rightly deserve.

And finally…

It’s awards ceremonies season over the next couple of weeks, so good luck to all the businesses and individuals that have been shortlisted – have a great time at the event!

 

August round-up

August round-up

August has been a busy month, working on two bids and writing one award for a really inspirational local business. I’ve also been on some beautiful hikes around the North West and spent a long weekend camping in Harlech on the edge of Snowdonia.

Bids I’ve worked on this month

I worked on two bids during August – another one with an aviation theme (I had worked on a similar bid in July) and one in paper recycling, which is a sector I hadn’t written a bid in for a while. One bid was for a favourite repeat client (favourite because they are clear about what they need me to do and pay in under 14 days), and the second client is new. Although this is a new client, it will be the start of a nice long-term relationship, as they have asked me to work on their business development strategy for the next 12 months. It’s great being able to work with clients before bids come to market – it puts us in a much stronger position to influence the procuring client and understand what they need before the tender documents are even written.

Availability for the autumn

September will see me spending some time up in Scotland, partly in Glasgow and partly in Arran, an island I fell in love with a couple of years ago when I went for a walking holiday. My Gran came from Glasgow and I spent a fair amount of my childhood holidays there and on the western coast of Scotland, so I enjoy going back.

I have been booked for much of October and November, but will have availability for smaller pieces of work. However, bids can be fickle and late being published, so it’s  always worth emailing or calling to ask and if I can’t help, I will be able to refer to you another bid writer.

Blog posts

I have been keeping up my blogging habit, although I don’t always manage to post every week because bid deadlines have to take precedence. However, August’s posts were:

Awards

Awards have had a hiatus over the summer, but they will be ramping up again over the autumn. I am refreshing my construction awards list to guide us over the next six to 12 months and will share this with you soon. 

And finally…

In bid world, it can be one deadline after another until Christmas and the autumn goes by in a whirl. Spend some time outside and enjoy this most colourful of seasons – the weather can be fantastic. For me, enjoying nature is the perfect antidote to intense bid writing. What plans do you have for the autumn? 

 

July round-up

July round-up

 

July has been another busy month, with a combination of bids, writing content for my blog and working towards my hypnotherapy qualification…

Bids I’ve worked on this month

This month I have had the honour of writing for the practice of one of my architectural heroes – this was a big bid with a team located across the world. See my Instagram for the testimonial. I also kicked-off a couple of bids that I will be working on over August. A theme over the past six weeks has been Australia – writing bids and collateral for Australian projects and making connections with bid people over there. 

Availability for August and the autumn 

I am fully-booked until September, but please get in touch to discuss your bid requirements for the autumn (I can’t believe I’m typing the word autumn already).

Last autumn projects were put on hold ‘because of Brexit’. This year it seems like clients have realised that stuff still needs to get built and I have been approached about a number of bids, including a provisional booking for the period around Christmas, so if you want to book any time, please get your orders in!

Blog posts

I published a number of blogs over July, which are proving very popular. Thank you to everyone who has shared and commented on them. Let me know if there are any particular subjects you want me to write about, even if it’s just from my perspective.   

July blogs were: 

Podcasts I’m listening to 

People who know me well know that I’m a long-time politics nerd, and summer is the time when the next series of Peter Hennessy’s Reflections is published. It’s a long-form interview with a wide range of senior politicians, getting under their skin to understand the person behind the political personality, and understanding key events from their perspective. You can find it here.  

Awards this month

The CIBSE Building Performance Awards are open for submissions, with a deadline of 13 September. The awards judge in-use performance, rather than projections, and the 2020 Awards focus on all aspects of a project, product or innovation that create safe, healthy, functional and sustainable buildings that operate efficiently and meet users needs.

I am also working with a really inspirational client to put together an awards strategy for the next 12 months. If I can do the same for  you, please get in touch. 

And finally…

Enjoy the rest of the summer. If you don’t have too many bids on, use the time to strip out the content from previous bids and build up your bid libraries, update your CVs and case studies, and get ready for a busy bidding time over the autumn.  

June round-up

June round-up

June has been a busy month, despite my intending to have a bit of time off. I completed a really big piece of work at the end of May which was the culmination of three months of hard, but really enjoyable, graft. The team I worked with was superb and it was a real joy to work with them. 

Bids I’ve worked on this month

I’ve completed some smaller pieces of work this month, including a consultants’ framework, prep for bid that will ramp up over July, and providing initial bid consultancy on an exciting development opportunity.

Availability for July

I can never tell what my workload over the summer is going to be like, but this July looks busy already. I do have some availability over July and August, so please contact me to discuss what you need, especially if you have any holidays to cover that require bid support. The earlier I can programme work in, the more I can help you.

Blog posts

My blog has been languishing for far too long, but it’s back with a bang with the publishing of my bid/no bid tool. The tool has been designed to help you decide whether to commit to a bid or not and allows you to focus your efforts on the opportunities that you are best-placed to win.

You can read the blog here and access the bid/no bid tool here.

Developing new skills

I have been learning new skills this month – hypnosis in this case. It is something I have always been very interested in and I am practising on myself and my friends to gain my qualification. My longer-term goal is to work more with this – I have a long-term interest in holistic healing – although I won’t be leaving bid writing any time soon.

IPSE National Freelancers’ Day

I was at the event on 20 June in London – it’s always a great event to catch-up with other freelancers and have access to content that is tailored to our needs. I’d recommend it for next year for any freelancers out there who weren’t able to go.

The key thing I learned this year was using your personal Twitter account as a freelancer, rather than a business account. I agonised over this for years, but struggled to work with multiple accounts and decide what the right content was. Carl Reader recommended using your personal account for business, sharing relevant content and allowing your personality to shine through.

Standard content

I’ve been developing standard content for clients to purchase so that you can build your bid libraries up. This standard content is based on 16 years of writing for work-winning in the construction industry, so will provide you with a really robust starter for ten that you can tailor to fit your business. This will be published over the next couple of months, with extra sections being added as needed. I’ll let you know when it’s available via my social media channels.

Books I’ve read

A book I’ve really enjoyed recently is the Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. This book recommends working in your zone of genius – many of are working in our zones of competence or excellence, but by taking the leap and defining what your key skill or ability is, you can transform your life.

It also had an interesting theory about time – Einstein time, in that we have exactly as much time as we need, and can create more, it’s just about how we think about it. So, rather than forever thinking ‘I don’t have time’, think ‘I do have time’. Changing your thinking will change your perception and reduce your stress levels. I’ve been applying this recently – perhaps not the easiest when working to constant deadlines, but it’s a more positive way of thinking.

Awards this month

I can also write awards submissions – it’s a very similar style to bid writing, and I have a full list of construction and built environment awards which will shortly be available to download on my website. I’m available to write your submissions. I’ll be publishing what’s coming up each month on my round-ups, as well as tweeting reminders on Twitter.

Award deadlines for July:

Conferences this month

As well as awards, conferences and events should also form part of your construction marketing plan, whether attending or following the conversation on social media. This month, the Well-being in Construction Summit is taking place on 2 July.  

Manchester – a destination for business

I will also be attending GM Chamber’s event ‘Manchester – a destination for business’ on 9 July, which will be discussing the city’s ambitions for growth. Manchester never knowingly undersells itself, so I’m sure there will be a lot of exciting stuff to hear about.

Short holiday

I’m taking a break in Anglesey for a few days at the end of June but will be back at my desk from 2 July. Catch up with you then.