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Win Themes: Understanding Their Importance in Bids

Written by Thornton & Lowe


Jun 03, 2024

Let's Discuss Win Themes...

You've heard the term win themes right? In the world of bid writing, crafting win themes is certainly included within job descriptions, but what actually is it?

Win themes are the key messages that run throughout your proposal, highlighting your unique selling points and demonstrating why you are the best choice for the contract. By developing strong win themes, you can create a persuasive narrative that resonates with evaluators and sets you apart from the competition.

Win Themes and Their Critical Importance

Win themes are higher level features and benefits that act as a 'golden thread' across the entire proposal, focusing on what customers care about most. If you are looking at bid management processes you should certainly be assessing win themes and their importance.

There are two basic types of win themes:

  1. Benefit-centric win themes. Consistently highlighting how your solution and its features link to a client requirement, highlighting the benefit.
  2. Feature-centric win themes. Using a particular feature, ideally a unique selling point, which you consistently links to multiple client benefits.

Win themes are important because a correctly chosen theme applied consistently across a bid will increase your chances of winning. A well-executed win theme indicates joined-up and coherent thinking - your understand them! It goes a long way towards answering the question "Why choose us over other bidders?"

The topic of win themes is covered in detail within our bid writing courses.

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Steps to Create Compelling Win Themes

How do you go about finding and then using win themes?

It should always start with the customer. By understanding exactly what is important to your client you can ensure a proposal which highlights your associated strengths! And, that's a win theme!

1. Identify your unique value propositions (UVPs) that set your solution apart from competitors. These could be your technology, methodology, customer service, cost-effectiveness, or any other aspect that makes your offering beneficial to the client.

2. Align your win themes with the client's objectives and pain points. Craft a narrative that positions your UVPs as direct answers to their challenges and goals. Highlight your strengths in a way that demonstrates their impact on the client's desired outcomes. A win theme can't be your general USPs - as they may not be important to the customer. Using good things you like about your business, which are not important to the client, nor requested, could quickly become your 'lose' themes... (if that was a thing).

3. Use the CVD (Capability, Value, Differentiator) formula for strong win themes:

  1. Capability - how your solution meets the client's criteria
  2. Value - the long-term benefits your solution provides
  3. Differentiator - what sets you apart from the competition.
What is bid planning

Integrating Win Themes into Your Bid

Once you have developed your win themes, the next crucial step is to weave them seamlessly throughout your bid. This. is structured via effective storyboarding.

This may seem complex but you can integrate your win themes into your bid strategy and bid documents in a few simply steps:

  • Reviewing the tender requirements, specification, weighting and quality questions.
  • Completing further research, if possible, around current issues the buyer may have, which could be published within board minutes and service reports, for example. Or you may realise their likely wider issues due to the current supplier they work with and your industry knowledge and expertise
  • Summarise these points to understand what they really want from a supplier
  • Compare these against your strengths and the benefits of your solution, compared to other likely bidders
  • Agree which are the most important elements which you will be able to portray within the format of the tender
  • Have these win themes built into the answer plan - so you know when anyone is completing a draft quality question, that they know to refer to this points.

Our full guide on bid planning can help you further.

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