How to Build Credibility in Your Healthcare RFP Response

Jul 12, 2019

Article ImagePulling together effective responses to RFPs is an important element to achieving success in the healthcare industry. The content in the RFP response is an important step toward establishing trust between suppliers and customers. In the healthcare industry, establishing a high-level of trust is critical and the RFP can often make or break that relationship.  

The healthcare industry is evolving rapidly and digital marketers who produce the content that is often included in an RFP response are on the front lines when it comes to securing new customers and locking down important revenue streams. At the same time, they must grapple with a complex web of compliance and regulations that go well beyond HIPAA, or European GDPR requirements, for example. This adds a level of pressure on marketers and others involved with pulling together RFP responses. 

RFP responses provide an opportunity to stand out in an evolving, competitive industry. With healthcare RFPs, it’s an opportunity to build more trust and increase win potential. And experts say that trust is the key to creating competitive differentiation. 

“When you’re in the healthcare industry, you’ll be competing against other firms that have a lot of the same experience and knowledge that you have,” says Lisa Rehurek, founder of The RFP Success Institute. “You can all do the job and meet the requirements of the RFP. But how are you going to really stand out? One word: Trust.” 

Along the same lines, Salesforce found that 95% of purchasers say that if they trust a company, they’re more likely to be loyal customers. Building trust involves demonstrating the science behind your products including direct clinical research, testimonials from customers and patients, and industry or professional recommendations. Transparency and consistency about your business policies is also a key ingredient in building trust.  

Developing Content for Healthcare is Complex

Healthcare marketers and RFP responders experience similar challenges to peers in other industries. The major difference is the added layer of complexity not only related to strict compliance and heavy regulations, but also due to the complex and highly technical nature of the content itself. This has a direct impact on RFP responses.

According to a post in SkyWord, “One reason many healthcare organizations are reserved in their content marketing is due to the high levels of regulation in the industry. HIPAA makes it difficult to share patient stories. High levels of accountability require endless rounds of review to make sure information isn’t taken out of context—or becomes the basis of a future lawsuit.”

When responding to RFPs, you need to make sure your content is current and correct. And you also must strike the right balance between competence and conversation. Branding and messaging must be clear and consistent. Hit all of these marks and you are on your way to demonstrating why you are the trusted partner of choice. 

“When you’re in a highly technical industry like healthcare, there’s more to what you can bring to the table than just the specifications and requirements of the RFP. Healthcare companies and entities are under a lot of stress to keep up with regulations, compliance issues, stakeholder involvement, political ramifications, the list goes on,” adds Rehurek, who is also the host of The RFP Success Show. “Yes, they’re looking for specific knowledge and expertise, but they also want a lifeline. Weaving in stories, writing in a more conversational tone, being authentic in your response to really get to the emotion of it, will help them visualize that you will be that lifeline. And with that, they can exhale. Trust is built.”

Bring Your Authentic Voice Forward

As a digital marketer, you’re creative by nature. If you look at your other marketing campaigns, you likely crafted stories around customers and your team to help you communicate more authentically with your audience and to establish an emotional connection. You can do much of the same with your RFP content. Here are six recommendations to help strengthen your RFP responses, build trust with your prospects and turn them into loyal customers.

  1. Cover letter -- Reveal key benefits they will experience while working with you and show your excitement for this future partnership. Use the client and company name often make it more personal.
  2. Executive summary -- Hook them with an opening statement about your solutions and explore the backstory of your company: mission, history, and purpose. Once again, use the client and company name often.
  3. Our approach -- Explain your methodology and how your solution benefits your customers. Include relevant customer stories or testimonials for validation, focusing on the process and results.
  4. Competitive differentiators -- Call out why they should work with you instead of one of your competitors, using comparison data and visual aids. It’s not a time to bad-mouth your competitor; just show you are the best choice.
  5. Support & customer service -- Highlight customer support offerings (help center, ongoing training, or educational webinars). Insert customer stories or testimonials that talk about the excellent experience of working with your team.
  6. Brand consistency -- Not a section per se, but brand consistency must be strong throughout the RFP. From messaging to design language, “on brand” content helps you earn trust.

Working in healthcare marketing is not a pass to create content without a pulse. Yes, you need to meet specifications and requirements. But by showing the human side of your brand you can build a high level of trust with your prospects and come out on top more frequently. Challenge yourself to make your healthcare RFPs better, more relatable and more relevant. Every RFP response is your chance to have a genuine conversation and to tell a story.

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