Why a Good Bid is Important
I needed a better plan. I needed to start working on a better line of attack. So, I play the part. I put on khakis, shirt with a collar, trim up my beard, maybe get a haircut, maybe get a haircut. And I started going after the meetings with these decision makers with an entirely different vision. Started working really, really hard on doing things that would make me stand out and show that I was prepared and show that I wasn't a hack. So, I made a meeting book. It has gone through several, several, several versions. Okay? This was the first one. A lot of my friends hated it because they thought the backgrounds were too busy. But, it's really just a "Dear School Board." We try to make everything custom though, so I would put school board members in it. This is who I am, this is my company, we've been around so long, we've probably photographed someone in your family. I made up 20 questions you should ask. These are the things you need to be asking if you're getting from your school prov...
ider. I set up our standards and commitments, things that we were doing. I wanted to give people a book at the end of the meeting, so that as they looked through our work, it was something physical, and I want it to be so nice that you feel guilty throwing it away. We spend money producing these books. Quite a bit, because I don't want it to be something that just goes in the trash. And I that to be a decision that you feel guilty about, because you know that someone spent a bunch of time and money on that. Our current book is a little bit different, much cleaner. Same basic concept though. "Hi," "To whom it may concern," "To the Administrators." We walk through pictures we've done. We bring in things that we do that we have a designated yearbook liaison to the school, because a lot of times they will say, "We're concerned about our yearbook layout. "What are you going to do to make sure "that's not a problem?" We'll have someone, their job is to make sure that your yearbook design and layout is super smooth. We'll talk about our photo booth. We show pictures, examples of things that we can do for them. We'll talk about Spring portraits. Some of these portraits back then, these are all stuff I was able to get from a lot of those people I mentored with, if it was before I'd even shot them, they were shoots I was participating with. We'll lay out things that we can do for you. We talk about our setups. We've talked about different colored backgrounds. Okay? We talked about our sports stuff. The things that we can do to bring brand attention to the school. We talk about our cool posters that we would do. We list off our current accounts. These are other people that we work with. They love us! I have a reference page. We list off gear. The funny thing about listing off gear, it's so funny, you just put numbers in there, because they don't really know what anything means. "18 megapixel camera." They don't really know what that means, they don't really care. But we always list it. Okay? This was back, this bid, this book was back when my friend Lisa was helping me. And I put her in. Lisa has all this experience. She's our school liaison photographer. We use that to leverage in experience into the existing business, even though we didn't have it under our name. Okay? The end thing that I always like, it always closes with, "The ultimate goal of a partnership between us and you, "is not to simply replace your current provider. "Our goal is to provide you with a better way "of meeting the photographic needs of your school. "There are many benefits to working with us. "The finest products. "Photography that meets the highest standards. "Improved file management that will allow for K-8 collages. "Faster turnaround time. "Central provider for all your photographer needs "for the entire school. "Customized plans to meet the needs of the school. "Supporting small business in the community. "And guaranteed performance products timelines. "I am so passionate about my family, "my community, my business, "which is why I'm so passionate "about this opportunity." I want them to feel that when they read. It's like, don't take the well-worn path. Go where no one else is, make your own trail. That's what we're trying to do. We don't wanna do what you're getting. We want to do it better. We want to do a whole different approach.
I did have a question about, as you were talking about just the official bid, or the original bid versus what you do now. Like, what was the difference in terms of the number of pages, or are we gonna cover that?
We're gonna walk through the bid, but essentially the difference was years later, it came up to bid again, and I knew how bad I'd done. And I knew that I could do better and I kinda went in, and you're allowed to review, at any time you can go in and review the winning bid. I went in and saw the winning bid that the company put together, and it was like, pictures, graphs, testimonials, beautiful pricing layout, I mean it was gorgeous. I was gorgeous, it was thick, fat, nice paper. Everything about it was awesome. I took the original bid that I got from three years ago, and I was like, man, we're gonna do this again. It's coming up. It's probably going to be pretty similar to the last one. There's probably gonna be a lot of overlap. So, I should start working on this, but I'm not a writer. In fact, I'm terrible at writing. So, I hired someone. Found a grant writer. She charged me like 50 bucks an hour. And we have hundreds of hours into reworking a bid. We went over the concepts that we wanted to push, things we wanted to focus on. Some of the things that we did, is it's just kinda like Apple. Apple Computers, you don't need to know how it's gonna work, it's just gonna work. We wanted to push that, don't even worry about it. We gotcha covered. We'll do all of this, it's just gonna work. Give us the job. We started focusing on the layout, we started focusing on having very very thorough and direct answers to every question. There was no longer vague responses. My first bid was two to four sentence replies to two pages of questions. My current bid, depending on the school we're going after, is around 38 pages. So, it's different, it's beautiful. I smile, I see that, it makes me so happy. Makes my heart skip a beat. And it's, but it's so incredibly necessary to have a bid like that, because if you go into this and you don't, you're going up against guys that have full-time employees that this is all they do. Literally all they do is bid out jobs. So the people you're going up against are gonna have the most incredible bid, and you can't just hope that they're going to be okay with taking a mediocre one. You have to stand out. Okay? Now, some photographers call me, this happens every once in a while, and they'll say, "A school wants to do work with me. "I don't know, should I do it?" Yes. Yes, yes, yes. If you can avoid it, going to bid, avoid the bid. If you can get a school to take you on, and they're just gonna say, "Yep, we went with you." Great. Do it. It's the greatest situation in the world. Don't ask questions, as soon as someone comes up and talks to you, if you are trying to get into that market, you're gonna take that job. You gotta get one. You gotta get one to start showing people what you can do. Okay? If it does go to bid, gotta crush it. Absolutely imperative. My grant writer, Kate, 50 bucks an hour, money well spent, but it's crazy because we spent hundreds of hours writing it the first time, now when we give bids, I bring Kate on, and it's a four to eight hour back and forth process to customize a bid for a school now. We have our foundation, so it's not like when I'm telling you to hire a grant writer, if you aren't a writer, and I'm telling you to start working on all this stuff, don't think that you're gonna have to shell out that much money forever and always, every time you do it. Get it done right, and then refine, craft, redistribute it.