Working on the Amazon RFP
How do you go about wooing a giant company like Amazon to Winnipeg? Above all else: be proud of your city and don’t try to pretend you’re something you’re not.
That was what I heard when I sat down with the team at Economic Development Winnipeg recently. I couldn’t have agreed more. They called us in to help write the document that we hope will get Winnipeg noticed by Amazon. The giant Seattle-based ecommerce company had announced last summer it was looking to build a second corporate headquarters. It asked for cities across North America to submit bids if they were interested.
And, of course, Winnipeg was interested. While perhaps not an intuitive front runner like Boston in the contest, Winnipeg has a lot of good things going for it. Our location at the centre of the continent makes it easy for us to get to and from anywhere else. We have a very low cost of doing business compared to places such as Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago and New York. And Amazon’s potential 50,000 hires would enjoy an enviable standard of living for a very low cost here compared to just about anywhere else.
Economic Development Winnipeg took the lead on pulling the proposal together. They worked with people at both the City of Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba to make it happen in a very short space of time.
While our friends over at Tripwire Media Group were tasked with creating a video (see below) where Obby Khan showed Alexa around the city, we were asked to write the hard copy that formed the meat of Team Manitoba’s proposal.
How do you start something like that?
We started with research. Even though our time was short, we wanted to make sure our proposal was going to be relevant, readable and persuasive. We had to learn as much about our potential audience (Amazon executives) as we could as quickly as we could.
We stumbled on to a few articles (like this one in Forbes) that described how Amazon employees pitch new products to the company. They have to write a press release in which they imagine the launch of the proposed product together with frequently asked questions they think customers may have. This format forces the developers to think of the consumer first (a core value at Amazon). So that’s the format we chose too: we kicked off our RFP response with a faux news release announcing Winnipeg as the new Amazon HQ.
The rest of our proposal went over everything Winnipeg had to offer – from leading science labs and corporations to year long live music, festivals, lakes and skating trails. We celebrated that we’re a winter city and extolled the wonders of our summers.
Will it work? Hard to say. We are told by the company that it received 238 responses from cities across Canada, the United States and Mexico. I’m hopeful that we did enough to get the city noticed. Amazon has a history of making bold choices and we do have a lot going for us. It would be wonderful to make the shortlist.
We were happy to play a part in the process as one member of a larger communications team coordinated by EDW. It allowed us to show off our ability to turn a complex writing assignment around quickly. In just a little over a week, we synthesized several phone books worth of information into a single document.
Many thanks go to the people at EDW and Tourism Winnipeg for providing amazing support. They helped us research, write, proof and finish the document on time. Also, Kudos to Tom Powell Design for designing the document too. They turned it around very quickly and made it look great.
Here’s the video: