1. Plan in advance
Like everything relating to producing a great bid, thinking in advance helps. What types and examples of images do you feel will strengthen your case? What is missing from your bid library and how can you make sure it will be available before the deadline? Planning helps to prevent those last minute photos snapped with a mobile phone which are better left for holidays or parties.
2. 25% graphics is great coverage
Tough one this. I see very few bids where imagery occupies a quarter of the total number of pages. Consider it to be a tough target rather than a must-have. Don’t cheat by contravening rule eight!
3. Make them customer focused (rather than generic) if you can
Consider what can be used to reflect your customer’s environment. Of course this is easier if you are the incumbent and the bid is to renew a contract. If you are the existing provider, get your planning done beforehand (see rule one) and take photos way ahead of the tender process. If this is a new business bid, what do you know or who do you know that can help? Amongst other things, consider customer logos, buildings, people and vehicles, but make sure you are not contravening any issues around security or general representation. I tend to avoid metaphorical images in bids as they can be somewhat subjective.
4. Show people and results
I am a firm believer in the old sales adage that people buy from people (when was the last time you bought something from someone you didn’t like?). ‘Humanise’ your bid by inserting photos of the people that will play a part in the management and delivery of the contract. Include contact details for key individuals and consider adding a short personal statement to a bio (I realise I am now talking words rather than pictures).
If you are claiming that your solution will result in an increase, improvement, reduction, saving or gain for their business, bring it to the fore with a graph, bar/pie chart or other graphic that gives power and clarity to your message.
5. Include a caption that relates to the text and their meaning
A caption is a short sentence below the image that explains the reason for its use and/or links it to the text. This is particularly helpful when your content is specifically referring to the graphic (e.g. see figure 1…). I am tempted to say that if the graphic is used in the right way and the text that it is linked to it is strong enough, a caption becomes kind of surplus to requirements…but that would contravene best bid practice!
6. High quality graphics will help your bid to stand out. Poor graphics will have the opposite effect!
Self-explanatory. The better and clearer the tables, diagrams and photos, the more they will be appreciated and the more the message will sink in. If your graphics are of poor quality, then the perception might well be that your organisation is likewise.
7. Graphics help to clarify and support key messages – impact strength is doubled where graphics and text work in harmony
This is what the science tells us, so use them, they work (providing you follow the other rules).
8. Graphics must not be randomly placed but advance and illustrate your proposition.
Let’s imagine you are a catering company, for example. It might be very tempting to drop in an impeccably taken, high resolution image of an onion, but ask yourself ‘is this improving my case?’ Page after page of dense text is challenging to read and images will give the evaluator a rest and make your proposal more exciting. However, choose them on the basis of relevance and not just to fill the space.