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Proposal style and editorial issues

Style should be driven by what it will take to win

Your opinion of style is not the one that matters

  • This varies according to the expectations of the customer.
  • The MustWin Process only addresses style where it is relevant to achieving this goal.

It is important to find out if style matters to the evaluator, because when it does, you need to follow it precisely.  Most of the time, the customer will not be concerned with style.  If the customer has no style preference that you are aware of, you should write in the style that you feel most comfortable with.  It is more important to get your message across than it is to make some kind of “impression.” Much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, you’ve got to say everything that needs to be said to win before you can afford to give much attention to the style in which you have said it.

See also:
Maslow's hierarchy

Style matters when you have multiple authors and you don’t want the proposal to sound like it was written by multiple people.  However, the only way to achieve this is at the back end, during final production.  Unless you have well trained, experienced authors, you’ll be lucky to get the content out of them — asking them to also think about style is probably asking too much.

If style matters, either to you, your company, or your customer, you need to make sure you arrive at final production with enough time for one or more editorial cycles.

The Proposal Manager is responsible for making the judgment calls regarding how to balance style with other competing priorities and for instructing the authors/production staff regarding what to do about it.

Debates about style tend to degrade into competing opinions and do not help move the proposal forward.  If you have a question about style or wish to participate in the decision, discuss it with the Proposal Manager.  Then let the Proposal Manager decide and move things forward.

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