Examples and review of capability statements. We find out what works, and what flops.
We can talk forever about what makes a great capability statement that captures attention, provides the right information, fulfills federal guidelines, and still wins you the contract. But let’s take a look a few and parse out what works and what doesn’t. Here are some examples and review of capability statements.
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Generally, we like this capability statement. The strong use of branded color, well thought out layout and imagery draw the reader to review the materials. Especially great, is the way they recaptured space on the side using vertical highlighted section headers. They would have been more effective on the left hand side, but it’s still a great idea.
This capability statement uses icons to identify capabilities, with the NAICS codes as the headers. They would be more effective with text headers, and NAICS codes underneath. They also use agency logos, which government agencies love to see. They always want their logo on there as well.
The largest weakness is the heavy reliance on text. Other than icons and logos, there is no imagery at all. For a company doing these kinds of service, it would be nice to see pictures of what they work on.
We have a lot of room to work on text size. Remember, the most important points should have larger fonts, and less important things should be smaller. Saying “since 1984” is not very important to the reader, though it’s got a large font. At the same time, the text at the top in white on black is difficult to read, but that’s the most important information they provide.
All in all a pretty solid capability statement, though it could certainly use some improvements.
This capability statement from Kinney Group caught our eye for their unique use in the core competencies. The circle in the middle highlights their approach to automation, and stems off their past work with clients. Each section spells out what the company does, and instead of using project names and clients, they simply share the client logos. That’s great.
The Company Data copy is a bit weak. It shares a common problem of tech companies overusing business jargon so that in the end they don’t say anything of substance. You could rad their statement 100 times and still no know what they do. Remember, the agency reading this needs to know you can solve their problem.
The header is a nice touch which highlights their logo, stock imagery which reinforces the brand, and their slogan. They also have a nice footer with their contact information. They could improve that by using it to highlight a clear call to action, like visiting their website for more information.
The background is what caught our eye on this example of a capability statement. The imagery surrounding the main area of text gives the impression of a tough material, which is exactly the message they are going for. The header and footer give clear information and let the reader know up front what’s being offered.
However, the copy within the written section is weak. The most compelling item here is the picture of the ballistic vest. They could have taken more advantage to show off some of their popular products to capture attention. Too much space is wasted on NAICS codes and large text in the company snapshot section. Remember, it’s not your company they want, it’s a solution to their problem.
This capability statement should emphasize the differentiators more, since they are essentially product features. Their company statement at the top hints at great things, like market research, but does not have space to elaborate.
Our old designers laughed at us when we brought this to them. They didn’t like the poor photography and clearly hand-drawn yellow boxes. But we loved it. That’s why they are our old designers.
This capability statement really hits a lot of best practices. Between the name of the company, and the header, we know that this company uses trucks to haul stuff. If you’re an agency needing hauling, these are your guys.
Best part of that opening statement is that it includes a testimonial! Those are rare on capability statements, but should absolutely be part of them. Social proof is so powerful. The only improvement would be to highlight the testimonial so people know it’s there.
The other sections are broken down by icon, with the details written in smaller font. That’s great because it’s important information, but not copy that sells.
Notice that the about us section is at the bottom, not the top. The designer of this capability statement recognized that their history as a company is not the first thing the reader wants to know. Rather, it is a nice piece of info if the reader has made it that far.
We especially love the yellow boxes highlighting key things within the document. Especially the Contact Us box at the bottom. Nice job guys.
I agree that perfection is the enemy of the good. In other words, get your idea out there even if it’s not perfect yet. But at least be good. Frankly, I’m surprised they bothered to include their logo. An all text capability statement is a great example of not even trying. And if you’re not trying with your bid materials, then why would the reader believe you’ll put in the effort for their project.
Compared to other examples of capability statements, this one does stand out. It’s simplicity and inadvertent use of white space does catch the eye. But the agency doesn’t see this next to other capability statements. It will see it next to the other bid materials submitted. That means it will be just another piece of text writing.
Everything is written in all-caps, which makes it difficult to read more than a sentence. It opens with a history of the business, which is the last thing anybody wants to read, except the author. The only attempt to even win business is to include a mission and vision statement. But it never conveys the value they will bring to the agency.
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This is an example of the kind of capability statement we see a lot. It contains the key points of information, had some very minimal design elements – probably a Word template – and passes the bare minimum of what’s needed. So how would we make this really wow?
A lot of space is lost on NAICS codes, which can be a small font and tucked away. It’s important info, but not the kind of thing that makes the sale. This company is women owned, minority owned, and a small business. But are they certified as such? Agencies and their contractors need to hit certain targets in those areas so it is vital that they recognize if you are certified there.
Their opening statement is dull, but does highlight their experience working with government agencies. It needs a headline that makes that point outrageously clear. The fact that they can have secret and top secret clearance is also extremely valuable. That should be highlighted so it’s immediately obvious.
There is no imagery here or texture to the page. It feels flat and does not make good use of the space. There is so much emptiness next to the past clients list where there could be logos of those agencies.
One final critique of all of these capability statements is simple – they are one page. Your capability gets to be front and back, which gives you wide latitude to include imagery and design and marketing, while still including all of the important information. Don’t let your primary piece of marketing sink your deal because you did not invest the time and resources into making it great.
Hire our team of writers and designers with a proven track record of winning federal contracts create your executive capability statement.
Eduardo Flores, Safe Cone Zone Inc.