Checklist to determine if your proposal sounds like a brochure

Use this to help avoid disappointing your customer

The following items can be used as a quality criteria checklist to determine whether what you have written is a proposal or a brochure. A brochure gives people something to buy. A proposal gives them something to consider and helps them reach a decision about it. Good brochure copy makes for bad proposal writing. You can use this list to determine whether what you have written reads like a brochure or reads like a proposal:

  1. Does it read like it is primarily an offer to sell the customer something, or a plan for how to solve challenges, find solutions, and make improvements?
  2. Is it all about you? Or is it about what the customer will get and how much better off they’ll be because of it? 
  3. Taken as a whole, is your proposal an explanation or a series of claims? After reading it, can you articulate what that explanation is? Does this explanation make your proposal the customer’s best alternative?
  4. Does your proposal say what you want to say, or what the customer needs to hear? Is it you presenting your best attributes in the hope they care, or is it a tool to help the customer reach a decision?
  5. Does it talk to a specific customer, or just whoever happens to be reading? Brochures are written without knowing who the customer will be. At best they target a market segment. Does your proposal say things that matter to the specific potential customer you are submitting it to, or does it just talk about things that universally matter?
  6. If an employee, business partner, or vendor gave it to you, would you accept your own proposal? Would you be skeptical of its claims? Would its level of detail inspire confidence? Or would you have more questions than answers? Would you feel offended at the lack of consideration? Would you criticize them for not doing their homework or just reject it outright? 
  7. Can you write the justification for selecting your proposal, based on what you see in the proposal? Is it easy or do you have to hunt for it and cobble it together from various sections of the proposal?
  8. Does your proposal show insight or merely say that you will give them what they asked for? Is it really just a quotation based on your specifications, or does it show a competence that would add value? 
  9. Have all of the claims been proven? Note: This is different from whether you believe your own claims. Brochures make lots of claims. Proposals skip the claims in order to prove that it represents the best alternative.
  10. When you complete reading the proposal, what have you learned? What conclusions would you draw? Are they all about the company submitting the proposal? 
  11. Will the customer find your proposal useful, even if they decline to accept it? Does the proposal itself have a value? Or does it seek to get value from the customer, instead of the other way around?
  12. Is it credible to the reader? Note: This is different from whether you are capable or whether you believe in yourself. Every unsubstantiated claim, act of irrelevant bragging, ambiguity, universal truism, unanswered question, lack of justification, and failure to add value reduces your credibility in a proposal. Brochures can get away with that. Proposals can’t.


 


Access to premium content items is limited to PropLIBRARY Subscribers

A subscription to PropLIBRARY unlocks hundreds of premium content items including recipes, forms, checklists, and more to make it easy to turn our recommendations into winning proposals. Subscribers can also use MustWin Now, our online proposal content planning tool.


Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

Proposal Help Desk
Contact us for assistance
In addition to PropLIBRARY's online resources, we also provide full-service consulting for when you're ready to engage one of our experts.

It all starts with a conversation. You can contact us by clicking the button to send us a message, or by calling 1-800-848-1563.