min read

Building better bid documents

How do you design bid documents that both convey the detail required, but are also easy to read and share with senior stakeholders? Our client was facing this dilemma when building bid documents to present technical logistics solutions to their clients.

They wanted to leverage the power of behavioural science to create behaviourally compelling bid documents that maximised the impact and fully demonstrated the value of their proposals. They brought us in to help make it happen.

First, we identified some key psychological reasons why the documents weren't as impactful as they could be. Second, we re-designed the documents to improve readability and comprehension using behavioural design. Finally, we ran an experiment to understand how much more effective the new documents were. This helped inform the client's decision to integrate behavioural science into their bidding practice. 

Behavioural challenge



Enhancing existing propositions

Our client, operating in logistics, wanted to improve the process utilised by their internal bid team to create compelling documents. The team use bid documents to inform stakeholders about the advantages of choosing their service over another by conveying detailed solutions that are bespoke to the needs of their customers.

They often found that their documents worked well when presented. However, they wanted to generate more momentum and get readers more excited once the documents were shared as a file.

We identified some behavioural barriers that were preventing this from happening with the two main areas being:

  1. The design of document did not lend well to cognitive processing. It contained little whitespace, and did not easily allow the reader to read through key points & summary statements. This was likely due to the dual nature of the documents (Presentation as well as submission)
  2. The document did not feel personalised to the different stakeholders and decision makers who were reading it. They were left asking “which bits are relevant to me and my role?


Behavioural solution

We re-designed the bid documents using principles of behavioural science which we believed would enhance readability, and improve comprehension of the material.

Moreover, we knew that choosing a partner is an emotional decision, as much as a transactional one, so we used behavioural science to make the document convey benefits and other more emotional arguments, rather than purely transactional ones.


Two of the many principles we used are outlined below:

Cognitive overload


Cognitive Easing We highlighted key messages and outcomes, and pulled out the most relevant material onto a separate section. This reduced cognitive overload and enabled key stakeholders to flick through the document with more ease.




Saliencyimagery and icons were used to aid processing of the document. Where important information was laid out, we used salient colours and icons to draw attention to that section of the document.

Behavioural outcomes

17% increase in recall of key information
81% preference for the new bid document vs 29% for the previous
13% increase in intent to make purchase decision

Prior to conducting a full rollout of the new bid documents, we conducted an experiment to test the behaviourally designed bid documents against current assets, with a representative group of participants.

The results (3 of 5 stated above) were statistically significant at 0.05 level and clearly demonstrated a compelling case for using behavioural science within documents moving forward.

Following this experiment, we provided a bid document guide shared with the broader bid team to incorporate behavioural science principles in the bid writing process moving forward.

Want to find out more?

We’d love to chat to you about how to start applying behavioural science - book a slot below to catch up with Jez and find out more.