How to find purpose in your proposal writing

Writing to make a point. Writing with meaning. Writing that matters.

Obsessing over the deadline and resource pressure that defines most proposal efforts can make you forget about other important things and limit your ability to maximize your win rate. It’s a curious dilemma, but obsessing over getting your proposal done can help you lose.

So take a moment and put away your deadline and resource pressures. Take a moment to think about the purpose of it all. Because the purpose is more than making your deadlines and surviving the experience. It’s more than simply winning. Proposal writing should have meaning.

Purposeful proposal writing

For more information about creating great proposals:
Great Proposals

Do you write to fulfill, complete, and comply, or do you write with a purpose that gives what you are writing meaning? If so, what is that purpose? 

Do you write proposals to solve problems? Do you write proposals to help people? Do you write proposals to achieve growth for you, your company, and your customer? Do you write proposals to achieve a mission? Do you write proposals to make your tiny part of the world better off?

If so, then how do you do that? How do you write proposals with a purpose?

The answer is one sentence at a time. One paragraph at a time. One section, one solution, one proposal at a time. But start with a sentence.

What is the point of that sentence? Is your goal in writing that sentence simply to comply and complete? Is that all your customer wants? Or do you write to make a point that supports your broader purpose? Even if your purpose is simply to win, writing to make a meaningful point can make your proposal far more compelling.

The opposite of writing to make a point is to literally write something that is pointless. It is entirely possible to write a fully compliant proposal that is completely pointless. The only way you are likely to win by writing a proposal like that is if all the customer cares about is the price.

Writing with purpose is part of competing on something other than price. So start writing with the intention of making a point. Then another. Then another. And make them add up to something that matters to the customer.

Does it matter?

If you choose a shallow purpose, you will make points that do not matter. 

For example, you might make the point that your company specializes in something. But this does not matter. It is a claim with no impact on the customer. If it does have an impact, that is what the point should be. The amount of impact your point has determines how much it matters.

Is your purpose to write proposals that matter? Then propose having a major impact.

Oh, but what impact should you have? If you don’t know what major impact would interest the customer, you’ve got a problem. Most companies water their impact down if they think there might be any risk at all in it. And when they do this, they water down their purpose until they do not matter.

Finding meaning

What do you do that has an impact? What matters? Now and in the future. How will all of the stakeholders be impacted? Having an impact brings meaning to a proposal. 

It brings meaning and purpose for your company. It brings meaning and purpose for the staff who will work on their project. It brings meaning and impact for the customer and their stakeholders. It brings meaning and impact for each individual proposal writer.

Proposal writing is not just fulfillment, compliance, and a search for the magic words that can persuade. Proposal writing is about meaning something. Proposal writing with a team of contributors is about finding meaning for everyone involved. 

Proposal writing is not just talking about what matters. It is a chance to matter.


 


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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.

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