What do you do when you win a new contract? What do you do when you don’t win a new contract? I think the most likely answers are celebrate and commiserate respectively. But perhaps what’s more important to do is look at the reasons for success or failure. If you were successful, you learn more about what sets you apart from your competitors. If you weren’t successful you can look at what you can do to improve or what you could do differently next time.
Here are three of the reasons you’ll hear for not winning a contract. Let’s look at each of them in turn and see how copywriting can help you overcome them.
You were too expensive
Sometimes, this is true. Some contracts have a fixed budget and if you quote over that amount you’ll be penalised or disqualified.
But other times, ‘you were too expensive’ isn’t the real reason. Because if price was the only thing people took into consideration and everyone wanted the cheapest option, no one would drive a Rolls Royce. What ‘you were too expensive’ often means is, ‘we didn’t think you gave good value for money’ or ‘the price you gave didn’t match the perception we had of you’.
So if you know the price you quoted was fair and justified, then it’s time to look at the way you positioned yourself. Did your quote set out exactly what you would do for them, why it was important and the value it added? Did every aspect of every interaction you had with the potential client reflect the quality of the work you provide? Did every encounter your potential client had with your business, whether it was your website, your social media and any offline marketing material they would have seen, reflect the quality and standard of workmanship you offer?
If you’re confident you’ve covered all these things and more, then it’s safe to say that you and your potential client weren’t a good fit because your price expectations were too far apart. And that’s OK – you can’t be everything to everyone.
You didn’t have enough experience
Sometimes, this is true. You didn’t have enough experience and you could have found yourself in over your head.
But if it isn’t true and you did have enough experience to be able to deliver over and above the requirements, you’ve missed a trick somewhere.
Was your proposal accompanied by relevant examples showing how you’d handled similar previous projects? Did you show sufficient understanding of their requirements so they felt they were in safe hands or did you take it for granted they’d know you understood what they needed? Does your website show off your expertise so potential clients have confidence in your abilities before they even make contact?
We didn’t have confidence in your ability to deliver
This is a variation on the experience question, albeit slightly vaguer. Full disclosure: it’s a problem I definitely suffered from earlier in my career. I was (and am) a good copywriter, but sometimes modesty / shyness / under confidence, call it what you will, means I undersell myself. But rather than coming across as modest / shy / under confident, I just came across as someone who didn’t really know what they were doing. End result: people often didn’t trust me enough to give me any work. It was completely understandable.
The fact is that if you don’t tell and show people how good you are, they aren’t going to take the time to find out if you are, they’re just going to look for someone else. So make sure your website is up to scratch and shows off your credentials. Make sure you have case studies and testimonials that are ready to go when you need them. Make sure the proposal you send is comprehensive and convincing.
The common thread
There’s a common thread running through this and it’s about authenticity. Every aspect of every interaction you have with customers and potential customers has to show who you are, what you stand for and just how good you are – it has to reflect your brand. If you feel you’re not doing yourself justice in the way you present yourself, it’s time to call in the experts. Whether it’s finding a designer to give you a strong visual identity, a photographer who’ll show your products in the best possible light, a copywriter who can draw out what makes you special and get it across clearly and succinctly, their expertise could make the difference. And ultimately, it could mean that next time, your potential client chooses you and not your competitor.
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