BLINK AND THE POWER OF PROPOSAL PACKAGING
While we are talking about books by Malcolm Gladwell (see last month’s article/blog “David & Goliath – Challenging The Myth And The Giants”), one of his earlier books, “Blink – The Power of Thinking Without Thinking”, contains some lessons about the power of the initial impression which have relevance to the impact of a striking cover page and, where relevant, packaging for the tender or proposal.
In the book, which is about the way we “think without thinking, about choices that seem to be made in an instant”, Gladwell cites several experiments demonstrating the potential for our actions or decisions to be primed by earlier cues or impressions. And apart from “Blink”, there are numerous other reinforcements of the power of prior cues or first impressions. These range from the axiom “First impressions count” to experiments and studies showing that in job interviews (and assuming that variables such as qualifications and experience, in the CV and confirmed in the interview, are more or less equal), the interviewer will generally have made up his or her mind in the first 30 seconds or less, based on the candidate’s appearance, level of confidence and apparent attitude.
And no, no-one is claiming that such decisions always result in the hiring of the best or even competent candidate or in other good outcomes: as Gladwell points out, “our selection decisions are a good deal less rational than we think” – and decisions, for good or ill, are often strongly and even unconsciously influenced by first impressions.
Turning to the implications for tenders, yes, tender evaluation processes should be and usually are conducted by rational people, on a rational basis, using a scoring or other formal process against specified Evaluation Criteria. However, a well-designed, full-graphic cover page and binders, slip cases or other packaging may cost only a few hundred dollars, but not only say “professionalism” and that you care about the tender, and help you stand out from the pack: they have considerable potential to plant the seeds to continue to powerfully influence evaluators in their decision-making processes. Well worth the few hundred dollars. .