A lot of big businesses pay a fortune to lobbyists to open doors for them. They love to be able to report to their board or management – “I travelled to Sydney or Canberra or Melbourne and I met with the Minister and their advisers”.
But what outcomes were achieved? What was the goal of these meetings and did they meet the goal?
Relationships are important and fostering them is essential for ongoing connection and access, but visibility to power in and of itself is absolutely not enough. You need a clear and readily executable strategy in order to succeed – and it needs to be you, not the lobbyist, who presents the credible and authentic argument.
It sounds counter-intuitive. Lobbyists literally earn a living on the basis of their relationships with politicians. However, in today’s day and age, the 24-hour media cycle, the constant scrutiny and the evolution of social media, details on absolutely everything a politician does can enter the public arena – and be the target of close examination by virtually anyone.
Even the most hardened of politicians know what can happen if they are found out to be doing anything that can be even tangentially perceived as a favour for a mate.
On the other hand, responding to the concerns of voters, solving problems and working constructively with important stakeholder, including in the business community, is paramount. Today’s distrust of politicians mean they are constantly on the lookout for opportunities to build the perception of their connectedness and responsiveness. This is the reason senior executives and organisations who know how to advocate for themselves are almost always more successful than those who pay someone else to talk to government for them.
So, what should you do instead?
In drafting bid responses to large government projects, bid teams tend to be compromised of subject mater experts in the industry of the bid. On a large-scale infrastructure project, for example, that might mean a team driven by engineers, with expertise and a focus upon crafting the physical solution, the built form of the infrastructure. However, government projects are rarely driven by solely one goal. Large-scale infrastructure may be the final outcome of the project, but there are other factors at play and that are important to consider in terms of their relative influence and importance in government priorities. For example, is this a government looking to drive job outcomes? Are they hoping to create a pipeline of skilled workers through apprenticeships? What about connection with the local community? Artworks and design that will enhance amenity and improve aesthetics? Or a political message that they can take to their electorate come election time?
It’s important to think about how the bid’s sales pitch covers elements additional to and often just as important as the physical solution – not as an add-on but woven into the story and deeply considered from the start. One way to simply identify this focus is by looking at the government’s broader policy agenda, including by examining recent announcements and the priorities contained therein. Media around major projects, for example, rarely focuses on the physical solution – the headline angle tends to be on job creation or local transport access. The best bid teams make it easy for the client to craft their headline stories, with a strong narrative that pulls out and explains key statistics like local jobs and support for vulnerable groups.
On a major project bid, government clients are not only thinking about the assessment of the final bid documents. They’re also noting how you engage and interact throughout the bid process – how responsive a bid team is, how robust and accountable their processes are and how streamlined the hierarchy is. They want to know whether they will have access to the experts in resolving any issues or whether they’re limited to management. They want to know whether decision making – particularly in a joint venture – involves multiple stakeholders and many layers of approvals, or if management are empowered to work directly with them to solve problems.
The most obvious place for this is during the client-bid team meetings and workshops held throughout the bid process. It can also be in responsiveness to written requests and the provision of additional information and documents.
How can we help?
This is where our team at Mint Marketing comes into the picture. Our bid team experts are on hand to work through your strategy for making sure you are absolutely clear on what you want out of your relationship with government and how you can identify and address their (sometimes hidden) priorities. We’ll help you to work hand in hand with the client-side bid team to present the best possible face to your project and reassure the client of your knowledge and understanding of government priorities and political realities.
Email [email protected] to give your business a competitive edge!
Disclaimer: The content of this blog post is intended for general informational purposes only. The information provided is based on the author’s knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. Mint Marketing Pty Ltd advises to use this information at your discretion, and Mint is not liable for any action taken from reading this information.