Don’t Get Lost, Drive Your Bidding With Purpose and Direction
For those of you who don’t know me, I am pretty famous for one thing in particular. And no, it’s not for being 50% of the Thompson Twins (that band in the 80s. I don’t actually have the “p” in Thomson. Oh, and I can’t sing). Nor is it for meeting Holly Valance in person in Melbourne (my mum actually thought she was my GF, and my dad laminated the photo). Nope, I am famous for having the worst directional sense in the world. Seriously! Ending up in fields as I follow Google Maps without question or driving two hours in the opposite direction one Sunday with my brother Steve (the other Thomson twin), trying to get to a friend’s house in Inverurie. If you don’t know the Aberdeen area, let’s just say it is not South of Dundee!
Finding Your Way
So if you bid on tenders and generate leads and connections in the same way as I just hit the road with no research or planning, you can end up feeling lost with nothing to show for it but a waste of time and money. You need to have a strategy. That’s exactly why we at The TenderHood put so much focus on our Scouting Profile system – to help guide you in the right direction based on your business capabilities and where you want them take you.
It doesn’t make sense to deliver you with hundreds of tenders from multiple industries – many of which don’t match what you do or what you can handle (e.g., if your annual turnover is £300k, you’re unlikely to win a £1 million bid). Ideally we want you to get just one “bobby dazzler” that you have a serious chance of winning.
We also want you to create multiple scouting profiles, so you can really focus in on your strategy. Why mix up contract award notices (CANs) that can help you generate leads with current opportunities that you actually bid on? Or mix database contract opportunities with web design contracts? Each one might be strategically different for your business based on timing, resources, or other factors important to your objectives.
Finding Our Way
We’re a small business too, so we want to practice what we preach. We need to be really clear on what our strategy is and what it is we are actually trying build here.
As a founder of The TenderHood, that clarity of purpose on where and how I want to lead us to our destination is critical. As a team we need a vision and a plan of what the end result of this journey looks like to us, even though it may end up being something completely different.
To figure all of that out, we had to speak to our customers and really dig in to what it is they want from us. The question at the forefront of our minds (especially Mo’s) for the past 6 months has been…
“What can we do to help you win more business?”
Fast-forward to the present and boom, we have landed on what we think the latest iteration of our strategy is. We know and expect it to change again…pivoting is the nature of the beast that can lead to business success over the long-term. But for now we are clear on what we are building, and it all starts with The Map.
Moving Forward Together
As promised in our last post, we have a new map which is streamlined and well, very green (which we think symbolizes new growth). The map is interactive and now reflects a sports complex – a place where suppliers can design their strategies and hit the playing field to identify and win new business (and by the way, some opportunities can lie outside the public sector).
We understand that small businesses have very limited time and resources. Our customers have told us that they want the search for opportunities to be fast. For these guys it’s bing-bang-boom!! In and out if you like. So we decided to reduce the number of buildings on the map and really focus on what suppliers need.
Quick access to opportunities, some of which might not even require a tender bid!
So without further ado, I’m going to take you on a quick tour through The TenderHood to show you which buildings are staying, which are going, and which new ones are being added. Let’s go!!
The Pub is at the heart of The TenderHood, and everything we do links back to here in some way. One of the biggest issues SMEs have is a lack of communication and information on public procurement-related events and opportunities. Our Pub offers thousands of connections to help suppliers in particular engage earlier in the process with buyers and establish relationships with other suppliers who may want to partner or subcontract.
Originally called the “Tourist Information Centre”, we’ve simplified it to Visitor Information that provides users with great how-to videos, FAQs and a Glossary of terms (not just procurement related; we’ve added translation of Dave and Andy’s Scottish lingo for a bit of fun).
The Playing Field
Of course the Playing Field stays. Where else would you find tenders you can actually win? With that competitive spirit in mind, we’ve made some really great improvements around how you train AndyBot to find you the right opportunities.
In line with our football arena icon, you now mark a tender that fits your strategy as a “Goal” or a “Miss”. We also have a “So Close” option, for those tenders that look like a good match but are just not worth bidding on at this time. This way, we ensure you don’t miss out on similar tenders next time by calling it a miss (AndyBot uses all of this information on subsequent searches to deliver you not just any opportunity, but the right opportunity).
What Didn't Make the Cut?
The Rec Room
In our minds, the Rec room was super fun. We had yoga, fitness and even our own mobile game (but nobody played it). What were we thinking??? SMEs don’t have enough hours in the day as it is, what made us think they would have time to play our game?
Despite the loss of the Rec Room, the fun lives in our brand. The Map is playful and come on, “AndyBot” is simply adorable as a team resource. Bottom line, the real fun for SMEs, well that comes from winning!
The Town Hall
Cutting the Town Hall actually turned out to be one of the most significant pivots for us. Part of our original plan was to use the Town Hall as a symbolic site for community feedback. But we’ve spent the past six months going directly to our customers for feedback, so the idea of an online Town Hall kind of died. We do love forums however, and now they are nicely embedded in The Pub, right where they should be, at the heart of our community!
The Garage is not so much gone but reincarnated as “The Training Ground”. It’s not so much a place where you fix things, but rather where you go to fine tune your strategy and train AndyBot to find the kinds of opportunities you want to win.
The Media Room
Do people have time to read blogs anymore? (Well wait, isn’t this a blog???) They are traditionally used to grow your search engine optimization (SEO) presence. But we’ve decided we have no interest in that game either. That’s why we abandoned our independent online blog and launched the new and improved Media Room, merging blog content with other relevant news awesome news by our very own public sector reporter, John Cutt.
Going forward, our Media Room will have more authentic procurement news and blog posts aimed at helping our SME community navigate this crazy world of government business. We don’t want our content being stuffed with keywords or regurgitated from other sources. We want targeted content for our users. After all, we are an SME, so everything we write about can impact all of us.
The Training Ground
The most exciting part of this entire exercise is the introduction of the Training Ground. This is where you Play To Win, where you put in the strategy and training you need to ensure you get the best results from our little friend AndyBot.
The user interface is designed to have everything team-related in one convenient place. Time is money after all, why have that extra click, right?
The Final Destination
It goes without saying that all of these changes came with a cost to us. We are six months further away from meeting our sales targets, our developers had to re-write and even throw away code, and our customers had to experience more changes to the UI (and we know how much people like change, right?)*.
But at the end of the day we are actually closer to our final destination. That feels better than wasting time not going anywhere. Our customers are getting what they really need, and we are having lots of fun being on this journey with them. We will probably have lots more twists and turns along the way, but we’ll always have a sense of where we’re going.
* Disclaimer – I live in Nova Scotia now, so I say “right” a lot
DAVE THOMSON – aka Dave, is a developer for over 15 years and founder of The TenderHood. Dave has started multiple businesses, including a co-working space and his own boutique web design agency.